An Exclusive Interview with Andy Rah, the Founder of Sauce Beauty

In the haircare industry, innovation often arises from unexpected sources. Meet Andy Rah, the culinary enthusiast turned beauty mogul behind Sauce Beauty, a brand redefining haircare with a delectable twist. Join us as we delve into Andy’s dedication to hair nourishment and ingredient transparency through TransHAIRency™, and the seamless fusion of food and haircare that defines Sauce Beauty’s ethos.

OTC: What inspired you to merge your passions for haircare products and cooking to create Sauce Beauty? 
Andy: I had worked in the beauty industry for around 15 years when I started Sauce Beauty, but I have always had a personal passion for cooking and eating food.  My kids have grown up helping me in the kitchen, and they’ve both learned to be daring with trying new food.  My daughter even started eating raw oysters when she was around 8 years old.  Sauce Beauty was my opportunity to combine my work passion with my personal passion.

OTC: Can you tell us about the journey from working with top beauty companies to founding your own brand? 
Andy: I had the amazing opportunity to work for some of the biggest and successful beauty companies, like L’Oreal USA in New York City, TIGI (part of Unilever) and Macadamia Beauty.  I also helped Gabrielle Union start her own haircare brand, Flawless by Gabrielle Union.  As my path took me from bigger companies to smaller and smaller companies, I became more involved with aspects of the business outside of my sweet spot, which was marketing.  I learned from some amazing industry leaders and finally felt able to start my own company in 2018.

OTC: How do you incorporate your expertise in haircare product development into creating unique formulations for Sauce Beauty? 
Andy: I’ve been fortunate enough to create products for a wide variety of haircare brands, from high-end retail, to salon and mass brands.  I think this experience really helps me create my formulas for Sauce Beauty, because I’m able to take some of the best formulas, ingredients and innovations from brands across all of these channels.  What I like to say is that I bring the efficacy and innovation from prestige and salon brands into the mass retail channel.  I believe products must work – they must be highly efficacious first, and then we figure out the rest after that.

OTC: Please share some insights into how you select ingredients for your products, particularly those inspired by recipes. 
Andy: I try to bring inspiration from some tried and true ‘home recipes’ for hair.  Some of those true kitchen recipes – like people putting avocadoes in their hair, or coconut oil.  And of course, bringing some of the great technology that’s available to us now that hasn’t always been.  But instead of being a highly technical or ingredient-driven brand, I have always wanted Sauce Beauty to be fun and whimsical.  To me, there are far too many brands that take themselves so seriously.  Sauce is meant to be fun!  That’s why we try to come up with fun names like Hot Sauce and Tzatziki Taming Spray. 

OTC: Your brand emphasizes TransHAIRency™. How do you ensure transparency in your product formulations, and why is it important to you? 
Andy: I have to be transparent myself here.  I got the idea of TransHAIRency from Southwest Airlines, who coined the Transfarency a long time ago.  For those that don’t know, Sauce Beauty was founded in Texas, just like Southwest Airlines.  Being transparent to the consumer is important to me.  You see so many brands out there that talk about the great key ingredients they have in their formulas.  But what they don’t do is talk about all of the other chemicals.  But as a product developer, I believe that chemicals can be just as important as the natural ingredients in a product; sometimes even more so.  On our website, you’ll see that every ingredient in every product is listed out, with explanations why we use that ingredient.  That way, the consumer can understand that a chemical might be necessary in a product as a preservative, for example, to keep it safe in the hot, humid environment of a shower for months at a time.

OTC: What challenges did you face when starting Sauce Beauty, and how did you overcome them? 
Andy: Brand awareness was probably the toughest part of starting out as a brand new product line from a brand new company.  I think one of the best things we did was a significant consumer sampling program that was supplemented with a review program (consumers tried the samples and were asked to go to our website or retailer websites and review them).  Our Guacamole Whip Hair Mask was the sample we gave out, and it got such rave reviews online that it really took off like we could have never imagined.  And it’s still our best selling product today.

OTC: Could you highlight some key ingredients used in Sauce Beauty products and their specific benefits for hair and scalp health? 
Andy: Oh there are so many ingredients, it’s hard to pick!  But I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the Guacamole Whip Hair Mask first.  Our best selling product has avocado, monoi oil and argan oil.  Everyone knows that avocados are a super food, but they’re not just good for your body, they’re great for hair.  Monoi and argan oils are tried and true ingredients that are ideal for making hair soft, shiny and healthy.  But we’re also launching some new products with cutting edge ingredients, bringing technology to our portfolio.   Our new Guacamole Whip Bond-Repairing Leave-In Spray Mask that is launching contains bond-repairing polypeptides, functional keratin and quinoa proteins – these ingredients combine to help prevent hair breakage instantly and protects hair color. 

OTC: How do you see Sauce Beauty contributing to the evolving landscape of clean beauty and consumer awareness about product ingredients? 
Andy: Our products all have a baseline in clean beauty, with each product being sulfate-free and paraben-free.  Our products for textured hair takes that a step further and are also free of silicones, alcohol, petrolatum, gluten and phthalates.  We also keep an eye on what retailers and watch groups consider ‘clean’ and try to participate when it makes sense.  But as I mentioned earlier, one of my first priorities is that products work as they’re expected to; so we make all of our ingredient selections with deliberation and understanding the tradeoffs between the performance that a consumer wants vs. just being able to claim to be on someone’s clean list.  The difficult part of this process is that every retailer has a different definition of what ‘clean beauty’ is, so we have to use our own judgment in terms of balancing product performance and just meeting some arbitrary definition of clean.  That being said, my number priority with products is that they’re made to be safe and highly efficacious.  If that means I miss being on some list or two, that’s ok.  The consumer is my #1 priority.

OTC: What is your vision for the future of Sauce Beauty? Are there any new products or initiatives on the horizon? 
Andy: We are always trying to stay on top of consumer trends and beauty trends and bring new products to market.  The upside of being a small company is that we have the ability to move really quickly to market.  In 2023, we launched our Rosemary Mint Hair Oil and Guacamole Hair Wax Stick.   Both of those product formats were trending on TikTok, online and in brick and mortar retailers.  And we got ours to market within just a few months!  In 2024, we are launching a Guacamole Whip Shampoo and Conditioner to go along with our best-selling, Guacamole Whip Hair Mask.  But we’re also launching our Guacamole Whip Bond-Repairing Leave-In Spray Mask, which is an amazing innovation in the category – a first of its kind mask that is super thick but liquifies as it sprays.  This product contains bond-repairing polypeptides, functional keratin and quinoa proteins – these ingredients combine to help prevent hair breakage instantly and protects hair color.  We also see the huge trend in textured hair that’s been going on already, and we plan to bring even more products to that important category.  And finally, we do have plans to investigate opportunities in beauty outside of hair care, so definitely keep an eye out.  We have very exciting innovation in the works!

OTC Beauty Magazine offers useful business tips and effective selling tools to boost revenue and customer traffic for OTC retailers. The magazine also provides invaluable product knowledge, industry news and insights for retail store owners, manufacturers, distributors and professionals in the barber and beauty supply industry. Contact us:

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OTC Beauty Magazine

April 2024


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