Sublime talks to Ada Ooi, founder and visionary behind the 001 Skincare brand.
Sublime: How did the 001 concept came about and what was your influence in developing the brand and products?
AO: As I grew up in Hong Kong, I have always been fascinated by how traditional Chinese medicine and modern Western medicine have worked synergistically over the generations, from the household to the medical system. This reflected in the beauty industry where I absorbed skincare rituals learnt from Japanese, Korean, and most dearly of all, from my grandma and grandpa, who owned a pharmacy and treated people with both Chinese and Western medicines.
The 001 concept was came about while practicing as an aromatherapist and facialist with clients in both Hong Kong and London. It was then when the truth of the Chinese saying: ‘the outward is determined by the inward’ became evident. Living in cosmopolitan cities where a lot of us compromise our energy and lifestyle to keep up with the fast pace of our surroundings, I started to witness what being time-poor can do to our skin. Noticeable signs of stress, occupational and hormonal acne, less obvious cues of prolonged dryness leading to sensitivity, inflammation and large pores, fine lines and dullness... the list goes on but, in short, the imbalanced skin conditions were the result of an imbalanced lifestyle.
The combination of practical insight and my background growing up in a ‘melting pot’ of world cultures compelled me to create a skincare line to help city dwellers like myself balance their skin (and wellbeing) with refined ingredients, potent formulations and let’s not forget, skincare that is fun and indulgent.
S: Your brand seems to be closely related to art and dance. Was this an intentional step or did it happen organically?
AO: Skincare that champions arts, dance and cultures might sound irrelevant but the combination is almost like a metaphor of my view to beauty. Being professionally trained as a dance performer, including classical dances from Middle Eastern, Polynesian and South East Asian cultures, I spent several summers touring Europe with world-renowned choreographers. As an artist, touring opened my mind by interacting with audiences not only enjoying the performances but curious to learn about the movements, music, expressions and costumes... And doesn’t this apply to most of us when we look at a piece of art, be it a drama, a painting or a dance? It makes you think or question, I won’t say each time you’ll learn something but I hope that 001 will be able to use the arts and cultures as a medium to create a process that helps to explore and inspire, to stimulate and pave a way to achieving an equilibrium in our daily lives.
Although an organic process, again it stems to the Chinese saying, ‘the outward is determined by the inward’ – our face, body and mind are all integrated – to enhance the balance of our outer skin, our mind needs to be nourished and balanced as well. Art is a great medium for that as I have personally experienced it.
S: Tell us about the ingredients you use to produce the 001 range. How are they sourced?
To create effective formulations, we use a high percentage of active ingredients for optimal efficacy. They are both of natural origin and safe lab-based. Some of the ingredients we use to produce the 001 range include proven anti-oxidants: marine algae, green tea, stabilised vitamin C and E. An expansive variety of ingredients that mimic the lipids, the structure and function of healthy skin are also included – like apricot oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, squalane and sweet almond oil for example. They appear to heal, help stabilise and maintain the complex intercellular structure of the epidermis, encouraging our skin to repair and regenerate without disturbances from dryness and environmental irritation.
001 is free from SLS, artificial colours and parabens. Nothing is tested on animals and we do not use any animal bi-products.We stay in very close contact with specially selected premium suppliers who keep us informed of innovations, seasonal influences and who help us source the best from the whole plant (flower, seeds, stems, roots, leaves and fruit) for us to extract the highest quality and most potent active properties including anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.
S: Do you personally formulate and mix your products?
AO: I am heavily involved in the initial blending stage of our products. My expertise comes from calling on my skills in chemistry and anatomy, aromatherapy and my practical experience working on a large number of clients with different skin types and skin conditions. I know the type of ingredients and consistency that would work most effectively on the skin. I also work with a team of botanists and bio-chemists who are not only experienced but have been in the research and innovation field for a long time. They are as passionate as myself in creating hybrid methodologies to combine traditional apothecary with modern science using high-grade natural and safe lab-based ingredients. 001 took two and a half years of fine tuning and perfecting before I was completely satisfied and ready to launch earlier this year.
S: What is the EquiHybrid Lab and what happens there?
AO: This is where we look into different traditional apothecary principles from Asia and beyond to restore the balance of the skin and we experiment with cutting-edge ingredients for creating our cleverly crafted, efficacious formulations. As much as we know that nature is full of goodness, we need to understand the complex structure and anatomy of the human skin and how the chemicals in natural actives are going to work with this vital organ, which is also the largest of all body parts and serves as the first defence for protection. We also actively look at major influences affecting the remarkable regenerative and defensive biochemistry of skin in external factors like diet, stress, lifestyle and solar radiation, combining with ageing and hormonal activities.
In short, this is where we combine modern bio-chemistry and traditional apothecary to provide the resilience to counteract the negative effects generated by free radicals in urban environments and look to prolong the ageing process. And of course this is also where we monitor closely to ensure all our formulations are safe and fully conformed to the European Cosmetics Products Safety Regulations.
S: What does the future hold for 001 Skincare?
AO: The brand launched in early 2014 and we already have some very exciting plans forged for new products, ranges and beauty gadgets. We will also be opening in Asia next year, with the first outlet confirmed in Hong Kong. As the brand evolves, my passions for dance, art and photography will have an increasing role to play in 001 – we will be sponsoring a precious and exciting art exhibition later this year. So watch this space!
A champion of world arts, dance and cultures, Ada shares her beauty insights and lifestyle discoveries on her blog.
Find out more about 001 at doublezeroone.com