Luxurious Skincare Backed by Science: Q&A with Devanshi Garg Sareen, Founder of Motif

Devanshi Garg Sareen is the visionary, founder, and CEO behind the lauded international skincare brand Motif. This vegan, cruelty-free, and pregnancy-safe line creates incredible products by dermatologist-developed formulas that are safe, gentle, and fitting for all skin types. In this exclusive interview, we delve into Sareen’s inspiring and interesting journey.

Devanshi, before we dive in, please tell us about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a dreamer. I love to create and turn intangible ideas, thoughts and solutions into tangible things. I’m an artist and so I always prefer that these solutions be beautiful. I’m also an entrepreneur and thrive in the most challenging situations.
I studied innovation. I moved to New York to be part of the founding team of a fast-growing technology start-up which eventually sold to private equity. Prior to starting Motif, I was an innovation consultant for big beauty conglomerates, which was my initiation into the world of beauty and personal care.

I’m married to the love of my life and so fortunate to be a mom to three beautiful girls. I’ve gotten here by following my heart, the things that inspire me and by always moving forward, no matter what life has thrown at me.

When did you decide to start Motif and what is the significance of the brand’s name?
It’s the quintessential entrepreneurship story: Motif was born out of my own struggles with my skin. A quest for skincare that worked, felt good, and could undo the damage I had caused by using and overusing the wrong skincare solutions through my twenties. At the time, I was working in the boardrooms of big beauty conglomerates. That behind-the-scenes access coupled with a chance encounter with our dermatologist partner, are what set me down this path.
Motif is French for the word “motive,” which speaks to my desire to build an intentional beauty company. Motif also speaks to recurring patterns which underpin our existence, from our DNA and cells, to data sets, to the behavioral and spiritual patterns and habits we’re trying to build or break.

What was the inspiration behind Motif’s latest product, Renew Resurfacing Peptide Toner? 
The Motif Renew Resurfacing Peptide Toner is a really important product for us as it is symbolic of our point-of-view in the skincare industry. I believe skincare is going through a ‘crossfit’ moment with a no-pain, no-gain mentality. Consumers are seeking clinical-strength products for unsupervised use at home, overusing harsh exfoliants and compromising their skin barrier, which is causing inflammation, dryness and even accelerating the signs of aging as they ironically strive for the exact opposite. In this world, Motif is the ‘pilates class’ that focuses on skin health, longevity and buildable, positive results over time.

I was inspired to create the Renew Toner because a good chemical exfoliant is a core pillar in a skincare routine. As our skin cells age, the rate of cellular turnover decreases. Chemical exfoliants accelerate our skin’s natural cellular turnover leading to softer, brighter, and, overall, more youthful skin. 

The Renew Toner consists of a thoughtful blend of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that are scientifically proven to drive results for all skin types without the irritating side effects (lactic, malic and mandelic acid). It is supported by a peptide from pea sprouts, hibiscus, and wakame seaweed that promote cellular turnover while moisturizing and soothing any subsequent inflammation.

What emerging beauty trends are you most excited about right now, and why? 
Sunscreen is having a moment and I appreciate the attention brands are giving to improving the user experience, which is the real obstacle to usage. 

Sofia Richie also brought back the slick-back bun which has been my go-to hair hack forever, and especially since becoming a mom and skipping hair wash days. 

Lastly, it’s not quite emerging, but I do love the no make-up make-up look. It focuses on highlighting the beauty of our skin which is our biggest indicator of what is going on inside our bodies. I appreciate that it shifts our focus to the inside.

What sets your brand apart from others and will you be producing any new products?
We create skincare but are really a skin health company. We’ve parsed through hundreds of peer-reviewed journals to identify and source the most elite, evidence-backed ingredients that can solve specific problems. Our formulas are developed in collaboration with a board-certified dermatologist because efficacy and safety are paramount. Our products work holistically, are multi-tasking, and are a treat to use, which fuels consistent use, another key to achieving results.

Motif has launched three SKUs. The Abundance Plumping Phytoceramide Cleanser, the Power Brightening Bicelle Serum, and the Renew Resurfacing Peptide Toner. We currently have our fourth product in development for a launch later this year.

I see you have traveled extensively around the globe. Have these experiences shaped the way you look at skincare and did anything in particular influence the Motif line?
I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries and lived on four continents. My biggest insight has been that, as people, we are all more the same than we are different. As a brand, Motif takes that same approach. Yes, there are differences in our skin type and struggles, but there is more to our skin that is the same than is actually different. We know that if we create a solid skincare product that’s backed by real science and peer-reviewed research, it will work. There is no subjectivity. 

Outside of the formulations, I believe my color-forward approach to luxury is also an influence of my travels. It is something people have noticed and are appreciating about Motif as a brand and with the packaging of our products.

Working in the wellness industry for so many years do you have any top beauty tips that you would recommend?
We have a really one-sided relationship with our body. We expect it to work and do for us all we need it to do, yet most of us don’t know how to tune in to hear what it is our body wants and needs. I feel the same way about our skin. I say do what makes you feel good and stop doing what doesn’t. Buy and use products made by people that care about what they are building. Expect and demand more. Enjoy what’s on the outside but don’t forget to focus on what’s inside.

In terms of beauty and wellness habits I try to maintain, I kickstart my day with lemon water followed by healthy fats, i.e. usually a handful of unsalted almonds, walnuts or other nuts. I limit my caffeine to 1 – 2 cups of coffee or tea a day. I only use Motif skincare products, experiment with different sunscreens and use prescription Tretinoin once a week. I always remove both sunscreen and make-up before I sleep at night. I’ll try to make time for a facial once every eight weeks if possible and will try some easy facial massage at home at least once a week. I do yoga once a week, strength training 2-3 times a week and try to catch up with friends for a walk instead of coffee or drinks.

Just for fun. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? 
Nelson Mandela. He founded a non-profit organization called The Elders and I feel, now more than ever, that I want to hear advice and get perspective from generations before who have lived through difficult times such as ours. My more fun pick would be Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps it’s a cliche answer but I grew up watching her show and now I follow her podcast ‘Supersoul Sunday.’ She’s always stayed relevant and has always had a pulse on what it means to be human.

Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
I want to reiterate, because this is so important, that pain is not the price you pay for “beauty.” Your skin is your biggest organ, the protector, quite literally, of your body and soul, and it deserves to be treated as such. You don’t need to embrace the 10-step routine. It’s ok to be tired of trial-and-error, or feel overwhelmed by all the differing points of view out there.
We’re creating a place for those who want to be protective of their time, while still honoring the health and appearance of their skin. I can promise that when you use a Motif product, it will do exactly what it says it will, and both you and your skin will enjoy the experience along the way.
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Telina Cuppari Senior Staff Writer at Beauty News NYC
Telina Cuppari

Senior Staff Writer

Telina Cuppari is a world explorer who loves people and pizza. Originally from California, Telina speaks three languages and has worked in seven countries and traveled extensively in over 30 nations. She now resides in New Jersey where she holds two Guinness World Records for the Largest Collection of Pizza-Related Items. Her husband was kind enough to let her turn their garage into a pizza museum. Telina received her master’s in Edinburgh, Scotland and after spent three more years in the capital writing for one of the country’s largest newspapers about her failed relationships and dating foreign men. She loves anything beauty related, cooking strange food that’s super healthy, and meeting new people. Telina is the founder of Pizza Kindness. An independent, nonprofit dedicated to spreading kindness throughout the tri-state with pizza-related events and campaigns to support college scholarships and other charitable organizations.