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The Owner & The Brand: Meet Reham Essa of Radixir

THIS CLEAN BEAUTY FOUNDER IS ON A MISSION TO MAKE US FALL BACK IN LOVE WITH OUR SKIN—THE TRUE DEFINITION OF THE CLEAN BEAUTY MOVEMENT.

In Beauty Independent’s recent, “10 Ways Beauty Brands Will Take Action This Year, According to Product Developer Robyn Watkins,” it was shared that brands, retailers, and consumers will be taking active steps to address the trends or topics that have been top of mind in recent years. According to Robyn, brands will be actively addressing concerns. Brands will be moving from intention to attainment.

In short, brands will be putting their money where their mouth is.

In this climate and economy, they will have to.

This is great for consumers seeking brands who are intentional with their product formulations. Today, consumer trend is shifting, and more people are likely to purchase from brands that align with their personal mission and values. This shift has been driven by Gen-Z, who, with their raw, unfiltered engagement on social platforms, have prompted others to be unapologetically unspoken about their wants and needs.

Which has been one of the driving factors of this rise in all things clean.

“Clean” beauty products are often characterized as products that are free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, and other potentially hazardous ingredients that have been present in traditional skincare products. However, while this trend was sparked by indie brands, now much larger brands are now buying into “clean” too, with the likes of Covergirl and other beauty giants vying for share in the ‘prestige beauty’ category, valued at $19B, clean beauty brands jumped 39% last year, per NPD Group, a market research firm. The clean skincare category, in particular, now accounts for 13% of high-end skincare sales—which is huge, considering this was sparked by smaller, indie brands. In four years, it doubled in size.


So now, with beauty conglomerates trying to sell us on clean, the entry of these giants is now blurring the lines of what it truly means to be “clean,” making it that much more important for consumers to be made aware of our favorite brands and their ingredient stories. What does it mean to have a truly efficacious skincare line?

Enter, Radixir.

Created by Reham Essa, Radixir was born from Reham’s own need, as she realized there were few products on the shelf that not only could soothe acne-prone skin, but also contain anti-aging properties. Having moved to The United States from Egypt in 2013, Reham, as a mother, was also juggling the stresses of external factors—including her daughter’s severe allergies, a full-time job as a pharmacist, and a family.

Like many of us, Reham mistakenly sought products with strong active ingredients and over-washed her skin thinking it would clear acne, although all it did was make matters worse.

Radixir was born out of the white space Essa saw, not only for her skincare, but for her daughter, and, believe it or not, her own self-love.

“I needed to lean into my skin rather than hiding away from it,” she said, as she set out to discover, acknowledge, understand, and embrace her skin in the same way one would a friend who was suffering. “How I felt about having clear skin is what made me want to share my formulas.”

Formulas that were made from botanical and natural ingredients.

This trial and error eventually paid off, as this discovery ultimately led her to create and uncover a simple ingredient story that drastically improved her own skin—and in doing so, diminished her stress.

And increased her confidence.

“I came back into the picture after I had really not been,” she said, noting how her blemish-free complexion made her happier and bolstered her own self-esteem. Caring for her skin became a means to care for herself and her general well-being.

The true definition of self-care.

And while Reham continues to grow her business and share within prestige—all while balancing her multitude of passions and responsibilities—I had the pleasure of connecting with her this past fall, discussing all things rooted in clean beauty, brand building, and her incredible story.

 

Meet Reham

When I was creating my brand, Radixir, I decided to combine three important elements in it – the power of nature, beauty, and luxury.

 

1. ​How has your Egyptian heritage and upbringing lent to how you built your brand? Back in Egypt, I had a strong connection with nature. We used herbs as drinks to help soothe pain and reduce inflammation. We turned to seasonal fruits and vegetables to enjoy, not only their taste but also their hydrating and nourishing benefits. We used essential oils in a very casual way without knowing that there are lots of studies done on them in other parts of the world.

Growing up in Egypt made me appreciate natural ingredients and respect the power of nature. Living in a country that is a part of the Mediterranean region, I grew up consuming fresh food and living an overall healthy lifestyle. That helped my body be balanced and reduce inflammation, but unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with this lifestyle upon moving to the US. My life got busier, making my body inflamed and tired, which showed in so many ways.

My generation grew up with habits and traditions of how to take care of our skin and how to appreciate our skin and beauty. Those were the traditions that have been around since the time of the pharaohs.

Believing in natural ingredients and knowing that they work made it easier when I started picking the right ingredients for my skincare line. When I was creating my brand, Radixir, I decided to combine three important elements in it – the power of nature, beauty, and luxury.

2. You mentioned that your daughter’s allergies fueled you to create your own formula with a focus on ingredients—what advice do you have for consumers seeking brands with sensitive skin? Are there certain ingredients you suggest consumers be mindful of or stay clear of?


I believe there are no good or bad ingredients but sometimes our body or skin doesn’t agree with certain ingredients. I found out that natural ingredients are easier for the

body to absorb and understand.

I find that sensitive skin is more receptive to natural ingredients. Although that doesn’t mean that everyone who has sensitive skin will respond well to natural ingredients. I believe that everyone’s skin is different, and if you have sensitive skin, you need to test any new products for yourself and not rely on other people’s advice.

I always say in my blog posts and on social media that you really need to listen to your skin and understand what you are looking for and work with it. Accept your skin and love it. Personally, I find sensitive skin to be less sensitive to natural products. Avoid any ingredients - even natural - if you are sensitive to them. Also try to avoid harsh chemicals and very high or low pH, such as chemical peels. I always advise testing any product before you start using it.

3. One of my favorite quotes from our initial conversation was, “You need to understand and listen to your skin,” because I think we often forget that our skin is an organ, too. In what ways can we do a better job of taking care of, and listening to our skin


Understand that your skin needs are not the same all the time. Different seasons mean different needs, and even each month our skin needs a different approach. If you are going through any life changes or stressful situations that means that your skin needs may change, too.

Learn when you need extra hydration, when you need to go light on products, and when you need exfoliating. Feed your skin the right ingredients and accept your skin. Sometimes I meet people who say that they tried a product for three months and their skin got inflamed. This makes me wonder - why did they wait that long? With all due respect to skincare experts, you are the only person who can understand your skin the most. You can follow the recommendations and guidelines but if you really listen to your skin, you will know what to do.


4. Are there any challenges you face as not only a brand owner but also a female brand founder of color?


As an entrepreneur, I faced a few—being able to reach the right audience and earn their trust is becoming a real challenge.

I found that people generally jump to conclusions about you; but once they see you, have a conversation, and learn about what you’ve accomplished, they get surprised. I have realized it’s also better for me to have a conversation face to face – this way, it’s easier to establish a connection. Also, I found that people think that I know very little and a lot of time they will be in a defense mode. Luckily, they calm and change their attitude once I prove that I know what I’m doing. But this is an extra step or two that I need to do to prove myself.

5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting Radixir?


I wish I had started marketing and promoting my brand earlier. Every day brings a new lesson and it’s good to learn from my mistakes and not dwell on them.

6. Is there anything specific in marketing that you wish you did more of?


I wish I had taken the time to build my audience and explain more of what I’m doing and why. I wish I had given them an opportunity to get to know the brand and why it is here. Building awareness and establishing trust takes time. Getting your message across and getting yourself out there takes time, too. Especially with so many brands on the market and so many cosmetic claims that are not used properly.

7. It's very interesting being a founder at that "middle-tiered" stage, where you aren't a new founder, but are definitely at a point where you seek resources now to scale. It seems as though Marketing is your current focal point. What resources do you seek specifically? And what do you think would be most beneficial for you and other founders seeking to obtain them?


It’s a very interesting stage, indeed. I try to get as much exposure to customers as I can while being clear and transparent about the brand, ingredients, and benefits. I’m also trying to find ways to work with others who were there before me and do collaborations. Our website and social media channels have become useful tools to continue to educate our consumers. It’s also been very important for us to generate more brand awareness through media exposure and gain more recognition from the industry authorities, such as awards. By the way, I’m very proud and excited to share that we just won our first award – 2022 Beauty Innovation Award for our Confidence Serum as Anti-Blemish product of the year! It’s been such an honor to be recognized and get selected from over 2,500 other brands.


Also, I was selected as the top 30 winner of The Estée Lauder Companies’ new incubation Ventures Brand Innovation Competition that took place in October in Santa Monica, California.


8. Since we’re in the dead of winter, what products would you suggest from your line that provide the necessary hydration and other benefits during the seasonal changes?


I recommend our Confidence Serum, Confidence Moisturizer, and Radixir Ice Globes Facial Massager.


The serum should be the skin meal of the day where the skin gets all the actives, nutrients, and vitamins it needs to stay healthy and glowing along with improving the overall complexion.


The moisturizer should complement the rest of the actives in the serum while adding extra protection and supporting the skin repair function. It should be a good base for makeup, or, should you choose to enjoy your bare skin, as I do, will give your skin a soft, velvety feel.


Ice globes should be the rescue at-home tool for everyday use or as an at-home spa tool that can be used as needed. Use it whenever your eyes appear puffy, the skin is tired, going through stress, around your hormonal time, or as a daily or weekly routine. Think about it as a workout for your skin that would help you flush out all the toxins.


I always say: listen to your skin. Start with clean, damp skin, apply your serum, then follow with your moisturizer. Some days you will feel that your skin needs an extra layer of moisturizing. If that’s the case, then apply another layer. Some days you will wake up feeling tired. Should that be the case, apply another layer of the serum, and so on.

9. Do you have a routine you would suggest for summer—specifically for sensitive skin?



I have very sensitive skin, so I’d love to share my routine here.


I use the Confidence Serum and Confidence Moisturizer duo every day and night. It helps control my oil production without drying my skin, gives my skin the nutrients it needs, and protects my skin barrier.


I use an exfoliating facial mask 1-2 times per week and after every facial, I apply Radixir Confidence Serum, Confidence Moisturizer, and face oil, if necessary, and use my Ice Globes Facial Massager. This routine is quick and easy – I spend about 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night. Plus, I add a few more minutes to use the Ice Globes while I’m in bed.


What’s great about this routine is that you can do it fast, making it easier to stick to, making it happen and seeing results!


10. We touched upon this a bit in our initial call, but I wanted to make sure I circled back to this idea of our brands being extensions of us. However, as founders, we have a personal brand outside of our product lines. How do you establish your own personal brand as a founder? What is the legacy you want people to remember about you as Reham, separate from Radixir?


We all strive for a chance to make something great out of our lives and I strongly believe that every one of us should have the ability to achieve better opportunities and improve the quality of our lives. So, with that thought in mind, I want to be remembered as the one who was able to help create new opportunities for others, no matter how big or small those opportunities may be. Although profit is important, my main goal is to ensure that people around me are able to benefit from whatever I do. Regardless of where we might be on our journey, all of us deserve a higher quality of life and it’s up to all of us to take steps in creating a better tomorrow for each other and ourselves.


As someone with a career in cosmetics chemistry, I take great pride in creating new and improved opportunities that lead to a better quality of life. Through selecting the best ingredients, designing improved applications, and helping people look their best faster and safer than ever before, I strive each day to make an impact on people's lives. Unfortunately, simply earning money is not enough; I hope that through my work my efforts will yield positive results for many years to come that contribute directly to elevating the prospects of those around me. As a supportive friend and parent, I do my best each day to be present for my loved ones and be a dependable caregiver who sets an example worth following. As an employer and a business owner, I aim to build a team that feels like family. Through fostering creativity and kindness within the walls of our workspace, it's my goal to ensure that everyone leaves feeling supported and accepted no matter what differences they may have. By providing this experience I hope that others will see me as not only someone professionally responsible but also compassionate and understanding.


These are the qualities that I want my legacy to live on through!


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Nowadays, the skincare consumer is even savvier. She’s well-versed in her needs and wants and continues to become increasingly more aware of the toxic chemicals in many of our most beloved skincare products. Now, we entered an important shift in buyer behavior, as a growing number of skincare founders are creating safe and effective products with natural, plant-based ingredients.

Reham is one. She mentioned the importance of ingredients in our skincare routines, not only for our skin but our very well-being. Our skin is an extension of our bodies. We must care for it with intention and truly understand that not all products are made equal. Not all skin reacts the same. We must grow so used to caring for ourselves that we recognize immediately when our skin loves—or dislikes—the topical treatments we have used.

The power of clean beauty is truly a mark of self-discovery, holistically, for both body and mind.

Because our skin is always speaking to us.

It is truly up to us to listen.

Named a "Best Book of 2020," Clean: The New Science of Skin, by physician and author James Hamblin, explores the clean beauty movement, and deep dives into the importance of the “less is more” concept when balancing the microbiomes in our skin and ultimately, clearing and treating acne, hormonal disruption, and external stressors. The new goal of skin care, Hamblin states, will be to cultivate a healthy biome—a healthy ecosystem for the body—and to embrace the meaning of “clean” in the most natural sense.

And so perfectly was this idea embodied and packaged in Reham’s own journey to building Radixir all the way to the intentionality behind her products, brand messaging, and packaging. Based on her own need, the brand is built on products with maximum efficacy without multiple steps while harnessing the true power of nature…and our connection to it.

If seeking clean, go no farther than Radixir. And what’s most powerful to me is that it fully was built out of a personal need that we have found is growing. Demand for clean beauty is growing. Our attention to our bodies is growing. Personal wellness is growing. And as consumers attune back to themselves and back to nature, I don’t see these trends showing any sign of stopping.



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