Once she discovered the beauty industry, Lilli Gordon, CEO and Founder of First Aid Beauty never looked back at her former career in finance. It all started with a job guiding the fledgling Fresh soap and body line into a full-blown luxury skincare company, ultimately purchased by LVMH. Next, Lilli turned to a beauty cause very close to her own heart, efficacious, every day skincare that was developed for sensitive skin. She founded FAB in 2009, and now her fundamental, workhorse products are sold at Sephora and multiple online resources.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in the beauty biz?
I have a very strange background to be perfectly honest. For most of my professional life, I was actually in the business world, in finance to be specific. And, then about 15 years ago, I was lucky enough to join a Boston-based beauty brand called Fresh, which is just a beautiful, beautiful skincare company. I had been a huge fan of Fresh and I became friendly with the founders, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, who are both amazing, creative, talented people, but who at the time, had very little business expertise. So, they brought me on as their partner to help grow the business, expand it and really take it to the next level. It was an incredible experience. I’d go to work and say, “Is this really work?” Honestly, I thought I had died and gone to heaven—I just thought it was the best job in the entire universe.
So, that was really my entrée into the world of beauty and I never left. After I negotiated the sale of a majority interest in Fresh to LVMH, it was time for me to move on and I took on a variety of projects. I never went back to my old life in finance.
I founded First Aid Beauty (FAB) in 2009, because as someone with sensitive skin, I tired of the boring products at the drugstore that had horrible textures and irritating ingredients. I did a lot of research and really felt that there was a void in the market, especially at the prestige level. You have your feel good products, your classic beauty products, your doctor brands, but you don’t have fundamental, work horse products that everyone can really rely on generally and also for specific, emergency problems. Every household has a first aid kit and every household needs first aid beauty products. That’s when I realized I had the name for my business.
Please describe the skincare philosophy behind First Aid Beauty.
I like to say that we’re on a “Rescue Mission” at FAB—we’re dedicated to creating smart, effective solutions for even the most sensitive skin. FAB provides skincare essentials and targeted solutions for universal skin challenges through products that deliver immediate relief, long-term results, and really feel luxurious.
There truly is no other brand as committed to sensitive skin as FAB. All FAB products are Safe for Sensitive Skin and Allergy Tested. Our products are clinically proven to do what they say. FAB is an accessible, everyday luxury that bridges the gap between mass and higher-priced prestige skincare— we’re really all about elevating iconic drugstore solutions such as Aquaphor and Cetaphil to the prestige category, providing effective and clinically proven products that offer prestige customers the experience they are seeking in their skincare. I don’t believe that skincare that really works needs to be greasy or bland.
Does the range have a hero product? Heros?
Ultra Repair Cream is a true FAB cult-classic. In fact, one unit was sold every 3.34 minutes in US Sephora stores this year. Ultra Repair Cream has a fabulous rich, whipped texture that feels amazing going on. It hydrates deep down and is quickly absorbed, so you don’t have that greasy feel that you can find with other creams.
Ultra Repair Cream contains colloidal oatmeal, which is the only FDA approved OTC ingredient for treating the symptoms of eczema. In addition to colloidal oatmeal, we’ve packed Ultra Repair Cream with shea butter, soothing eucalyptus oil, and ceramides, so that it provides immediate relief and visible improvement for distressed skin. We actually have some powerful clinical results that corroborate this product’s effectiveness. In a clinical trial, the scientifically measured improvement in hydration was169%!
What ingredient do you wish other skincare companies would just stop using?
That is such a tough question for me, because I don’t think it’s just one ingredient. The truth is, many of the ingredients and formulations used today have contributed to what I see a sensitive skin epidemic. Today, 70% of people report that they have sensitive skin. This is really at the heart of why I created FAB. If an ingredient is a potential irritant, whether natural or synthetic, you will not find it in our products. All FAB products are free of harsh ingredients and known allergens, including parabens, phthalates, alcohol, fragrances and artificial dyes. So, all of those are no-nos in my book!
If you could invent a skincare ingredient, what would it do?
The ultimate! A multi-purpose miracle ingredient that did it all—lines, moisture, texture, luminosity!
What should consumers look for in a skincare range to make sure it is effective yet safe for their skin type.
The most common allergens include parabens, phthalates, alcohol, fragrances, and artificial dyes, so it’s really in your best interest to become a “label junkie” and look for products that are free of these ingredients.