Colette Haydon, a doctor in dermo-pharmacy and the brains behind some of our favourite skincare brands, has put her experience and expertise front and centre with her own newly launched brand, Lixir Skin. Made up of six products, the blush pink packaging and sans-serif font may sit as pretty on our bathroom shelves as in our Instagram feed, but you’d be mistaken to dismiss this as yet another marketing campaign-driven brand. Having forged a career creating products for REN, Aromatherapy Associates and a pre-Estée Lauder-owned Jo Malone, Haydon says: “I was very aware that because of my background, I’d be watched. There was no point in launching a new range doing what everybody else had done.”
Lixir Skin is founded on three leading principles. The first? “It all started with the idea that, fundamentally, a good product is based on good ingredients,” Colette tells Refinery29. “So many brands right now differentiate themselves by either their natural or synthetic ingredients, but I think this is dated.” This refreshing take comes at a time when poll after poll is finding that women want their beauty products to be all-natural. So what is Colette proposing? “There are good, safe, effective ingredients, and there are bad, harmful and unsafe ingredients,” she explains.
“There is a misconception that if you’re removing something you don’t want in your product, for example silicone, that you’re replacing it with an effective natural ingredient. Do you want natural in that you don’t want nasties? Yes. Do you want natural in that you don’t want nasties, but what you have got in there are not-terribly-effective plant extracts? No!” She breaks down the science for me, pointing at her teapot. “In here, we have ginger, lemon and honey – all natural ingredients, but I don’t know the amount of active molecules in there. In my Night Switch Trio, I use phytic acid and lactic acid, which are naturally derived; the difference is I know how much I’ve put in there. I’m more interested in the active of a plant, than the plant itself.”
This approach makes sense; it’s clear that Colette launched Lixir Skin with the aim of cutting through the noise and demystifying beauty. The brand has launched at a good time, and Colette knows her audience. We as consumers are far more savvy than we once were. Only a few years ago, beauty devotees wouldn’t have been aware of the differences between hyaluronic and glycolic acids but now even the most fair-weather skincare fan is switched on and knows the key ingredients in their hero products. And Colette’s second brand proposition is to reduce the number of these products we actually use. “Having done this for years, people would ask me, ‘Do you have a separate cupboard of ingredients for the eyes, the neck, the lips?’ and so on. The answer is no. Yes, the skin around the eye is a little thinner than the rest, but a wrinkle is a wrinkle. The idea that an ingredient works on this wrinkle, but not that one? Hello?”
Unlike other brands, which constantly roll out buzzworthy products for things we sometimes didn’t even know were an issue, Lixir Skin’s six products are honest, upfront and multitasking. “The joke I often make is, 'Can you tell me the difference between a night cream and an overnight mask?' If I can’t, then trust me ladies, you can’t.” Enter the brand’s multipurpose collection, from the Vitamin C Paste (a treatment and express morning mask in one) to the Electrogel Cleanser (a dual deep cleanse and evening mask). While transparency was key in Colette’s concept of these products, so was her woman’s lifestyle. “I have to be honest, I was never interested in the Korean trend of multilayering,” she explains. “If women have time for that, that’s great, but I wanted something for all skin types: for the old, for the young, for the busy.”
Lixir Skin is for the modern beauty lover who lives in a city, who travels and doesn’t want to pay for extra luggage, who wants to throw her daily moisturiser in her work bag and go. “If I want a woman to use the Vitamin C in the morning, it’s got to work as a cleanser and a quick mask. I’m not a big fan of routines. I’ll sometimes have it on while on the phone to my girlfriend and leave it on for 15 minutes, and sometimes I just have my three minutes in the shower. Women are often bullied into thinking they need to do something – there’s a difference between advising and bullying.”
So do the goods actually deliver? Thankfully, they do. The products’ impact is as clear as their maker’s message and we couldn’t be happier to introduce them to our bathroom shelves. First up: the Vitamin C Paste. “It’s a paste because vitamin C is both sensitive to and active with water.” Massage onto dry skin, add a splash of water to activate, and leave while going about your morning routine. “A lot of vitamin C products are leave-on, which I don’t think is good. It’s ascorbic acid, and no acid is good to leave on your skin.” This quick-but-powerful number is an antioxidant that evens out skin tone but also neutralises the grey in your skin. Ever wondered why your skin sometimes looks greyish? The sebum and dry protein on your skin oxides, becoming dull. This morning miracle blasts away those cobwebs.
Next in Lixir Skin’s skincare arsenal? The super smart Electrogel Cleanser. “Each day, no matter how much you try and protect it, a number of nasties get into your skin, from free radicals to smoke,” Colette explains. “The particles are positively charged. I’ve put a little negative charge in my cleanser, so that when you apply it to the face, the negative captures the positive and takes it with them when washed off.” Like a magnet for all the baddies the city has to offer, this soothing cream cleanser has earned its place in our washbag.
Yet another intelligent product, the Universal Emulsion isn’t your average daily moisturiser. It works for all skin types and body parts: “If it wasn’t universal, it would not be called universal,” Colette states. When massaged into the skin it feels light and hydrating before it locks in, leaving no grease or moisture to rub. It’s a difficult sensation to describe, but Colette explains the science: “Your skin surface is a combination of water and oil, and if you give it a cream that mimics the way that’s organised, it combines with it and seals into the skin.” This is a highlight for those with oily skin, as the hydration hits without product residue sitting on the face.
Finally, there’s the Night Switch Trio, made up of BHA/AHA 10%, PHA/AHA 10% and Retinol 1%. “My clients think products with a lot of actives work the best. That confuses the skin. It’s the same as a person doing a little bit of everything, being very busy, but not doing one thing properly. I prefer to ask the skin to do just one thing, and do it well.” The trio is called Night Switch because the idea is to switch up your skincare every few weeks. “Think of your skin saying, ‘Tonight you’re giving me retinol, again? I’ve been working on this wrinkle for the past three weeks – I’m done’. Scientifically, we call it the plateau effect.” Working on the premise of your skin’s tolerance for a product growing over time, Colette encourages you to switch the bottles every few weeks for best results. You can use them alone for an intensive treatment, or mix with the Universal Emulsion for more sensitive skin.
If Colette’s products sound smart, it’s because they are. Lixir Skin is exciting not just for its born-from-the-lab ingredients and cut-the-crap approach, but for the way it works around our busy-but-beauty-focused lives. What more could you want from a brand?
Lixir is available online now at Victoria Health.