After leaving the corporate world behind, Randy Schreck has founded not one but two innovations in skincare: SenSpa and SenZen. Both are dedicated to wellness and the fusion of Eastern healing and Western science. I spoke to Randy about how SenSpa and SenZen came to fruition, why both are distinctive in the world of skincare and spas, and new products we can look forward to in the near future.

What were you doing prior to SenZen and SenSpa? How did you make the transition to developing skincare products and a spa?

I was a marketing executive in the corporate world and I decided that that life was not fulfilling for me any longer. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, I don’t want to do this anymore; so the next day, I went in to see the CEO and I resigned. I had just signed for an expensive house and hadn’t moved in yet, but I knew that if I didn’t care about houses, cars, trips and my own ego, I would not do this job for another day.

I was working with an executive life coach and we were talking about what I was passionate about. I had always thought for some reason in the back of my mind that I wanted to build a brand of spas that were synonymous with service but indigenous to the cultures of where they were located. And since I was eighteen years old, I’ve been playing with skincare products. I was the first one at the Clinique counter testing their latest bronzer. So I always knew in the back of my mind that someday I would get involved with skincare.

I was serious about changing my path and doing something different. I enrolled in esthetician school in 2002; I knew I didn’t want that as a career, but I did want estheticians’ knowledge.

A friend of mine had a spa in San Francisco, so I went there to learn a bit about the business. I worked there for a couple of years, and then launched SenSpa with my business partner, Dave Spencer, in 2006.

What came first – SenZen or SenSpa, or did they come together? What exactly sparked the idea for them?

SenSpa came first. SenZen started out as a smaller concept in an effort to expand the brand of SenSpa and to look at ways to create a high efficacy product that would also represent the advanced level of skincare we were doing at SenSpa. And I was looking at the world (the very saturated world) of skincare, and thinking, is there a way of making anything different?

So when I put all that together, I thought about the healing traditions of the East that people have used for thousands of years, and how that could be blended with the latest scientifically innovative skincare.

There are amazing Eastern based lines out there and they are great maintenance lines, as in they are very good for maintaining one’s skin in whatever condition it’s already in. Then there are great scientifically advanced lines that are great for turning the skin around, but can also create inflammatory issues because of their heavy use of acids, retinols and astringents.

I knew there had to be a way to marry these two ideas; feed the skin with nutrition and healing, but combine it with turn around peptides and oxygen. It’s the perfect marriage of East and West.

SenSpa is very steeped in Eastern philosophy in terms of health and beauty from the inside out. That’s also at the core of SenZen.

After you had the idea for SenZen, what was the process like in making it happen? How long did it take to go from concept to reality?

Six months. I had a really good idea about what I wanted; everything from texture to fragrance to color to bottling to packaging, and I worked with an amazing formulator. Together, we just made it happen. And in those six months we did three full rounds of testing. Clients filled out evaluation forms and I held forums with them to get feedback. Then we would revise the product, get another batch out and start again. We also evaluated studies and ingredients used in the products.

Did you reach out to scientific authorities in order to begin developing SenZen?

We’ve done independent testing here, but the raw materials and ingredients we have sourced have a lot of resources and data backing them up. Tetra peptides is one example. There’s a lot of third party and manufacturing research on things like that.

What does SenZen mean, and what is the philosophy behind your products?

I was a marketing executive for a while, so when I started with the concept I was already thinking about names. I wanted to show the balance of what’s in there, the blending of things into a harmonious state, which is the “Zen.” And “Sen” is sourced from SenSpa, but it’s also the meridians on which your energy travels. In terms of the logo, the circle has motion, and the word “SenZen” is encircled in this energy. The philosophy behind my products is nourishing skin from both directions – inside out and outside in.

What makes SenZen different from other brands?

The harmonious marriage of East and West, which involves Eastern healing traditions combined with scientific advancements.

On your website, you say that SenZen’s Energized Liposomal Delivery System gives you all you need in one skin care line, including hydration, soothing, anti-oxidizing, energizing, and protecting. How does SenZen accomplish this?

The base formula is an herbal complex. In a lot of skincare, the base is comprised of ingredients like aloe vera, water and oil. For us, the base is an energized formulation of seventeen compressed herbs. Every single one has its own distinct properties that make them great for the skin. For example, some are anti fungal, some are anti aging and some encourage cell renewal. Then you add in the vitamin complex (vitamins A, B, C, F and H) and the mineral complex.

Then on top of that, we added unique ingredients to specific SenZen products in a high efficacy way. The base formulation combined with the liposomal delivery system combined with specific ingredients tailored for each SenZen product are what allow you to have all you need in one skincare line.

What ingredients will I find in SenZen products that are particularly noteworthy?

The oxygen peptide treatment in Breath of Life is noteworthy. Perfluorodecalin creates an oxygen effect and Tetrapeptide-17 is a fibroblast simulator.

What ingredients will I not find in SenZen products?

You won’t find parabens in our products; we try to be as pure as we can be.

SenSpa has received quite a bit of press – it’s been mentioned in W, In Style, and Allure, just to name a few. Can you tell me why SenSpa is so popular? What does it offer that other spas don’t? Explain the SenSpa experience.

The SenSpa experience involves trying to help people bring wellness into their everyday lives. We were very counter to what other spas were doing; everyone was going medi-spa in 2005. We thought that there was still a place for wellness in a day spa format. And so what makes us unique is that we completely focus from the inside out. We have wellness coaching, acupuncture, nutrition counseling, cupping, body work, and advanced esthetics in a 13,000 square foot space, which is huge considering we’re located in a major metropolitan city (San Francisco). About 60% of the space is dedicated to relaxation, which includes a tea garden, a room with a fireplace, a sanctuary garden, and a wellness apothecary with custom blend essential oils. We hire really experienced, wonderful people, who provide blended treatments that address the state that you’re in. SenSpa has a bit of a spiritual feel to it and it’s really a uniquely tailored experience for each person.

If you were to pick one SenZen product to give to someone who is unfamiliar with your skin care line, what would it be and why?

Double Dose: Eye Cream. It’s the perfect eye cream. It’s soothing, hydrating and you see an instant result from it. Plus, there are long-term effects over time. It’s also great for dark circles.

What is your personal favorite SenZen product?

I like Double Dose: Eye Cream, Breath of Life: Oxygen Peptide Treatment, Infinity: Never Ending Facial Moisturizer, the hair treatment; they all work incredibly well.

What other brands are you a fan of, other than SenZen?

I am trying Rhonda Allison sea minerals, which takes heat out of the skin. I use a CosMedix retinol product to get vitamin A. And I use Becca’s tinted moisturizer with SPF on days I don’t use Infinity. Becca is an Australian line – we’re the only place in San Francisco that carries the entire line.

What do you foresee as being the next big breakthrough in cosmetics?

Stem cells. I don’t know exactly how they will work yet, but I’ve heard a lot of talk about how to use them and what you can combine them with to make them interesting and perhaps revolutionary.

What’s new for SenZen and SenSpa? Any new products or services being introduced?

For SenZen, there are some interesting things that are happening with the tightening and lifting of the skin. I’m looking now with the formulator to see if there is a way to broaden the line a bit with things like vitamin C and cellulite reduction.

For SenSpa, we’re going to keep going with what we’re doing with the wellness bandwagon – and I’m excited about that. I think we’ll look at ways to continue to help people with stress because that’s been of paramount importance over the last year. And we’ll look at ways to incorporate other forms of wellness into the spa, potentially including chiropractic care and some more serious form of health assessments.