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Sapelo Skincare founders offer healing without harm


In 2011, as Cindy Edwards and Stephanie Duttenhaver shared a champagne lunch with the late author Pat Conroy, they realized they were a dynamic duo. Having just convinced the elusive writer to headline the Savannah Book Festival, they believed there was nothing they couldn’t do as a team. “We were on a real high,” Edwards said. 

Their next joint adventure was a bit more challenging. Frustrated with the choices on the market, the friends decided to create a high-end line of skincare inspired by the South. The same year Conroy appeared as keynote speaker at the Book Festival, Sapelo Skincare made its debut. 

Manufactured in small batches at a certified cosmetic laboratory in Savannah, Sapelo is currently sold in boutiques nationwide and SaksFifthAvenue.com. In creating the line, Edwards and Duttenhaver were motivated by their own struggles to find the right products for their respective skin concerns. 

“ I like to say it was birthdays,” Duttenhaver said. “Eventually you get to the place in your life where you start noticing that you are aging and the signs of aging start to show in your face.” 

But neither of them wanted to rely on popular anti-aging treatments that seemed to damage the skin such as micro needling, dermabrasion and Fraxel lasers. Instead, they sought gentler methods to repair and restore the skin. 

“We feel like we have a voice not only for women who are trying new things but (who) are not going out and tearing up their faces,” Edwards said.

Working with a team of physicians and cosmetic scientists from across the country, they developed a skincare regimen that bypasses the damage but mimics the immune system response when skin is healing, Duttenhaver said.

They started with a hydrating serum infused with three hyaluronic acids. The water-based serum floods the skin cells with water prepping them to absorb an oil-based cream which penetrates into the deeper layers of skin. “You start to see plump, hydrated healthy skin,” Edwards said. “It is a healthier way to do it.”

Other ingredients reference their Southern roots including gardenia stem cells, magnolia oil and honey sourced just outside of Savannah. The skincare collection began as a three-step system, but their customers quickly demanded more. An eye serum followed as well as an anti-aging enzyme mask and a milk and honey collection that has been popular with pregnant and nursing women.

Prices range from $38 for cleansers to $260 for the serum. New developments on the horizon include a cellulite cream and an all-in-one product, Duttenhaver said. 

Women are becoming more and more educated when it comes to what they put on their skin, said the friends, and Edward and Duttenhaver hope those women see value in what Sapelo offers. 

“We are having so much fun and we are really excited about the future,” Edwards said.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.