Why beauty entrepreneur Maryse O’Donnell takes a simple approach to skincare

17 March 2022
By Fashion Quarterly

The founder of local plant-based skincare company Maryse shares how her brand began, what she loves most about her creations, which ones she swears by and why we all need a daily skin ritual.

Maryse O'Donnell.

My approach is pared back, minimal and consistent. As a facialist, I’d provided skin treatments to my clients for many years and noticed the benefits of using pure, plant-based products. Realising there was a shift away from mass-market beauty towards a more honest, handcrafted approach, I combined my existing knowledge with a lot of research to create my own formulations. My first Maryse product was my Bio-Nutrient Face Oil. It took about nine months to formulate, a process that involved listening to my clients’ skincare concerns and doing ongoing trials with them to make sure it was perfect. It’s still a favourite today. 

I focus on keeping things simple, and prioritise potency and quality over quantity. It’s important to me to make natural skincare that’s purer and plant-based, made from locally sourced ingredients and not tested on animals. The Maryse collection includes effective, multi-nutritive formulations that don’t contain unnecessary fillers. Every ingredient is there for a reason and brings its own unique properties and benefits. My favourite ingredient is the native mānuka leaf in my Manuka Leaf Exfoliating Polish. It’s sustainably harvested and finely milled for me in the East Cape, has antibacterial properties, and is detoxifying and anti-inflammatory. Maryse is currently the only brand using mānuka leaf in this way, so it’s extra special. 

I think people are looking at things more holistically now and see skincare as self-care. It’s not just isolated to the skin’s surface but to the entire life of the body. I find plant-based products more beneficial for the skin in the long term. I’ve been using them for years now and feel like they really benefit the skin because they’re so unrefined and potent.


Everyone’s a bit more wary of what’s in their skincare these days. Studies have shown that about 70 percent of products applied to the skin enter the bloodstream, so it’s not just a cosmetic issue. Most people can read and understand product labels, but labels don’t always reveal hidden ingredients that are derived from synthetic sources. Ingredients may look as if they’re natural when they’re actually derived from petrochemicals or unsustainable sources. I hate to think about all the toxic and synthetic beauty products I used in the past. On the flipside, I’m so happy that we’re now more educated on how nasty ingredients impact us and the environment.

I find as I get older, my routine is less about make-up and more about skincare. I try to notice the changes in my skin and adjust what I’m using to suit. In the morning, I apply Maryse Intensive Omega Oil all over my face and neck, and at night, I use my Enzyme-Refine Cleansing Balm. I’ll often include an active vitamin serum or hyaluronic acid for an extra boost as well. Having two small children can leave me feeling a little lacklustre, so I apply Maryse Mineral Tint in Apricots and Mineral Dew to make me feel and look more refreshed than I am. On days when I have a bit more time, I massage my face with a rose quartz gua sha tool — it helps with the penetration of products and is super relaxing to use. 

I think it’s important for us all to have a daily skincare practice that includes the application of topical nutrients. Incorporating vitamin C and hydrating actives into the skin really does help to keep it feeling and looking its best. Plant oils are full of vitamins, essential fatty acids and a whole lot of actives that can help boost skin on a daily basis. As we get older, environmental damage appears on
the skin, so wearing SPF to protect yourself from sun damage should also be an everyday thing. 

Discover more at marysebeauty.com

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