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At this point, it should come as little surprise that any celebrity would launch a beauty brand. Beauty products tend to be relatively affordable, and delving into the category has proven to be extremely lucrative for so many of the rich and famous. Just ask Rihanna, whose wealth, according to Forbes, has surpassed the billion-dollar mark, thanks in large part to Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin.
Just as fragrance was the diversifying business move of choice for celebrities in the early aughts (and many are still making a killing off of it today), launching a skin-care or makeup line seems to be the ultimate celeb power play in the 2020s. And it's a move Lori Harvey is making with the launch of SKN by LH, her new skin-care brand set to launch on October 22.
"[Skin care has] always been something that's been very near and dear [to me]," Harvey tells Allure over the phone. "It's been something I've been obsessed with since I was a little girl." Up until now, Lori Harvey has best been known as a modern-day Black socialite, the daughter of Steve and the ever-couture-clad Marjorie Harvey. She's beautiful, she's famous, the clout: it's already there. Now, she's looking to channel all that into a business venture.
Harvey says that her interest in skin care started in her modeling days. "I have very sensitive skin, and I really struggled with [it] as a teenager," she explains. "Once I got into modeling, I was having really, really bad breakouts because of all the makeup being applied to my face."
At the time, Harvey had an extensive skin-care routine that included several products — at least 20, she says. It was so overwhelming that she decided she'd rather create her own collection to streamline the process. (And certainly, making a coin in the meantime isn't a bad deal either!) Harvey says she recruited a team of dermatologists and cosmetic chemists to help guide her in that pursuit, explaining that she was determined to be extremely involved in the development of her burgeoning brand.
"I've been at this for a while now, it's is a lot of hard work. I'm 100 percent hands-on with every aspect of my business," she says. "I not only had to learn about formulas but also how to structure a business, the financial side of it. [I also had to learn about] designing packaging, shipping — every little detail that goes into building a brand. I'm still learning more and more every day, but it's so fulfilling."
SKN by LH is a five-piece offering that includes the Goji Berry Cleanser ($38), a clear gel-like face wash, the White Tea Toner ($35), a refreshing mist, the Vitamin C Serum ($50), a milky elixir, the peptide-packed Eye Complex Cream ($45), and the lightweight Niacinamide Cream ($38) moisturizer. All save for the toner contain vitamin C, which was an ingredient Harvey said was important for her to include, due to her personal issues with hyperpigmentation. "I used to get really bad dark spots," she says, also noting that her sensitive skin, which will sometimes turn red when it's irritated, drew her to including ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, to help retain moisture.
Harvey says she made her line to service all skin types, so I can imagine we'll be seeing more products aimed at specific skin needs in the future that go beyond what's been put forth. Harvey is hoping to eventually expand her offerings to include face masks, exfoliators, and body products.
For now, we're set with these first five products, of which I received lab samples ahead of the launch. There is something I find quite special about getting lab samples, dressed down in unfussy packaging. As someone who reviews beauty products for a living, it allows me to experience the product in its rawest form — no frills, no fancy packaging to cloud my judgment. It's just me, my skin, and the formula. That said, the official packaging certainly has more finesse, but still exudes a minimalist vibe. Each bottle, tube, and jar boasts light blue ombré coloring with the name of the brand written in a white, spartan font.
SKN by LH Goji Berry Cleanser
$38SKN by LH
SKN by LH Vitamin C Serum
$50SKN by LH
SKN by LH White Tea Toner
$35SKN by LH
SKN by LH Peptide Eye Complex
$45SKN by LH
I tried these products periodically over a few days to fully get a feel of how they work, not just together, but with other products I regularly use. My first try was at night. I grabbed the bottle of Goji Berry Cleanser and squeezed it into my hands. It's got a gel-like consistency and a citrusy scent (apropos with the inclusion of vitamin C in its formula). Goji berries add hydration and contain antioxidants, which help keep the production of free radicals to a minimum. When you rub it in on the back of your hand, it creates a slight lather that gets more intense if you do it on a wet face. It foamed, it bubbled, and it washed away easily without making my face feel super dry — just as a good cleanser should. I tried again a few days later to remove my makeup with it, and two cleanses with this did the trick, which sold me.
Then it was on to the White Tea Toner. This formula contains hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which helps your skin retain moisture and aids in smoothing skin texture, respectively, as well as (of course) white tea extract, which cosmetic chemist Ginger King says contains antioxidants. I noticed that the toner has a very faint rosy scent, thanks to the addition of rose water, which has a soothing effect on your skin.
After spraying my face, it was on to the Vitamin C Serum, which also happens to contain niacinamide. It is odorless and absorbs quickly into your skin when you rub it in, injecting a bit of waxy moisture. Included in its formulation is pea extract, which has a firming benefit for the skin, according to King.
"Pea extract is full of antioxidants, contains alpha-carotene (carotenoids are known to stimulate collagen and increase skin firmness and density), and is anti-inflammatory, meaning it can reduce redness, sensitivity, and itchiness in the skin," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Howard Sobel, M.D. "High in vitamin C, pea extract helps fight free radicals and environmental skin damage as well as brighten the skin. When used in a serum, moisturizer, or treatment formula, pea extract can help boost skin radiance and elasticity."
SKN by LH Niacinamide Cream
$38SKN by LH
Before I added the Niacinamide Cream, I squeezed a small amount of the Peptide Eye Complex onto my right ring finger and patted it in. The texture of the cream felt a little lighter than what I personally prefer (I like mine cheesy grits-thick), but keep in mind, I have almost a decade on Harvey. Needless to say, my older eyes need a little something extra. However, Harvey mentions that eye cream is one of the products she uses the most.
"Dark circles and bags run in my family," she says. "So my mom [taught me to be] really big on prevention versus correction." The formula includes hyaluronic acid, shea butter, jojoba seed oil, and vitamin E — those big-ticket ingredients you'll find in products aimed at infusing moisture into your skin.
Once the Eye Complex was patted in, I reached for the Niacinamide Cream. It's quite runny and the texture reminds me a bit of hotel lotion. Unlike hotel lotion, though, this stuff didn't make my skin feel completely dry after a few minutes. I also got a kind of waxy feel once it dried down, but I am happy to report that there was no pilling.
I wouldn't say this offers a super-intense punch of hydration, so it may suit folks who don't like that heavy feeling moisturizer can sometimes impart. That said, the moisturizer does include niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter — all of which, as previously mentioned, do add that moisture to the skin. In this case, it felt a bit like it was sitting on top of my skin as opposed to penetrating the layers. Despite that, my skin didn't feel dry afterward, which is ultimately the point of such a product.
Harvey says she likes her skin to have a dewy finish, which, same. However, I think if that is your goal, you may want to supplement with a face oil to get that shine. The times I completed the full five-step LH routine, my skin definitely looked moisturized, but I was left with more of a sheen-like finish, which, if you're someone with oily skin, may be preferable.
If you're looking for a healthy dose of vitamin C, this range has your name all over it. Again, each of the products, save for the toner, contains the ingredient, which brightens up dark spots in your complexion. If you're worried about whether including vitamin C in all but one step of your skin routine could cause an issue, King says it's nothing to worry about. Having the ingredient in a cleanser is great, but since you're washing it off so quickly, if you want the benefits, you may want to combine it with other vitamin C products, anyway. "If anything, the only good dose of vitamin C should be in a moisturizer," King explains.
If you've got sensitive skin and are looking to maintain a brighter complexion, you may be inclined to pick up what Harvey's putting down. You can nab the collection at sknbylh.com on October 22 for $35-$50.