Imagine a Pinterest-worthy, boutique-style, one-stop-shop for all things skincare. Think custom facials and a plethora of products that have been carefully curated based on their efficacy, blanketed in soothing sounds and subtle smells. A place where true experts can help you build a skincare routine without pressuring you to purchase more than what you originally planned. This too-good-to-be-true scenario exists as Oh My Cream, a French clean beauty concept-store with two brand new locations in London.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Oh My Cream in Notting Hill where I was treated to the brand’s signature plumping facial; a sixty-minute lifting, toning, firming and hydrating experience that left me feeling restored – and the results lasted for several days. I laid down on a heated bed and took deep breaths under the caring and capable hands of my facialist, Emma. As I relaxed, she worked diligently through a line of the brand’s own products – massaging throughout the entire process – beginning with a double cleanse, moving on to exfoliating, masking, and finishing the treatment by applying silky serums and oils with cooling cryo-sticks.
I also had the opportunity to sit with one of the shop’s experts, Sophie, for a personalized skincare consultation. Sophie asked me questions about my skin, which, at the time was in a very pre-menstrual state. I explained that I generally have normal to oily skin and that I occasionally experience dryness and breakouts. Sophie listened intently, critiquing my skin without any traces of judgment. By the end of our conversation, she recommended a custom routine, complete with cleansers, oils, exfoliants, moisturizers and supplements. I’ve been using my products for over a month, and I’m thrilled with all of them.
As far as I know, a place like Oh My Cream didn’t exist in London until Founder and CEO Juliette Levy-Cohen brought it to the UK from France. I sat down with her for a conversation about what she’s built.
Emilie Louizides: Your website states that Oh My Cream is the clean beauty concept-store that gives you access to what is best for your skin. What is clean beauty to you?
Juliette Levy-Cohen: Clean beauty for us is, of course, safety and eco-responsibility. Safety is important because there are a few ingredients out there where there is a huge doubt. So, the European institutions are actually re-assessing them to make sure they’re one hundred percent safe. We are not saying that they are harmful – I am one of the people who believes that cosmetics won’t give you cancer, especially because we are in Europe and the law is super strict, so customers are really protected by the law. On the other hand, there are a few – a very little list of – ingredients that you should care about and maybe apply a principle of precaution. So, there is a small blacklist at Oh My Cream which surprises people because they associate us with clean, and clean for most people means having a huge blacklist. That’s not what I believe in.
Of course, eco-responsibility is key to us. We make sure that all the brands that we carry do something, so, whether it be minimizing packaging, sourcing ingredients locally, giving back. As long as they do something, that they’re authentic and honest about it – because nobody is perfect – and the important thing is just to move forward, to do better every year.
For us, the [most important] criteria in clean beauty is doing what you say and saying what you do. Behind what’s best is achieving results. I was a bit disappointed ten years back when I launched Oh My Cream in France; I did it because I was frustrated by the lack of results with the products that I was using. There are many brands out there – some of them are super minimalist, they have a huge blacklist of ingredients, they are organic. There are luxurious beauty brands – most of them don’t keep their promises. So, the main criteria here? It’s the brands that blew our minds. Like when you use Augustinus Bader or Dermalogica or Bioeffect, you’re blown away.
So, the concept is this: curating the most high-quality, cutting edge, clean brands. But what we are the best at is advice. To have truly unbiased, expert, and holistic advice; unbiased because we don’t have incentives, expert because everybody goes through a one-month, full-time initial training before being in store. It’s a huge investment for us but it pays off, it’s worth it because if you have problems, you can be guided. They will take you here to have a skin consultation to find the perfect match. Our difference relies in the intimate, personal beauty shopping experience that you will have here and it’s very different from the other amazing beauty retailers you have in the UK. Coming in to a nice, small, intimate, quiet shop and really having the time to have a chat, to build your routine with a beauty expert? That’s rare and that’s what made us successful in France.
EL: That’s amazing. My other questions were what makes a great concept store? – but I think you’ve completely answered that – and what is it that provides the ‘best’ for our skin? But you answered that as well!
JLC: Yeah, I just forgot to tell [you] about our treatments because what provides the best results for your skin is finding the perfect match; the perfect routine at home that should include – in my opinion nowadays – tools and supplements, that’s why we launched those new categories of products very recently. Since I’ve used supplements for my skin, I see the difference and, of course, to achieve great results it’s very important to have facials regularly – customized facials. That’s what we do in our treatment rooms downstairs and in France it’s part of our success. We have a treatment room in each and every concept store.
EL: What were you doing before you started Oh My Cream?
JLC: Nothing! I did it right after I graduated from business school. I’ve never worked anywhere else.
EL: I love that, that’s incredible! What made you want to create Oh My Cream and what was it like right at the beginning?
JLC: So, I have always truly been passionate about beauty, it’s crazy for me. I did babysitting since I was a teenager just to pay for my super expensive face creams. You know when the girls were going out and buying clothes, I was spending all my nights with my best friend at Sephora to buy cosmetics on the Champs Elysees, the biggest store that was open until midnight - love it! But when I was twenty/twenty-five, I started beginning to feel frustrated by the lack of results, the products I was using, the lack of expertise and advice in-store and even so at the time, we weren’t speaking about clean beauty to be honest. Still, the lack of transparency about those brands. It was like, ‘this is miraculous, this will remove the wrinkles.’ First, that’s not true, it’s impossible for a cosmetic to remove the wrinkles, you should go to your doctor [for that], cosmetics don’t do this. We’re very pragmatic and honest about all of this at Oh My Cream.
EL: That’s so refreshing.
JLC: Yes! You can achieve glowing skin if you moisturize well and [you can] have beautiful, dewy skin, you can minimise the pigmentation, you can minimise the imperfections but if it’s acne, if it’s hormonal, you can do better but you can’t solve it totally. People like to hear the truth, you know? We manage expectations a lot, but we can do a lot of things! So, I was frustrated by the lack of transparency with all those brands which were talking about miracles and promises they don’t keep. So, I decided to create the beauty destination that I was dreaming of as a customer and that I couldn’t find so I decided to create Oh My Cream to curate the brands that actually deliver results, that are more transparent, and with great beauty experts in-store and in stores that are a bit more intimate, more modern, more feminine.
At first, it was pretty much looking like this. The concepts have evolved because first we’d been more assertive, as far as clean beauty is concerned. One of the biggest changes is that we have launched Oh My Cream skincare, our own skincare range, three years after the launch and it has been our number one brand since then – surprisingly! We didn’t expect that at all. We just wanted to launch an entry point to the concept for people who are not experts or who didn’t have the purchasing power to buy Tata Harper [or] Dermalogica because Oh My Cream skincare is really affordable compared to our other brands. We decided to focus on the most basic [aspects] of a beauty routine like cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturising – it’s fundamental to achieve great skin. But otherwise, things keep looking the way they were ten years ago when we opened our first little stores and then we expanded – it was so successful – so a year after we launched another one and then we decided to open many more. We now have twenty-two stores in France.
EL: Unbelievable! Congratulations.
JLC: It’s a lot of fun actually!
EL: I can imagine! Tell me a bit about Oh My Cream’s anti-imperfections selection.
JLC: So we launched with only the three basic beauty steps and then we extended the range to try to solve – with one or two iconic products – the most common skin issues that there are out there among which, of course, the imperfections came first. So, we launched anti-imperfections serum which is, you will see, not stripping, will never have your skin dehydrated or feeling uncomfortable as you use it. It’s really really really soothing. It has zinc in it, it has sulphur, and arnica to really soothe and manage the inflammation of the skin because we strongly believe at Oh My Cream that the most efficient way to fight imperfections is first to manage the inflammation. So, this, we have great feedback on – you should definitely try it! And some people use it every day, some people use it just a few days before having their period because they only have imperfections at that time of the month and we also have great feedback on this cleansing mask which has charcoal – which is quite common – clay, and sulphur – I tried it in another mask from another brand and I was like, that is actually amazing and I think that is what makes this mask super efficient – I love it!
EL: I’ll definitely try it! As a makeup artist and beauty editor, I believe that looking our best should never be the result of an animal’s suffering, which is why I seek out cruelty-free products. Do you agree with this?
JLC: Of course!
EL: Is there an additional message you would like to send to cosmetics brands that are still testing their products on animals?
JLC: I think that now there are so many alternatives. Whether it comes to cruelty-free – I will never ask a brand to be, for example, certified organic because I know it costs a lot of money. But, I think now, in terms of choosing the right preservative, not testing on animals – testing on animals is now forbidden in most countries – so that is why at Oh My Cream, all of our brands are cruelty-free. So, what we tell most of the brands that we don’t carry, for this reason, is you may have great products, but a few years back there were no alternatives but now, it’s totally possible, we are the proof that it’s possible because we have fifty brands that are not testing products on animals. Testing products on animals, we know it’s possible to do without it. So, we don’t compromise with this.
EL: If you had to reiterate, what is the biggest thing that sets Oh My Cream apart the most?
JLC: You can never be disappointed by something that you buy at Oh My Cream. That’s why I’m always talking about results. Customers or editors or all the people that we meet, they really associate us with ‘clean’, meaning safety and planet friendly and I love that because I am happy, and I think those things are super important. But to be honest, if you ask our customers, I asked my mom recently and my friends and I was like, ‘okay, at the end of the day, I know you love the aesthetics of our stores, you love the advice, you love the atmosphere, you love so many brands but what makes you come over and over and over again?’ And they say, ‘when I buy your products, I am blown away! They’re really effective, they never disappoint me, they never end up in the drawer where I’ll never finish it.’ There’s a lot of marketing in this industry and that is why people are overwhelmed and confused and sometimes frustrated for spending so much money on products that actually don’t keep their promises. And that is why – and it’s bad for my skin – I try every single product that comes in.
EL: I would too!
JLC: I want to make sure that my customers won’t be disappointed. I just want the best products and at the end of the day, that’s what people are looking for; I think that’s what keeps them coming. The best products, the best results, thanks to the best brands and the best advice and good facials. This whole approach that if you have an issue, you have a problem with your skin or you just want to achieve even greater skin, you come to Oh My Cream because you know you will have an answer to that need, which is not the case for that many retailers.
EL: What’s next for Oh My Cream?
JLC: International expansion. I think that this kind of beauty destination is actually missing in so many countries. You know, the place and the people you can trust your skin with. We started [expanding] with the UK because it’s close, we speak the language, we know women in the UK are keen on discovering new beauty concepts and they love beauty, it’s a huge market for cosmetics. So, we went here and I think for a few years we will focus on the UK, maybe we’ll have ten/fifteen stores in London in a short while and after, other European countries, maybe the US. We want to go fast because there’s a need and surprisingly, it’s not really addressed right now, so we want to occupy this space as soon as possible.
EL: I love that, that’s so exciting! And finally, what is your favourite F Word?
JLC: Female! Female business! Female-founded business. With a one hundred percent female team. We have one hundred ladies.