Most beauty brand founders have an "aha moment" that leads them to launch their line. But for Saltair founder Iskra Lawrence, there were many. “With my background in the fashion industry, there was a lot of work to be done with inclusivity,” says the U.S.-based British model and influencer. “I was body shamed as a model. I had an eating disorder in my teenage years. The fashion industry had that ceiling because of size. I always saw the value in allowing people to be themselves and feel welcome and... part of something.”
But Lawrence was also thinking beyond the modeling world. “Because of the way consumerism is, it's really hard to create a sustainable brand at the right price point,” she says. “I knew one day I wanted to create a brand that enabled me to use everything that I learned not just about my relationship with myself, but [from when] I was working with big billion-dollar brands like American Eagle for seven years. I set myself into marketing meetings; I gave them a lot of ideas for the messaging, store concepts, and even how to train store associates. So I had this knowledge and drive to have ownership of a brand because I knew if I did, then I could actually have the impact and not have someone say, 'oh that's a nice idea, but we're not able to do this because of the bottom line.'”
As Lawrence was considering all these factors nearly three years ago, she found out she was pregnant—and knew her life would change. “I really started thinking what is the end goal,” she says. “I don't want to be modeling forever. I knew the brand was something that I was going to build.” Then she was hit hard with postpartum depression. “I started to lose the will to shower, to look after myself—I was just wearing robes,” she recalls. “Obviously, it was simultaneously disruptive for my self-esteem, because it was also during a pandemic and I moved to a completely different state. There was a dark gray cloud over me where I was not looking after myself.”
The shower became Lawrence’s sanctuary, where she didn’t have to deal with a screaming baby and could take five or 10 minutes to cleanse herself, reset, and get ready for the day. “That became really, really important,” she recalls. “But as I was getting sent these PR packages and getting so excited for makeup and skincare brands, they just didn't have the same excitement about bodycare. I thought about the impact of looking after my body with products that either excited me or took care of my skin or made me feel goddess-like and gorgeous and smelled good.” That’s when she realized there was a serious white space in bodycare.
A friend connected Lawrence with Ben Bennett, the founder of Los Angeles-based brand incubator The Center. She shared her vision of an exciting bodycare line that stood for something more, with sustainability front and center. “We talked it over and I said it needs to be an escape,” Lawrence says. “It needs to be something that literally forces me to go and look after myself because it's so chic, has such good ingredients, and is luxurious. But somehow we have to make this inclusive. That's what my brand has always been about. I do not want someone to get excited about it and then see the price tag and think wow, that's not fair. I don't feel welcome or invited here... it has to feel chic and elevated, but still accessible and inclusive.”
Founded: Iskra Lawrence, 2022
Based In: Los Angeles
Best Known For: Bath and body products with amazing fragrances that feel luxurious but are easy on the wallet.
Most Popular Product: Some of the most iconic Saltair products are the Santal Bloom Body Wash, Santal Bloom Body Lotion, and Santal Bloom Skincare Deodorant since fans love to layer the popular fragrance. The Pink Beach Nourishing Body Oil is also a hit.
Fun Fact: Saltair’s 100 percent aluminum bottles can arrive dented, which the brand celebrates just like anyone else’s imperfections.
Soon Saltair was born. All the brand's bottles feature pumps to make them more accessible, delightful scents that uplift and mood boost, and bottles made from aluminum (which has more lifecycles than recycled plastic). Early on, customers were complaining about the dings and dents that aluminum bottles are prone to. But Lawrence seized the opportunity to pivot and make that a good thing. “We embrace our dings and dents—we call it bottle positivity,” she says. “We really want to be as sustainable as possible. It doesn't make sense to ship something new because that's extra carbon emissions. We don't want people to waste product. I thought about my own story, and I was like, well, I embrace the dings and dents on me. And it was kind of cute. People resonated with it. We have improved our packaging without adding plastic since then, and though they might still get [dented], you have to embrace it—because perfect doesn’t exist.”
As for the name Saltair, it came from Lawrence’s self-care evolution. “After my experience of feeling at war with my body and myself [for a long time], when I found that peace, it was [during] those moments where you completely feel present with yourself,” she says. “That to me is when I've got my toes in the sand, when I can hear the waves crashing, when the sun's kissing my skin, when I can smell the salt air. It's that moment of freedom of not worrying if someone's looking at you or what size you are, if that bikini didn't fit that you wanted to wear or whatever, just canceling out that noise and being about you in that moment, being present. I feel like our products gift people that moment of pure, intentional 'this is for me.'”
Read on for our favorite Saltair products.
Santal Bloom Body Wash
A top seller since day one, Lawrence believes the packaging of the Santal Bloom Body Wash made it stand out. “There's something about that beige neutral,” she says. “I think people love how chic and expensive it looks and how it looks in their bathroom. Plus, people have heard of santal, and people who are into fragrance understand that it's unusual for a product that’s $12 to have a santal fragrance."
"It really does smell delicious—not too overpowering, it has those warm musks," she continues. "It's kind of sensual, but still a clean girl vibe. They can't get the same thing in another $12 bottle of body wash.”
Pink Beach Nourishing Body Oil
Whenever the Pink Beach Nourishing Body Oil goes out of stock—which is often—Lawrence gets hounded in her DMs about it. “It has just blown up,” she says. “We always knew we wanted a body oil. With the frosted glass and the texture, this feels like a beautiful, luxurious product. Luxurious body oil isn't usually $20, and some of those more expensive body oils you can get scared to use because you use [them] up in two weeks—that just [does not] work for me. We have that lovely combination of a super luxurious smelling and feeling product. Also, that fragrance was slightly different.” Hence the waitlist with thousands of people.
Santal Bloom Body Lotion
The Santal Bloom Body Lotion's formula includes deeply nourishing coconut oil, cupuaçu butter, hyaluronic acid, and kukui oil. Ascorbyl glucoside and niacinamide improve the appearance of the skin.
Moisture Bound Hydrating Shampoo
Lawrence has always been inspired by the Herbal Essences commercials from back in the day, and wanted to capture that sensorial experience. “Hair is where fragrance stays and you smell it throughout the day,” she says. “There's nothing better than when your partner comes over and says your hair smells good. This is the most universal shampoo and conditioner that really any hair type can use.”
Exotic Pulp Body Wash
“Every morning I wake up and I use Exotic Pulp. Not just because the fragrance is super zesty and juicy; [it also has] brightening properties,” Lawrence says. “Altogether it makes you feel really awake and alive and leaves your skin brightened, refreshed, and renewed. I think a lot of people associate that with helping them kick off their day with a little boost of energy. It's also gender-neutral, and I think a few people might not expect that.”
Island Orchid Body Lotion
Fittingly named, Island Orchid evokes tropical blooms swaying in a warm breeze on the beach, with notes of jasmine, frangipani, driftwood, and warm musk. The lightweight, quick-absorbing formula is spiked with orchid extract, along with coconut oil and cupuaçu butter to hydrate.
Black Tide Body Wash
“That is meant to be our most masculine fragrance, but a lot of people, regardless of their gender, like it because it does give that dramatic depth of fragrance. [It] feels like you're wearing a Tom Ford fragrance,” Lawrence says. “It tells this calm story. I like to use it in the evening before date nights. It's really shareable—couples have it in their shower. Men gravitate to the color of it, being like that darker bottle.”
Lagoona Body Wash
“Lagoona is super fresh, easy breezy,” Lawrence says. “It's for someone who maybe isn't as into fragrance, who wants something that's not overpowering—they just want to smell clean and calm. It has magnesium PCA for nice, relaxing properties. This is for people who want calmness and want to start somewhere that it's a little bit more neutral, not too fruity, not too sweet. A lot of my mom friends say that Lagoona is really calming for them.”
Seascape Skincare Deodorant
“When we thought about this deodorant, we knew that it would [have] that kind of fresh linen clean smell,” Lawrence says. “People have really gravitated to it. I also think because it was the only seascape option for a long time until we launched the wash, people saw it and they were like 'I want to try that fragrance because it's not available in anything else just yet.' The color is really beautiful. A lot of people have blues in their bathrooms and they think about blue when they want to feel fresh and clean.”