Decoding the science behind serums with Codage Paris
I'm with the brand
Skin, meet serum: New in at Escentials, Codage Paris is the cosmetology brand that's set to revamp the way you treat your complexion with its serum-based lineup. Touted as a designer of beauty, the contemporary French label is all about efficacy with style, pushing high performing serums with an Haute Couture arm — uniquely made-on-demand after a full skin diagnosis — and a Prêt-à-Porter side that carries a comprehensive collection of serums crafted to specific skin needs. It's like a good 'ol apothecary experience, but reinvented with an extremely refined and dare we say, chic cosmeceutical edge.
Founded by brother and sister duo Julien and Amandine Azencott in 2010, the seven-year young serum brand is all about next-generation synergistic skincare and precision formulations to provide your skin and its changing needs with individualised attention. Smart and adaptive, Codage Paris tackles the complicated chemistry behind attaining perfect skin so you don't have to. Now making their Little Red Dot debut, we get in on the skincare goodness in an exclusive interview with co-founder Julien Azencott as he enthusiastically talks brand DNA, the art of serum crafting and his candid perspective on male skincare (ladies, take notes for your other half).
Serums are becoming more mainstream in skincare as brands expand their product offerings. What sets Codage Paris apart from the masses?
We believe that skincare should be skin nutrition. Our family comes from a medical background, so we grew up with this medical, rational thinking that there's no miracle solution. First, you have to think and understand that your skin is a living organism; it has everything it needs to function properly but you need the appropriate nutrition to optimise this function. The serums are the product able to deliver this type of nutrition, and this is why they're very important. The rest of the Codage Paris range is to support and protect healthy skin, as such cleansers, exfoliators and makeup removers.
However, the core of the brand is definitely a focus on serums and it's a big positioning for us. It's something we strongly believe in and everything has been built around it. We spent our first four years only on serums. And the first two years were without any finished products, just serum made-to-measure and to order. That's what makes us stand apart from the rest, because we bring our offerings with total transparency. We want to educate our customer; we want you to know what fits your skin. We want to make you understand what you're feeding your skin with, and we try to be as diverse as possible in the way we select our ingredients. We also work with a collection of ingredients that we source from all the R&D labs in the world.
Our know-how is the art of formulation, with the best active ingredients and every year, we bring in new ingredients so the brand is naturally and organically growing from a formulation point of view.
How essential are serums to skincare? What is the visible difference between a routine that uses serum regularly versus one that doesn't?
When you start using a serum, in one to three days you will start seeing your skin becoming smoother and you'll feel it's better armed, better functioning. I always find that talking to my male friends — because we are more low maintenance — they personally feel a difference so much that the change is like a rebirth in a way. So I believe our serums are extremely efficacious. Of course, if you're used to wearing a serum everyday, you may not feel it as much but again, I want the Codage consumer to be smart. Results are a priority but we don't want to pursue just that concept of having result. We believe in nutritional care, so it's a long-term thing. You have to go with your skin's cellular metabolism, which means you have to wait for [skin cell turnover] cycles to happen to build efficiency over time and over a healthier lifestyle. So eventually, yes, taking good care of your skin with a holistic and comprehensive understanding will lead to a better complexion.
What are some of the unique formulations in the Codage Paris lineup? Is there a serum for every skin issue, and are they suitable even for those with sensitive or easily irritable complexions?
Our number one priority is efficacy, so every ingredient we use is clinically tested. The second priority is innovation and safety, and the third is to be as natural as possible. In that sense, we don't use any essential oils because they can be very harsh, and they can cause sensitivity in some people. We also don't use any allergen components. For example, allergens for whitening serums; we could have a stronger formulation if we incorporated acid to directly renew the skin but this is too harsh on a daily basis. Everything in the range is really designed to be able to suit even the most sensitive skins.
We also have specific products that are meant for highly sensitive skin, such as this soothing and anti-redness serum. This is the one that's redesigned for sensitive skin, and it's also good for skin recovery following very abrasive treatments like surgery, laser and peeling. You use it pre and post-treatment to start building the natural defenses of your skin so your complexion will be better armed to face the procedure and after with an improved regenerative process.
Do Codage Paris serums seamlessly fit into a woman's existing skincare regime? And which products would you recommend for those looking to do an overhaul on their routine?
Yes, you can easily insert any Codage Paris product in your routine, and you can start off with a serum. Identify your main concerns and start introducing a serum or two. Then you can go on to use a mask, an exfoliator or a toner — 'easy' products you can swap out with the ones you're currently using. But maybe don't change your moisturiser right away because this is something you're emotionally attached to because it's the texture and the smell that you very used to it and are comfortable with. It's really what you wear and remains on top whereas a serum you're likely to forget as it goes deep into the skin. So yes, I would recommend starting with serums but I'm also a big fan of the mask and exfoliator as well.
Asian women take their skincare very seriously. How do you see Codage Paris performing in the Singapore market, which is saturated with products not only from luxury labels but also from Korean brands?
Everything is built to be transparent and trustworthy. I have nothing to hide, I don't believe in miracle solutions and I'm here for the people who believe in expertise people. So in that end, I believe the smarter the people are with their skincare routines, the more consumers there are for Codage Paris. I'm not afraid when it comes to the competition. What I like about my products is that they're all water-based too, so the light texture makes them quite easy to wear in the Singapore weather despite us being a European brand.
I know most people are indoors a lot which is why I think it's very important to indulge your skin with good hydration, and there are plenty of brands that are so light at times that it's lacking in hydration. Plus we've already worked with Taiwan and Hong Kong for four years and we don't have problems with our formulas at all. We do have a good loyal Asian customer base. You know, I am so passionate about the products and every time I come to Asia and Southeast Asia, I have in mind all these new products we are going to launch to better fit the region. I'm sure the more we develop in Asia, the more we will create cool formulations for the region.
What are some of the star products that will be available locally?
As we have already established our brand in Hong Kong and Taiwan, from these countries our best sellers are the intensely hydrating serums. And since a lot of women now grow through abrasive facial treatments, you always need to have this, the Number 1 Serum, for basic hydration. This is something everybody should have in their bathrooms. It can be used everyday and even makeup artists love it. It became so popular because the high molecular hyaluronic acid still remains on top, so it helps to bind much better with powders and makeup in general. Then the Number 3 serum for radiance and the Number 2 serum are also in the top three, which are great for combination skin. Fall in Love is also extremely popular in Taiwan because targets whitening and pigmentation, on top of delivering radiance and hydration.
As a man in an inherently feminine industry, what are your views on skincare and grooming for the masculine half? Incidentally, does Codage Paris position itself as a unisex brand?
Since I am involved a lot in the creative side of the brand, I do believe it's perfect for both women and men because Codage Paris is a smart label. Men don't like it when you present beauty icons or a famous face to them. They'll say, "I don't want to look like this guy," even if they want to because men are too proud to admit they want to believe in miracles. But Codage Paris is technical: I understand why I'm using it and I understand the price because there are a lot of components and ingredients. I know when and how to use it, and it's easy to wear. And you have great results plus the products actually look good in minimal black and white packaging. We do need to take care of our skin as well, and I believe that the rational and cosmeceutical-based thinking behind our brand is perfectly fitted for men.
Codage Paris is available at Escentials Paragon and Escentials Tangs at Tangs Plaza, $55 - $370