Meeting with Erika Fogeiro, founder of Combeau
You already know it and love it as much as we do, L'Essentiel Peau Combeau is the French dietary supplement superstar thanks to its state-of-the-art biotechnology formulation that brilliantly combines the highest quality organic ingredients that work in synergy to transform our skin from within. Today, we take you behind the scenes of the creation of this promising young French brand and introduce you to its founder, the visionary Erika Fogeiro.
How did the Combeau adventure begin? Is the design of this project inspired by personal experiences with your own skin?
Erika Fogeiro: I would say that this choice to create Combeau was built and reinforced as my professional and personal journey progressed. Passionate about the world of beauty since childhood, I have oriented my entire professional career in this area.
I spent my entire young career in marketing development and innovation positions in the cosmetics and well-being sector. At the same time, I developed severe adult acne and realized the limitations of some topical treatments. This affected my physical appearance but also and above all my mental well-being. I tested everything!
My skin then became completely unstable. I turned to extremely strong drug solutions that completely messed up my immune system, to the point of developing an inflammatory digestive disease.
By force of circumstances, I then decided to say stop to all this gearing, and to start from scratch, to learn to listen to my body and the signals it transmitted to me. I turned to a much simpler, more qualitative beauty routine - going to the essentials - and especially to a diet that suited me better and integrated food supplements.
It was a bit of an obstacle course to find products in line with my values and my requirements: responsible, effective and easy to digest for my fragile body. In addition, it was not always very practical: I had to take 6 to 8 capsules a day! By immersing myself in the details of the formulas sold on the market, I realized that some compositions left something to be desired: whether on the dosage of active ingredients, their origin or the frequent presence of additives, controversial excipients.
If around me we were more and more concerned about the compositions of cosmetic products, sourcing, their environmental footprint, why not do it for food supplements that we ingest? At the crossroads of all these experiences, the idea of Combeau was born.
Moreover, where does the name “Combeau” come from?
Combeau is the meeting of nature and innovation, of the scientific and the human, of expert and concentrated formulations in easy-to-take products that we are not afraid to put forward in our bathroom. It's a bit like the association of things that we tend to separate in general.
Also, beyond working on an exemplary selection of active ingredients, we have dug a lot to get the right combination of ingredients! The right dose, the right formulation processes that maximize absorption, help rebalance your skin and your body.
The entire Combeau philosophy is based on the perfect combination of very high quality ingredients for better assimilation by the body and, in turn, real results that can be seen on the outside, and feel inside. Indeed, an active ingredient never really works alone. To be assimilated optimally, it needs other nutrients with which to associate. Conversely, it can also compete and thus not pass the barrier of the intestine. Again, it's all about the combination. In short, the perfect combo!
L'Essentiel Peau is the first French formulation that contains no additives and one of the rare exceptions for which clinical trials have been carried out on a majority of the ingredients (five out of seven, if I'm not mistaken).
A bet as brave as it is ambitious for a first launch! Can you tell us more about the different challenges you encountered during the creation of Combeau?
So there, we could really write a book about it!
I started working on the formula in November 2018 and the product was finally launched in July 2020. Of course, the global pandemic context did not help.
If we focus on the formula already, we had enormous challenges to precisely combine these formidable assets. This is the reason why certain active ingredients such as saffron are encapsulated. Others, such as hyaluronic acid and melon SOD B are micro-encapsulated.
All these innovations are completely transparent to our customers, but constitute real technical feats. And even upstream: we trace the entire production chain, we systematically audition all our suppliers and remain in charge of the project from A to Z, which is clearly not at all the usual way of working in the sector. As a result, many doors have remained closed to our demands.
Combeau's magic comes from a perfect synergy of ingredients that work together to neutralize internal and external imbalances that can compromise the health of our skin.
How do you personally apply an in/out approach to your daily wellness routine? Do you have any special tips to share with us?
I have a very important tip. I often repeat myself but hey, I insist: you have to learn to listen to yourself! Of course, it's great to read all the articles, to get informed or have fun watching the latest fashionable beauty tips and trends.
But above all, you have to learn to know your skin and your body, to decode the signals they send us - to be, in a way, your own guardian.
What do you think is the most unsuspected number one enemy of our skin?
The stress ! It triggers very powerful inflammatory mechanisms that can harm our skin in particular.
Tell us about the eco-responsible approach of l'Essentiel Peau. What are your standards in terms of packaging and sourcing?
First of all, a way for us to commit ourselves is to think about our entire business model in reverse of what is commonly done: we have a short offer, with a single product. Which is confusing but 100% embodies our vision, we advocate a return to basics.
I also find it important to position social and environmental commitments equally; we won't get things moving at the environmental level if we forget the social impact of our activities.
Coming back to sourcing and packaging, as I said, all of our suppliers are audited and certified, both for their respect for the workforce and for the excellence of their culture. We are currently creating synergies with associations aimed at the reintegration of young workers with disabilities or professional exclusion - so that they can help us in the logistics circuit.
For our packaging, we have opted for cardboard and materials from sustainably managed sectors. Our inks are vegetable-based, our bottles are made of glass (the best-supported recycling channel to date). And spoiler alert: our long-awaited refills arrive at the end of February! It is important to me to create a brand that is as responsible as possible. It means taking more time, taking more complex paths, but it's for the best!
We talk about the Essential Skin as the “little black dress of nutricosmetics”: it suits virtually everyone, which is particularly impressive.
How did you come up with such a universally trusted beauty equation? Who did you turn to for this insane formulation?
In all humility, I know the Skin very well with a capital P. First by passion, then by necessity when I was confronted with my acne and then I finally made it my job - for more than 10 years now . To develop L'Essentiel Peau, I very quickly realized that I was going to need to be surrounded by a solid team of experts.
If only to collaborate with the laboratories that I was aiming for since alone, no one would have listened to me. So I formed my own team. I often say that Combeau is an ecosystem: regulatory and quality audit experts, biochemists, phytochismists, a naturopath, a pharmacist, a doctor and much more. I spent several months bringing them together! And that's my trade secret! Well kept suddenly ;)
What are the three beauty essentials, apart from L'Essentiel Peau, that are part of your daily routine?
Double cleansing, Combeau's formula n°2 which should arrive in the spring, and sleep!
Will L'Essentiel Peau have a little sister soon? How do you envision the future of the brand?
Combeau is above all a brand of food supplements. Our ambition is to show that beauty = your physical and mental health and well-being.
2022 is therefore going to be a big year for us, as it will mark the launch of formulas that we have been working on for a very long time now (I am excited and stressed just thinking about it!). Of course, it is also a question of not resting on our achievements and of always advancing towards greater responsibility. In short, a whole program.