In the continuation of DECIEM‘s office visit in Toronto, I was also able to do an interview with none other than Brandon Truaxe, the company’s founder. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him in person as he is very busy (obviously!). So no selfies here :( But, email is the next best thing.
Let me be honest. Compiling the questions were easy. Sure. I had a lot to ask. Editing and sorting them out however, is a whole other story. After reading different interviews and articles, including his informative replies on Caroline Hirons‘ blog post, I knew the man is a genius. He is very different (hence, the “abnormal” reference) and that is a breath of fresh air in the beauty industry that can get a little too dictating, confining and repetitive at times. At least that’s how I feel more than a few times lately.
I just want to know his opinions and insights on almost everything! But, I can’t ask him to spend the entire day answering my questions, right? Hopefully, the ones I picked will feed your curiosity too, at least some.
Let’s get to it!
I read that you have a background in computer science. What sparked your interest in beauty or has it been your true passion all along?
I had a co-op term as a student software developer in the labs of a well-established beauty brand umbrella and became very angry at the lack of integrity in communication and costs in this business. In the computer world, everything is black or white (0 or 1, literally), but the world of functional beauty is just a giant myriad of promises. My passion developed from an initial anger over a decade ago and it now has become a full-time form of love.
I am not going to say that you’re crazy doing 10 things at once because it’s commendable and absolutely inspiring! Because here you are, three years later and 10 brands under DECIEM. Where do you want to take DECIEM in the next future years?
There are more brands on the way this year including STEMM, focused on clinical hair health support, LOOPHA, a very cozy and hip lifestyle brand and MESH, a colour range focused on complexion. On the distribution front, we are opening our own retail shops in Canada (3 open now), Korea (under construction), Australia (2 under construction) with UK and US coming soon. We will continue to innovate and expand our footprint with no clear end-goal in mind. The future is ultimately the sum of all of the nows and we’re working hard at every now.
What do you think needs to change in the beauty world? What do YOU want to change?
The categories of colour and lifestyle are quite innovative and generally have a good level of integrity. The category of functional beauty, which is our focus, is extremely behind and lacks integrity in communication and pricing. We just want this category to act like a technology company in terms of innovation speed and we want to bring integrity and responsibility to the category.
Read this in an article that you said “If the beauty industry didn’t exist, everyone’s skin would look better”. What does it mean?
Beauty products today use so many acids, surfactants and other ingredients to “exfoliate” and clean the skin constantly. The western world is simply in a constant state of inflammation caused by this exaggerated approach to “renewing” or cleaning our skins. And this inflammation leads to longer-term ageing which is not worth the immediate “glow” people see. In third-world countries where people can’t afford this constant use of products, people have dense, healthy, happy skin without inflammation. I don’t think the beauty business today has done good for our world.
I know there are some things that you don’t believe in, such as eye creams (or creams in general), cleansers, toners.. These are basically fundamental products in skincare routine that most people use (including myself) and you’re saying no to them. Yet, you have products in DECIEM such as NIOD LVCE, SS, SDSM and others that sound familiar. How do they differ from “mainstream” products out there?
I don’t believe in a moisturizer (“cream”) designed just for the eyes as any hydrator can target any area of the face or body. And, in general, we are over-hydrating our faces which, around the eyes, can make water-retention worse. Serums to target specific eye issues are very different and I absolutely believe in eye treatments. I believe in cleaners but I don’t believe in over-cleaning, which is what I always complain about. I also don’t believe in the concept of a “toner” which in most cases is just a mist that feels good (or an acid or alcohol which can cause inflammation). SDSM is not a toner. It’s a large-size treatment with a light texture. It does not “tone” the skin in anyway and its function is not peeling, exfoliating, feeling good or pH adjustment. It’s not any less concentrated than a 30ml serum under NIOD. It’s simply a different format due to the way it’s used. Toners, on the other hand, are far far less concentrated than serums as a “step” in between cleaning and treatments.
Why do you dislike the use of acid? I personally use it myself (OTC products, not professionally done) and see great results. That being said, I do use it with great caution. I’m very intrigued to know your insights about this.
Nearly all forms of direct exfoliation (like acids) cause inflammation. Inflammation is generally a root cause of every disease and ageing in general. When we peel our skin, we look great right away but the inflammation builds up.
What do you think about facials or procedures such as lasers done in dermatologists/aestheticians/beauty clinics?
Lasers cause inflammation. I am generally against them. If one insists on lasers, I would suggest a very aggressive one with long recovery times, because those treatments will deliver far better results than many “lighter” sessions and yet the body has to recover from one big inflammation versus being in a constant state of new inflammation every week. It’s better to go to a big war once than to have a small war every single day.
I see that you don’t have any sun protection product in the lineup. Will you be making one soon? What’s your ideal idea of sun protection formulation?
We are launching many things in this category very soon. The ideal sun protection formula must target UV, visible light, oxy-radicals, carbonyl-radicals, AGE (Advanced Glycation End-products) and pollution at a minimum, because sun protection is just a bad classification––we should have “protection formulas”.
I read about NIOD CAIS that focuses on skin’s health and how it addresses the root of the problems. What’s your idea of a healthy skin itself?
Healthy skin is skin that can fight the very small things that are always going wrong well. Our cells lose their ability to fight things and this loss leads to signs of ageing (and other things). CAIS supports this fighting ability.
Can you share some of your own true-and-tested beauty secrets that is outside of DECIEM offerings?
I don’t believe in beauty secrets really. I clean my face with SS and use CAIS every single day. Everything else comes and goes depending on season, my skin changes and on whether I am traveling. When you feel the skin has achieved a good level of health, less becomes more and that itself is probably a secret these days.
Now, what are your personal favorites from DECIEM products and why? Feel free to elaborate. I’d love to be enabled! I think we all do :)
Sanskrit Saponins because it is extremely effective and extremely gentle. It’s also extremely basic and I believe that less is more. Having said this, if I had to choose to travel with only one product, it would be CAIS because my skin has changed so much since this product.
With all of these breakthroughs, innovations and different approaches, what’s your limit? Is there anything you won’t try or challenge?
You really never know your limit until you reach it. We are working very hard and once day I am sure we will discover what our limit may be. :)
Very well said.
As an additional note, acid-fans will be happy that DECIEM just launched a new brand, adding another résumé into the portfolio, called The Ordinary, which features two Lactic Acid-based products in the lineup. Now, before you go wondering why Brandon does this despite his aversion to acid, I’d suggest to read the idea behind the brand first. I love the name and I quickly made the connection right away. Clever.
Well there you go. A little insight spilled from the mastermind of the amazing Brandon. While these don’t answer all of my curiosities, DECIEM‘s work reflects his perspectives and we can definitely learn something from it. I know I can and I will put that into practice. And I have more than enough confidence that he will keep making surprises that challenge the current stream, be it ripples or waves.
Excitement doesn’t even cut it. I’m rooting for it.