One in every five Instagram posts includes the hashtag “#lessismore”, accompanied by a juice recipe that calls for 20-50 ingredients, leaving you to wonder if you’ve been misusing the popular phrase all your life. Though that statistic is not exactly proven, we are all familiar with the “minimalistic” trends that involve maximum time and effort.
Now that I’ve got you all worked up, meet Lesse (pronounced “less”, or just one big exhale) – the three-product skincare line founded by Atelier Dore’s former Managing Editor (!!!), Neada Jane Deters, who credits her time at the Atelier as inspiration for her simplistic skin care line (we’re blushing). Read on to learn about Lesse’s not-so-secret ingredient, and how Neada went from testing cosmetics to making them.
What was the transition like from being a writer and editor to starting Lesse, and how did the idea come to you?
Actually, it’s really connected. Being in editorial, I got to experience so many different products. I always had skin issues living in New York. So I had the opportunity to try so many different products. And I was finding that rather than finding a solution, I was becoming really overwhelmed. I started to read more and dig deeper into the ingredients, and really what the ramifications are of applying them to my skin day in and day out. That hiked my interest and I really went into this kind of dark hole of research. Through that research, I started reaching out to factories and asking hard questions. And it became this organic journey from that point forward. Next thing I knew, it was two and a half years later, and I have these products. So being in editorial and being so invested in that industry was really what sparked all of this – I don’t know if I ever would have moved into skincare if I didn’t have the access that I had. And the ability to ask questions of estheticians and people who do have all remedial or ancient skincare techniques and hearing about the different sides, Eastern and Western. It was far more fascinating and intricate than I realized it would be.
What can you tell me about the new additions to the line?
The serum has already been available, but the cleanser and the mask are new. One thing that connects these two products is the two hero ingredients that they share – a charcoal, which is extremely detoxifying, and also an ingredient called “Flame Tree”, which is extremely rare, basically, no one uses it. It’s from Australia, and it’s from a tree that makes small red flowers. That Flame Tree extract is actually a bioactive, so it’s pertinent vitamin A and C. But being bioactive, that means that it changes skin on a cellular level. The same way that a probiotic would change your microbiome, if that’s an easy analogy to make, you’re actually applying this and it’s doing something well beneath the surface of the skin. Using it in a cleanser, which you are using every day, is really helpful. But something like a mask is where you really see the impact because you’re allowing it to absorb for a longer period, so you’re really getting the effects.
I have this theory that Australian beauty is going to be the next wave after K-beauty . . . How has growing up in Australia impacted your ideas of wellness and how does it compare to what you see in America?
It’s been integral in my approach from the beginning because I had the opportunity to be raised in a way where we didn’t really wear makeup. We were taught how to take care of our skin really young. I always had a very simple, all-natural regime from the age of 12 that my mom had taught me. When you were having a breakout you applied tea tree oil, you wore SPF every day, and wore a hat when you were out in the sun. We were always very conscious of skin’s appearance but also how skin is connected to health.
Coming to America, I think I felt a real disconnect – living here felt like beauty was isolated from health in many ways. It’s changed a lot and has been a huge transition over the past several years [within the industry], and you’ve really seen the two converge, but having that understanding and the grounding of that approach to really healthy, organic, simplified skincare. I think that is truly the pillars that Lesse stands for. Really asking those hard questions like, is this going to be healthy for my skin long term? What does this mean for my health? If you have a really great skincare regime, all the other beauty can follow. You don’t need to have a complex makeup regime, you know. The fundamentals are skin and self-confidence, how you protect yourself, etc.
Who is Lesse made for? When you were conceptualizing the line, who did you imagine using it?
Lesse has really been made for people who would love to move into using organic skincare, but maybe don’t know how or what steps to take. That’s why it’s extremely simplified, it’s an easy approach. For people who are not looking for a 12-step routine, who want something that is healthy and simple – maybe they travel a lot or they care about the environment. The packaging is glass, so it’s recyclable and more sustainable. They really think about the small details and they care enough to want to invest in that. The prices are more to the point where it’s accessible. It’s really about seeing those smaller details, enjoying them, and not having to be bogged down by the industry or having to navigate the complexity of what is out there. That’s why we’re really simplifying to these hero products and it’s formulated for all skin types.
My approach to beauty is very lazy. Really, really lazy. I do have a few steps: I put on a tinted SPF, curl my eyelashes, and I’m out the door. I don’t own a hair dryer. I don’t brush my hair. I have a wide tooth comb that I use when I’m out of the shower. So, I really created this for people who either have that kind of approach or that have a really, really good base and want to build up from that.