When one speaks of the brand Fresh, natural ingredients come into mind — naturally. It has always been the front-runner when it comes to natural skincare, proven with its longterm efforts in advocating natural ingredients all across its website, social media platforms and even packaging.

Sugar Face Polish is formulated out of brown sugar and real strawberry seeds. Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner has actual rose petals in the bottle. Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask Seaweed Radiance Facial is made out of kombu seaweed, red algae, and lotus seeds. Well, you know the drill.

However, when it comes to producing such large quantities products that require a lot of ingredients, how does this impact the environment? Bear in mind, Fresh is not the only brand that is an advocate of natural ingredients in the market. Times that with the number of brands out there and the amount of resources — we’ll let you do the math.

Fresh founders, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg.

“One tonne of roses produces one kilogram of essential oil,” said Lev Glazman, one of the founders of Fresh. “That’s a lot”. Before you start backing down with any sort of skincare products that use natural ingredients — continue on reading. Glazman further reassured that Fresh still aims to create beauty products that perform with experiences that are transformative. You’ll still be able to relax in your Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask after this, don’t worry.

 

Fresh beauty has always been known for its potent natural ingredients - roses, lotus, black tea, soy and etc. How does the selection of ingredients come about?

When we started Fresh in 1991, we were the pioneers of natural ingredients. I’ve always been infatuated with natural ingredients and I thought there was a point of time where people went away from it. Instead, it went into a different type of beauty, self-proclaimed ones instead of using traditional ways. I wanted to bring back those traditions of beauty and we chose the ones that existed since centuries ago.

For example, roses are not only one of the most beautiful flowers, but they are also used in every fragrance under the sun but also have a lot of amazing benefits. To me, I felt like nothing could be better than experiencing roses on your face — in a real way. When you look at Rose Face Mask, it contains real rose petals to give that experience.

We’re very generous when it comes to offering ingredients. I get inspired once I know the history of it and the benefits of it.

Another example is the lotus, which has that multiple for generations as a remedy. People would drink it, eat it and even make clothes out of it. Then I thought there were no better opportunities to use it for beauty as an ingredient — because of its antioxidants and the type of glow it can give the skin. Lotus also has soothing properties and I love soothing properties in any skincare.

Out of all of the ingredients that Fresh has used so far in the products, which is the hardest or the rarest ingredient to find?

A lot of times, it’s harder to find ingredients that grow in a certain way. We are always looking for growers that are very particular in the practice. Some growers have been doing it for generations so they are very familiar with the seasonality, variety and its freshness.

Lotus is a little bit more challenging than the rest because they only exist in certain parts of the world — unlike roses, you can find them in western Europe, Middle East or Asia. Lotus is only available from specific regions, like Cambodia or India. It’s limited in terms of resources because of where it’s from and it’s also difficult to find the right species.

Do you have a specific farm for it?

We work with different growers and not necessarily just buying it from one source. For the roses, sometimes we can get them in Hong Kong or sometimes Turkey. Turkey is probably our biggest source because we got it from Sparta. So we go where the availability. Plus, we can’t predict nature so sometimes you’ll have good crops but sometimes not the best, so we have to have the right partnerships with the growers in different parts of the world. It’s not exactly one place, but we typically go for one source but because of the demand of the product is so high, we need to diversify ourselves in terms of where is the manufacturing is exactly happening.

Understand that there’s a huge demand for such ingredients when it comes to production, how is the harvesting process like?

There’s a certain time of the year, usually in April or May, when the harvest happens. What they do is collect the roses and start plucking the petals. One tonne of rose petals can only produce one kilogram of essential oils. It’s a lot. Then the roses go into the distillation process where they extract the essential oil from the roses.

One tonne of roses can only produce one kilogram of essential oil.
What are the things or precautions that you have done to make sure that it doesn’t impact the environment?

It’s not impacting the environment. All of it is biodegradable. The idea is whatever you take, you immediately plant it back. The growers also use extremely gentle fertilisers for the earth. They grow it in a very old tradition, for example, the growers in Sparta have been growing roses for generations. We don’t take over the field, take all of the roses and move over to another field.

Another example is also the lotus, it’s not complicated because they grow in the swamps. You basically throw in the seeds and it grows right back up again. It doesn’t affect the environment in any way. It’s not like taking a tree down and it’ll take years for it to grow.

One thing about roses — they grow and they die, it’s not something that stays forever. Anything that is leftover is biodegradable, it decomposes and grows back. It’s a cycle.

Is Fresh taking any sustainability steps when it comes to either harvesting the ingredients or the packaging?

Sustainability is a very tricky question. What’s connected to sustainability is also the practice and how people are treating it. Hence why there’s a lot that goes into when you choose your partners, you’ll want to get as much information as you can.

For example, the Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream, we use Zeta Fraction; a company from the United States. What they do is they bring the laboratory truck into the field, collect the lotus and process it right on site so that they don’t have to fly to another place.

The Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream uses Zeta Fraction, where they collect the lotus and immediately plants back the seed into the water.

Once they’ve processed it, they throw it right back into the water and it grows right back. We don’t use aeroplanes or anything like that to transport the crop to the distillation centre, then to the factory or laboratory because everything is happening on site.

Plus, what we also found out about it is you actually increase the benefits of the ingredient itself. You preserve the integrity of it because the extraction is happening right on site and the ingredient doesn’t lose its power.

If you have to pick one product from that you can only use for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Wow, that’s so difficult. Right now, I’m very much into Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence — I would say it’s the most important product in my regimen. It gives me the protection I need for the skin, especially with the enviroment. The air has a lot of pollution; free radicals, smog, dust particles and the Kombucha addresses them.

You have to make sure your skin is not oxidised. You got to neutralize anything that touches your skin. Kombucha for me is like a superstar ingredient — it’s the ferment of black tea, and I believe in the fermentation of ingredients because they are very powerful.

I can’t live without this product ever since I developed it a few years ago. If everything fails, I know my skin will at least look good (laughs).

Fresh has collaborated with Sephora to bring the first-ever Fresh Beauty Kitchen down to Suria KLCC. It’s an interactive space where you’ll get the try and smell Fresh’s best products. Did we mention that it’s an Instagrammable space too?

The Fresh Beauty Kitchen will only be at Suria KLCC from now until the 30th June 2019.

Jolin Lee
Contributor
Unlike most modern-day millennials, Jolin does not need caffeine or alcohol to power through the day (and night). Her eye for beauty is as sharp as her eyeliner flick, and she can spot your unblended eye makeup from a mile away.