Natural facial oils and serums are concentrated formulas that deliver undiluted nutrients and real plant extracts direct to the skin, resulting in a nourished, balanced and deeply hydrated complexion. Little wonder that they are the cornerstone of our skin care regimes here at GSB! Adding an organic facial oil to your beauty routine is also an easy way to begin experimenting with natural skin care, and to see fast results.
Internationally known makeup artist Munemi Imai obviously thought so too, which is why the first release of her organic skin care line, MUN, was the No. 1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum. This wonder oil quickly became a cult hit, and it's not hard to see why - it is 100% certified organic and combines three of the world’s most precious natural anti-aging oils: prickly pear, Bulgarian rose and argan oils work together to produce youthful, even-toned and glowing skin.
Munemi, who works with some of the industry’s most celebrated names and publications including Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar, chose to formulate her line using only the most potent, natural, and ethically sourced ingredients out of a passionate belief in the power and goodness of natural beauty. In this special interview for The Essential, Munemi tells us her personal story of how she began her green beauty journey and eventually started her skin care line, as well as her top makeup tips.
Munemi Imai with Anne V
Munemi Imai with Solange Knowles
1. Why did you turn to organic and natural beauty?
I had a bad health scare one winter when I was sick for several weeks. I read about how we consume toxins from different sources, from the food we eat to personal care products, and how they could compromise our health. I switched to a really clean diet, and after a couple of months not only did my body feel better but my moods also improved and I felt more uplifted. I started taking Ayurveda workshops and aromatherapy courses, then began buying raw materials and mixing my own skin care.
MUN No.1 Aknari serum ingredient #1:
Prickly Pear Seed Oil – One of the most precious plant oils in the world, its hands-on extraction process is very meticulous: 1,500 lbs of prickly pear fruit is needed to produce 1 liter of the rare oil. It is exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals. Its inherent anti-aging benefits help reduce the appearance of fine lines and prevent premature wrinkles. Additional properties moisturise, nourish, revitalise, and soften the skin, and brighten dark under-eye circles.
2. Your serum contains only prickly pear seed, argan and rose oils. Why these three?
I was looking for interesting ingredients and took a research trip to Morocco. A homeopathic pharmacist I met there introduced me to prickly pear seed oil. After returning to New York and experimenting with the oil, I was totally amazed. Despite having used so many products throughout my career as a makeup artist, nothing else has had the same “wow” factor like prickly pear seed oil. I knew then that I wanted to create a product with this oil.
MUN No.1 Aknari serum ingredient #2:
Argan Oil – Used by Berber women in Morocco for centuries, its moisturising and revitalising properties restore the skin’s barrier while neutralizing free radicals, making it ideal for daily skincare. Suitable for all skin types, it possesses anti-inflammatory properties that diminish the redness caused by enlarged capillaries, and is an effective treatment for acne and sun-damaged skin.
We went through quite a lot of producers and suppliers before choosing who we source from. During this process, I found that argan oil blended with prickly pear seed oil really well and also helped stabilise the oil. I tested a lot of different formulas with various essential oils, and pretty much everyone loved the simple rose scent, which was labelled 'essential oil formula no.1.' That became part of the final product name: No.1 Aknari. Aknari means 'prickly pear' in the Berber languages of Morocco.
3. The organic and natural movement has taken off a bit slower in Asia compared to the rest of the world. What do you think is the reason for that?
When I was growing up and living in Japan, I often felt that many people would just follow the big brands, instead of looking behind how products are made or the company philosophy. But I feel that's changing, and that’s exciting. More and more people are becoming conscious shoppers.
MUN No.1 Aknari serum ingredient #3:
Rose Essential Oil – Created from one of the world’s most beloved flowers, this oil is known as the Queen of Flowers and a symbol of love, purity, and fragrant perfection. Abundant in vitamin C antioxidants, MUN’s Bulgarian rose oil features rejuvenating properties that soothe while promoting a bright, silky, even-toned and radiant complexion.
4. What’s your five minute beauty routine?
I dry brush my body with a mitt and a few drops of essential oils in the morning before showering. Afterwards, I apply MUN No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose Toner with a cotton pad then No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum on my face. I'm currently using a test formula of MUN body oil.
MUN's latest release, No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose Toner
5. You’ve worked on some of the most famous faces in the fashion industry! Please share with us your top makeup tips :)
• Never go to sleep with makeup on. Cleanse properly!
• Try a little shading and contour to give natural definition. I like using cream foundation formulas that are 2-3 shades darker than your actual colour on temples and under cheekbones. Instead of nose shading, try applying from the inner corner of your eyebrows to the inner corner of your eyes and blend well.
• Stained and shiny lips look fuller than defined and lined lips.
• For a fresh and healthy look, apply blush on the apples of your cheeks but don't go too far out.
Are you already using a facial oil? If not, why not? Let's see if we can convince you otherwise!