Saving Your Skin and the Planet: In Conversation with Jerry Kim, Founder of K-Beauty Brand AROMATICA

Can what your slather on your skin really save the planet? AROMATICA founder and conscious-beauty pioneer Jerry Kim believes so. The disruptor behind one of Korea’s leading beauty brands talks zero-waste hero products and how essential oils can save fatigued skin.

of people claim to be disrupting the beauty industry but,
since 2004, Jerry Kim has been cleaning up the K-Beauty sphere
with his all-natural, sustainable hero products.

It was on a trip to Australia that he discovered the benefits of
using botanical essences and natural remedies to soothe his
stressed out and irritated skin. At the same time, he realised that
his favourite skincare products contained a plethora of synthetic
fragrances and petroleum bases. So he set about creating his own
products free from skin nasties, starting with synthetic-free roll
ons that launched AROMATICA.

Fast forward to today. AROMATICA’s range extends to aloe-infused
sunburn-soothing gels that have become make-up-bag essentials for
sunseekers, as well as botanical-based creams and holy-grail hair
products – you’ll find its revitalising root enhancer in our
. Whatever skin concern you’re battling, AROMATICA has
tried, tested and extracted the essential oil needed to save your
skin. Forget farm-to-fork, this is farm-to-face.

Zero-waste hero products, plant-saving skincare and the
importance of essential oils: meet AROMATICA founder Jerry Kim

How did AROMATICA begin?

My first exposure to essential oils and aromatherapy was in
1997, when I visited Australia. That’s when I learned that I had
been surrounded by synthetic fragrances derived from petroleum in
my food, personal-care products and cosmetics. I started to study
aromatherapy and DIY skincare.

In 2003, I started my own business importing and distributing
essential oils to cosmetics manufacturers such as LG Household
& Healthcare and Amorepacific. Yet companies’ priorities
weren’t natural ingredients, so I decided to integrate essential
oils into my own skincare products.

I established a small factory hoping that it would have a
butterfly effect – if I made the ”right” products, larger
companies would follow on. I installed an in-house R&D centre
and formulated our products with organic essential oils, natural
preservatives and flower water. We launched our first products of
aromatherapy roll-ons in the name of AROMATICA in 2004.

If AROMATICA was a word in the dictionary, what would the
definition be?

We want to launch safe, healthy and sustainable products that
simultaneously help save the planet.

What makes AROMATICA stand out from other K-beauty brands?

Besides no-nasties beauty certifications, it’s also a partner of
The Vegan Society, COSMOS, and EWG Verified™ – unlike many beauty
brands here, we built our own manufacturing factory. This lets us
take control of each and every step, from research to packaging. We
are also known for using natural fragrances based on pure essential
oils and herb extractions – we don’t buy fragrance compounds.

Talk to us through AROMATICA’s ethos. How did it become a
pioneer for sustainable skincare?

We are known for using pure essential oils and botanical
extractions. We use traditional herbal extraction methods to bring
out the most of each ingredient. Our in-house research lab does a
lot of testing to secure we get the quality and effectiveness of
our products. That way, our in-house perfumer can create each of
our products for different skin type and consumers’ concerns.

Our plastic containers are made from 100 per cent post-consumer
recycled plastic, while our glass bottles use up to 90 per cent
recycled glass. This year, AROMATICA has converted all delivery
packaging to paper-based materials, which communicates our
environmental ethos.

You started AROMATICA in 2004. How has the skincare and beauty
industry changed since then?

Natural and organic cosmetics once struggled to break into the
market, but the “conscious beauty” movement has rapidly grown. This
has fed two birds with one seed; it has created more healthy and
environmentally friendly beauty standards.

What would you like to see next from the beauty industry?

I’m pleased that conscious and sustainable beauty has become
mainstream. Consumers are beginning to recognise ingredients and
interrogate reviews – the quality of the product has become an
important factor in purchasing decisions rather than just brand
advertisements. Prestige brands are rapidly losing their customers
as conscious-beauty brands satisfy costumer’s satisfaction and
value for money. I hope this trend will accelerate further.

For those who haven’t discovered AROMATICA, which product do
you recommend?

The Soothing Aloe Vera Gel is our bestseller. It’s an
organic, high-quality product that does a great job of soothing and
calming sun-damaged skin. People love it – its popularity has
really grown through word of mouth over the years. People have
shown several DIYs using our product, such as facial masks,
moisturisers and even hand sanitisers.

One holy-grail product you couldn’t live without…

We are pleased with our first and newest solid bar products: the
Shampoo Bar, Conditioning Bar, Cleansing Bar and Dishwash Bar. They come in zero plastic.

What are some of AROMATICA’s hero ingredients?

Organic damask rosewater and rose essential oil (otto and
absolute) deliver the essence of vitality and hydration. They leave
the skin supple and vibrant. In 2005, we launched the very first
skincare Rose Absolute First Serum. Now, the upgraded version is
called Reviving Rose Infusion Serum.

Another is Tunisian rosemary extract and essential oil: with a
name meaning “dew of the sea”, rosemary’s antioxidant and
circulation-boosting properties shine in the bathroom. Our popular
Rosemary Scalp Scaling Shampoo improves blood
circulation in the scalp and is a source of nutrients for your
hair, while the Vitalizing Rosemary Concentrated Essence
delivers a natural antioxidant to protect the skin.

How do you source AROMATICA’s ingredients?

We import raw materials from international and local suppliers
to prescribe organic extracts for all skin types. At first, we
imported most of the raw materials from Australia. But now we pick
the best suppliers: lavender and cypress from France,
tea tree and eucalyptus from Australia,
citrus oils from Italy,
neroli from Spain,
rose from Bulgaria, jasmine and sandalwood from India,
organic dried herbs from the US.

Any tips for combating sensitive and dry skin…

The most important tip to keep your skin moisturised is
maintaining a balance of water and oil in your skin. My skincare
routine: cleanse with Comforting Calendula Decoction Cleansing Mousse
and layer as needed with Vitalizing Rosemary Concentrated Essence.
Next, I add a few drops of organic jojoba oil in the Calendula Intensive Cream to prevent moisture
loss. Fun fact: jojoba oil has similar properties to human sebum,
which allows the oil to penetrate the skin rapidly without clogging
any pores.

What about negating the effects of aggressors such as pollution
and sun damage?

Whether you’re new to skincare or looking to change your
routine, go for cleanser, serum, moisturiser and protector to get
your skin into better shape. You must wash out the aggressors from
head to toe and treat them with moisture. There are essential oils
and floral waters rich in antioxidants, while jojoba oil contains
vitamins A, D, and E. Also use a sun protector.

Finally, what’s next for AROMATICA?

We started cutting down on virgin plastic. The reduction of
plastic waste is a priority here. Providing refill pouches was just
the beginning. The entire body-care collection is made from
100-per-cent post-consumer-recycled plastic bottles. To improve
recyclability, all of our containers are transparent, have
water-soluble labels and flip caps rather than pumps. We are in the
process of designing more sustainable shampoo containers. We also
have a couple of exciting launches and big updates coming up,
including refill stations. We also want to bring our community and
like-minded brands together with programs and events that express
our mission.

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