The Woman Obsessed With Mangosteen

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Annie Tevelin in Vietnam (Photo: SkinOwl)

Annie Tevelin in Vietnam (Photo: SkinOwl)

A huge zit at the wrong time (okay, anytime) is enough to make anyone act a little crazy. And when 28-year-old Annie Tevelin, a Lancome makeup artist based in Los Angeles, couldn't find one product that worked for her cystic acne, she did something drastic: she developed her own skin-care line, SkinOwl, to make it go away.

“American products are focused on this idea of acid peels and harsh chemicals," says Tevelin. "I started researching cultures that use earth-driven methods, and I learned that Southeast Asian women are known for their clear, poreless skin and holistic practices.” With that, she reached into her (pretty skimpy) savings and booked a trip to Vietnam, determined to have what they were having.

While exploring Halong Bay, Tevelin discovered fruits and vegetables she’d never seen in the U.S., like mangosteen. “Everyone said, 'This is the queen of the fruits.' Its healing powers are used for everything, including face masks for supple skin,” says Tevelin. An obsession began. 

Fresh produce—including mangosteen in the middle—makes its way through Halong Bay.
Fresh produce—including mangosteen in the middle—makes its way through Halong Bay. (Photo: SkinOwl)

Turns out, the eggplant-colored tropical fruit is a beauty workhorse: studies have found that mangosteen has hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties, and that’s not to mention the research that’s been done on the fruit’s potential in cancer prevention (so yeah, it can actually make you more beautiful and potentially prevent cancer).  

The magic lies in mangosteen’s skin, which is rich in potent antioxidants (for beauty geeks, they’re called xanthones). In Vietnam, Tevelin found that simply eating the fruit—or mashing it up and slathering it on her face—improved her complexion immediately. “It was a game changer,” she says. “My skin looked smoother overnight. It was like someone put an Instagram filter on my face.”

Mangosteen boosted Tevelin's beauty morale, and got her thinking much bigger picture. “I'd spent years feeling embarrassed that I worked in the beauty industry, but couldn’t fix my own skin,” she says. “All of a sudden, I found a remedy not just for me, but others, too. It felt like a light at the end of a long, long tunnel.”  

When she arrived home after her two-week trip, Tevelin was broke but inspired: she enrolled in a year-long cosmetic chemistry course, and set out to make the benefits of mangosteen—and other fruits like lychee—available in skin care sold stateside. And with that, SkinOwl, was born.

The oil is meant to be applied at night, so it can be activated by your body's rising temperature. (Photo: SkinOwl
The oil is designed to be applied at night, so it can be activated by your body's rising temperature. (Photo: SkinOwl

After five years researching mangosteen extract, as well as the moisturizing baobab oil it's mixed with, she's launching SkinOwl’s new Beauty Drops Mangosteen ($85) this week. She found a re-harvested, sustainable source back in Halong Bay, making sure that the product you put on your skin in America is as legit as the one she slathered on in Vietnam. “There’s no fluff or filler in it. It's two ingredients. That’s what makes it so potent,” says Tevelin.

And it doesn’t just work on acne. “I’ve used it on my LA friends who are new mommies and need something to brighten, or my own mom for anti-aging.” It’s effective and natural, so that only leaves one question… does wearing the queen of fruits come with a crown? —Rachel Brown

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