Borne out of a determination to find a solution that embraces both quality skincare and active lifestyles, Solyph is a clean beauty brand that caters to active folks of all ages and skin types. Focusing on restoring and protecting your skin from the rigors of active living, we spoke with founder, Jeon Hee-sook, to find out more.
So I understand that you’ve lived in Singapore for many years. How did that happen?
Although I was born and raised in South Korea, I’ve spent more than 20 years living abroad due to my husband’s various overseas postings. We first landed in Singapore with our toddler son in 2009 and apart from a few years in Switzerland, we’ve been living here since. We love Singapore and whenever we have to return to Korea, we always look forward to coming back.
Everyone knows that South Korea is the mecca for all things beauty. Why did you decide to start Solyph here in Singapore?
Yes, Korea probably has the most trendy and creative beauty market in the world. Witnessing its outstanding growth and development, I knew that Korea offered the best capabilities in formulating and manufacturing a world-leading skincare brand.
While most of the formulation and manufacturing for Solyph is done in South Korea, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to build Solyph here in Singapore as a global beauty brand. I knew that Singapore was an excellent place to start as it is a nurturing hub for global brands to expand internationally.
Of course living in Singapore also made it easier for me to manage and leverage Singapore’s international connectivity. By basing Solyph here in Singapore, Solyph is able to benefit from the expertise and competitiveness of the South Korean market and the international connectivity that Singapore has to offer.
As a South Korean who has made Singapore a home, what are the differences you see between Korean skincare regimes and philosophies and those here?
Skincare regimes and philosophies in Singapore are mostly dependent on global trends driven by big brands and manufacturers. Purchases are also heavily tilted toward major brands in my opinion and this is in part due to the lack of local skincare brands and manufacturers but also the more laid-back beauty culture when compared to South Korea.
Korean skincare on the other hand is deeply rooted in its culture and Traditional Korean Medicine that is similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine. The philosophy behind it is that the best products or outcomes come from the careful selection of each and every ingredient that goes into our formulations. South Koreans tend to proactively research ingredients and how to use them before considering the products.
Singapore consumers don’t seem as focused on this and they have a tendency to avoid complex skincare regimes and prefer simpler regimes and quick solutions. Koreans on the other hand tend to be very meticulous in their skincare regimen and approach them very personally. We tend to opt for natural ingredients that support skin health and prevent ageing and our regimens and beauty rituals go beyond “fixing” skin issues.
Thanks to a highly advanced and matured beauty industry, South Koreans are also more open to new products, brands and practices and like to refine or personalise them according to their own personal skin issues and conditions. Kbeauty regimes are quite fluid and constantly evolving which also has an impact on the beauty practices in other countries.
I read that Solyph was inspired by your personal struggles in finding the right beauty solutions for an active lifestyle. Tell us more!
I was blessed with naturally good skin in my youth and it was only in my late 20s when I started to worry. Living in the US then, I enjoyed golf almost daily and I used to skip sunscreen even in summer causing my skin to rapidly dry, get sensitive and break out easily. This was my first warning but since I was young, a basic routine of hydrating and layering mild formulas was good enough to get back good skin in a short term.
In my late 30s, the stress of pregnancy and raising a child didn’t seem to impact my skin, so with a busy schedule, I took shortcuts with my skincare, prioritizing caring for my son and pursuing golf and other outdoor activities. I was staying in Central Europe at the time where the climate tends to be dry. This was when I got my second alert when a sub-dermal scan revealed a wide range of skin damage with potential pigmentation that could appear at any time on the surface.
That’s when I realized the importance of prevention over the cure and how much a good daily skincare routine matters. Shocked by the image, I began choosing products more carefully, both natural and chemical, whatever seemed to work for me hoping to take back control of my skin. I consumed tons of information and observed how skincare brands made their products through friends that I had in the industry.
Having lived in many different environments, from temperate to tropical, my skincare regimen had to adapt along with where I was staying. Settling in Singapore in my 40s, I resumed playing golf regularly in addition to other outdoor activities. In sunny Singapore, it didn’t take long before I got the most serious alert ever on my skin with all the early signs of ageing raiding at once.
Some of my peers even gave up playing golf altogether to save their skin before it was too late but I didn’t want to do so. I enjoyed the game and the vitality that came with being active and was determined to find a solution. After over a year of research and trials, I realised that there did not exist a skincare brand that met the needs of active folks. Despite a rising trend of active fashion and healthy eating, there was very little scientific understanding on active skincare. This is what set off my journey to create Solyph.
Everyone is unique in their skin types and concerns. How does Solyph cater to all skin types and who should really consider using your products?
Sorting out products that match your skin type can be tricky, and even if they claim to be suitable for a particular skin type, everyone feels differently once you actually use the product. In many cases, consumers don’t even know exactly what their skin type is and this is made more complicated because environmental conditions can affect your skin condition.
What this means is that we should use recommendations for skin type as a guide and not be overly obsessed with it. What’s more important is your preference and feel for the products when applied to your skin. Choosing products that have good ingredients that work clinically and safely is more important and you can adjust the dosages and methods accordingly to match your skin.
Our products are primarily water-based and formulated with natural ingredients that are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. They work for all skin types by allowing you to easily layer the products with no worries. Even our oil-water balanced moisturiser can be used comfortably on oily skin by adjusting the dosage depending on your needs. That’s how we recommend our products be used, not by choosing the product for your skin type but by adjusting how you use our products to fit your skin type.
I would recommend our products to busy, active people who need to frequently hydrate and protect the skin against environmental stressors. If you have damaged or distressed skin, our products can help with recovery by protecting your natural moisture barrier. A good daily skincare routine enables a healthy cycle of renewal for your skin and boosts immunity and resilience to help you reveal a natural glow that comes from the inside out.
At the heart of Solyph is the focus on a single hero ingredient, the Pine Leaf Water. Why did you choose this ingredient and what makes it so special?
Skincare formulations consist mostly of water and good skincare products start from the quality of the water used. That’s why traditional skincare brands originate from places where water is good. Korea is very privileged in terms of water and clean natural resources and it wasn’t difficult for us to find a quality natural water source. However, I was determined to achieve a “holistic and natural healing experience” with Solyp and our first mission was to craft a premium natural base water leveraging the natural ingredients and advanced skincare science in Korea.
We searched for an ingredient to be distilled into a base water that not only complemented the formulation but could enrich and enhance it, amplifying its effects. Our priority was on finding an ingredient that was AAA-rich - antioxidants, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Pine Tree Extract was a natural ingredient with distinct benefits for skin that’s frequently exposed to heat, sweat and environmental stressors.
We were also inspired by the practice of “Forest Bathing”, a well-known and ancient wellness practice for stressed-out bodies and minds. We sorted various species of evergreen trees by specific criteria and after countless testings, we selected the Pine Trees from around PyeongChang. Using traditional distillation techniques, we were able to formulate pine-leaf base water from carefully selected natural ingredients that can deliver targeted benefits.
As someone who leads a very active lifestyle, what is your post-workout routine and what advice do you have for others who lead similarly active lifestyles?
My pre-during-post workout skincare routine centers around Solyph’s product range as you can easily imagine. My advice for active folks is to take a holistic approach to their skincare routines and to practice them consistently for the best results. I recommend that each person build their own routines based on their skin types and concerns by being mindful of the purpose of each step rather than blindly following the routines of others.
I always use Solyph’s moisturising products to prepare my skin’s moisture barrier against sweat, heat and sun exposure before any activity. Always wear sunscreen regardless of whether your activity is indoors or outdoors. If the activity is prolonged, like with golf, I will reapply the sunscreen and cool my skin with the Essence Mist as needed. Post-activity, I always make sure to cleanse thoroughly to remove dirt, excess sebum and sweat.
Use a generous amount of the Essence Mist to cool, soothe and hydrate my skin, it’s like first aid for your skin post-activity to help prevent early signs of ageing. Recharging your moisture barrier and boosting your skin’s immunity is next with Solyphs serum and moisturiser and if convenient, I would also pop on a chilled sheet mask and follow that with a generous layer of moisturiser to lock in all the goodness.
Solyph is a holistic skincare brand, so what else would you suggest others like you look out for in trying to achieve healthy, glowing skin?
Firstly, I’d suggest a healthy diet, especially one that supports gastrointestinal health. Go for naturally fermented foods that are rich in probiotics and, of course, fresh and clean nutrient-rich meals rich in fruits and vegetables. Many skin troubles are related to gastrointestinal conditions, so what you eat matters not only to your health but also to your skin’s appearance.
A healthy metabolism and vitality from doing regular workouts is also key to healthy glowing skin. Sweat clears out pores and boosts blood circulation, helping to prevent early signs of ageing and helping with hormonal balance. Yet, dealing with the stress from regular workouts can also be tricky and that is why Soyph was created to support your skin in active lifestyles for a healthy and natural glow.
I would add on a gentle self-massage around the neck, head, ears and eyes to boost blood circulation around your face, together with your skincare routine whenever time allows. This will help you achieve a taut and bright complexion. Lastly, and most importantly, don’t forget a big smile as a happy mind starts and completes your healthy glowing skin!
What can we hope to see from you and the brand in terms of new product offerings?
Since our brand launch, we’ve had a lot of feedback and requests from our customers. Along with consumer insights in the market, we are continuously refining our products and from time to time, we will renew our formulas if we think it will improve the experience and results. Just like competitive sports, we are constantly seeking that little bit of improvement no matter how small.
We would also love to offer more products in the future that will complement our current range. We are currently researching a multi-booster that is more focused on anti-ageing and brightening but that still stays faithful to our core philosophy of creating a simple and minimal line that fits active lifestyles.
Having spent so many years here in Singapore, you would probably know that Singaporeans are crazy over food! What’s your favourite Singaporean dish?
Satay is my #1 favorite among local food! I was actually introduced to it a long time before I came here by a dear Singaporean friend living in the US. I fell in love right away with her home-cooked Satay and delicious peanut sauce. Since then, I can never go without it when it comes to local food.
In the article
All Skin Types
Dullness + Unevenness, Fine Lines + Wrinkles, Skin Elasticity
Combination Skin, Dry + Flaky Skin
Acne + Pimples, Pore Care, Sensitive Skin
All Skin Types
Dullness + Unevenness, Fine Lines + Wrinkles, Skin Elasticity
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About the writer
Hong Lyeon, a native South Korean, is the founder of Asian Beauty X and our resident beauty expert. She enjoys sharing her experiences, tips and reviews, and skin-loving recipes and when she's not telling the rest of us what to do, she has been known to cook up a mean storm.