Dr. Marko Lens
"Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing in an industry where all is about hopes and fake promises. Very often I have a woman in the office saying: 'I found this miracle cream'. And my question is: 'What are you doing here?' If you have a miracle cream just keep going'"
Interview by Suit Magazine
You are a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, member of the Royal College of Surgeons, an internationally renowned authority on skin aging and skin cancer. An expert in Japanese Kampo medicine, based in the healing power of botanicals. And you are also a beauty entrepreneur with your brand Zelens, a niche house with an unexpected speech as we don’t say the word “cancer” that often in this industry.
In treating the skin, would you trust more someone who knows how to treat a cancer or someone who is just a charlatan with no skills in treating the skin? I don’t use the word “glow”, I don’t give you the glow. I’m a skin cancer expert. What many people don’t know is that skin cancer and skin aging share a common passway: you don’t see the skin cancer in kids, you see it as we grow old. Skin cancer is nothing else than basically a sign of skin aging. The word “cancer” may intimidate people. They get afraid, they want words that are positive like “repair”. For me, I use anti-aging because “repair” is completely wrong.
So we’re not talking about glow today.
For me, glow is not a sign of the artificial, the glow that I want to give you is the result of a healthy skin. This is the big difference in the philosophy of the brand. I’m developing the products not because I want to end with wrinkles -you can’t stop that-, I’m doing it to slow down the premature aging and make the skin look healthy. That’s the aim of the brand. Sometimes even me, I wonder what I’m doing in an industry where’s all about hopes and fake promises and miracle molecules and so on. Very often I have a woman in the office saying “I found this miracle cream”, and my question is “What are you doing in my office? If you have a miracle cream just keep going”. We want to take a scientific approach, and when we say “scientific” we mean it.
Isn’t all the cosmetic industry based in science?
Everyone is doing science, but what are their credentials? I would never do a claim I cannot stand behind and that is not clinically proved. We’ll never sell hopes. It would be more attractive to probably go on Instagram and post something like “Go to bed with Dr. Marko Lens”, me being half naked. But as someone who draw national guidelines for the treatment of cancer, someone used to the world of solid research, am I supposed to do something like that? It’s all about integrity.
Skin cancer is nothing else than basically a sign of skin aging. The word ‘cancer’ may intimidate people. They get afraid, they want words that are positive like ‘repair’. For me, I use anti-aging because ‘repair’ is completely wrong
Walk us through the process of developing a product.
It could take a couple of years, minimum six months, you need time. Just for testing stability you need four months and then it comes the other testing. You’ll probably have to modify it in that other tests and check again its stability. The majority of the brands go to a laboratory, pick something that already exists and put a label on it. In my bag I brought with me four products that I’m testing on myself, products we made from the scratch. Some of my products where developed in 2010 and now we are reworking the formulas. After ten years is impossible that the formula hasn’t grow old. You need to get it more accurate, more up to date.
You test them on yourself?
All the time. I need to have a personal feel.
Miracles aside, what can we do to keep our skin healthy?
The science and the clinical evidence show there’s only one product that can prevent premature skin aging, which is sunscreen, nothing else. All others can slow down premature aging, but not prevent it. Then it comes the other question: “What sunscreen should I use?” If I was a consumer I would be very much confused. The recommendation is that you should be using broadspectrum SPF30 but again, the reality is that when you get that stated in a product you can’t be sure of all its other features.
And those of all the other products that are part of our beauty routines…
This layering thing that came from Asia… I’m very much against it because even it depends on what you’re putting, after the second layer everything stays above the skin, doesn’t go into it.
The science and the clinical evidence show there’s only one product that can prevent premature skin aging, which is sunscreen, nothing else. All others can slow down premature aging, but not prevent it
Which ingredients should we consider?
I believe in the synergy of active ingredients more than in the power of an active ingredient alone. But let’s say that the major players at the moment are retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and peptides, which have the possibility of fuel our own cells and make them work better in the process of regeneration. All of them are really important in modern skincare, but not alone.
What are your bestselling products?
Across the globe, I would say the eyecream (Triple Action Advanced Eyecream), the pads (PHA+ Bio Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads) and the three serums (Power Trio Set), because they are easy to use. People is incredibly loyal to moisturizer, so 3t Complex is our best seller. We have a makeup line that we call Active Colour. They’re all fueled with 13/15 principles and then they have color, so they feel like a second skin. But again, I’m reformulating. We’re in the 49 formula, and I’m not happy yet.