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Beauty Boss: Peach & Lily
Credit: Peach & Lily

Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.

Glass skin isn't just another Internet beauty trend with a buzzy name. The term, which refers to clear, dewy, and poreless skin that looks as sleek, smooth, and reflective as, well, glass, is the K-beauty complexion ideal. While glass skin routines initally went viral in 2017, this perma-glowy approach to skincare is now just as synonmous with K-beauty as the 10-step skincare routine.

That's why Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon formulated a glass skin serum when the K-beauty retailer's eponymous skincare line launched in 2018. Packed with skin-saving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and peptides, the serum is meant to help people streamline the journey to the glass skin look. No wonder it sold out almost immediately.

Here, we caught up with Yoon to find out the challenge of creating her own skincare products versus curating brands for her popular e-commerce site, why the interest in K-beauty continues to grow, and the next big K-beauty skincare trends.

Tell me about how you got your start in the beauty industry.

I’ve struggled with serious eczema all my life, so I started, interest-wise, out of necessity, very young. My mom did everything she could to help my inflamed, itchy, bleeding skin. She took me to all the dermatologists and doctors she could and it sparked my intrigue in how various ingredients work. When I was older, I enrolled in esthetician school in Korea. It was only then that I really started to get a handle on my skin and saw it transform. It led to a passion to want to help others transform their skin, too. That passion is what led me to launch Peach & Lily in 2012, and the same passion is what has brought me all the way here to where we are with the business!

You finally launched Peach & Lily's in-house product line last year. What was challenging about making your own products?

We wanted to take clean beauty innovation to the next level and create a 100 percent worry-free skincare line. This means defining non-toxic with a zero-compromise standard: over 1,550 ingredients are never included in our formulas. At the same time, it's skincare, and it has to work. So we wanted to combine clinically proven ingredients at the right percentages, at the right pH levels. And on top of that, skincare shouldn't be a chore. I love when skincare products can provide a meditative, soothing, indulgent experience, so the textures needed to be decadent and not sit on the skin or be tacky. With this vision in hand, I sought out the world's top labs — and they all turned me away. They told me that the texture wouldn’t be to my liking because of the ingredients on my never-include list.

I refused to take no for an answer and continued conversations with the labs. I brought reams of research with me where I had found potential solutions, such as a specific non-toxic chelating agent from a cutting-edge company in Europe that could replace the one that we wanted to exclude. I also had data that I was tracking for years on various ingredient patterns. We also approached the product development process in a different way than your typical beauty brand: we told the labs that we didn't need to stick to any timeline whatsoever. If the innovation process takes 10 or 20 years, then so be it. It's better to do something right than compromise.

One day, the lab that I wanted to work with most called me back and the chief research and development officer told me that the lab would take us on as a partner — and as a historic first, they'd commit all 40 chemists at their lab to work on our line. We celebrated that monumental milestone, then went straight to work. Another big challenge was that I was determined to make sure that our products would be priced accessibly. My mission since day one has been to empower as many people as possible to care for their skin, so our products have to be priced in a way that is as value-driven as possible. Our hero product, the Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum, was originally supposed to be priced about four times its current retail price. That was unacceptable to us, so we did a lot to streamline ingredient sourcing, component sourcing, and even streamlining the production process to bring the price down.

What do you think is going to be the next big K-beauty trend after glass skin?

First, I don't think glass skin is a trend. Glass skin is skin that's at its healthiest — so healthy, it appears poreless, luminous, and translucent. I don't think this aspiration to care for your skin so it looks incredibly healthy from the inside out is going to go anywhere. As far as new innovations coming out of Korea, I've been obsessed with Eco Your Skin’s Meso Ampoule. It’s an ampoule formulated with micro-spicules [which are like microscopic needles] that tingle upon application, and almost have a microneedling effect on skin. The benefit is that your skin looks regenerated thanks to better circulation. We’re also seeing huge advancements in beauty science that allow for very effective multi-tasking products that combine various skincare steps. Our Peach & Lily Lazy Day All-in-one Moisture Pads is an example of a superstar multitasker that works as a toner-serum-moisturizer in one.

If someone is completely new to the K-beauty approach to skincare, what are some tips to help them get started?

Take your time getting into it! I think a lot of people still think of the 10-step routine when they think about K-beauty, but K-beauty isn’t just about a longer skincare routine. K-beauty is about getting to know your skin and giving it what it needs. One of the reasons K-beauty is so advanced and innovative is that Koreans are very informed and knowledgeable about their skin, so it pushes brands to create very targeted solutions.

You don’t have to dive in with all the steps at once; build up to the routine that works for you. I like to advise starting with a double cleansing technique. A two-step cleansing technique is where you start with an oil-based cleanser (like the Peach Slices Peach Pudding Makeup Cleanser) and follow with a water-based cleanser (like the Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser). Cleansing twice ensures that you get a thorough but gentle cleanse that removes makeup, sweat, excess sebum, and other impurities without stripping skin dry or disrupting the natural skin barrier. That, in turn, helps keep skin healthy and hydrated.

I also recommend using our Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum! It’s this beautiful serum that really does so much for skin thanks to niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides, peach extract, madecassoside [a plant-derived ingredient used in Ayurveda], and mountain yam extract. The superstar ingredients in this silky, fast-absorbing serum helps skin look hydrated, healthy, and like glass. It’s a great place to start because it gives skin that comprehensive care in one product.

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Why do you think there's continued interest in K-beauty skincare?

K-beauty is constantly innovating and evolving, so there’s always something new coming out of Korean skincare. Beyond that, Korean skincare produces real, visible results! I think seeing how Korean skincare works helps maintain interest in it. Take glass skin for instance — that could have been a passing trend, but it isn’t because people are seeing that glass skin can be attainable with a good skincare routine.