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Courtesy of Futurewise

Skincare brand Futurewise wants us to keep calm and slug

From the team that brought you Starface comes a new brand dedicated to slugging and taking your time

Beauty Rising is your go-to destination for the latest in beauty. This is where you’ll find the freshest, most exciting new brands that we think are going to make waves in the industry and in your beauty routine.

We have entered the age of emotional beauty. Being vulnerable is chic and sad girls are king. In skincare, brands like 4am Skin and Dieux are making space for feelings and messiness. “We encourage crying when you need to,” Dieux co-founder Marta Freedman told Dazed earlier this year, describing the brand’s reusable eye masks as the perfect “crying accessory”. Phlur’s viral fragrance Missing Person was created to evoke the scent of someone that you love or miss, while Byredo’s most recent scent Eyes Closed was inspired by the experience of intimacy and tenderness. The latest biggest make-up trend, crying make-up, meanwhile, aims to recreate the effect of having just wept.  

But while the pain of being alive is certainly acute, we also have an immense capacity for joy and it’s this emotion that is at the heart of new skincare brand Futurewise. “In everything we do, one of the guiding principles is bringing optimism to areas where that’s not always present and making sure we do it in a way that encourages self-expression,” says Janet Park, co-founder of Futurewise alongside Julie Schott and Brian Bordainick (the brains behind Starface) and Sara DeCou.

Optimism is the message, skincare the conduit – more specifically slugging, with all three launch products, a mist (the humectants), a moisturiser (the emollients) and a balm (the occlusives) dedicated to the practice. Slugging, for those not familiar, is a technique where you apply an occlusive layer over the skin to help prevent water loss and keep your skin hydrated and your barrier strong. The practice went viral on social media last year, but it can actually be dated back to the 15th century when members of the Native American Seneca tribe used petroleum jelly cosmetically. Since then, it’s become a household practice in the Black community.

Dazed caught up with Park and DeCou to find out more about the ethos, the products, and why they are prioritising a mission of slow and steady.

What was the starting point for the brand?

Janet Park: We were thinking about someone progressing through adulthood, they're starting this journey of coming into their own, but maybe not quite identifying with what we’ve historically associated with growing up. There’s all this stuff that they’re going through during this time in their in-between stage and we really wanted to be a source of brightness along the way.

Sara DeCou: It was very much how do we make this space, where we have historical stigmas around growing up and how we should have everything together when we’re in our 30s, and realise that is not necessarily true anymore. It’s a brand that is, especially with the creative and the design and how we’re rolling everything out, very slow and we’re taking our time with it. This is something we want to get back to, that it’s OK to take your time – you can slow down and do a nice skincare routine. There’s a lot of hurry, act now and act fast out there and this is taking a bit of an opposite approach, which has been really fun and challenging at the same time.

Did you feel that optimism and people taking their time has been missing from the industry recently?

Janet Park: I think it is reflective of things we’ve seen within this space, but also just generally in life. We saw an opportunity to bring this point of view into the space, into this audience. Bringing it back to skincare, this point of view really aligned with our wanting to focus on building skin health slowly, in a thoughtful way. Focusing on what’s really important from a foundational perspective, and not getting caught up in all of these crazy actives and burning your face off that people have been doing. Being very intentional and thoughtful about things, focusing on what’s important. Slugging made a lot of sense in that context, because it is such an effective way of repairing your skin barrier, bringing hydration in. It just so happened that slugs are slow!

Were you worried to tie the brand so closely to a trend given how short the trend cycle is these days?

Janet Park: Slugging looks like a trend on the surface because it got coined this name in more recent years and blew up on TikTok. The practice itself has been around for a very long time. It dates back to probably the 15th century when Native Americans were using petroleum jelly cosmetically and since then the practice has been a household staple within communities of colour. 

Even though it has come to the forefront in more recent times, the practice itself is rooted in a long history of people benefiting from it, it really works for a lot of different communities and groups of people. On top of that dermatologists have been recommending this practice for years as well so we knew that the practice in itself was beneficial. Even though it was coming up as a trend, it certainly wasn't fleeting and we know it to be very effective. We think it's going to be a mainstay in people's routines going forward because of how good it is for your barrier and hydration.

There was some criticism when slugging went viral that its roots in the Black community weren’t being acknowledged. Is that something that you thought about as a brand – how to make sure that you are giving credit?

Janet Park: Yeah, for sure. With social media and the internet, there’s so much content coming out all the time, there are all these trends and virality. That’s great from a discovery perspective, but a lot of times important information, history and origin stories get lost along the way. For us in introducing what we think is a really powerful practice to people or, in certain cases, reintroducing it to people, it was really important for us to bring forward the history and origins of the practice, so we’re going to make sure that we're educating people. 

You are launching three products. How did you land on the three that you have? What were you looking to do with the range?

Janet Park: When we sought to bring slugging to more people, we wanted to make the process easy to understand. We created the products in the context of a system so people knew that you should layer your hydration under that final occlusive layer. I think with the viral nature of slugging some of that messaging gets lost and people just associate it with a big slab of petroleum jelly on their face. You’re losing a little bit of the benefits there. That’s why we created it as a system.

We wanted to make sure that we were being thoughtful and intentional in the ingredients we were including into the product, really using hydration and barrier strength as that Northstar when we were formulating. We spent a lot of time perfecting the textures because that’s a very important piece of the experience. Probably my least favourite part of slogging is that sticky texture of petroleum jelly. That was something that we spent a lot of time thinking about, how we could provide a different texture for people who are looking for something different and so the slug balm has a very silky texture that feels a lot more lightweight on the face.

A lot of brands either target Gen Z and teen skin concerns like acne or have a more mature anti-ageing messaging. You don’t often get late 20s, early 30s as a target audience, which I think is really interesting. Is that who you have in mind for the products?

Janet Park: It's definitely the audience where we started with the brand and how we thought about building the broader brand, both from a product perspective and also just a brand ethos and what we wanted to stand for. There’s a lot around young people, teens and then you jump straight into you need to get rid of your wrinkles. There are a lot of people in between that maybe don’t feel like they identify with either way and so we do want to speak to those people.

Sara DeCou: The three-step system very much could be utilised for someone who is brand new into the skincare space, but wants to start a routine. It could also be used for people who are very experienced in the skincare space and want to add it to their routine. It’s a starter and it’s also for the people that know what they’re doing already. 

Often there is a clear line of ‘this is for this young audience’ and then this is once you’re older you should be more refined and put together. I still don’t even like to call it ageing. We’re just blissfully getting older. It’s this space where skincare can still be fun, even if you’re growing with it and getting older. I think that waking up in the morning and before you go to bed at night, having a product that is fun to use, looks great, and brings a little bit of joy into your life is important.

Janet Park: Because the products are addressing skin health, we started with maybe a certain demographic when we were ideating the brand, but really anyone can benefit from these products because they’re addressing foundational skin health, which everyone needs. 

Where does the name Futurewise come from? What does it mean to you?

Janet Park: The way we thought about it was, bringing it back to optimism, thinking about that and what we can do to make ourselves feel good about the future. A lot of that is finding joy today and getting to that point where you have that realisation takes a lot of wisdom. Being able to live your life in that way with that mindset takes a lot of wisdom, that’s how Futurewise was born.

Sara DeCou: Futurewise to me is like a space for reverie and I think it’s a little bit different saying that word versus escapism, because escapism is very much our world that we’ve existed in launching into a new web 3 world. It’s not that, it very much is still loving to be where you are, but just creating this sort of fantastical Absurdism. Futurewise plays off into that in a way where you’re thinking of the future.

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