Emma Lewisham, founder of cult 100% clean skincare line Emma Lewisham.
Where did the inspiration to start Emma Lewisham come from and how has the company evolved since?
Quite simply, Emma Lewisham originated from me being told by my doctor when I was pregnant that I couldn’t use a product I was using for my hyperpigmentation and evening my skin tone. I discovered it had a known carcinogen in it and ingredients used to clean sewage pipes. I went looking for a 100% natural and clean solution – truly free of all chemicals and toxins –that didn’t compromise high performance only to find this product didn’t exist.
This search led me to discover that very few products, even natural products, were truly 100% clean of questionable ingredient and learn about the lack of oversight and regulations in the beauty industry. It just didn’t seem ethical to me that the industry can put something that’s a known carcinogen in women’s personal care products. Something that can be so detrimental to our health and reproductive system. The fact is there’s no governing or independent body inspecting chemicals and ingredients that go into personal care products. No one is looking at the ingredients in the moisturiser or makeup we use to make sure they’re safe and won’t cause health issues. Safety of skin-care products is something many of us have just assumed.
I just didn’t think this was right and it was these discoveries that motivated me to set a new uncompromising standard in the beauty industry with products that were truly 100% clean, but as luxurious and effective as anything in the world so women didn’t have to compromise their health for beauty. This was my lightbulb moment that started me on my journey 3 years ago. I
What is the best piece of business or beauty advice you have been given?
In terms of business advice, prior to Emma Lewisham, I worked in a senior executive role for a Japanese multinational company and was often the only female in the room. I questioned my abilities at times, due to how I was treated by men. I learnt that only I could change this situation by believing in myself and the work I had done to get to this position. There’s a quote by Mary Wollstonecraft, who was a writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights that really resonates with me: “I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves”. This is the best piece of business advice I can share with others.
What is your daily skincare regime for AM & PM?
In the morning I use my Skin Reset serum to keep my skin tone even (it prevents any new discoloration from appearing), and put my Skin Shield Daily Face SPF 30 on top of this to ensure I have UV protection – I wear sun protection 365 days of the year, as UVs which damage the skin are present sun up or down! It truly is the best investment in your skin.
In the evenings, I’m currently using a new product which we’re launching in a couple of months. It’s a lovely nourishing cleanser with an organic bamboo facial muslin. I then use my Skin Reset serum, followed by another upcoming product which is a night crème enriched with vitamin A.
What’s one habit you have to stay healthy?
I eat a plant-based diet which means I’m getting a more dense nutrient profile – more vitamins, more minerals, and more healthy nutrients. Taking care of yourself from within reflects itself in your skin.
What is your go-to skincare product?
Makeup wise I use RMS beauty. They were also designed by a founder who had a need for clean-beauty products free of toxic chemicals, but still deliver ultra-luxurious formulas.
And from my own range, I use my Skin Reset concentrated hyperpigmentation serum every day, which keeps my skin looking bright, even and plump. The challenging thing about hyperpigmentation is that it won’t go away overnight – it’s a long-term treatment, which involves what I like to call the 3 P’s of Patience, Persistence, and Precaution. “Patience” because hyperpigmentation builds up over several months and years, so it makes sense that it also takes time to reverse it. “Persistence” because you really do need to be committed to applying Skin Reset to keep hyperpigmentation at bay. Finally, “Precaution” in wearing sunscreen every day, and that’s rain or shine, because UV light is one of the main triggers for hyperpigmentation.
What differentiates Emma Lewisham products from other skincare products?
Emma Lewisham products are truly 100% clean and natural. We don’t use the questionable synthetic preservative, such as phenoxyethanol which is often used in natural brands to make a paraben-free claim. Our green chemists have cracked the natural preservative code. Our definition of clean skincare is the highest a brand can set –where some brands ban six ingredients, we ban 1,400 questionable irritants in our products.It’s not enough for our products to be 100% clean, they have to deliver outstanding results. We pack the highest number of powerhouse natural ingredients at the highest concentrations in our products, for example, each Skin Reset bottle contains 24 natural actives. And we benchmark our results against other luxury high-end brands. Skin Reset has been independently tested and proven to outperform cosmeceuticals and high-end synthetic brightening creams, which is an exciting benchmark to set within the industry. It proves you don’t have to compromise your health for beauty.
We’ve invested to ensure our supply chain is sustainable – clean beauty takes into account safe ingredients, but also good manufacturing practices, fair treatment of people, and the best packaging solutions for the environment. For instance, all our boxes are compostable, and our sunscreen tubes are a world first for a beauty brand being made of 100% recycled plastic. This is non-virgin plastic that’s already in circulation and by reusing it over and over again, we actively divert waste from landfill.
You developed hyperpigmentation in your late-twenties, what advice would you give to women for taking care of their skin in the sun?
The best advice I can give is to wear sunscreen every day, 365 days of the year, rain or shine. Skin specialists consistently recommend that the sunscreen is SPF 30 or higher.
UV rays are infamous for their effects on the skin – 80% of visible facial aging is from UV exposure – and they contribute to wrinkles, dark spots and the loss of elasticity. So sunscreen is really the greatest weapon in the fight against aging.
What are the main causes of hyperpigmentation and how can you notice it?
Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its colour and is produced by skin cells called melanocytes. A common cause of hyperpigmentation is an excess production of melanin, which you see as dark spots on your skin. Some things can affect the production of melanin in your skin.
The number one cause of hyperpigmentation is sunlight (UV) exposure. It can also be caused by hormonal changes, which is why it is also triggered during pregnancy or when taking the pill.
What do you consider the top ingredients for tackling pigmentation?
Our Skin Reset serum is packed with ingredients that specifically target hyperpigmentation.
Firstly, we use patented organic plant extracts, including Alchemilla vulgaris and Malva sylvestris, which contain active ingredients that interfere with an enzyme in your cells called tyrosinase. When UV light from the sun comes into contact with the tyrosinase enzyme, it is usually activated to produce pigment (called melanin) which travels to the upper layer of the skin and you see as dark spots or hyperpigmentation. Our plant actives inhibit tyrosinase, stopping the metabolic process that creates pigment – and therefore your dark spots.
We also use bearberry extract, which contains a compound called arbutin. This ingredient is well known as a great way to brighten dark spots, freckles, and scars.
Organic kakadu plum is an ingredient which has the highest concentration of vitamin C in the world – 100 times more than an orange. It is known for brightening skin tone, reducing dark spots, and encouraging cell renewal.
Vitamin B3 is another powerful ingredient we use to deter pigment from transferring to your skin’s surface.
All of these ingredients combine in our Skin Reset serum to target hyperpigmentation with a triple-action approach. It helps to inhibit the passage of melanin to the surface; it boosts the skin’s natural ability to minimise discoloration, and it visibly fades the look of existing dark spots. But it doesn’t stop there. This serum also plumps and tightens, reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles and creates more resilience and elasticity.
Running a business and being a new mum, what is one thing you like to do for yourself to relax and reset?
I’m so lucky to be a mother and to have my own business which I’m extremely passionate about. It is really hard though to have time for you when you’re balancing both, so I have to schedule time for myself and organise my time well. I meditate for 20 minutes twice a day. I come out feeling rested (it’s equivalent to 2 hours of sleep) and with a lot more clarity and purpose. It also gives you so much perspective on life and what’s important – it’s extremely grounding and teaches you to live and enjoy the moment.
What is in-store the future of Emma Lewisham?
We will be continuing to create meaningful change in the beauty industry through pushing for regulation changes and continuing to set a new standard with our uncompromising products. We’ll be launching some amazing new products and sustainability initiatives this year which will be industry leading and I’m really excited about, so watch this space!