When I ask Dara Scott, CEO of Nuasan Active Skincare, to tell me about how his company came to be, he starts with: “I worked for 10 years with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [Pacific Islands] where I ran their deep sea research robot. I think it’s still the deepest active underwater robot in the world”.
Although slightly green with envy at this revelation, that response didn’t fully answer my question so I asked we go a little further back. Dara completed a degree in physics and worked in a medical biotech company – experience which would later support the development of his products.
Entrepreneurial inspiration often occurs when a person sees a gap in the market for a product they need in their own life. Dara, while working with the aforementioned marine research group, filled his spare time with physical pursuits such as cycling through Asia and hiking to base camp in the Himalayas. Over time these activities took a toll on his body, as did life at sea.
“I got sick of travelling and decided to do something I was passionate about – beekeeping,” says Dara.
Yes, Dara’s first entrepreneurial steps were with an entirely different product – a bee supplement called HiveAlive, which is now sold in 40 countries.
Feet first into a new area
Nuasan was started with a foot spray. This was an easy decision as the groundwork was already there with the bee supplement. The ingredients in the bee supplement stop the bees getting a fungal disease so they knew that they could control fungi very easily using natural ingredients.
With active people predisposed to athlete’s foot and nail fungus, the foot spray was an obvious first step into this area but Dara admits that this was no overnight success. In fact, it took four years to perfect the product to successfully manage nail fungus while also knocking out foot odour.
During this time, the team in Galway were all getting more active and conversations in the office started to happen about the size of the gap in the market for more functional products. Half way through the foot spray development, the team decided it would be hard to launch just one product and they needed more.
The premise was to promote at events like QUEST and triathlons and to give out samples but we couldn’t do any of that
“You can get a sports shower gel but all they are is marketing, not functional,” explains Dara. “We wanted to develop products that have efficacy and can actually help people who are active and that’s how we ended up starting off the range. It’s a bit long winded but that’s the truth”.
Nuasan was launched in 2020 but the team only made it to one trade show before COVID hit
“We had a terrible start to be blunt about it. The premise was to promote at events like QUEST and triathlons and to give out samples but we couldn’t do any of that,” he reflects.
However, they continued to push ahead, launching the foot spray and the wipes, followed by the body wash and then the moisturiser and the CBD rub last autumn.
Is the CBD in the rub a placebo I ask?
The CBD used by Nuasan is contract manufactured in Switzerland. Dara explains that they do this as this company guarantees 0% THC which is below the legal limit. He also claims that with a high concentration of CBD in the product, it is even more efficacious.
But all the ingredients have a value, not just the CBD, he clarifies. “Take the wipes; the peppermint helps to cool you down, the bamboo will close your pores and stop the sweating but also fix the redness on your face so you don’t look as hot and flushed if you come back into work after a fast walk or lunchtime yoga session.
"The L+ph Control is our form of lactic acid and what that does is helps kill body odour by making the environment inhospitable for the bacteria. So all the ingredients are very functional and have reasons behind them. Magnesium is good for post-exercise recovery, arnica is good for taking away the soreness and stiffness and also reducing inflammation, as is CBD”.
I want to target the people who are trying to get fit but have not done anything in years because they’re the ones out there that will hurt
With my placebo scepticism debunked, I query the sustainability credentials of the product as although the individual wipes are biodegradable their single-use packaging is not.
This is a work in progress for the company and again it has not been easy to even get this far, says Dara.
“We had a hard time even finding a company that would make a biodegradable wipe. They are starting to develop the pouches that are recyclable. The argument is that if you are using the wipe you are using way less water but I realise that’s a bit of a cop out and not ideal. We are working on improving.
“The plastic and packaging we use is post-consumer recycled plastic, which can be recycled again. We have no grey waste, only recyclables. We compost, we are wind powered and we are just about to buy an electric car to replace my van,” he says of the efforts being made in the company.
Initially Dara was aiming for the 25 to 35 age group but now is selling more to the 35 to 65 age category.
This has not been surprising as he says: “the reality is that we start aching and paining a bit more as we get older. We are also more willing to spend money to take care of ourselves.”
He adds: “So our target market is anyone who’s active. I want to target the people who are trying to get fit but have not done anything in years because they’re the ones out there that will hurt and the last thing you want is someone giving up because they get sore”.
Nuasan had a rocky start but with a “brilliant team behind it” and growth coming from word of mouth, Dara believes the future is bright.
“People who use the products for one thing such as the CBD for their arthritis, then use it on their knee injury and see it works, they tell their friends who buy it. The proof is in that.”