IN THE BEGINNING
How did you get started in the industry?
Being Korean, I’ve always been obsessed with skin care routines. I started in the industry by identifying a lot of skin care problems my relatives and friends were having, and the skincare products they were using were not giving any relief.
I had a friend who had years of suffering due to inflammation, another friend with chronic dryness, and another with deep wrinkles even though she was only in her 30s. So, I started developing formulas to share with family and friends to relieve their skin conditions and to make their skin healthier and more beautiful.
What was the biggest leap of faith you took in starting your career?
I returned a 10-carat, Burmese ruby from my husband on our first wedding anniversary so I could buy a lab mixer and beakers to start my formulating career.
How did your interest in skin care develop?
I wanted to change how skin care formulas are developed. Decades ago, skin care technology was not going through advancements like computer technology does, today. At that time, I wanted to disrupt the norm—I wanted to develop products in a different way.
Where does Le Mieux fit within the skincare industry?
I believe in a science-based approach to working with how skin is built, all the way down to the mitochondria impacting the skin cell, not just focusing on texture and instant lifting of the skin. Le Mieux products are created to help delay skin aging, without causing damage to the skin first. The formulas are concentrated yet do not cause irritation to stimulate skin renewal. Le Mieux products are created to repair and nourish the skin.
Le Mieux focused on adding serums to a regular skincare routine. Skin care in the United States has been more based on cleansing and moisturizing, so I was passionate about introducing layers of serums, and using minerals to impact the skin recovery cycle.
Le Mieux is one of the leaders in using hyaluronic acid technology, creating multi-molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to target different layers of the skin. We also use gua sha tools to delay visible skin aging.
Most important, we have a holistic approach to skin—a 360-degree view of anti-aging. I have a Korean background, and in Korea, skin care is a big thing for women. So, I bring the Asian philosophy to my products—bridging the East with its gua sha Meridian techniques, and the West with its skin care technology, and combining the best of all cultures into skin care. Bottom line? I want to change one person’s skin at a time. How do we do that? By creating science-forward formulas with exceptional ingredients that redefine THE BEST skincare imaginable.
BIRTH OF LE MIEUX
Why did you start Le Mieux?
Life is a series of experiments… and Le Mieux was an experiment to be “the best.” Le Mieux means “the best” in French—and that is the goal of the brand.
I wanted to prove that women and men can really tell the difference between products that truly perform, versus marketing messages and the placebo effect. That’s why we have a cult following.
Le Mieux was really positioned for people that were looking for more from skin care, those who may be confused about what product on the market will really work for them, and what would be the best program for them. I am always upgrading and re-creating. I started by doing research and development, then started manufacturing, then started educating people. For me, the product is just one component of good skin; lifestyle and the actual skin care formulation are also components. It is important for a product to feel good, smell good, look good in the packaging, but I wanted to create skin care that did even more.
Why do you love formulating?
As a researcher and formulator in the skin care industry, I find that it is important to not look at formulas as a single ingredient-driven product. A formulator is like a chef in the kitchen—finding multiple ingredients that work perfectly together to make an impact on the skin. As a formulator, I always think outside the box. I have very high expectations for my products.
Tradition is important, but innovation is more important. I am not a “me too” kind of formulator. As a formulator, I am constantly researching, because I’m not satisfied with yesterday’s concepts or the status quo.
I honor the consumer. I’m not frugal with ingredients. I allow myself to spend more money on formulations that will truly impact the skin and make consumers happy.
How do you come up with your formulations?
I know how ingredients work together, and I never skimp on getting the best, most effective ingredients, even if they are expensive. Plus, we never stop tweaking a new formula… even if it takes dozens of revisions until it’s perfect! I’m passionate about the origin of ingredients and cultivating the science of the
cells we have in our skin. I look at it as giving a gift to your skin twice daily.
Curating great products goes beyond interesting ingredients. These days I’m experimenting with processing, like sonification, which is the process of breaking ingredients down to get different molecule. For the first time ever in the skincare industry, we’re able to see how the ingredient can travel through the skin.
I also have an absolute passion for nourishing and feeding the skin, not just creating a beautiful, feel-good texture. Every drop needs to perform, so my benchmark is to be the best. It is easy for a company to make a very diluted product, but I wanted to push the boundaries of how a product can truly perform.
LE MIEUX TODAY
What recent advancements have been made in anti-aging cellular technology?
There have been many important recent advancements in anti-aging cellular technology. Delivery vehicles, delivery technology, and encapsulation technology lead to different ways of targeting skin cells and skin layers, all the way to the mitochondria within the skin cell. We have growth factors that are not animal-based.
There are advancements not just in the ingredient itself, but how it is processed and delivered into the skin, like growth factors. We use bio-fermentation technology to transform ingredients. We also have sonic technology for extracting botanical ingredients, so natural products are becoming more effective.
There is a merging of medical, cosmeceutical, and natural, so products have become a lot more high-tech and science based—and more effective.
What hurdles have you run into?
Besides COVID-19, another big hurdle is how people are oversold on marketing messages and the placebo effect. Skin cannot communicate directly to us, so it has taken a while for consumers and professional estheticians to understand that there is a way to improve skin instead of inflicting chronic inflammation on the skin.
Another hurdle is that sometimes customers do not know that it is not the number of ingredients that really counts—rather, it is the effective level of actives in a product that make the difference.
The biggest hurdle is that most people do not like to change. How can you get them to try a new product that could make the biggest difference with their skin?
What is one personality trait that can be found in all leaders?
Always stand up to life’s challenges, despite the odds. Never negotiate with failure. Life is an ongoing experiment, not a series of successes and failures.
What does education mean to you?
Education is everything, the core of everything we do, since technology is constantly changing, every day, every moment. The world is an open market for beauty, and we now have access to understanding a global approach to beauty, rather than just being satisfied with the status quo.
How do you keep your knowledge fresh?
I obsessively study about skin cells, delivery systems, ingredient technology, bio-fermentation, extraction methodology, and encapsulation. Education leads to abandoning the status quo and embracing experimentation. Education and experiment create fuel for positive change.
You are originally from Korea. Are you surprised that K-Beauty has become such a huge trend all over the world?
I’m not surprised at all. Koreans are known for achieving that luminous, dewy glow—which requires intense discipline. People are fascinated by K-Beauty skincare routines—for Koreans, it’s a lifestyle. Plus, who doesn’t love the surprises from Korean products? You have crazy ingredients like snail mucus, silkworm cocoons, starfish, snake venom… and texture-changing products like bubble masks or foaming toners. It’s not just about glowing skin—it’s also all about the experience. It’s not the “Made in Korea” that matters, it’s the discipline behind our daily rituals.
What is the biggest skincare “sin” that we should never do?
Oh, there are so many. But I’d say one of the worst things you can do to your skin is to be out in the sun. When I was younger, I’d lay out on the beach regularly. Those days, I was so tanned that people couldn’t tell where my brown bathing suit left off and my skin began! In later years, all that sun damage started coming to the surface.
What is one of your must-have, personal self-care practices?
Every night, I use my gua sha tool to relax the muscles in my face, neck, and shoulders, and I surround myself with aromatherapy to relax my mind.
TO THE FUTURE AND BEYOND
What ingredients/products do you see being popular in the next couple of years?
There is more and more proof that blue light, or HEV light, from tech devices like cell phones and computer screens really can damage skin. So, I think products that prevent or repair damage from HEV light from tech devices will be more and more essential.
Different molecular weights of ingredients like hyaluronic acid are becoming more popular, especially now that there are ways of expanding and reducing the sizes of molecules. Also, different retinols are being replaced with less inflammatory ingredients with a similar function, like bakuchiol and other natural extracts. What is also very exciting is that mitochondria-impacting ingredients are also being introduced into products in order to impact skin on a molecular level.
What is your prediction for the skincare industry?
Consumers will become more educated through technology, such as advanced skin imaging systems. As time passes, the pendulum will swing back to a personal touch.
Let’s bridge the global definition of beauty! Innovative skincare products and facial remodeling techniques from different cultures can be married to each individual’s unique skin signature. My passion is helping people identify their skin signature and inspiring a dedicated, targeted lifestyle, so they look and feel better every day.