Skincare with Mission
A small new European artisan brand is here to challenge the status quo of “non-toxic” skincare.
The sun comes up in Lisbon as I prepare for my interview with Lucie, the founder of Phaedra Botanicals, with whom I have a zoom meeting at 8 am.
It might seem early for some, but Lucie has been up for several hours when we begin our conversation, as she usually wakes up between 5 and 6 am and takes a stroll among the olive trees and wineries of the Mediterranean where she lives with her husband and their small West highland white terrier.
As we revisit the beginnings of her company, she gives me an impression of a down to earth person in love with constant exploration and change. What strikes me most about her is her simple and positive approach to both life and business.
Jonathan: Pleasure to be talking to you today, Lucie. You have been on the way to transforming non-toxic skincare and its transparency for a little over one and a half years now, which makes me wonder how things changed since you started.
Lucie: Well, we began with a strong determination when we realized most skincare companies proclaimed their products to be non-toxic without any evidence or laboratory analysis. It was shocking to discover that most organic certified skincare is diluted with water and alcohol that might be natural but definitely cannot provide your skin with the properties that pure, undiluted plant extracts offer. There was also no saying whether they are pure. We became very passionate about creating clean, scientifically-backed skincare that would be 100% concentrated, thus always free from fillers, including water and alcohol and at the same time analyzed for toxic compounds, such as heavy metals.
What have you learned during the process of making clean skincare?
I noticed that women, although interested in skincare products, were unaware of many essential aspects of what clean skincare should entail. They shop skincare products with ingredients of unknown origins, unknown date of production and do not realize that a fresh batch does not necessarily mean freshly pressed components. There are incredibly many gaps in our knowledge of what we buy, and we are doing our best to fix it.
How do you address these issues?
We begin by sourcing directly from the makers and those who can cold-press fresh ingredients in small batches any time of the year. That is essential and difficult to find in the skincare industry that became mostly massively produced. We also allow in our skincare only thoroughly analyzed ingredients that have been proved non-toxic by laboratory analysis. And even though we provide full transparency on our ingredients’ origin, we now began to look into blockchain technology to upgrade our transparency. We explore brand new ways of informing our customers of every detail when it comes to our products.
How do you keep up with the new trends in the industry?
Although we keep an eye on what is happening around us in skincare and other industries, we have a powerful calling that determines our decisions. Responding to that calling takes most of our time. We understand that what we do is very different and time-consuming since we grow solely organically. We are patient and focus on what we want to accomplish rather than following up on the seasonal trends. That is why we do not carry products everyone else does, like CBD. It is essential to know what you want to do, and once you know it, you follow your path. At this point, many of our decisions are also driven by our customers.
What do you wish the skincare industry would look like in five years?
I wish more companies would find transparency essential. I hope we would not be the only ones to share the origin of every single ingredient we carry. I want clients to choose their skincare, knowing everything there is to know about it.