Today we get to talk to Helen Ritchie the founder of Britain’s vegan leading teenage skincare brand Gym For Your Skin (GFYS) https://www.gymforyourskin.co.uk
How did you get started in the beauty industry?
It’s nearly 10 years since I’ve moved from my professional skincare practice to begin developing my own skincare line, which was a bold move and required a lot of strength.
Professional grade skincare was now only a click-away. New cosmeceutical brands with modest price points had entered the market allowing a new generation to experiment with active ingredients. Yet with these developments, skin health still wasn’t transforming. In fact, skin problems have been on the rise for over 10 years. Over-washing, over-exfoliating, over-treating, weakens skin and actually causes skin problems. For example, detergents, toners, scrubs, peels work against how the skin wants to work. So, skin rebels.
Ultimately it was the right risk to take. Before my years of training, I would never have considered that the products I had used on myself and my children might be detrimental to the vital skin barrier.
What made you want to set up Gym For Your Skin?
I basically did it because I wanted to do be honest about skin health and skin care and do everything others don’t do or tell you not to do. I wanted to educate people on the importance of skin strength, help more people than I could reach in my clinic, and make brilliant skin easy. (Not shortcut or overnight easy, but ‘Workout’ easy.) We’ve relied on attacking our skin problems when strength, balance and repetition is the answer. When I didn’t see anyone else doing it, I created GFYS. Even though it’s David Vs the Goliaths of the skincare world. Every bottle we sell means we are one step closer to changing the narrative.
Why is Gym for your Skin suitable for teenagers what makes it unique?
I’m championing a lifetime of great skin . Like the gym, GFYS benefits every skin type and every age and the earlier you begin the better. Skin confidence is vital for young people, particularly in our forever visible world. Most go-to anti-blemish, and degreasing skincare products aimed at young adults weaken skin leading to inflammation, irritation, breakouts, early ageing. We are the opposite. While others weaken, we strengthen.
I wouldn’t have been this confident 10 years ago, but I see high volumes of mums, daughters and sons who use my products and you see a big difference with their skin strength, skin health, skin appearance and most importantly in their confidence. This has resulted in my own unwavering confidence in my skincare brand Gym For Your Skin (GFYS).
What skin complaints can Gym for your skin help? And how does it work?
We fuse clinically proven, rebalancing ingredients with the power of natural barrier fortifying ingredients. GFYS delivers results for every skin. From breakouts, to acne, blocked pores, excess oiliness, dryness, sensitivity, early ageing, our skin identical ingredients help normalise skin that’s out of whack.
The routine is simple but the formulas are not. We strengthen and rebalance the skin in two steps (Simply cleanse with our conditioning cleanser then pop on our multi-tasking day or night moisturisers.) When skin is made strong many common skin problems naturally fade away. Spikes in hormones from adolescence or stress, genetics, daily skin assaults even from great things like swimming can mean skin needs more help. For this you need an extra hit of actives. That’s where our vitamin boosters come into play. There’s Reboot for clearing pores and creating a smooth glowing complexion, B-Hit for balancing oil and building the skin barrier for calm dewy skin, C-Hit promotes healing and is antibacterial, brilliant for inflammatory acne and there is A-hit for signs of ageing and moderate to severe acne.
How do Gym For Your Skin fans effect the products the brand launches?
Knowing your profession and your customers habits and needs is the sweet spot. There’s no point advising on complicated or expensive regimes if you know these products will either sit on the bathroom shelf, not be affordable or not used. I’ve never believed healthy skin should be a privilege. GFYS isn’t sanctimonious. We just keep things simple with fortifying formulas that form the basics of great skin. More time and money for the important things in life!
Gym for your skin sells twenty products every hour! Which Gym for your skin product is the best-selling?
With such a minimalist range, it’s a close call. Our top selling products are the heavy duty strengtheners – B-Hit vitamin B serum and Warm Up conditioning cleanser. This year, in particular, we saw a huge increase in popularity for our AHA Reboot Solution. We sold out. But then we also recently sold out of our Rest overnight cream after we have been increasing our stockist footprint. Our Workout has a loyal following, and we notice the range is popular amongst makeup artists for skin prep. It infuses, it’s packed with defensive ingredients without being heavy and makeup goes on brilliantly making it a perfect hard-working primer. Being a vegan cosmeceutical too is also unique. Vitamin C is everyone’s best seller and ours is great because it is a highly stable version so it doesn’t oxidise in the bottle.
Which Gym For your Skin products do you use every day?
I use the full power of 7. I’ve been pretty lucky skin-wise, especially during adolescence. I had good oil balance and have naturally resilient skin but I’m fair and
more susceptible to UV ageing than I’d like. Not knowing the importance of sunscreen in my youth is a regret especially but I’ve been able to regain youthful qualities. What life takes out, GFYS has put back in!
Which is your favourite treatment combination regime for January?
Our Warm Up Cleanser at the beginning and end of each day will help purify, break through any SPF, as well as strengthen the skin barrier. A trick is that when I use in winter is to use B-hit serum twice daily and Reboot three times a week. B-hit helps teach and train the skin to self-moisturise by naturally increasing skin ceramides that keep skin strong and moisture locked in. It’s brilliant for those skin types who are dry or oily or blemished and dry at the same time where rich moisturisers would cause a breakout. As well as smoothing and brightening skin, Reboot draws moisture to the skin, leaving skin healthy and luminous.
Which two products layer particularly well?
B-Hit and Workout layer up beautifully. Many powerful moisturisers tend to be heavy and sit on the skin and give the illusion of moisture and then make up is difficult to layer over. Keeping skin fully hydrated is the key to healthy skin as this powers healthy skin processes. A drop in temperature causes moisture loss and a downward cascade in skin processes, so skin can breakout or flare up.
Which two Gym For Your Skin products are most important to avoid wearing together?
The main ingredient combinations professionals tend to suggest are not combining Niacinamide and Vitamin C and Retinoids and acids as they marginally interfere with each other’s efficacy. Our B and C-Hit serums pair together well because we use a water soluble derivative of vitamin C. When wanting to incorporate A-hit retinol and Reboot we recommend using by alternating them on different days.
Which product from Gym For Your Skin do you think is sometimes overlooked?
I’d say our Workout because it had a base level of zinc oxide which is brilliant for everyday and has a high UVA (ageing) rating but you couldn’t use in direct sunlight as a sunscreen. It’s also loaded with green tea and resveratrol which helps defend skin, absorb infrared and absorb visible light.
What does beauty mean to you today?
I feel that the best part of beauty is that which no photo can express. It’s your inner beauty that comes from your core. No amount of tweakments or external validation will make you beautiful if you feel unhappy inside.
What is your number one beauty tip?
People will never forget how you made them feel. Giving confidence by allaying people’s fears, replacing pain with pleasure and helping people feel accepted rather than rejected. That’s my best tip. (as well as fortifying skincare!).
What does leadership mean to you?
Someone who has a constant stream of energy, ideas and expertise and the confidence to go out and attract those with similar passions and different skills.
How would you describe yourself as a CEO in three words?
I radiate empathy, am earnest and have an innocence about me.
What do you try to instill in your team?
Value, respect, freedom to create, happiness.
Have you had to support your staff over the COVID pandemic with commendable support around mental health and counselling? What have you done? How do you take care of yourself?
Our business model is based on surrounding myself with great people, experts who are a self-employed team of individuals and businesses who forge on and tend to be look for opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, we are not invincible and nothing beats a group virtual hug to keep us real and tell each other it’s all going to be okay.
Are there any well-being or self-care rituals that are important to you?
Yes. Having had cancer I feel very lucky to see life differently. I look at the world and recognise how blessed I am with health, love, family, friendships, adventure. Life isn’t fair but it’s still good! Life is too short – enjoy it!
What do you remind yourself of, or what helps you cope, during dark days?
I’m a natural optimism, happy-go- lucky type that thinks everything will turn out well in the end. So, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
You are a mum how old are your children? Do they inspire the work that you do?
My children are 17, 16 and 16. Twins and Irish twins as they were all born within 12 months. My children (as well as other great people) make me want to be a better person. They help me recognise the world they are growing up in, which while very different to my own, is still shaped by the same core measures of happiness – self-esteem, image, acceptance, confidence, experiences, dreams, ability to fail and bounce back.
What is your biggest frustration with teenagers and the way they treat their skin?
I’m never frustrated with teenagers. Rather I’m frustrated with the companies that make aggressive teenage products when kindness is the answer. I do tell everyone, not to pick their spots. A popped pimple becomes a wound and takes way longer to heal, maintaining a cycle. But I’m a hypocrite when it comes to watching those pimple popping videos which can be addictive!
What advice would you give a new working mum?
If you do one thing well, give yourself a reward, however big or small that thing is.
What beauty philosophy do you hope to instill in your children?
I don’t think I instill anything about what beauty means to them. They are already very smart. Far smarter than I was when it comes to what’s important in life. They do tend to take the mickey out of me when I offer up Reboot or B hit regularly for any skin complaint. The joke now goes beyond. I’d be curing Covid with my C-hit next!
What is next for Gym For Your Skin?
Keep doing our thing – which is investing in our strength message, giving as much exceptional support as we can to our customers, delighting them with some standout creative and creating some fantastic partnerships.
What is the best customer feedback you have ever received?
It was seeing the change in one of our young customers. Her whole persona changed from having skin confidence. Her mum thanked me for bringing her daughter back.
Name one skin/ skincare fact that is not widely known?
80% of people will experience acne at some point in their life.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
How to win, without working longer. It starts with a unique offer and creative communication. If we all gather in the same place, at the same time, and all push the same thing, we will take the algorithm by STORM. And it will then JOIN US in telling the world. That’s how the underdog can win.
Because the strength of the community is how, we can help each other.
Name three things our readers could do to help support Gym For your Skin?
Simple. just click this link, then ‘Share’ and ‘Post’ on LinkedIn or your favourite social sharing platform
That’s it. Your work is done!
The Millionaire Mindset!