The Secrets Of Very Productive People - Jane Wurwand, Founder of Dermalogica

Posted on 17 August 2015


It doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it – everyone is always looking for ways to be more productive. Excessive amounts of caffeine and list-making won’t get you any closer to reaching peak productivity levels though. Being productive is also not about one’s intellect or capability. Being productive is about practicing certain habits over others, so that you can get the most out of your days. In our Very Productive People series we will be profiling successful and influential women in business (VPPs) (like you!) who not-only view health and fitness as a non-negotiable investment in their wellbeing but also see it as a complete necessity for their productivity.  

  • Tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are today? How was Dermalogica launched?
  • At a very young age, my practical English Mum told me that it was important that I learn how to “DO” something. My mother was a skilled nurse and had instilled in me the importance of vocational skillset training. So I always knew I would choose any industry where I would need to use my hands. My very first job was coincidentally my first introduction to the professional salon industry and how I began my career. At the age of 13, I was hired by a local salon in my neighborhood in the UK as a “Saturday Girl”. This job consisted of me sweeping up hair cuttings from the floor where the ladies were having their bi-weekly wash and set. Then I would pick through vast boxes of hair cuttings and retrieve the hundreds of hair-pins, which were then disinfected and re-used. When I was promoted to shampoo girl, I was over the moon! A few years later, I made the decision to become a licensed skin therapist as well as receive my teaching credentials so I could also be an instructor. After working in the UK for a few years, I decided to move to South Africa in 1978, where I was immediately able to find employment at a local salon as a result of my vocational skillset training. It was soon after I had moved that I met Raymond, my then boyfriend, and now husband. Four years later, Raymond and I moved to Los Angeles, where we developed and launched Dermalogica. Creating the products was actually the second step in what has become an amazing, perhaps unlikely life-journey for the two of us—it goes far beyond a career. When we first came to the United States, with one suitcase each, we lived in a little apartment, and we opened The International Dermal Institute (IDI), which today is considered the gold standard in terms of education for our industry. As a professional skin therapist, I immediately noticed there was a gap in education in the U.S. as compared to Europe. Identify the greatest pain in an industry and you have also identified the greatest opportunity. And that opportunity was to develop and provide an advanced education program to already licensed skin care professionals. So we created IDI to raise the bar, and to give skin therapists in the U.S. a competitive skill set edge. As we developed our curriculum, we realized there weren’t any products which suited the science-based curriculum we were teaching. The skin care lines which were available were very European-influenced, perfumed, with artificial color and fragrance, packaged in gold and pink boxes, and making false promises. We felt it was time for a more modern approach to skin care that produces results, so we developed a “cosmeceutical” line – one that embraces both cosmetic and pharmaceutical elements. In 1986, Dermalogica was born and we developed and launched 27 core products available only to licensed skin care professionals. Today, almost 30 years later, Dermalogica is still the number one professional skin care brand, sold in more than 80 countries around the world. Ever since my first job as a “Saturday Girl”, I knew professional skin care was the industry I was meant to be in and I’ve never looked back. This industry, which is comprised of 98% women, opens more economic opportunities for women than any other. This fact alone makes me incredibly proud to be a part of this ‘Tribe’.


  • What is one of the most important lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur?
  • An important lesson is don’t get distracted by the next bright, shiny thing, stay focused on the course ahead. A really important choice we’ve made these past 30 years is turning a blind eye, deliberately, to what other companies are doing. You can get yourself completely off-track merely by chasing the other dog’s tail, so to speak. We have never engaged in focus groups, for example. I test, use and tweak every new product we work on. Once I love it, we use real life Skin Therapists in our classes to test the products and our clients in our concept stores to give us their feedback. We have never spent much of our resources on fretting about what other brands are producing in the skin care space. This is a game unto itself, trying to be the first one out with a particular new, exotic ingredient, for instance. We are always seeking new answers in the lab in terms of formulation, but we are much more concerned about what works with the skin, what produces measurable results, versus using a particular ingredient merely because it is the latest trend.By following our instincts and doing what is right, Dermalogica has become the world’s number one professional skin care brand for nearly 30 years.


  • What daily habits keep you productive?
  • I keep a list in my diary of all the things that need to get done every day, which helps me to prioritize and keeps me organized. I am also very meticulous about my calendar, ensuring that all meetings and travel plans are scheduled as efficiently as possible so time is well spent and never wasted.


  • Why is health and fitness a priority for you?
  • Keeping a healthy lifestyle is extremely important to me – this includes eating well and working out five times a week. I have been doing Pilates for more than 20 years and I have seen both my body and mind transform – not only am I physically stronger, but it helps my ability to focus on what needs to be achieved. A few years ago, I started enjoying SoulCycle classes, which has been a fun way to add cardio into my routine. If my body is physically fit and strong, I know I can face and tackle whatever challenges come my way.


  • Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
  • Every morning, I make it a point to have breakfast with my family. It doesn’t matter how busy the day ahead may be, my family will always come first.


  • What do you do to unwind?
  • Working out! Taking a variety of fitness classes is a terrific outlet for me that helps me to unwind and focus on what is truly important.


  • What are your thoughts on mistakes, challenges or failures?
  • We are all human, which means we all make mistakes. But what’s important is that we learn from those mistakes. When starting a business, the mistakes are just as important as the successful choices we make. In order to truly enjoy “success”, or even understand what that word means, we must overcome a few challenges and mistakes along the way. It’s all part of the entrepreneurial journey.


  • At Vie Active we celebrate the notion of being FLAWSOME, realizing that we can’t always be perfect and that our imperfectness is what makes us who we are – what makes you FLAWSOME?
  • We all have strengths and weaknesses, but it’s important to identify what each are early on, especially as an entrepreneur starting a business and building a team. Our strengths are always our weaknesses in another situation. I am pretty OCD and have a perfectionist eye for detail – a package design can be 99% correct, but my eye goes immediately to the 1% that is wrong. It’s a blessing and a curse – I’m blessed because I WILL spot the mistake, and a curse because it means I am rarely completely satisfied! I know my imperfections are also what make me unique and help drive me to become better, to dream big and to do the very best I can, every day.


  • Where can we find you?
  • Website

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Instagram





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