‘If you went into a department store, I’ve developed more than half the beauty products,’ states Colette Haydon matter-of-factly. The French founder of new skincare brand Lixir Skin has worked in the beauty industry for over-30 years, developing products for numerous brands including Space NK and REN, before starting her own business at the end of 2017. The doctor of pharmacy (Haydon studied for seven years in Lyon and specialises in dermo-pharmacy) is feisty and fun and full of joie de vivre. We meet for a cuppa and a chat about good skin, the less-is-more approach and building a brand:

TNMA: Tell me about Lixir Skin and your less-is-more approach to skincare

CH: When you have a product with too many ingredients, my analogy is it’s like having to do too many things at once. When I’m busy and running around like a headless chicken, I do a little bit of everything, and nothing very well. Skin cells are like the rest of us – if they have too much to do they become exhausted. So when skin is confronted with too many actives it doesn’t know what to do. When I first started to conceptualise the brand, I was in my lab in London. I realised that I have cupboards full of ingredients, I don’t have face ingredients and neck ingredients and décolletage ingredients – I just have ingredients, that I like. I wanted to do something with those ingredients. Universal Emulsion is for your face, neck, lips, décolletage, hands, arms; for day and night.

Colette in the lab (on the right)

TNMA: How did Lixir Skin come about?

CH:  I am very grateful that REN gave me the opportunity to be a shareholder. When REN sold to Unilever, I made a little money. I helped my children to buy a flat and then afterwards I thought, I might as well spend it on me.  I think my friends expected me to buy diamonds or a car – but I’m not into that. Setting up Lixir Skin was spending it on me. For a long time I’ve been doing this for others and now I’m doing it for myself.

TNMA: I believe it’s not about looking young, it’s about looking good. What do you think?

CH:  I think conformist beauty is much less popular today and this is bringing young and old people together. We’re realising that it’s OK to look how we want. I’ve chosen not to wear makeup or to use Botox and lasers – and so have you. Another woman might be different; it’s a choice. I don’t want to make any unrealistic promises with Lixir Skin; the cosmetics industry can get a bit carried away with metaphorical wording, there’s always been this hype but I want to move beyond that.

TNMA: What’s the best thing for older skin?

CH: I’ve tried so many things over the years and really retinol (if it’s well stabilised), is the one and only. It’s the only de-aging molecule, a skin regulator, that works so well and can benefit old skin with wrinkles and sagging (as well as young skin that’s oily with breakouts). Skin switches to repair mode at night and that’s why I recommend diluting the 1% Retinol Serum with the Universal Emulsion. I have found that women can get addicted to retinol but you need to switch things around, otherwise the skin becomes saturated. When a skin cell is constantly bombarded with the same thing it thinks, “Oh no, not the same shit again.” So my advice is to use retinol for four weeks max and then stop for a week and switch to PHA/AHA. Stop again and go back to retinol.



TNMA: What’s a typical day like in the Lixir Lab?

CH: What takes up most of the time is product development and testing. There’s a lot of testing. And sadly, there’s a lot of admin, too. I’m doing a lot of supply chain work. We formulate the product in the lab and then it’s passed on to the factory in Hampshire. My products are made in the UK – this is a country that adopted me (I moved here in 1984 and got married in 1985) and so I’ve always supported  British manufacturing.

TNMA: What advice would you give to someone starting up a business?

CH: It’s about launching something new but it has to be the right thing at the right time. And the right price.The price point was important to me, I wanted Lixir Skin to be reasonably priced so that people could mix and match. A cleanser over £30? It’s just a cleanser. The product has to be good but you do benefit from the flavour of the time; I’m not sure Lixir Skin would’ve been successful five years ago…

TNMA: And what would you do differently?

CH: I’m constantly questioning – is it all right? Should I have done it that way? I think that’s characteristic of a creative woman; part of me is incredibly confident (about my knowledge and experience) and then part of me is completely uncomfortable. People told me I needed a branding agency – and so I spent a lot of money on this and soon started to realise that it was not going anywhere. I had to say “With great respect to your creative talent, I want it to look how I want it to look and so enough is enough.” I took it back in-house and my son (who is a mathematician and not an employee) took over and we designed it ourselves. Then we gave it to a graphic designer to finish. I wanted it to have a timeless, modern feel with a touch of vintage – the colour, the tubes, the little caps like toothpaste, I like that it looks a bit old-fashioned.

Also, we had such a fantastic response to our Universal Emulsion that we were out of stock by the end of October. We sold a lot more than we had forecast. In the cosmetics industry the lead times are three to four months, so it’s all very well realising that you’re running out but it takes time to replenish – that’s why I’m employing an operations director!


Lixir Skin is available online HERE, at Liberty and Victoria’s Health. I’ve been using the Universal Emulsion – it smells lovely, goes on smoothly and feels light on the skin. Totally faff-free, I love it.


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16 thoughts on “Lixir Skin: a new faff-free skincare brand to look out for and expert advice from its founder

  1. This is a really good price, but it is probably the fantastic retro packaging that will sway me (so scientific). The idea of having one cream for all the many bits that need help is really useful.
    It’s the type of thing I could throw in my rucksack for use during the day too, and they’re always welcome. I’ve heard it smells like a baby product and I like those ‘comfort’ type smells.

  2. Great article and I shall be looking out for thus brand. Was the first TNMA comment/ question really about women wanting to look young, not good? That’s sounds unlike you, as if it should be the other way round – women want to look good not young?

  3. Thanks for bringing these products to our attention. Sounds worth trying if not too costly. I do use several REN products which I like for their texture, smell and effect. But my favourite range of skin creams is Caudalie. Not too pricey and nice texture smell but really seems to work for my skin.
    Good to read about someone choosing not to use Botox fillers and laser treatments. And that you don’t either. I haven’t and now too old to even consider such things. So it’s good skin care rest good nutrition and not too much sun.

  4. Not sure I’m ready to switch from my multi product approach until they are used up. Currently apply face cream to face neck and decoltee. Use one Caudalie gentle face scrub on all three. Separate eye cream. Body exfoliator on arms legs followed by body lotion. Not too much faff at present. But can see appeal of a product for all as an idea with less to buy.

  5. Well, this sounds good – no faffing around with cleansers, toners, separate eye creams etc etc! Will be a lot easier when it comes to travelling. I have gone for it, and its a good price too. Lets hope it works as well as it sounds.

  6. No silicones and my skin’s favourite ingredient, azelaic acid. I’m in! Only thing in my way is no shipping to the USA, but I’ll be watching for that to change. There’s a real need in the market here for products like these to fill the gap between the « nothing-but-nature » skincare lines and the ones with ingredient lists that read like a PhD chemistry thesis. Thanks for bringing these to our attention, Alyson!

  7. I have just ordered to have delivered to Australia via Victoria Health. They have the full range where Liberty did not.
    I have chosen to order this over local brands, Y-Natural, Fay + Wilding and Mutki or international Mortar and Pestle, because of the credentials of the founder, why she developed the range and the advice to wash off the Vitamin C product.
    First time I have ever been advised of this.
    I like the simplicity of the range but Mortar and Pestle is pretty simple too.I am also enamored by the range of products for night and why. I tend to overlook not good since I am 57. I am very fortunate to have good skin, as does my mother. This comes from growing up in Uk and my mother always being fastidious about sunscreen,(suntan lotion) even in Uk in the 60’S!!!
    since moving to SA from Melbourne I find the sun so strong, and incidental exposure is very high as I now live at the beach.
    Will let you know what I think when the product arrives.

  8. I switched to Lixir from NIOD and The Ordinary. They were great brands but I got so fed up of standing around in the bathroom waiting for a layer to dry before applying the next, doing and undoing tops. Lixir gives me equally good skin but so much less faff. Total fan and I’m cross with you for doing this piece, Alyson, because I’m about to order a set for my daughter’s birthday and don’t want to find it out of stock! Only negative – and maybe Colette can look at this, pretty please — sometimes the pump dispensers give a whoosh of too much retinol; just need to consistently deliver a couple of drops.

  9. Hello Alyson,
    Does Lixir ship to the US ? If not, how can I find out when the products are available in US? Looking forward to trying the products.
    Huge thanks …

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