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Wellness expert wellness routine: Mark Walton, Co-Founder of VOYA

Harnessing the power of the sea, we speak to one wellness expert about how they maintain health and balance.

VOYA is famous for its organic, seaweed-based products that hail from Strandhill, Co. Sligo in Ireland. Used at home and in spa treatments, the brand has become synonymous with eco-friendly, natural wellbeing. Here, we spoke to Co-Founder, Mark Walton, to find out more about the brand and his own wellness routine.

How did you come up with the idea for VOYA?

VOYA grew out of our very successful family-run seaweed baths business in Strandhill, Co. Sligo founded by my brother Neil Walton. As the popularity of the seaweed baths grew, we wondered if there was some way to replicate the seaweed spa experience in people’s homes. We created a fledging start up business by combining our family knowledge of the therapeutic properties of wild seaweed with the expertise of highly skilled natural cosmetic scientists and dermatologists. Since then we have been able to carry some of the unique qualities and effects of seaweed into spa treatments, beauty and skincare products – and so VOYA, the spa brand was born. Today VOYA’s organic products and treatments are available in leading spas and stockists throughout the world.

What's the evidence behind seaweed-based skincare?

Seaweed has been used for over 300 years as therapy for a variety of skin and rheumatic conditions in Ireland. Seaweed natural absorbs its nourishment from the sea, over 80% of the seaweed plant is made up of essential minerals, vitamins, and other bioactive compounds. Many of the bioactive compounds in algae are not found anywhere else, which can be particularly beneficial in skincare. These include Fucoxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that can quench harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species that damage our bodies cells and Phlorotannins, a type of polyphenol, whose antioxidant activity fights against the free radicals that damage our cells and DNA. Seaweed is almost unique in that it is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12. It is important that the seaweed is harvested from clean, unpolluted waters to guarantee its purity, which the Atlantic West Coast of Ireland offers.

VOYA works with the most advanced cosmetic scientists to ensure our seaweed-based facial and body care products are highly effective. Our latest independent scientific research on the efficacy of seaweed completed in conjunction with the Shannon Biotechnology Research Centre at the Institute of Technology, Tralee, confirms that seaweed has a profound effect on Antioxidant Protection, Collagen Production and Skin Barrier Quality.

What’s your overall goal when it comes to wellness - personally?

I try and maintain health and balance in my life but also keep in mind that some things are beyond on our control, instead focusing on the thing that are not.

What do you do to stay fit and healthy?

I try and reap the benefits of being in the water when I can - I personally feel a great connection to the ocean. I have always surfed and love taking long ocean swims. I am blessed to live 100m from the sea and appreciate that I can just put on my wetsuit and go, without a plan and swim and explore. 

Do you have an actual wellbeing routine?

As well as my ocean swims, Kira and I also try and be in the moment as much as we can. Being in nature, whether it be by the coast or in the countryside, truly immersed in it, being present in it, really has a great impact on our own personal wellbeing. We also have regular seaweed baths, at least one a month, either at home or at the VOYA Baths. Seaweed bathing has been a tradition in Ireland for centuries so it’s a wellness ritual that we grew up with. The seaweed bath is a remedy. It’s like a poultice, it draws out toxins and replaces them with essential vitamins and minerals that the seaweed has taken from the sea. A hot seaweed bath is better than a wet steam sauna because the sea greens rebalance skin chemistry instead of dehydrating it.

What do you do for skincare?

I keep my routine quite simple but Kira and I often do find ourselves testing new VOYA products! We have both recently introduced VOYA’s new Advanced Skincare Serums into our skincare. For me, the Hyaluronate Anti-Pollution Serum is my go to as it replaces the moisture in my skin that I lose with my regular swimming. Kira loves the Bio Retinol Concentrate Serum as it uses a plant based Retinol alternative which means it is more gentle on the skin but with no compromise on effectiveness. 
Do you have particular habits when it comes to diet?

We try and eat with the seasons as much as we can. We also take supplements. I do think it is important to find a supplement that supports your body, at whatever age you may be. For me,  my go to is Sea Ór Orplex Body Supplement. It contains all the vitamins and minerals you need and is scientifically formulated using Orplex™ our innovative marine formula which contains seaweed, Vitamin C, Zinc and Coenzyme Q10. I have more energy all the time since I’ve added it to my daily routine.

How do you balance work/life and what does that mean to you?

In our fast paced, always on world it is more essential than ever to try and find balance between work and life, although that is sometimes easier said than done! We do have a strict end of day policy at VOYA – once the office is closed we ask that no one sends emails out of work hours so that everyone has the opportunity to focus on themselves when they are not in the office.

What’s your main piece of wellbeing advice in a modern world?

For Kira and I, the root of all wellbeing starts with the planet. It is essential if we are all to live the best lives we can on earth that we look after the world around us first. We both take a moment in all that we do –personally and professionally - to ask ourselves if there is a better way of doing it. We all need to take responsibility for the environment.

Experience VOYA at The Salthouse Hotel

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