The Clear Path
Posted On Oct 11, 2016
By Beth Landman
Since she was a young girl, Janel Luu wanted to work in skin care. “My mother was a fanatic who would fly from Seoul to Japan to get her skin-care products,” recalls Luu, who was born in South Korea, moved to New Jersey when she was nine, and relocated to Monterey at 11. “Koreans are obsessed with skin,” Luu says. “My mother had the perfect porcelain complexion. I, on the other hand, had severe acne and a lot of problems with my skin, so I was always trying to find the perfect product.” Out of college, Luu began working in product development for a Japanese cosmetics company.
As an industry insider, she noticed a vexing tendency: The cosmetics industry put incredible emphasis on marketing and not enough focus on real science. “The industry’s always looking for the next big thing, a single ingredient.
My philosophy is that we should look at the whole product and every molecule should make a difference.” In 1999, Luu started Bielle Cosmetics, which developed formulations for other companies.
Five years later, she was intent to stay ahead of the curve and launched her own line, Le Mieux. “Antiaging products would irritate the skin with acids or retinoids, and you would see quick results—but you don’t want to put yourself in chronic inflammation,” she notes.
“Our line creates a little stress and then nourishes and rebuilds.” Luu ensured that her cutting-edge ingredients actually reached their targets. “A lot of formulas don’t have proper carriers to deliver ingredients.
For instance, when a product is primarily water, the skin doesn’t retain it. We use hyaluronic acid as a base to draw moisture from your environment into deeper layers of the skin.” Rather than using traditional gums such as acacia or tragacanth in her products, Luu employs liposomes as thickeners.
They allow for better penetration of the product in the skin, and she prefers serums to creams. “Serums allow for better penetration of high levels of active ingredients.” Luu says. Luu, now 55, has two daughters.
Her husband, a biochemist and cardiologist, advises the company. This is a good thing, because her passion and pillow talk might be considered a bit unromantic to someone else.
“I often stay up until all hours thinking of different molecules for anti-aging and I’ll suddenly ask him, ‘What do you think of this growth factor?’ He once bought me an unbelievable Burmese ruby; I exchanged it for lab equipment!’’
Le Mieux Hyaluronic Serum ($60) This dream serum for dry skin and acne delivers moisture without a greasy feel.
Le Mieux Iso- Cell Recovery Solution ($28) Eight minerals and amino acids energize and soothe skin.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES