We’ve been longtime fans of Philosophy – the skincare brand that delivers clinically-proven dramatic results, packaged in a multi-sensory experience to ensure that at every step of the process, you look and feel great. Having recently hit our shores, we managed to score an interview with Robin White, director of global press, who took us behind the brand and its inspiring labels.

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Hi Robin! Describe Philosophy as a brand, in a single sentence.
It’s a wellbeing beauty brand for women who want to look better, feel better and smell better.

The beauty industry has evolved so much the past decade, let alone the past five years. There are almost too many options now, and every product launch is revolutionary. What makes Philosophy distinct in the current market?
You’re absolutely right – flip through any magazine or go into any store, you’ll see all the flashes: the ‘new’, the ‘hot’ and the ‘fresh’. With Philosophy, we really focus just on three things: one, we always look at what we call the “gold standards” of ingredients, that are tried and true, of which we will always formulate with.

That being said, there will always be innovations around these traditional mainstays – there may be different strains and sources of vitamin C for example, that might make it more stable or penetrate deeper; and because of that, we look to the medical skincare world first, see what’s happening there, then figure a way to apply that into our cosmetics-based scene. We always try to be that cosmeceutical bridge. 

Then we make sure that it’s delivered the best way into your skin. We believe in something called “combination therapy” – where we don’t layer the same ingredient over and over within a range, we instead provide the the right combination of ingredients in the right products, so it becomes the most effectively delivered.

Can we touch a bit more on that, on being that cosmeceutical bridge? How does that work?
There’s an overlap, and a kind of synergy between the medical world and ours – you can’t get invasive aesthetic procedures everyday; you’ll still need something back home to maintain the results. That’s where we come in. I can’t change your skin functions – I can’t make it produce less oil or pump collagen into it, but I can optimise the results of how the skin functions on a day-to-day basis.

How did you first get acquainted with the brand – were you a fan prior to working with Philosophy?
I’ve been with the brand, almost from the beginning. I was living in Chicago, working for another skincare brand at the time, when my neighbour asked me to take care of her cat while she went out of town. So this neighbour was the associate producer for the Oprah Winfrey Show, and as a ‘thank you’ gift, she gave me this little bag of Philosophy products – because they were one of Oprah’s Favourite Things. I used the products, and fell in love with them – I’d never used products that felt this good, that were lightweight, but still, that just worked. And it was right after that, when a former colleague of mine called up and said, “Hey, I just started working for this company – you really need to check it out … ”

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Yeah, we saw a bit of that going on the website – those baby photos, what’s that all about?
When the company first started up, the founder, Cristina Carlino, created this catalogue and decorated it with black and white childhood pictures of her family and friends. She did that because she thought, if you look at a picture of a child, well, first you go all awww; but a child looks at beauty differently. A child thinks of beauty based more on relationships than aesthetics. Children embrace things; they look at things different; they colour outside the lines; and see beauty in everything. Cristina thought, well, maybe we should all look at beauty that way too.

You’ve got great skin – what’s your skincare regime like?
I am all about speed and accuracy – I’m a lazy girl! It’s Purity Made Simple (a 3-in-1 cleanser), morning and night; a serum called Time In A Bottle; then I put on a moisturiser, which depends on whether I’m covered in three inches of snow or under a scorching sun. And every week I do a resurfacing or triple-brightening peel.

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What beauty tips/tricks do you think every girl should know?
#1. Rely on retinoids – they are life-changing. It makes your skin produce more collagen, and it’s one of the few chemical compounds that can penetrate and work deep instead of just on the surface, and it makes your skin surface renewal rate quicker. It’s even said to work on cellulite!
#2. Weekly peels – regular exfoliation is always the way to go. It’s going to make everything work that much quicker and better, because it’ll make anything that follows penetrate deeper.
#3. Don’t marry your moisturiser – your skin can change, and so can your environment. Something that might have worked in your 20s might not work the same in your 30s, and something that works in hot humid weather might not work the same in winter – treat your moisturiser like a pair of jeans.
#4. Don’t pick! Never pick! As tempting as it might be, just don’t do it.
#5. Be nicer to yourself. When you look in the mirror, know that you’re always more beautiful than you give yourself credit for.

Say I had a big date coming up – which non-abrasive peel would you recommend?
If you want glowing skin; and you want to resurface, bring radiance and brightness back into the skin, I would go with the Microdelivery Peel – the day of. There’s no downtime with that one. As a rule of thumb though, if it’s giving you more than a refreshing tingling sensation, it’s definitely too harsh on your skin – at-home peels are surface-level exfoliants, it is not okay if it’s a SATC Samantha situation!

This result is a no-no for at-home peels. Abort mission if it starts tingling too hard!

This result is a no-no for at-home peels. Abort mission if it starts tingling too hard!

Most of our readers are in their early and mid-twenties, prime time to start age prevention. I’ve found that this is a really tricky phase – hormones are slightly imbalanced, skin types start to change, and anti-ageing products are generally too harsh on the skin. What regime would you recommend?
I hear this so often – the difficulty in tackling anti-ageing, without breaking out. You want to treat the wrinkles, but the heavier creams will give you black heads and break you out. You’re definitely going to see more of these problems, as time goes by, other factors are going to come into play: absorption levels, hormones, oil seeds, small little blemishes … and it’s a normal part of ageing.

But at the end of the day, keep things simple. Use basic products, and understanding the ingredients that work – vitamin C and retinoids and hydrators (non-oily moisturisers) would work better at this stage.

What products would make a great introduction to the brand?
The Purity Made Simple cleanser; Hope in a Jar moisturiser – this is the one that Oprah Winfrey has listed six times as one of her Favourite Things (in fact, we internally call it Hoprah); and a weekly peel. Then you can graduate to retinoid-based products at night, and Time In A Bottle for the day time.

Which would make great gifts?
Philosophy has a great range of bath and body products that can be used as shampoo, shower gel or bubble bath, labelled with quirky inscriptions to uplift. They make amazing presents, for any time of year.

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Philosophy is now available at all Sephora Malaysia outlets nationwide. For more information, click here.