Fresh founders, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, on skincare defence and feel-good beauty
Skin reboot warriors
There's no duo more riveted by avant-garde skincare than Fresh founders Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. From their cult favourite Soy Face Cleanser to the coveted anti-ageing Crème Ancienne, Fresh continually spearheads innovation in the beauty industry with an unrivalled collection of the finest natural skincare products. It's the result of a brilliant combination of Glazman's obsession for transformative beauty and Roytberg's ardour for the perfect fusion of history, beauty, and emotional connection.
Glazman and Roytberg are not like your typical CEOs. They're an effusive couple who showed not one bit of hesitation in sharing their personal stories and how that translated to Fresh's committed core identity. The pair immediately eased us in with their affable smiles that turned what was supposed to be a friendly interview into a playful tête-à-tête — well, for more than just two people.
Three years since their last visit for the American beauty brand's first standalone boutique in Singapore, the Fresh founders are back on our island state. Here for the launch of Fresh's Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence, the innovative pair is introducing to us a new formulation of food-based and active ingredients in their latest product. Find out the two lines of defence in preventive skincare, how the founders incorporate folk remedies for an organic skincare experience, and the growing transparency in the beauty landscape.
How did Fresh come about?
Alina Roytberg (AR): Lev is the original source of the dream. He's the one who's been obsessed with beauty since he was little. Just two days after we met, he gifted me a fragrance and it fit me perfectly. To me, fragrances had completely nothing to do with who you are. So, it was amazing how somebody understood my aura in such a way to connect it to an aroma. I remember finding products under his bathroom sink from department stores — unopened, by the way. That was the first time I saw that it wasn't just about him loving the fragrance, but also his search to discover new products because he knew how transformative beauty is and he wanted to find something easily understandable that would respond to his needs.
What motivated both of you to create a skincare and cosmetic line despite the huge selection in the beauty market?
AR: Both of us were obsessed with the history of beauty, that's so closely tied to the history of civilisation. We grew up from countries using folk remedies in the same line as Western medicine. The scene at that time was really sad — we only had traditional department stores selling you a whole bunch of stuff with ingredients that you wouldn't understand. The Body Shop just came to the States but there was really nothing you could talk about regarding the quality of products, history and human connection with ingredients — and that's where we started.
Tell us more about the new Kombucha product from Fresh.
Lev Glazman (LG): Kombucha is something that we've been drinking for a long time and it's an ingredient that I've been infatuated with. It took us six years of research from even thinking about the product, extracting it from the complex and boosting the concentration of the product.
I wanted to make sure that it answered another concern that I have — the environment. There are free radicals that can potentially cause damage to your skin, but there is also another part of the environment where microscopic particles pollute the air. You can't stop it from getting onto your skin — because you can't walk in a bubble — but you can have ingredients that help to fight it.
We discovered two lines of defence — one is fighting the free radicals and the other is neutralising the pollutants that are attached to your skin from the air to prevent your skin from oxidising. If the skin is not oxidising, it doesn't have to fight the oxidative process and skin metabolism becomes much more effective. Basically, your skin is becoming younger. It doesn't matter what type of products you use, but we believe that Kombucha perfectly bridges your skincare regime together.
Compared to mainstream beauty brands, what is Fresh's unique selling point?
LG: The first thing is that we dive deep into every ingredient and try to understand what it does. Secondly, we're really connecting it to how people use certain remedies culturally, over generations. This has always intrigued us and we want to make that heritage relevant today.
We're giving you an experience and contact in a real way and that sets our line apart from others. I could truly and comfortably say that we do offer a sensorial experience like no other brand out there. We study our ingredients in so many ways because it's not just about giving you cream with black tea but it's more than that; we're giving you a whole black tea world and that's what makes the difference.
If you could describe Fresh in one word, what would it be and why?
LG: One word? Fresh!
AR: We do have an advantage as the name of our company is Fresh. People forget that it's an adjective. When we decided to name the company Fresh, we wanted to cater an organic experience with words that can be understood by many nations — words like rejuvenating, new, and reviving.
You're known as the founders of Fresh, but outside the business, what is an ordinary day like?
LG: Every day is a day of discovery. We always take on a creative mindset — thinking about what the next ingredient we are going to look into or what's happening with the development of our existing products. Our daily routine surrounds the product; it starts and ends with the product. One of my main involvements is product development while Alina's in charge of the design and collaterals.
What's your all-time best skincare tip?
LG: Try to disconnect yourself from what's happening outside. Try to put your phone away and do whatever — watch TV, read a book, put on a face mask. I believe in reaching beauty in and out. It's not just about what you're applying on your face but it's also about your mindset.
AR: Well, mine is simply to wash your makeup off every night. You just need to make this a habit even though you're tired from a late night out. That's the key.
How do you think the beauty industry is changing?
LG: I think people are not necessarily sold by marketing tactics anymore. They are getting a bit more sceptical about it. The demand from beauty companies are that of honesty, transparency about what they do and not to overpromise. We want to see real skin, real face and what it's all about. I always believe that we need to show faces of all ages and cultures. It's very democratic and I think that this is where it's heading.
Many of your products are inspired by travel. Have you been inspired by anything in Singapore?
AR: You know, my stomach has been so busy (laughs). We tried some really interesting flavours at Island Creamery just the other day. I tried the durian last time and it was really... not exciting but I needed to give it another chance. I've heard about durian ice cream and I love ice cream so I thought maybe two of those things coming together will work for me — for the record, it did not but there were other flavours that really did. Pulut hitam, chendol, Horlicks and milk tea were really good. We'll see where that leads us to.