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Interview With: Celia Rohmer, Crème Simon

Last month, I was invited to Crème Simon’s launch at Knightsbridge to know more this new brand in Singapore and to find out more about their products. Being a lover of all things natural, Crème Simon naturally had my interest piqued. 

This month, I got the opportunity to speak with Celia Rohmer, Assistant Managing Director of Crème Simon to know more about the brand, products and ingredients used. 

Yup, it’s a tough spot to be in when I get down and dirty with digging the truth behind ingredients in products but Celia took it in stride and was open and honest with me. 

Felicia Soh, Managing Director of Crème Simon, even commented lightheartedly to me in reference of Celia, “She has a Master in Biotechnology Chemistry and seriously, she is the Go-To-Person when I have questions about ingredients and she freaks me out on a lot of the harmful ingredients in beauty products sold in the market, like cheap baby wipes!” And it was on that note that I dived deep into my interview with Celia Rohmer...

How did Crème Simon came about?

It started in 1860 with our founder, Joseph Simon, who was a gifted young apothecary. At a time when women were using cold creams and ointments often made from beeswax or whale lipids that lasted 2 weeks at the most before turning bad, Crème Simon’s natural plant extracts enabled stability over extended periods. It is also the first known natural glycerine skincare that could be easily available because of its shelf life.

From there, the brand was managed by 4 generations of the Simon family before changing hands after World War II. We finally took over in 2010 and since then, have been conducting market research to find out what women want and need, testing and fine-tuning the products with focus groups and clinical studies, then planning production and distribution before finally launching last July.

Wow! So I understand that part of the changes made in the original formula of Crème Simon’s products (mentioned during the presentation) were the smell and texture of the creams, what were some of the other challenges that you had to overcome to meet the demands of the women in the focused groups and clinical studies, if any?

Yes, we found out that in this part of the world, women prefer a fresher, more natural scent, and lightweight textures. All our products were reformulated, but we recall in particular working on the sunscreen and foaming cleanser.

For the DAILY DEFENSE UV PROTECTOR SPF 50, we went through 52 rounds of formulation, before we found the perfect product. We worked hard to achieve a high SPF 50, with a light texture that did not leave a white cast and was not oily or greasy, to suit our unforgiving hot and humid climate.

For the OXYGENATING FOAMING CLEANSER, we use a foaming agent so gentle it is also featured in babycare. We went through over 30 rounds of product testings to find the perfect texture, a pleasant foam that’s not watery, and not too dense either, with the cleansing efficacy to remove light makeup and impurities.

It was a challenge for us to find that balance between what the market wanted and staying in line to what Crème Simon is all about, but we did it.

It seems like it really isn’t easy to please everyone in the market. Being an Assistant Managing Director of Crème Simon, I am pretty sure women look up to you when it comes to beauty and most importantly skincare. May I know what's your philosophy in skincare, and does Crème Simon range reflect this?

I am a realistic person when it comes to skincare, I do not believe that a $500 cream would make my skin look any younger at all. But I do believe that you can limit the effects of time or any other skin concerns if you use the right quality products.

The worst is using products that are not of good quality and are full of silicones that fill up the lines at the time of application, but this is not a proper skin treatment! In the long run, silicone actually has an occlusive effect, which means that it prevents your skin from breathing properly, and slows down toxin elimination. So I’d rather use a very simple plant based natural moisturizer along with a consistent beauty routine. It is what we are trying to do at Crème Simon, providing busy women with simple and safe, natural skincare that’s easy to use, while offering a nice pampering moment with pleasant scent.

Talking about plant based and natural skincare, do you think it's important for Crème Simon to be certified natural?

Crème Simon is a natural skincare brand with over 90% ingredients, some of the products even reach 95%. For some companies the main deterrent would be the high registration fees for these certifications.

As for me, more important than certification is ensuring the quality of the ingredients in my products and making sure to keep away from any controversial ingredient. The key is to explain people who we are, the philosophy behind our product formulation and the steps we take to ensure quality and safety, etc… rather than having the certification.

On your packaging, it is stated that Crème Simon’s products are made up of over 90% natural ingredients and are free from paraben and silicone. I did my own research on the ingredients and found reports that some of the ingredients in them are synthetically derived and one of the products contains polyethylene (polymer that isn’t biodegradable). Are these ingredients safe and of quality?

As much as we can, we use the best quality natural ingredients, for example all the floral extracts are pure natural ingredients. The synthetic ingredients used in our products have the same molecular structure as that of the natural ingredients, so it delivers the same effects as a natural ingredient.

One example is Tocopheryl Acetate, which is derived from Vitamin E. To use pure Vitamine E (Tocopherol Acetate), which oxydises very easily, would be inefficient, as this molecular compound is too unstable to benefit your skin. Instead, we use Tocopheryl Acetate, another form of Vitamin E, which changes into its natural form when it reaches inner layers of your epidermis, giving the formula its efficacy.

Another example is Squalane. Again, this is a more stable version of natural, easily-oxydised Squalene. On the skin’s surface it acts as a barrier, both protecting the skin from moisture loss and providing a shield from environmental toxins, and helps achieve a softer texture and smoother skin sans greasiness. It is a great asset in our formulas! But natural Squalene is obtained from shark liver oil. Crème Simon can not sustain or justify such activities as shark fishing!

As for polyethylene, it is used to allow the molecules of the triticum turgidum durum (wheat) seed extract to latch on to give structure and increase the effectiveness of the scrub. We did many rounds of testing without and then with this ingredient, and results consistently showed that scrubs including this ingredient had the best efficacy and offered the most pleasant experience.

Fair enough. So besides that, how does Crème Simon differ from other brands?

Crème Simon is the iconic French heritage skincare brand that has inspired women to enjoy natural beauty rituals since 1860. Adored by generations of women, Crème Simon was the celebrated unrivalled #1 French brand, passed down from mothers to daughters as their secret to beautiful skin.

I definitely think that our climate-customised philosophy is our main differentiating factor. In line with Joseph Simon's belief that climate conditions influence our skincare needs, our products have been specially formulated for hot summers and climates with products that make skin matte upon application, and for cold wintertime with enriched textures for deep nourishment.

So, for those who haven't tried Crème Simon before, which product is a good starting point?

I would recommend 2 products, because of the innovation behind it and the instantaneous result from the women who use it. The first product is our LYMPHATIC CONTOURING AND LIFTING GEL, to be massaged on the face using Crème Simon’s Lymphatic Massage Method. This product comes in a gel form that turns into oil as you gently massage it onto your face, which can then be perfectly rinsed off without any greasy or oily residue. It’s the perfect example of climate-customised skincare, as it’s versatile enough to use it under colder climates, where instead of rinsing off, you can just blot off excess and go to sleep with it. It’s a great product to have to pamper and de-stress as you give yourself a facial massage in the comfort of your own home!

The second product is our MULTI-BENEFITS EYE TREATMENT GEL. This product comes in a gel-dispensing roller-ball twist-pen that you can use to gently massage and moisturize your undereye area, reducing the appearance of dark circles, fine lines and puffiness with key natural active ingredients derived from pure botanical extracts. This twist-pen innovation prevents contamination from occurring while the metal roller-ball aids in reliving puffiness.

The Lymphatic Contouring And Lifting Gel is one of my favourite product in the range! So what are the future plans for Crème Simon, if any?

Crème Simon’s Brightening Detox Range is our newest range, with additions of creams specially formulated for cold winter climates coming in next month. Later on, we will be launching ranges to cater for other specific skincare concerns, maybe even a BB cream one day!

Psst! Special Perks for my readers, get 10% discount off when you shop online at Crème Simon and simply quote "5GHYJXD" when you are making your payment!