Melissa Bayanzadeh, the founder of Mérv, is definitely one of the most well-educated skin care executives in the world. With a background in chemical and biological engineering, Bayanzadeh worked in pharmaceuticals for years before going back to school to get her MBA, and pivoting to become an entrepreneur. And if botanical face oils sound like they’re a world away from chemical engineering pharmaceuticals, well, they are. Just like the founders of Avoila, who also pursued pharmaceutical careers before leaving them to start a company focused on avocado oil, Bayanzadeh ultimately became interested in skincare because of her own experiences.
As soon as she began experimenting with an all-natural approach to skincare, instead of using harsh chemicals, the scientist in her led Melissa to begin exploring why botanicals and organic ingredients had the impact they did. All of this research culminated in Mérv, her own company that uses only natural ingredients. The move away from chemicals and synthetic ingredients in skincare and toward organic, natural products has been a swift one, but Bayanzadeh’s scientific background is part of what makes Mérv’s story surprising and a little more rare. So many people still love to write off a passionate interest in skincare as something shallow or superfluous, and the industry’s shifts are increasingly proving that’s not the case.
Because of my interest in Bayanzadeh’s career path, I was thrilled to try some of the Mérv products, specifically one of the face oils. I spent the last few weeks using the Deep Nourish Oasis Oil ($65 Canadian, about $50 American) at night before bed, and during the day when I remembered or had enough time to let it sink in. While a lot of face oils are clear and sweet-smelling or not fragrant, one of the things I loved about the Nourish oil right away is the greenish/yellow color and a minty, grassy fresh smell. Eucalyptus oil is one of my favorite things to use during yoga practice, or just as an anxiety-calming aid, and the Nourish oil reminded me of that. I later realized that’s because the blend includes tea tree oil, or melaleuca, an Australian shrub long used for calming skin infections and inflammation.
Along with tea tree oil, this blend also combines macadamia nut, evening primrose, and avocado oil — again, like Avoila — to create a blend designed to keep skin soft and hydrated. This oil is a thick one, so I noticed it would stay on top of my skin for up to ten minutes after application, and I started using my 24K golden beauty bar to help it soak in, or a jade roller works too. (More on the gold beauty bar tools here if you’re thrown by that.) Because the product is so thick, I recommend using a gua sha stone or some other skincare tool to help make sure the product really sinks into your skin.
Although not as commonly seen as an ingredient, macadamia nut is a great source of palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid that decreases in skin over time due to aging but helps with healing and is an antimicrobial. Macadamia nut oil is also a moisturizer due to linoleic acid, a rejuvenating ingredient that helps smooth out wrinkles and inflammation. Evening primrose oil is a quickly-rising superfood ingredient that contains more hydrating linoleic acid and stearic acid, which softens skin. Combined with avocado oil, which is plentiful with vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E (antioxidant and skin repair) and Vitamin C (brightening, among other things), and the soothing tea tree oil, this product is a very hydrating and calming one for my skin.
My skin tends toward combination or oily, and I noticed using this product helped it be more balanced, even around my nose and chin which can be problem areas. I also liked using it because getting out the gold bar tool to help it soak in became something of a nighttime ritual, and the distinct smell was also a calming one before bed. I’d absolutely recommend this oil for anyone looking for a general face oil that focuses on hydration and softness, I think it also reduced the appearance of my smile lines, forehead lines and stubborn under eye circles.
I mentioned the Nourish Oil is great for night, but Mérv also has a more lightweight product called the Dewy Day Glow Oil ($80 Canadian, about $60 American) that’s specifically designed for easy absorption during the day, and a Moonlight Renewal Oil ($80 Canadian, about $60 American) that’s ideal for nighttime use. Finally, they also make a toner, the Garden Rose Toner ($40 Canadian, about $30 American) that uses rose hydrosol and vegetable glycerin to brighten and tone. I plan to try more products in the future, especially the other two oils, and remain impressed with the small but mighty empire Melissa has built in just a short time.
All of Mérv’s products are designed and manufactured in Vancouver, Canada, where the company is based, even if the name itself is taken from the city of Merv (مرو), a city oasis right on the southern border of the Karakum desert. If there’s a better metaphor for all-natural skincare than a city oasis in the desert, I don’t know what it is! But the good news for Canadians is they offer free shipping across the country, and the good news for Americans is that they do ship here, too. So if you’re in the market for an all-around great multi-tasking face oil, look no further.
Learn more about Mérv here.