Sophia Stener grew up with sensitive skin and eczema, made worse by chemical-filled products. She tried cortisone cream and diphenhydramine, only to discover both have negative impacts on the human body. So the 16-year-old Dallas resident founded a skincare company called Mali Mali, and made her own moisturizer.
“I wanted to find a natural solution,” Stener says. “I searched the web and found all these products, but none made without harmful ingredients.” She researched formulas and worked with a local laboratory to create her ideal moisturizer.
Through ethnopharmacology, the study of substances used for medicinal purposes by cultural groups, Stener uses tamanu oil as the signature ingredient in her Soothing All-Over Moisturizer. The formula utilizes all-natural oils and ingredients to hydrate skin. The moisturizer has an earthy, guava-like scent.
Stener founded the company about one year ago and began selling online last fall. Next week, she’ll launch a second product — lip oil. “It’s a refreshing lip oil that’s easy to apply over lipstick or alone,” she says. “It has a little shimmer like gloss, but it’s all natural.”
And Mali Mali doesn’t just use ingredients wholesome for our bodies, the company also partners with philanthropic organizations. A percentage of Mali Mali’s profits benefit Cool Earth, a charity that works with indigenous villages to keep rainforests intact. Cosmetic pouches (perfect for holding your moisturizer and lip oil) are made my Freeset, a fair trade business that gives employment to former sex trafficked women.
Mali Mali products can be purchased in Dallas at Park Cities Skin Care and Park Cities Allergy & Asthma, as well as online. Stener is open to different products in the future but wants the brand to remain specialty. Stener says many of Mali Mali’s customers use the moisturizer to replace cortisone cream.
“I believe we can learn a lot from the natural world,” Stener says. “My friend has an interesting philosophy. She says we should be able to remember landscape artists for the art they create, not because they showed us what our world used to look like.”