This Pore-Shrinking Exfoliant Is the Key to Pharrell’s Ageless Skin, According to His Dermatologist

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Pharrell Dermatologist Interview
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Getty Images/ Humanrace

The first time I noticed Pharrell’s ageless complexion was when I was eight years old, believe it or not. My mom had The Neptunes Present… Clones DVD and she’d play its music videos while we cleaned the house. When “Frontin’” came on, my mom would verbally marvel at how incredible he looked. Fifteen years later, we are just as stunned by his incredible skin. 

So although I am now publicly begging celebrities to stop launching beauty brands (seriously, who asked for most of these), Pharrell’s Humanrace line is an exception. The man has aged less than Dorian Gray, so I jumped at the chance to speak with his dermatologist of 20 years and Humanrace’s chief dermatologist, Dr. Elena Jones, MD. 

The first piece of advice she gave me is to “have a simple routine that you can follow consistently — cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and then sunscreen.” It’s an idea that’s echoed by the brand’s curated product assortment. The core three products are the Rice Powder Cleanser, Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator, Humidifying Face Cream, and most recently, the Ozone Protection SPF 30 Moisturizer

I pressed Dr. Jones further for what she’d consider one of the keys to the ‘Pharrell glow.’ Her answer? Exfoliation, and therefore, the Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator. “The Humanrace line really was designed with Pharrell in mind and his and my philosophy of exfoliation. So I think that's where you should begin.” 

HUMANRACE Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator

Ssense

Shop now: $46–$50; goop.com and ssense.com

“The Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator uses rice particles, and we worked really hard to make sure that they were a specific size so as to not cause microtears or irritate the skin.” You’re getting physical exfoliation, but there is an element of chemical exfoliation, too, thanks to glycolic and alpha hydroxy acids. After a month or two of use, you should be able to notice a smoother skin texture, improved radiance, lessened hyperpigmentation (both new and old), and smaller pores (which I actually experienced myself). 

As for how often you should exfoliate, Dr. Jones says to start slow and listen to your skin to determine how often it needs it. She adds that some people may only be able to tolerate it once a week, while others will want to exfoliate three times a week. My skin is oily and congested, yet somewhat sensitive at the same time, so I found a good rhythm using it twice a month. 

Beyond Pharrell’s pedigree as the most ageless 50-year-old alive, these products are great for a few reasons. First of all, I appreciate a brand from a person of color that is also vetted by a dermatologist of color. Melanin has historically been an afterthought in the skincare industry, and I feel safer knowing that Humanrace is created by people who are aware that hydroquinone (a common ingredient in hyperpigmentation products), for example, can cause permanent pigment cell death. Second, the products are straightforward and the brand feels like it does more than just pay lip service to inclusivity — I don’t know of any other beauty brand that has braille on its packaging. 

I love the entire three-step Humanrace routine, but I have to agree with Dr. Jones: The Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator is the hero product. It’s just so gentle, easy to use, and effective. Shop the key to Pharrell’s youthful glow at Goop and Ssense

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