Supermarket shelves are full of skincare products proclaiming to be “natural” and “organic” but there are question marks over exactly how many chemicals they contain.
It was not something Tim Davies gave a lot of thought to until he married Claire who has extremely sensitive skin and is limited in the range of products she can use.
“I started doing some research to help her and other people. The more I looked into it, the more I realised how little was being done to help people with sensitive skin conditions,” said Mr Davies, 39.
As a result, he developed a range of products and set up a company, Senzimi, based in Eynsham.
Mr Davies believes the market is very confusing and it is difficult to pin down what factors can irritate people with sensitive skin conditions. But what he did discover is the “massive movement” towards using natural products.
While there are some well-known brands catering for sensitive skin conditions, Mr Davies says they are often chemically based.
“A lot of consumers don’t like the idea of putting petroleum-based products on sensitive skin.
“I did the research and decided to do something about it. I worked with cosmetic scientists, giving them my research into ingredients used by different cultures all over the world.”
After about two years, he was able to come up with four core products – a moisturiser, cleanser, shampoo and conditioner – which were tested on people suffering from a range of skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema with a positive response.
Mr Davies’ career path has been varied. After leaving school, he went into the insurance industry, starting in an administrative role with HSBC which took him to Hong Kong in the mid-1990s.
Back home, he returned to education to study for a degree in financial service and human resources management which allowed him to move back into insurance broking at a much higher level working for firms including Willis, Marsh and Lloyds.
It was high powered stuff but Mr Davies eventually grew restless with finance and decided to take a totally different direction.
He said: “I got to a point where I realised I am not really a city boy. I liked the idea of landscape design and found a post-graduate course at Oxford Brookes University.
“After that I set up my own gardening and landscaping business and ran it for six years.”
It was during this time he met and married Claire and that, combined with a painful back injury, led to the change of direction.
Senzimi became his next project although he says it has not been an easy path.
Four years ago he launched the skincare range online. He has found the market challenging during the interim period and the recession has not helped.
But now, due to his belief in his products and the potential demand for them, he has relaunched in what he hopes is a more favourable economic climate.
The market is as competitive as ever but Mr Davies feels that because Senzimi products are between 90 and 99.75 per cent natural, he can make headway with discerning customers.
As for marketing, Mr Davies has decided to take a traditional approach.
“We are going to start treading the streets of Oxford, approaching as many independent retailers as we can,” he said. “We will use them as case studies before approaching the larger stores.”