The musician offered Allure exclusive details on the brand’s first three products and what prompted him to get into the beauty business. And, of course, when and where you can get your hands on them. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #27 series on my blog.
“Sometimes you need to cleanse your spirit. Sometimes you just need to cleanse your mind. Sometimes you’ve just got to get rid of some dead skin.” Pharrell William’s voice washes over its listener clean and cool, like himself. “Sometimes you’ve got to get rid of some bad habits. Sometimes you just need to be humidified, brought to life. Sometimes your spirit needs that.”
What our spirits might also need, Williams suggests, is three skincare products — cleanser, an exfoliant, and a moisturizer — from his forthcoming line, Humanrace, which launched November 25 on a website of the same name.
Williams is famous for many reasons. Chief among them: his talent as a hitmaking producer and recording artist, able to unite the nation’s club revelers and six-year-old Despicable Me fans under one enchanting bass line. But his celebrity has also been accompanied with public fascination about his good looks, which have been on display for decades and somehow have not changed, unless they have somehow gotten more imperceptibly handsome with time?
Williams credits this to a love of skin care he has been cultivating since his mid-20s. On set, early in his career, he’d chat up models about the kinds of products they used, and he eventually sought out a dermatologist, Elena Jones, who has treated him since and who consulted on the line.
“What struck me most about my first meeting with him was how committed to his skin and health he was at his age,” Jones tells Allure over the phone. “He wanted a routine to follow, and he’s dedicated to a skin-care regimen. He wanted explanations for everything.”
In Jones’ words, the three Humanrace products endeavour to fulfill the most basic requirements of a skin-care routine: prepare, repair, protect.
To prepare your face to receive skin care, you wash it. Jones and Williams created Humanrace’s Rice Powder Cleanser, which arrives dry. A dime-sized dusting of the stuff, mixed with water, produces a milky, lightweight emulsion that gently exfoliates using fruit alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — compounds that dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells until they can flutter away like snowflakes into a passing breeze. (More of these to come later). Over half of the cleanser formula is kaolin clay, a common skin detoxifier mined for centuries for the manufacture of porcelain.
To repair your face from all of the general damage it experiences, you exfoliate, using a chemical peel like the Lotus Enzyme Exfoliant. Formulated foremost with glycolic acid — a favourite ingredient of Williams’ — at the relatively high concentration of 8%, the cream invites new and fresh cells to the skin’s surface.
The last product, the Humidifying Cream, is inspired by the downy atmospheres of the places Williams has lived and loved — his hometown of Virginia Beach, his now home of Miami, the mist-covered Japanese archipelago. It’s a dense and creamy blanket of moisture, formulated foremost with snow mushroom extract, a moisture-binding organic ingredient with roots in Chinese medicine that behaves similarly to hyaluronic acid. (According to board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, however, the snow mushroom particle size is much smaller than that of HA, allowing it to absorb into the skin’s layers more easily.) And anyway, the cream has HA, too, plus soothing rice water and niacinamide. Williams is also preparing to launch a sunscreen!
A review of the full ingredients list for each product by an impartial cosmetic chemist reveals: They are formulated beautifully.
The packaging is grass-green in color and grass-green in sustainability: 50% of the plastic used to house Humanrace’s products comes from post-consumer recycled plastic, with only a small amount of virgin plastic used — and each product has a removable inner chamber that can be exchanged for a refill. The cap is embossed with a raised logo that is nice to run your fingers across — making it easy to ‘read’ in Braille.
To Williams, a skincare line is more than popping cheekbones and acid-based exfoliation: it’s a small, three-minute gesture of self-compassion.
The Humanrace skincare line, including the Rice Powder Cleanser ($32), Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator ($46), Humidifying Cream ($48), and Routine Pack ($100), are available at humanrace.com.
Shopping for a new moisturizer sounds great…until you’re actually shopping for a new moisturizer. Walking the aisles of Sephora or Target can feel a little like navigating the wild wild west of skincare, especially when you have dry skin. Dry types often need more attention: you want something hydrating enough to prevent flaking and painfully tight, parched skin. On the flip side, you don’t want something that’s going to clog your pores or leave you feeling greasy.
Considering not all face creams are created equal, where do you begin? Rather than spend your hard-earned money on products that may or may not work, ELLE editors brought in some major celebrity facialists for their suggestions on the best moisturizers for dry skin. Ahead, shop the products they use on their A-list clients.
FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN: iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion
Celebrity esthetician Angela Caglia, the skin whisperer behind the glowy complexions of Helena Christensen and Minnie Driver, knows a thing or two about multitasking your skincare routine. For dry skin types that are also prone to breakouts, Caglia recommends her own line’s Detox Serum. “It’s made of hyaluronic acid to hydrate, chlorophyll to oxygenate the cells, and tea tree oil to help with breakouts.” She adds, “It’s perfect to replace your moisturizer in the summer for acne-prone skin.”
FOR UNDER MAKEUP: Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
Yolanda Mata, better known by her Instagram handle, Yoli Glo, is sought after by YouTube stars like Patrick Starrr and Desi Perkins. She recommends prepping skin for makeup with Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream, saying, “it’s a deeply hydrating formula that glides onto the skin providing nourishment and hydration, while the Japanese purple rice leaves the skin glowing, protected, and prepared for smooth makeup application.” She also adds, “it’s something no one should live without, worth every penny.” Consider us sold.
FOR UNDER MAKEUP: Sanitas Balancing Moisturizer
If you’re looking for pre-makeup hydration, Gina Mari suggests Sanitas Balancing Moisturizer. She explains, “it contains niacinamide (B3), a powerful vitamin that promotes healthy cell function. It also leaves the skin with a matte finish for consumers who don’t want to look shiny or greasy.”
FOR EXTRA HYDRATION: Koh Gen Do Macro Vintage T3 Premium Oil
If your skin is feeling extra dry (even more than usual), Tokyo-based Koh Gen Do brand director and celebrity esthetician Megumi Setoguchi, recommends upgrading your go-to moisturizer. She suggests adding one to two drops of the Koh Gen Do T3 Premium Oil to your daily face cream. “Its light, water-like consistency easily penetrates dry, hardened surface skin and supports the hydration from within to bring suppleness,” she says. “During the dry winter months, I apply it over my makeup, even on hair and the body—it gives skin a beautiful glow.”
FOR EXTRA HYDRATION: Nurse Jamie EGF Stem Cell Complex
Nurse Jamie, the celebrity skin expert behind big names like Lea Michelle, Jessica Alba, and Lisa Rinna, among many others, recommends a fan favorite for super dry complexions. She says her namesake Nurse Jamie EGF Botanical Complex“provides intense hydration with hyaluronic acid and epidermal growth factor to increase cell renewal.” Finally, added shea butter also helps lock in hydration. Nurse Jamie says, “I love the stuff; I’d bathe in it if I could!”
FOR A NATURAL FORMULA: Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream
If you prefer to pick up your moisturizer on your next Target run, Caglia suggests you load up on Burt’s Bees’ Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream. Packed with rice and cotton extract, and soothing aloe, this formula provides tons of hydration without the addition of harsh irritants. Caglia adds, “this moisturizer is great for all skin types.”
FOR A NATURAL FORMULA: Angela Caglia Soufflé Moisturizer
If natural ingredients are an essential detail in your skincare selection, Caglia recommends giving her own Soufflé Moisturizer a try. “The texture is light, and it’s filled with the most soothing and brightening ingredients, like goat’s milk and essential fatty acids,” she says. But even if natural products aren’t your priority, she boasts the formula “will convert a long time La Mer user after one application.”
FOR A SPLURGE: Amore Pacific Time Response Skin Reserve Gel Crème
Mari says, “for the ultimate splurge, I love Amore Pacific’s Time Response Skin Reserve Gel Creme. At a whopping $450 for a 50ml jar, it’s a splurge, indeed. She describes it as “a gel texture that’s really lightweight and the 24-hour release formula leaves the skin hydrated for hours.” As it turns out, you really can put a price on amazing skin.
FOR A SPLURGE: La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream
La Mer’s The Moisturizing Soft Cream is, without a doubt, a cult-favorite in the beauty world. Nurse Jamie suggests it’s worth every penny saying, “incredibly light,” and not just light, “basically weightless, but really great for dry skin types since it is super replenishing.” And it’s a good thing it gets her stamp of approval because, at $335 for a 60ml jar, it’s definitely a commitment.
When it comes to our skin-care routines, there’s no step perhaps more indulgent than doing a face mask. Whether you prefer a deep-cleansing clay mask or a hydrating overnight gel formula, there’s no better form of beauty T.L.C. than devoting 20 to 30 minutes to take care of your skin. “[Face masks] are designed to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients to your skin,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “Generally speaking, masks are used intermittently to help give your skin a boost when it needs it.”
And while our desks are continually graced by new product launches on the daily (a tough job, we know, but someone’s got to do it), we’re taking a step back to spotlight the best face masks that left our complexions brighter, dewier, less congested, and just generally glowed-up. Happy masking!
Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur
Those with acne-prone and oily skin will love the Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur, which is made with a blend of clay, sulfur, azelaic acid, and fruit extracts. It was even created by a dermatologist for his own clients. According to Lancer himself, “Acne and aging are triggered by the same mechanisms,” and his skin-care products take on both with a double whammy. Because of this, the mask won a 2019 AllureBest of Beauty Award.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur
Part of Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx Blemish Solutions collection, the Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur relies on some of least-drying acne-fighting ingredients — colloidal sulfur, bentonite clay, and kaolin clay, to be specific — to help clear up breakouts. Worn overnight, it makes a noticeable difference on the angriest blemishes without causing any additional irritation. In fact, your skin will even feel soothed come morning.
The Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Mask pumps out as a gel and soaks in as a cream, which is a cool enough reason to give it a try, but you’ll keep coming back to it for the brightening vitamin C delivered via moisturizing squalane.
There are a lot of reasons to hate pollution, but what it does to your skin is the one that hits closest to home. One way to fight back against its dulling effects: this Burt’s Bees Restoring Antioxidant Mask. Of all of its natural ingredients, green tea takes the spotlight as the antioxidant powerhouse. The formula hydrates to give skin a noticeable boost while preparing it to face another day outside.
Renée Rouleau promises, if you use the Rapid Response Detox Masque right when you sense a breakout coming on, this calming gel formula will essentially interrupt the erruption. But it’s not just for acne — Rouleau also recommends it when you’re puffy after partying and even to soothe skin after waxing.
Old-school mineral ingredients, such as calamine, zinc, and pink clay, are modernized with the VENeffect Skin Calming Mask. The 2019 AllureBest of Beauty winner can be slathered all over your face to slough away dead skin cells and banish breakouts, or you can dab it on blemishes to clear them up overnight.
Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
The serious tingle factor from Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask will let you know it’s working. And thanks to the alpha and beta hydroxy acids and white willow bark, skin will be left looking and feeling smooth post-rinse and beyond.
A pore-purifying powerhouse, this 2019 Best of Beauty-winning maskemploys glycolic andsalicylic acids to gently exfoliate and suck up oil. Tiny beads in the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner get massaged into skin, releasing iris root and rose extract to nourish skin as the mask tightens.
Just like electrolytes in a drink help rehydrate your body, the electrolytes in this formula bring your skin back to a more hydrated, supple state. You can also thank ceramides, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants for their barrier-replenishing help.
It takes a lot for a mask to call itself a not one, not two, but three-time Best of Beauty winner. Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask is an all-star in our book due to its potent antioxidant-rich formula, and the fact that it leaves skin feeling “rose-petal soft.”
A whopping 25-percent alpha hydroxy acid formula packs a serious punch in Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, which quickly won over skin-care fanatics with its gentle yet effective approach to at-home exfoliation. “Ingredients such as matcha and milk thistle contain potent antioxidant and anti-pollution properties, which help to condition and soothe redness,” Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure.
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask
Like a Jello shot for your skin, The First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask is a cooling jelly mask (and AllureBest of Beauty 2019 pick) that hydrates and brightens skin with antioxidant-packed ingredients, like ginger, turmeric, and vitamin C. Plus, lactic acid gently exfoliates to leave your face feeling all radian, fresh, and new.
If the (skin) thirst is real, consider the Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask a complexion oasis. The cooling gel formula not only feels incredible on skin, but if you’re a fan of the brand’s toner, consider the duo a match made in skin-care heaven.
When it comes to acne-fighting masks, the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment is a game-changer. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, you can visibly see the oil drawn out from your pores (yuck, but in a good way), and after rinsing, skin is left looking brighter than ever.
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
The Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay is adored by many a beauty editor, and it’s easy to see why: It instantly minimizes the appearance of pores and leaves your complexion looking beyond glowy — and clocks in at under $30.
Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask
Not all mud masks are created equal. Case in point: Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask doesn’t leave your complexion feeling the least bit parched, so if you’re looking for a mask that will decongest skin without drying it out, look no further.
“SK-II’s Facial Treatment Mask offers a super-luxe hydrating experience,” says Idriss, who encourages patients to save the remaining essence (which there’s a ton of in that little packet, FYI). “The power player here is pitera, a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids, that work together to stimulate cellular repair and promote more efficient skin regeneration. The results are a brightened, moisturized, and smoother skin surface.”
Breakouts don’t stand a chance against Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask. And unlike other formulas, Saturn addresses much more than just blackheads; it also clears congested pores, hormonal acne, and emerging zits.
Don’t sleep on Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask, which, as one Allureeditor put it, is the beauty product equivalent of skin-care commercial models rinsing their faces serenely “by dramatically splashing water on it in slow motion.”