The story of how 31st State got started is a tale as old as time and involves teenage boys, and hormones.
When Stephanie Capuano’s two sons hit puberty and began experiencing the skin issues that are so common among teens, she wasn’t thrilled with any of the conventional offerings on the shelf. As a mother, she was concerned not only that what her boys were slathering on their faces would work to calm and heal their skin, but also that the ingredients were ones that weren’t scary…or that would disrupt their evolving hormones. So Capuano got to work and 31st State was born.
Named in honor of the Capuano family’s home state and also the state of mind she wanted to instill in everyone using their skincare products — what’s better than a California mindset?! — 31st State is here for all your pesky skin issues, teen or not.
Let’s start at the beginning: How did 31st State come to be?/What issues were your sons dealing with that inspired you to start your own line?
When my boys started to need grooming products, I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t packed full of chemicals. What I wanted was products that were made from clean, high-quality ingredients for my boy; what my sons wanted was for them to really work and be cool, of course. Stuck between green-washed and fake natural products that smelled awful and lacked efficacy and stereotypical male aftershave type products laden with chemicals, there seemed to be no option for boys like my sons, or me, the purchaser.
“Untry harder”— why is this motto so important to 31st State? What’s California doing right that the rest of us could learn from?
California is not just a place, it’s a state of mind. It’s a place where life seems a little more effortless. I wanted to bottle that sentiment with 31st State.
There’s so much scrutiny, especially on Gen Z, with the way they look. I wanted to flip that on its head and make it easy for young guys to groom and feel confident without having to put in a ton of effort. I tried to make 31st State as quick and easy as possible while using the best ingredients.
How does caring for your skin change as you get older? Walk me through the lifecycle when puberty hits.
Our skin is ruled by hormones and our hormones change as we age. When we are young, they are rising. In our late teens, they peak. And when we’re in our thirties, they start declining. Skin problems are distressing at any age, but they can be a nightmare for teens who are navigating the choppy waters of adolescence.
Puberty can be a fraught time for teens with their hormones are running rampant. During this time, hormones surge with rises in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, which can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more oil (sebum), which can lead to acne. Almost every teen will be affected by acne to some extent, though the level of acne varies enormously.
Unfortunately, most skincare products made for teens contain unnecessary, irritating ingredients that can cause oilier skin and exacerbate the acne and inflame the skin. It’s important to introduce a healthy skincare regimen early, one without harsh chemicals that are bad for the skin, the body, and the environment.
Self-care is so geared towards women and is often an afterthought for men, especially teenage boys! How did you convince your sons to start taking care of their hair, skin and body?
I think it is important, when boys are young and impressionable, to give them the foundation of a healthy daily grooming regimen and instill good habits as soon as possible. I’ve tried to teach my boys that washing their face and bodies properly is just as important as brushing their teeth. And I always say, if you’re going to shower anyway, you might as well use healthy products.
When they were around 16 years old, I noted that those healthy foundations start to take over as they began to care about what girls and guys thought about their appearance. It’s all about giving them the healthy tools from the beginning!
Desert island product?
The 31st State Overnight Clearing Pads are a favorite of everyone in my house — not just the boys. We call them the “boyfriend jeans” of our product line because everyone loves them! I use them every night. It’s the quickest way to clean your face and is the perfect product for a desert island, overnight bag or anywhere on the go.
One ingredient you can’t get enough of that more people should know about?
Lactic acid is one of the hero ingredients of our skincare range. It’s one of the most popular alpha hydroxyacids (AHAs) in skincare today and is a powerful ingredient that helps reduce breakouts. It also refines and brightens skin without stripping it dry, making it perfect for teenage skin.
What does “self-care” mean to you?
With two businesses, three kids and a husband, right now, self-care means sleep. I am fanatical about getting my eight hours. I also love playing tennis when I can squeeze it in!
What inspires you every day?
It sounds cheesy, but my kids really do inspire me every day. There is a huge difference in what they think about and are concerned with compared to when I was their age. I think they are years ahead of my generation. I learn a lot from them and their friends. They’re progressive, entrepreneurial, and speak their minds — which sometimes shocks me, makes me laugh and inspires me all the time.
What’s the single most important thing someone can do for the health of their skin?
For teens, it’s all about cleansing with good ingredients. It’s something girls [often] learn because they remove makeup, but guys don’t realize that pollution and oil can get caught in their pores leading to breakouts and skin irritation. You also don’t want to fill those pores with chemicals that are common in so many products. It’s important to choose a face wash that won’t dry out sensitive teen skin, which is why our foaming Face Wash is extra gentle. It also has antibacterial manuka to fights spots and magnesium, copper and zinc to prevent future breakouts.