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Beauty

The Secret

On the brink of his 50th birthday, Pharrell Williams shares the key to his age-defying complexion and how he’s leveraging his creative prowess to bring clean, efficacious skincare to all humans with his skincare line Humanrace.
WRITTEN BY ROXANNE ROBINSON

Thirteen-and-counting Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams is known for his music and status as a global style icon. A quick Google search also shows netizens are curious about the secret to his gorgeous skin, especially in the last two years.

Williams added “beauty brand entrepreneur” to his multi-hyphenate career lineup when he launched Humanrace, a democratically positioned skincare line made for all mankind. LVR magazine spoke via email with the “Happy” songwriter, producer and singer about how personal this latest venture is. (Editor’s note: After LVR spoke with him, news broke that he was named men’s creative director for Louis Vuitton — adding yet another title to his impressive résumé.)

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Photographed by Zoe Ghertner

The producer-performer will turn 50 this April, a fact that many fans find hard to fathom. Despite having begun his career in the early 1990s with the band The Neptunes, Williams doesn’t appear to be any worse for the wear, his skin looking eternally youthful. But he doesn’t chalk this up to good genes.

“Growing up, I knew some of the basics but didn’t know how to care for my skin properly,” he reveals. “In my 20s, a friend introduced me to Dr. Elena Jones, who has been my dermatologist for over 25 years. She taught me the importance of a routine, quality ingredients and what products to use.

She also helped reiterate how important the face is for communication, more so than our body, whose care is typically drilled into us more universally than our most defining feature.

In a YouTube video by VOGUE, the American hip hop mogul tells viewers that the face serves as a conduit for our emotions. If that’s the case, Williams is as happy as his hit tune implies.

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I became diligent with a routine, and learned that less is more. You don’t need anything overly complicated, just simple, effective products with good ingredients for your skin.

Meeting and engaging Jones began a skincare journey that led to the creation of Humanrace. “I became diligent with a routine, and learned that less is more. You don’t need anything overly complicated, just simple, effective products with good ingredients for your skin,” he asserts.

In an email interview, Jones, who also serves as Humanrace’s chief dermatologist, reiterated her approach that influenced the brand. “My skincare philosophy is: Protect, Prepare and Repair your skin with a simple, easy-to-follow, consistent routine,” she says, noting sunscreen protects; cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing, prepare, and ingredients that promote skin turnover and renewal, repair. Essential items include the Rice Powder Cleanser, Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator and Humidifying Cream. Williams says his Virginia upbringing made him a fan of humidity for its effects on the skin.

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Photographed by Harley Weir

Many patients use skincare products they don’t need that can be harmful.

The right ingredients, of course, are critical too. “They can’t be harsh on the skin,” Jones emphasizes. “Many patients use skincare products they don’t need that can be harmful.”

She cites the fine-grained rice powder that gently exfoliates without causing micro-tears and snow mushroom extract found in several products. “It’s a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient with molecules small enough to penetrate deep layers of the skin, leaving it thoroughly nourished, supple and hydrated.”

This effortless approach also helped define a company mantra: skincare and skin health should be for all humans. “That’s the change we’re creating with Humanrace,” Williams asserts. “We want skin health to be a conversation anyone feels they can be a part of. We create our products with all humans in mind.”

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Photographed by Harley Weir

It’s not male or female, it’s for humans, and good skin care should be among fundamental human rights.

To that end, Williams is clear his product line is genderless, iterating in the video that “It’s not male or female, it’s for humans, and good skin care should be among fundamental human rights.”

He credits women like Naomi Campbell with guiding his derma-care experience; the supermodel told him to work in an upward-versus-downward direction when applying products. In a sense, Humanrace is his vehicle to pass on these tools to others.

“Humanrace’s mission is to empower all people to be well. We want to inspire all people to take better care of themselves, pause and take a moment every day,” he adds. “I have been fortunate to have had access to a dermatologist, and I wanted to share the codes and create dermatology-grade products.”

“Humanrace’s mission is to empower all people to be well. We want to inspire all people to take better care of themselves, pause and take a moment every day.”

Williams’ path from personal skincare to founding a beauty business has been equally enlightening, as it differs significantly from the music industry. “People are so open and willing to share information. It’s quite refreshing in that sense,” he observes. It takes a willing student, which Williams is. This was especially true with the brand’s refillable bottles, whose design was based on Japanese pottery.

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One of our biggest learnings was how to conceive a refillable [sustainable] product line, when not many beauty brands offered that option.

“One of our biggest learnings was how to conceive a refillable [sustainable] product line, when not many beauty brands offered that option. We also chose to adhere to EU standards and exclude 1,300 ingredients from our formulations,” Williams points out.

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Hearing Williams talk about his line, it’s clear that he isn’t just another celebrity tacking his name on another product. “The biggest reward so far is seeing how many people have come along the journey with us to take care of their skin health across all genders. I am very grateful,” he says, adding he practices gratitude daily as well.

Williams insists the routine is simple enough for anyone to follow. “The three-minute facial was designed for this exact purpose; it’s a simple, easy-to-use three-step routine.”

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At just two years old, there’s room for Humanrace to develop and expand, which is undoubtedly on the horizon, but for now, Williams is happy to continue to perfect the line. “We want to elevate each category we step into and make it better,” he concludes — a sentiment that will undoubtedly have many beauty fans clapping along.

IP-0A0057CA - 2024-07-13T14:34:33.6774641+02:00