Founder Q&A: Susie Wang - 100% Pure
- What inspired you to create your brand?
When I was a freshman at UC Berkeley, I bought an expensive Vitamin C serum that began oxidizing and turned from white to brown just as an apple does after getting cut in half. Not only does the oxidation process cause the Vitamin C to lose its potency but it also turns into a free radical that actually damages and ages your skin. I discovered a way to stabilize vitamins from oxidizing and filed patents. By doing so, several large cosmetic companies reached out to me to work for them. I partnered with three of the largest cosmetic brands to to work on formulations, innovation and technology. I couldn’t refuse the offers and left school to pursue my passion.
One day, I was working on formulating an eye cream when a chemical spilled onto the lab table. After a few minutes the chemical eroded the hard plastic table. If a chemical was harsh enough to damage a lab table, I wondered how damaging it was for our skin. After some investigation, I discovered there were many toxins used to formulate cosmetic products. I decided to create my own brand, free of harsh detergents, artificial fragrances, chemical preservatives and any other toxins that is truly 100% PURE. 100% Pure launched in 2005.
- If you could go back to the beginning of the creation of your brand what would you do differently?
This company was formed out of need. I needed to create healthy cosmetics because most of the cosmetics out in the market is highly toxic that pose a health danger. I didn’t necessarily have all the business or management skills that would have been helpful with running a business but was able to figure it all out with my 2 amazing partners.
What advice do you have to offer for those entrepreneurs in the green beauty industry just starting out?
You can’t just throw a bunch of natural ingredients together and call it a formula. You can blend a simple salt with an acidic ingredient and it can convert to benzene, for example. Even if ingredients are natural, they still have chemical reactions when blended with other ingredients. So, my advice is to make sure you test your formulas thoroughly and not just for stability but also to make sure all the ingredients you are using together are cohesive.
My other advice is to create the absolute, very best. My dad always told me that you can get anyone to try anything once but to get a customer coming back again and again, you have to have the very best. This advice has been my creed with 100% Pure and is the major reason that helped grow 100% Pure.
- What is your most favorite product you have created and why?
I love 100% Pure’s Multi Vitamin serum. It is made with 10% Vitamin C, 10% Niacinamide, 10% Vitamin E, 1% CoQ10, and 1% Retinol. Although Vitamin C and Niacinamide are anti-aging superstars, they are not usually in a single formula. That’s because Vitamin C is usually highly acidic with a pH balance of around 2-3 whereas niacinamide needs to stay at a neutral pH of around 6 to stabilize. When formulating this potent serum, I found a way to combine Vitamin C with Niacinamide by using a higher quality, more expensive vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) that has the same pH as Niacindamide so they can work synergistically together.
- How do you juggle your life with such huge demands from your company?
Hiring great people and giving our team autonomy helps me have a balanced life. Although I love every aspect of the company, I can’t do it all so my time and energy is mostly focused on formulations, research, technology and innovation. I just force myself to make time for family, church, friends and very importantly, exercise.
When I was in New York, I got into the habit of walking / running everyday. I jogged round trip from my midtown apartment to soho which was 5.2 miles. I got into such great shape by doing this so since then, I continue to try to run frequently
- What is your morning and evening beauty routine?
My morning routine:
- FACIAL MASSAGE Coconut Milk Cleanser - I don’t necessarily need a cleanser in the morning because my face is already clean but I want to wash away the excess oily residue and give myself a facial massage.
- Restorative sea culture toner
- Argan Oil - after I apply Argan Oil, I massage it in with WET hands (I wet my fingers with clean hands and then massage; this makes the oil absorb better)
- Green Tea EGCG Serum
- Restorative Sea Culture Cream
- BB Cream (color 10) with SPF 15
- Lip & Cheek Tint in Peach
My evening routine:
- Blood Orange Cleansing Balm
- Fermented Rice Cleanser
- Acai Pulp Scrub
- Green Tea Water Bomb Mask or a sheet Mask
- Multi Vitamin Serum
- Argan Oil
- Retinol Night Balm
- What ingredients are never added to any of your products?
We never use fillers, thickeners, or anything synthetic or toxic in our products. Basically, if it is unhealthy, it is not going in the formula. We only use the healthiest, highest quality ingredients.
- What is the best beauty advice you have received?
The best beauty advice I’ve received was from a friend at the gym. She was in her forties at the time, but looked a decade younger. She told me that her secret is drinking a ton of water. It keeps your skin hydrated and youthful.
- What sets you apart from the sea of competition?
In addition to having 17 years experience in formulations, we also follow this procedure to ensure we get the very best formulas.
STEP 1: PURITY: Tests for the purity of each individual ingredient to make sure there are no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers used on the raw ingredient.
STEP 2: INGREDIENT SYNERGY: Tests for the cohesiveness of the ingredients because certain ingredients combined can cause a very negative chemical reaction. For example, a simple salt and a water soluble Vitamin C causes benzene.
STEP 3: POTENCY: Tests if the formula actually works; if it claims to moisturize, does it indeed moisturize?
STEP 4: SENSITIVITY PT 1: Tests for irritability on the skin; our Product Development team rigorously tests formula samples throughout development process.
STEP 5: SENSITIVITY PT 2: Tests if it clogs pores; our Product Development team rigorously tests formula samples throughout development process.
STEP 6: SYNERGY: PT 1: Tests the packaging to make sure there are no toxins in the packaging such as BPA or phthalates.
STEP 7: SYNERGY: PT 2: Tests to see if the formula degrades the packaging.
STEP 8: STABILITY PT 1: Tests for formula stability anywhere from 4wks - 1 year
STEP 9: STABILITY PT 2: Tests for stability of active ingredients anywhere from 4wks - 1 year