Q+A with Victoria Fu and Gloria Wu of Chemist Confessions
Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu of Chemist Confessions chat with us about tips for testing new products, how they started their brand, and more.
Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu are the two founders of Chemist Confessions, a platform created to bring a new level of transparency and approachability to the skincare space, as well as a skincare product line that brings that philosophy to life. Victoria and Gloria have taken their experience as chemists for a major brand, as well as their deep knowledge and understanding of product ingredients, to better educate their audience about what's necessary, at the core, for keeping skin heathy. It's all about bringing it back to basics, staying informed, and keeping skincare fun for these two! Read on to learn more about their journey in the space, their favorite parts about what they do, their go-to products, and more.
Q: What inspired you to enter the skincare space?
Victoria: We’ve been skincare chemists in the space for quite some time and ultimately wanted to leave the industry because we were discouraged by how convoluted and oversaturated it was. As a last hurrah, we wanted to see if we could share our industry insider knowledge on skincare science to see if we can help skincare users read past the smoke and mirrors. And here we are now.
Q: What do you love the most about what you do?
Victoria: The freedom to create. As a chemist, you actually get very little room to innovate since a lot of it comes with a strong marketing directive. So the ability to create formulas to solve inherent need gaps that we the chemists see is way more gratifying and honestly a lot more fun.
Gloria: The ability to help people. There aren't that many formulation chemists out there that help people read ingredient lists and make better decisions about their product choices. I believe we really provide a missing angle to help people troubleshoot their skincare routine.
Q: What is one product everyone should be using, no matter what their skin type?
V: I know sunscreen is a cop-out answer, so I’ll say moisturizer. It’s not glamorous at all, which is why a lot of moisturizer products out there feel like an afterthought. Many don’t realize that a good moisturizer is what sets you up for all the other good actives. You can’t target a skin concern until you have healthy skin to work with first.
G: Oh... I was going to say sunscreen, haha. Well, we always preach that before you reach for fancy anti-aging products, make sure you have your cleanse-moisturize-sunscreen down. A good, solid, fundamental routine will go a long way and help your fancy-schmancy serums work that much better.
Q: As you’re constantly learning more about skincare and the new products on the horizon, what are some tips for trying new products?
G: It’s easy to get the “candy shop” mentality and try everything all at once, but it’s so important to introduce products one at a time. That way, you know how your skin is reacting to new products, which will prevent irritation. A lot of times when you try too many at once, you have no idea how to dial it back down since you don’t know who’s the culprit. And of course, don't forget to patch test! Everyone's skin quirks are incredibly unique. Just because a product doesn't contain common irritants, doesn’t mean there’s zero chance of irritation.
Q: What is your best advice for someone who is struggling to find a skin routine that works for them?
V: Instead of hitting the reset button and starting over again with a brand new routine, go back to a previous routine that you’ve had some luck with. You only need the basics: moisturizer, sunscreen, cleanser. This is your fallback plan. Once you’ve got this foundation right, you can start building your routine out again. When you get to active ingredients, patience is key. It'll take at least 4 weeks before a noticeable difference kicks in. So do your best to be consistent!
Q: Can you walk us through the process of starting the Chemist Confessions brand and the response you’ve gotten from your audience about it?
G: Well, a lot of it was unexpected. The Instagram was started when both of us were pretty sure we'd be leaving the skincare industry for good. We didn’t expect the blog to take off as it did. The support convinced us to seriously consider doing our own company. Ultimately, many formulation chemists' dream is to create products we truly want to create. We decided to put our money where our mouth is and create a lean line of transparent, effective products. Truthfully, while we were working in the labs of a big corporation, we constantly complained about marketing team's "stupid requests". But creating our own brand with zero marketing experience has definitely helped us appreciate great marketers. We’ve learned quite a lot. And we wouldn't have made it this far without the overwhelming support of our followers!
Q: What is a myth about skincare that you want to debunk?
V: Probably natural skincare. “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safer”. Plants are actually pretty complex and can still be irritants — it just depends on your skin type. There are good natural, plant-derived ingredients and there are some great synthetic ingredients. It’s all about being able to marry the two. Another common mistake we see is that active ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid should "hurt" for it to work. We see a lot of people severely irritating their skin and compromising their skin barrier with these ingredients. While light irritation and skin shedding are perfectly normal, when it gets to the lasting redness, tingling, and pain... you're not doing your skin any favors.
Q: What do you wish people were talking more about in skincare? What is a new learning or something that has surprised you as you’ve done more research in the space?
G: I do wish we’d worry less about alcohol. Alcohol can actually be a really helpful functional ingredient in high-level treatments, and the scare around it causing dry skin is really only a concern for comprised or very dry skin types.
Rapid Fire Round
Q: Worth the splurge:
V: I know Gloria is going to list SkinCeuticals already, so I’ll try to change it up, haha! I can get on board with Advanced Night Repair. Estée Lauder continues to expand its patents on the famous serum. I more believe in it because it’s not that expensive compared to some others out there, and there are decades of research and customer use behind it. Not a bad splurge at all.
G: *Gasp* How did she know? SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask. We're constantly trying new formulas and products as part of our job. So once in a while, I'll suffer a bit of a skin irritation flare-up. Phyto Corrective Mask is one of the few anti-redness, calming masks out there that works that well for me. And like most other SkinCeuticals products, it comes with a few clinical studies to back it up.
Q: Favorite drugstore or budget find:
G: DHC oil cleanser's a solid choice for anyone who wants to add oil cleansing to their routine! It removes my makeup fairly thoroughly and doesn't leave any residue.
V: I’m all for La Roche-Posay. I have oily, acne-prone skin, and I’ve found some surprisingly lightweight sunscreen options from this brand, even if they use US-based sunscreen filters.
Q: Latest beauty empty:
G: My skin drinks up Aquafix like no other. And Timeless Vitamin C!
V: Our Blank Slate Cleanser!
Q: Recent discovery:
G: Bubble masks really agree with my skin!
V: I’m used to high-strength retinoids, but my skin doesn’t do too well with high levels of glycolic acid. I enjoy a day of rest from retinoids and using high amounts of gluconolactone.
Q: Product you can’t leave home without:
G: A good petrolatum-based lip balm! PCA Skin's Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster's a recent favorite.
V: At the moment, Murad City Defense. In LA, it is always incredibly sunny, so if I’m out and about or stuck in LA traffic, just need that sunscreen help.
For more of Victoria and Gloria's favorite products, check out their shop below: