Written by Stephanie Duttenhaver, Sapelo co-founder
Michael Warshaw, cosmetic scientist and founder of MW Labs
When we started Sapelo Skin Care, we knew we wanted to not only design our product line in the South, but to actually make our products here too. We turned to Michael Warshaw, a Southern-born chemist with a lab in our hometown of Savannah, and with his guidance, we created a luxurious skin care line inspired by the exact place we all live.
We recently sat down with Michael for some insight into how this Savannahian became such an expert on skin care.
Why did you become a cosmetic scientist?
If I follow the path of my life, I know that God has been directing me the whole time. In 1977, I was thinking about going to med school, and I was making rounds with a local physician. One day, we were in the ICU and I observed a patient suffering from severe skin problems. It really affected me. That was when I first had the idea to focus on improving the quality and well-being of someone’s skin, so I sought a more fulfilling avenue as a chemist.
How did you get started?
I worked my way into an R & D position for a large pharmaceutical company. During that time, my mother, Joy, had an issue with her eyes and the surrounding tissue: They would constantly tear up, swell and redden when she applied over-the-counter beauty products. She was frustrated and did not know what to do. She was also turning 50 that year! So I told her that I would make something for her to use, and I started experimenting with formulas.
And did your mom like it?
It was a hit! So, in 1985, I rented a small space and began to create skin-related products to help people with specific issues. I remember my next big project was for a little boy who ran into a barbed wire fence. I developed a nourishing cream designed to help heal his cuts and reduce scarring. And my skin remedies grew from there.
What inspires your work?
Each step I have taken along my career path was due to creating a product to help people. If I can change the life of one person for the better, then I have done what I was led to do. Healing skin issues—and the people who come into my life—has always been my inspiration.