Gill Meets Colette Haydon

Gill Meets Colette Haydon

What is your background?

I am a doctor in dermo-pharmacy.  I am passionate about the skin and formulating skincare. Over 20 years ago I set up a laboratory in London called Elixir de Beaute.  Together with my team, I formulated hundreds of products for many of the most coveted beauty brands.  I am pretty sure there is at least one in your bathroom.  I stand proud behind them all.

You have created products for brands such as HealGel, Jo Malone, Aromatherapy Associates and REN to name just a few; what has driven you to create your own brand?

Lixir is driven by my skincare and laboratory experience.  My skin beliefs have evolved with time; they are deep, disruptive and controversial.  Above all I want to improve your skin, not wrack your brain. I dedicated my work to the understanding of skin.

When formulating products, where do you begin?

Firstly, I formulate the base. It is the core of the product and signature of the formulator, what you see, feel, smell and love. So much can be achieved for the skin if the base is right and it often takes a lot of work. Secondly, I add the active ingredients. If you come to my lab, you will not find a cupboard dedicated to the face, neck or eye. An ingredient works on facial wrinkles and eye wrinkles; a good active ingredient does it all. I believe there is no such thing as a cream which is good for one part of your skin and not the other.

Can you explain the concept of Lixir?

Lixir is a mix of hard working, everyday products and targeted molecules, an advanced yet relaxed approach to skin care.

The universal good skin trio are absolute essentials, multi-tasking to the max. They are for all skin types, for young and older skin, for face, eye, neck to hands, for your bathroom, handbag, deskside and whilst you travel. They work together seamlessly whilst only taking a few minutes of your time with no layering required.  I recommend:

  • DAY: Re-apply UNIVERSAL EMULSION as needed

The three NIGHT SWITCH products are for specific skin concerns and formulated with pure active molecules for targeted results. They are for night, when your skin switches to repair mode and are to be mixed with UNIVERSAL EMULSION which is also a serum base. Only use one at a time, then give your skin a rest before switching to another. Switching stimulates the skin to get better results.  It is a very simplistic, yet effective approach; truly, there are only two skin concerns, ageing skin and problem skin and I would recommend:

  • Ageing Skin (wrinkles, sagging, sun damage):  Four weeks retinol + Two weeks PHA.
  • Problem Skin (dull, open pores, breakouts): Four weeks retinol + Three weeks BHA.

The hero product?

Really, my universal good skin trio is my hero, I know they are three products but they are my three ‘mousquetaires’ and you know their motto, one for all and all for one.

What are your views on natural versus synthetic products?

The natural versus synthetic battle is dated and not worth fighting, not all chemistry is bad. There are simply good ingredients, safe, effective and formulated correctly. There are bad ingredients, harmful or ineffective.  Twenty years ago, I created ‘The No List’; It is now time for ‘The Yes List’. There is a misconception that ‘No List’ products, natural if you like, should contain many botanical extracts, which often have little effect, pure molecules with published clinical results are more effective.

Somewhat controversially, you believe that SPF products should only be used on the beach, can you explain your thoughts behind that statement?

Regrettably, sunscreens are in my ‘No List’ ingredients; on one hand they protect the skin against burning, but on the other they are quite harmful to the skin if used every day.  UNIVERSAL EMULSION can be used as an unusual emulsification technique to obtain an SPF 10 without any added sunscreens, so it is ideal as an urban day cream and primer when the exposure to UV is in fact very low.

Beauty industry myths?

It creates names for products which have the same base and do the same thing – day cream, primer, night cream, moisturiser, serum – and is ever more inventive. What is the difference between a night cream and an overnight mask, even I don’t know! Penetration of the active ingredient into the deeper layers of the skin is unnecessary, this is not how it works. The skin is a barrier, only the top layer (the epidermis) is accessible. A good molecule is a biological messenger for the epidermal cells. The message received triggers a series of cascading events able to reach the targeted cells in the skin’s deeper layers.

Skincare truths?

Less is often more; products with too many active ingredients confuse the skin, it works too hard, gets tired and gives up. It is better to ask the skin to do one thing at a time, but to do it well. The skin likes a change of scenery. An active ingredient used for too long saturates the skin and it no longer delivers results. It is good to switch things around to keep the skin interested and avoid the plateau effect.

How do you see skincare evolving over the next five years?

I recently overheard the speech of a brand at a buyers meeting, their new serum was going to re-train the skin to behave as young skin, genetic re-programming if you will, with a little science fiction thrown in the overall look for good measure. I don’t want to be re-programmed and I think there are many others who don’t, we just want good skin.  I predict a more approachable language around skincare subtlety mixed to a return to a more charming delivery.


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