A Luxurious Magnificence Veteran Is Altering The System With Her New Model

Sarah Creal doesn’t appreciate how women of a certain age are typically marketed to. “I don’t want five old ladies holding hands on the coast of Florida watching the sunset,” she says. “That is not my life. That’s not the life of my friends.” And she doesn’t like the beauty products that are being made for her demographic either. “Why is no one talking to me?” she muses. “Why is no one formulating for me, educating me, telling me what’s going down, reflecting me back to me in a way that I find aspirational and cool?”

About a year ago, she woke up one morning and couldn’t stop those thoughts running through her head. After that aha moment, she was determined to do something about it. Baffled that something similar didn’t yet exist, she called her long-time beauty brand collaborator, Jill Golden, now her co-founder, and that led to Sarah Creal Beauty, launching today. “This is a line of luxury essentials, with a focus on wear, repair and moisturization across skincare and makeup for babes 40-plus,” Creal says.

There’s an excellent chance you’ve tried a beauty product dreamed up by Creal before without realizing it. That’s because she’s the mastermind behind some of the biggest brands in the business, including Prada Beauty, Tom Ford Beauty, Aerin, Bobbi Brown and Victoria Beckham Beauty, among others, with nearly three decades of experience as a brand architect and product developer under her belt. She’s put all of that know-how into her eponymous line. “I thought about my own experience, and I was like I am so hacking my own formulas, things that I’ve created over the last 30 years, all those brands that I’ve made,” she says. “I’m proud of those formulas, but my skin was changing. I had to do things like add moisture and layer things and do more. It wasn’t an elegant solution and I knew I could solve this problem.”

Creal did consumer research to ensure she wasn’t alone. They surveyed 2,000 women over the age of 40 who were luxury beauty shoppers and the data confirmed that they didn’t feel represented. Next, it was time for Creal to “go boldly where I’ve never gone before. I’ve never had to fundraise. It was a totally new experience. I was slightly terrified. But I have a good reputation and I got a lot of good meetings. And in those meetings, which were mostly men, it was some iteration of older women don’t want to look at older women. It was so disheartening and infuriating.”

Knowing that the vast majority of investment goes to male-founded brands, Creal was still undeterred. “The percentage of investment that goes to female founded brands was 3.5% in 2023,” she says. She ended up raising 100% of the funds from friends and family. “The super validating moment of the entire thing is fast forward a year—when you have a clear vision, things can move very fast—we start presenting to retailers who are mostly women in their 50s. In the meetings, they said, ‘we’d like to launch this exclusively with you as soon as you possibly can.’ On repeat, it happened over and over. So, the disparity between where the investment mentality is and where the consumer is seems pretty far.”

The buyers were enthralled with not just the formulas, which are designed for women over 40—that means formulations that are extra hydrating, makeup that doesn’t migrate and mascara that doesn’t lead to panda eyes—but also the strikingly chic and sophisticated packaging that’s highly functional. The entire Sarah Creal Beauty collection is vegan, gluten-free, Leaping Bunny certified, cruelty-free and fragrance-free.

Take the Moisture Source Bi-Phase Brightening Essence, for example. “This is in response to the fact that as women get older they can’t stay hydrated,” Creal says. “This liquid moisturizer gets the water in there and seals it in with a little oil. It is also going to address unevenness of the skin in addition to hydration. It’s firming, it has peptides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide for brightening and squalane. It holds the hydration in your skin for over 24 hours, which is a very hard claim to get. And when you put the cap on, it actually seals it so you can throw it in your bag and it’s not going to get oil all over.”

The reason the Firm Offer 4-in-1 Ultimate Eye Cream packaging resembles a lighter is because it’s instantly brightening, minimizing dark circles. “It’s so fun and it’s refillable,” Creal says. “But it’s also quite serious.” It’s loaded with peptides to spark collagen production, caffeine to lift and firm, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.

“From a formulation standpoint, the bar is so much higher as you get older because you have so much more interference,” Creal says. “When we did the consumer survey, we saw that one of the things that women were quiet quitting was mascara because the mascara that they had started using in their 30s was no longer working. It was transferring and giving them panda eyes.” As women age, they tend to use heavier eye creams, and those ingredients can cause mascara to migrate. Back of the Cab Volumizing Longwear Tubing Mascara stays put thanks to the tubing formula and removes easily with water, plus it’s infused with shea butter to condition lashes.

Available in 10 flexible shades, Face Flex Concealer & Complexion Enhancer does double duty as a concealer and foundation. “It is an incredibly thin formula because we wanted it to move and blend with the skin,” Creal says. “It has to be totally seamless, but also it has to be able to flex with every wink, blink, laugh and hold up through the day. It’s crease-proof but not drying because the pigments are coated in amino acids, which is really hydrating for the skin, and we also have shea butter. Those things plus caffeine are going to help with dark circles.” It’s designed to be blended with Moisture Source to turn into a foundation and create a custom amount of coverage, and applied with the Complexion Brush Ultra Soft Foundation & Concealer Blender.

Brilliant Repair Shield SPF 50 Illuminating Serum Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is made with 12% zinc oxide and formulated to reduce free radicals by up to 200%. “It’s basically like having a vitamin C serum in your SPF,” Creal says. “It gives you a bronzy, golden glow, even on the darkest skin.” Plus, it’s spiked with bakuchiol to repair existing sun damage.

A new take on lip balm, The Adults Are Talking Solid Serum Lip Repair taps capuaçu butter, a Brazilian nut, to moisturize. “I’ve always been fixated on lip balm and I’ve never done a stick until now, because I haven’t been able to create one that I thought was as good as a squeezy balm,” Creal says. “I put a tiny little bit of lactic acid in to exfoliate so that all of the actives can penetrate and it also contains peptides.”

A major fan of color, Creal wanted to add a bit of a retro spin, and some of the hues have a 70s vibe. “We had every sku just be itself,” Creal says. “I love those shots of a medicine cabinet, but I’ve never been able to shoot one because when you have a line that all looks the same, it’s uninteresting to have that shot. Now we can do that shot because it looks super interesting all together. That’s the spirit we wanted, each one to be fun and exciting on its own.”

Everyone photographed for the campaign is over the age of 40. “The whole campaign is showing her living her life,” Creal says. “She reads a book every now and again. She’s a fully developed human being. We wanted to show her doing her thing. We did very little retouching on any of them and they look amazing. What I consider my job with this brand is to have women understand that this is a brand for her. If she comes to Sarah Creal Beauty, we’ve got her back. We are formulating for her, not for a 20-year-old. Let there be this woman in her full dimensionality and show her that way.”

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