We’ll come out and say it: The beauty industry isn’t exactly known for being transparent. With every serum, cream, and mask claiming to be the magic bullet for your skin problems, it can be hard to tell the difference between a facial oil and, well, snake oil. Enter Chemist Confessions, a skincare brand founded by two cosmetic chemists. Their comeup is pretty unique: while formulating skincare products for a big beauty conglomerate, Gloria Lu and Victoria Fu realized just how much of the industry is smoke and mirrors. Tired of companies using sketchy science to back up their claims, they started @chemist.confessions on Instagram to debunk skincare myths and dish out real talk. Fast forward a year, and Chemist Confessions has grown into a full-fledged beauty brand with a line of no-nonsense moisturizers. We chatted with Gloria and Victoria to get the lowdown on Chemist Confessions.
Victoria: I was finishing up my master’s in nanoengineering and didn’t want to go into pharmaceuticals. I was hoping for a job that was more lighthearted with a much quicker timeline to market, so being a skincare chemist seemed to fit the bill.
Gloria: I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and stumbled into the cosmetics industry when I landed an internship creating long-lasting lipsticks. During the summer, I fell in love with the fast-paced, practical application of science so it transitioned into a full-time gig.
Victoria: In the industry, chemists actually have very little say in the product development. They typically are just given a marketing brief, so there’s actually little control over what ingredients the chemists get to use.
Gloria: It was really a serendipitous mix of being at a fork in the road in our careers and good timing. We both share the same disillusionment with the industry, so we decided to launch an Instagram account to see if people were interested in hearing a different, more technical point of view. With all the support we received, we decided to take the leap and actually build a brand with our own solutions. There’s just a constant feeling of, OMG, are we really doing this?
Victoria: Marketing. Neither of us have had any formal training in this area. We didn’t believe in flowery marketing or overly complicated science-washing. We had this vision of creating a brand that makes skin science fun and approachable to everyone. Turns out, it is incredibly difficult to pack everything we want to convey about who we are, our product philosophy, and the science behind the ingredients in an easily understandable, fun way.
Gloria: Well, to start, we’re really bad with coming up with names. We had a few weeks of texting random, bizarre names back and forth. Eventually, we decided that the best tactic is to be straightforward. Highlighting our chemists background made the most sense to us. And what we are saying isn’t what you’ll normally hear amid all the skincare marketing noise out there. So naturally, we as chemists are confessing.
Victoria: There are so many flashy ingredients out there, but we’re trying to honor our favorite skincare classics. The reason for this is because there are decades of third-party research and history behind these ingredients showing their effectiveness. We choose ingredients that may not sound like the next miracle worker but function as reliable workhorses at transparent, effective levels so people don’t have to micromanage their skincare.
Gloria: Tough question. Maybe start with the misconception of “preservative-free” being a good thing. Any formula with water needs preservatives or else it becomes a haven for bacteria and mold. We shouldn’t be afraid of this concept. The other one that also drives us nuts is “chemical-free”. Water is a chemical! This trend needs to stop.
Victoria: Our goal is to flesh out the skincare fundamentals: moisturizers, cleansers, treatments, and sunscreen. We’re already working on a cleanser and treatment formula.
Shop Chemist Confessions’ collection of well-formulated, scientist-approved skincare.