Here it comes. The in-depth deep dive into the a single brand's world: SIMPLISTIC
We first stumbled across Simplistic through an online retailer Beautibi, an online skincare boutique that retails indie brands discovered within the premises of Taiwan and Korea. While there's nothing wrong with being identified as an indie brand, the term "Indie" poof-ed and evaporated - metamorphosing into "Masterpieces" as we gaze, held and experience each of the three - Begin Cleanser, Wonder Essence, Good Moisturizer - that travelled across oceans and into our appraisal.
While the packaging design speaks pretty and visually pleasing, we didn't want it to sway our perception of what makes a product essential: information to result ratio. The consensus was that all 3 of them have got ingredient lists that attained Evening Island's stamp of approval and that was it.
There begins the first run of the start and arguably the most important step of a skincare routine: cleansing with Begin Cleanser. Below marks my recollection:
"It was love at first wash. The wiped out pores paired with bouncy moisturised skin was the perfect equilibrium excitedly sought-after every new cleanser hits the sink, yet disappointingly fails - and herein stands a clear epitome of the perfect cleanser."
Gliding in second in glowing oriental brown is Wonder Essence, a toner-essence hybrid in water-thin consistency. Dispensing felt a little odd a first try as the translucent brown tonic spills out of the opening a little more than needed, I shrugged and started patting. Tingles and prickling-like sensations kicked in instantly. This is bad, I'm gonna have a reaction, I'm gonna turn red, my blemishes will turn darker, oh no is this an allergic reaction, I'm feeling itchy, should I scratch?, shut up nothing's happening. As my thoughts took awhile to subside, so did the tingles and prickles. My face didn't flush nor did anything happen although it felt like something definitely did happen. As though a spider's venom entered my bloodstream and was binding to my DNA within; my face felt different but there weren't any visible difference. It was transpiring internally. At first application, my skin felt fairly hydrated with a little dew and no greasiness or stickiness (thank god) at most. Fast forward to the third day, my skin tone came off as redistributed - as though a puzzle with wrong pieces in place was suddenly fixed right. Skip to the 8th day - the day I felt I was re-educated of what even, fair (in my skin context) skin tone truly means. It was like looking at the peak of Mt. Everest within the geography textbook VS finally standing at the summit breathing in the cold skies. The venom took over and my skin tone transformed.
"Wonder Essence is a masterpiece. A perfectly put together of botanicals and molecules, combining nature and science, gentleness and power, nourishment and altercation. A maintainer of your most fair, most even skin tone."
Jumping in rearmost is Good Moisturizer. The un-accidental leap to the finish line is Simplistic's flavour to the Queen of a skincare routine, a Moisturizer. There are creams and there are gels and then there's Good Moisturizer. Humbleness and reliability stands within the elementary adjective: Good. On application, Good Moisturizer firmly falls off the fence and into the side of holygrails. With nothing fancy to it's title or product information, Good Moisturizer felt like The Moisturiser. The easy-sinking formula doesn't leave you uncomfortable with an excess of occlusives and tackiness and a formula that leaves out penetration enhancers/additives like alcohol, silicons and other yucky synthetics, my skin felt moisturised through the night. Adequately moisturised. Like Singapore-weather-studied-moisturized. Like the type of moisturised you asked for and received moisturised. Nothing more, nothing less. And in that again Perfect Equilibrium of moisturization, lies a firming and tightening pull. My blemishes appeared less inflamed a few hours in. It did everything you could think of: balancing oil-moisture levels, calming inflammation and redness, moisturising in equilibrium, invigorates with a firm finish.
"Good Moisturizer felt like The Moisturiser. my skin felt moisturised through the night. Adequately moisturised. Like Singapore-weather-studied-moisturized. Like the type of moisturised you asked for and received moisturised. Nothing more, nothing less. And in that again Perfect Equilibrium of moisturization, lies a firming and tightening pull."
THE BRAND & THE VISIT
Zoom in north to the outskirt of Seoul, South Korea is Gangbuk-gu, a district so native you’d barely catch anyone speaking English if you needed directions. Our taxi driver pulled up next to a subway station named MIA, exit 3 and as the car door swung open stood a gentlemen in a black tux, patiently expecting our (Violet and I) arrival. In a soft-spoken yet shrewd tone he called out “William?”. We were led up his office just 50 steps forward where a flight of stairs was. We removed our footwear as JB (Simplistic’s founder and chemist’s initials, not Justin Bieber) held the matte black door open to welcome us in.
Retrospectively on the same day, we visited a few other brand owners within office spaces accommodating from as little as 5 to as much as 100 employees. All of which had cubicles.
Simplistic’s office was adequately sized, spaced out with no cubicle as if one extra large master bedroom.
Discussions and translations at the right corner of the office.
Pictures of JB and entire office not shown for privacy purposes.
Within the premise seated a man, if not remembered wrongly, was the designer. From first witnessing the 3 products and processing the brand’s image months ago to finally visiting JB, Simplistic’s Office and breathing in the ethos and idiosyncrasies of Simplistic hollistically, everything was cohesive. It wasn’t like “another company”. It was like “The Simplistic Standard”. It wasn’t like where’s the financial report, are we hitting our target? It was like we want to be apart of the daily lives of skincare lovers, adding a little wonder to their lives.
That speaks a company the world needs. And that translates into the products they create. Not a range to target lower income individuals or a range to captivate high income people, just meticulously-studied-&-researched products you need to keep your skin in it’s best condition, no this, no that.
Because JB couldn’t speak English too well, we conversed through Google translate. At one point he mentioned something that made so much sense it might as well be the brand’s slogan. The soon backspaced sentence on Google translate read (*note: cosmetics in this context means skincare products):
“The more cosmetics you use on your skin, the more burden you have on your skin.”
Magic in a sentence. A logical irony. The Simplistic Standard. The care, the see through, the head space, the sincere concern and experience that made up the thoughts that says: I’m not here to give you a million choices of products to layer on your skin and get confused and go back and forth a maze of uncertainty and unending quest but more of: here’s what you need. Nothing more, nothing less, just the Classics that’ll not sensitise, irritate or create more problems only to sell you another solver.
JB was the wand holder. The well mannered, soft-spoken and mindful almost zen aspect of his demeanour made us feel like madmen rushing as we speak. We felt a sense of tranquility after awhile and tried to adapt to the slower speed, higher thoughtfulness of how things flow within Simplistic’s vicinity. JB is a passionate visionary with integrity and ethics the skincare world is missing out on. Not meagrely, he has a major in chemistry and cosmeceutical engineering and is the brain power behind all Simplistic’s product formulas.
Just like the classic “Living on a prayer” will be the soundtrack of a road trip you might ride on in the future and Whitney Houston will still be played no matter how many Despacitos are being released throughout the years - Simplistic’s masterpieces will always be replayed and hold a place in our hearts and on our dresser no matter how many funky new releases comes and go.
EVER EVOLVING FORMULAS
Here's the catch. Somewhere mid of this year we requested for Wonder Essence's formula to study and examine each and every ingredient. Yes, that's what we actually do. We sit down and study ingredient by ingredient. Okay, enough geeking out. JB responded with a casual prompt that Wonder Essence's formula is a little different than 2 months ago in that a few ingredients were switched up. If this isn't inaccurate memory, prior to Chamomile Flower Extract taking up third place in Wonder Essence's ingredient list, it was Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel was ditched just like how 6 Mega Pixels cameras were ditched for 12mp cameras for a sharper, higher res image.
"Witch Hazel is known to have an astringent effect, thus it is removed because we notice how similar in effect the natural extract is to alcohol" JB added.
JB then mentioned that Simplistic is a brand chosen by people with a higher knowledge of cometic ingredients in Korea. It is like getting Goran Ramsey to taste test thousands of restaurants and pointing out the best one to you, I thought to myself.
Shortly after, we received a prompt that Good Moisturizer's formula is undergoing renewal and an upgrade as well. A tiny reduction of oil content and increase in moisture content that is. A detail that sounded negligible to us but needed full attention on in Simplistic's world.
And yet again, the nudge of continual improvements continues. Wonder Essence's water web system, a unique formula binding tech utilised in the development of Wonder Essence is undergoing improvements so that the consistency of Wonder Essence remains water-like, yet possess as much moisturising capability as an Oil or Essence of a thick consistency would have.
It all made sense then that the classics, Wonder Essence, Begin Cleanser & Good Moisturiser are constantly fine tuned and captures the most advanced in modern skincare today. Instead of remaining the formula of Hans Dynasty, they grow as skincare technology and ingredient research grows!
And that's The Simplistic Standard. Classics. Ever-Evolving. Prime. The Apple Of Skincare.