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Introducing 31st State Skincare and Haircare for Men

31st State is an original range of grooming products developed specifically for teenage skin. The products contain powerful, active, and natural ingredients while being effective and delivering on results. The brand is inspired by a vibe that is pure California, the 31st state, where clean living has always been a way of life. The brand is first of its kind and has already garnered praise among guys, their moms, and the beauty industry, winning the Pure Beauty Award for Best New Male Grooming Product, as well as being nominated for a GQ Grooming Award this month. The 31st State range includes body care; a 2-in-1 Hair and Body Wash and a Roll-on Deodorant; Skin Care, including Foaming Face Wash, Spot Control Gel and the award-winning Overnight Clearing Pads; and Hair Care, the Style and Shape Hair Putty and Easy Hold Styling Gel.

These products are free from any ingredients that are known to cause skin sensitivity and are patch tested to ensure dermatological approval. The entire range is also free from SLS, SLES, parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, petro chemicals, propylene glycol, synthetic colours, PEGs, PABA, phthalates, genetically modified ingredients, aluminium, microbeads, lead, mercury and formaldehyde. The products are also vegan, gluten-free and not tested on animals. The packaging is fully recyclable and everything is made in the UK. Here we sit down with the brand founder, Stephanie Capuano, who after a career in Pharmaceutical and Biotec PR, and business development and marketing for luxury brands in Fashion and Travel, the California native and mother of two teen boys and a daughter, launched brand 31st State as an antidote to chemical-packed alternatives on offer to this generation of boys, who are starting to craft their identities as they grow into young men. Inspired by what it felt like growing up in California, Stephanie created a brand devoted to teenage boys, which feels more current and is inspired by the idea of simple effortless California clean.

How do you make sure your products are clean with high quality ingredients? 

“My background was marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, then luxury fashion and travel - so I didn't know how to make skincare products. But I knew what I did and did not want. Our skin is porous and absorbs much of what is applied to it and that includes the long list of harmful chemicals contained in most body care products sold today, especially to young people. I wanted to use the best natural active ingredients (ingredients that have a function) possible that would benefit the skin of young men, who have more sensitive skin. I researched the market thoroughly and via meticulous research and word of mouth, I came upon a product development consultant who had developed highly functional products for leading companies and dermatologists who advised me on ingredients. Together we identified a manufacturer in the UK that specialises in making highly effective and natural products. Essentially, I found the best in the UK to advise me on the most important piece of the pie; the ingredients. We use ingredients like lactic acid, one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in skincare today and a powerful ingredient that helps reduce acne breakouts. The multi mineral composition of magnesium, copper and zinc helps boost cell metabolism and the immediate availability of oxygen to the skin which helps restore radiant, better toned and healthier looking skin. And witch hazel and tea tree are renowned for their antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties; all vital in an effective skincare regime for young guys.”

You've won and been nominated for big awards recently, what does this mean for you and your brand? 

“We are so proud of our awards; especially given they were both awarded in our first year on the market. It really validates not only the excellent quality and performance of our products, but also underscores where the men’s grooming and naturals market is going - both are booming.”  

Did you suffer with skin as a teenager? 

“I had typical teenage skin - occasional spots (at the times you least likely want them!), sensitivity, blackheads, shine and excess oil. When the Pacific Ocean and fresh California air didn't sooth it, I would use rubbing alcohol on it. I wanted to feel the burn! Little did I know how detrimental the burn actually is for teen skin. Most products you find in the high street chemists from the big companies give this effect, but in fact it's the opposite of what acne-prone and sensitive skin needs. It needs love and care and a gentle routine, which is what 31st State is designed for.”

Stephanie Capuano
Stephanie Capuano

What inspired you to set up this brand? 

“I created 31st State out of a genuine need: my teen boys were entering adolescence and needed to start grooming, treating spots, wearing deodorant and washing properly. I wanted them to use natural products and they wanted to use the high street brands that are elbow deep in chemicals. I was frustrated to find that there was nothing on the market made for young men that smelled great, looked good and worked so that they would want to use it. We couldn’t find any products that weren’t filled with harmful chemicals either, so I decided to create them myself. On a much deeper level, I was really moved by watching my boys navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and the emotions involved in that. There is a lot of discussion about girls navigating body and self-image issues, but very little about boys who struggle equally during these years. I was blown away to learn that the number one killer of teen boys in the UK is suicide. The overall wellbeing of young men is at the heart of 31st State.”

What is the current state of the teenage skin market? 

“Clean, green and natural beauty options are growing like gangbusters right now across all demographics - but interestingly until the last year there really was nothing on the market for young men 14-24, members of Gen Z. A lot of the bigger beauty brands are taking note and trying to figure out how to innovate to keep up with the indie beauty brands. Consumers now have access to so much more information about the ingredients in products and so cleaner and greener beauty is growing. It's not a trend — it’s never going to go away. Just like the healthier food movement, once you know about healthier ingredients, you can’t un-know it. Once people find something that’s healthier and works for them, very few go back. It's not just a trend - it's a powerful new movement.” 

Will you diversify further? 

“Now that we are on the market and have concrete traction with our customer and a dialogue with them, we are learning what else is missing from their daily routine and how we can enhance their lives in a healthy way, looking at the overall wellness of young men.”

How important are 'free from' ingredients and the fully recyclable packaging to you? 

“The 'free from' claim is vital for our ethos. It means safer products that are made without a long, ever-evolving list of ingredients linked to harmful health effects from hormone disruption to cancer, to plain-old skin irritation. To name just a few: parabens, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, BHT, BHA. We look at studies and decide what ingredients we can live with, and those we can’t. Do you want antifreeze (propylene glycol) in your moisturiser? When it comes to recycling, plastic has an increasingly good track record and it’s a really innovative space that is improving at a rapid pace - as such we are always looking for ways we can improve our standards with each new product we bring out.” 

Has it been a challenge to make sure everything is made in the UK? 

“It has not been a challenge at all. The EU bans about 1500 more ingredients than the US, so in terms of innovation and safety, manufacturing in the UK was an excellent decision for us.”

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