With a strong Irish heritage, my skin is very prone to sensitivity, with an overall redness. It’s been a lifelong challenge to find products that really work. Then I met Ee Ting Ng, the founder of Hop & Cotton. I have absolutely no hesitation in saying this is one of the best skin care systems I have ever used. *This is no way an advertorial. I was only supplied product to test.
It seems I’m not the only one who is intrigued and impressed by the launch of Hop & Cotton, being featured in the below publications already:
STYLE magazine Oct 2017 and Brisbane News (upcoming, TBA)
I recently visited Ee in Brisbane for a chat about why Hop & Cotton is such an effective product.
J: Why do you think your product is so effective?
E: I think it is just really targeted but very simple. A lot of the time, we are kind of oversold on products. For the longest time, I just believed whatever I was sold. The people who sell the products don’t know what’s in the product because they didn’t make it. Most companies make their skin care product by starting with how you can sell it or market it. Someone decides it’s going to be a,b,c and d i.e. oil free & mattefying. Most products start this way.
J: So, it sounds like their motivation is different. They are thinking about a selling platform but you’re thinking about what is actually going to work?
J: You started making the product because you couldn’t find something that worked for you?
E: I tried different things for 10 years. I really tried everything I think…but I feel like [my skin] always see-sawed. It would get better but then it just wouldn’t work out.
J: I believe it was your husband who pushed you to make your own products?
E: He really just gave me a kick in the butt. He said, stop trying all these things. You’re a scientist of sorts (I was in biology, in research) so that was my job. So, he said, you should just go make something for yourself. Honestly, if I hadn’t had struggled so much, I wouldn’t have listened to him. So, I started to learn how to get into cosmetic science.
J: How do you ‘get into’ cosmetic science?
E: At first, you have books to read. A lot of it is based on chemistry and some physics. I think a very big part of it is to get into it by ‘doing’. You read and when you feel confident enough, you just do it – because science is very much a practical subject. I worked in a lab, that’s my job. So, I knew what to do and what not to do, so that was helpful.
J: What are your thoughts in terms of sustainability – using natural ingredients to create natural skin care?
E: I think sustainability and natural often fall in the same category but it also can be separate. For example, the squalene that I use – the very first generation of them are from sharks. It was probably the Japanese that made it popular, as it is really great for the skin. Then, people started becoming more aware of what they are actually doing to the sharks. So, then they worked out they could also extract it from olives but you would have to purify tonnes and tonnes of the fruit before you can actually get the squalene, because it’s only a tiny fraction of the profile the oil provides. And now, people have found the technology to do it from sugarcane – so this is the squalene that I source. But it’s not cheap. You can definitely get cheaper squalene’s out there but to me I feel like, if I can make a difference I will use the more sustainable source.
There are also certain things that are more practical to make rather than source from nature. For example, Salicylic acid, it’s from willow bark tree and you do have to have quite a bit of willow bark to get a little bit of salicylic acid, where as if you just make it in the lab – you can guarantee the purity and you can get a really high yield. So, it really is about the smart way of doing things.
Unfortunately, the natural movement is also a marketing thing. It’s kind of their approach – tug at your heart-strings.
J: In terms of price point – we’ve all thought about spending $500 on a moisturiser because we assume it’s better for our skin. Do you think this to be true?
E: I think it really depends. I’m sure you’re aware that in the cosmetic industry there are more and more giant cosmetic brands buying up the smaller successful brands – so probably all the brands are owned by 3 or 4 main cosmetic brands. If you are really good, you’ll be bought out. What I’m trying to say, is that you don’t know where your money is going to. How much of it is actually going to the parent company, how much is going to the actual brand and how much of that is actually going to the R&D of that brand and not brands of the parent company.
J: From your point of view, what is it that women should know and why should they use your product?
E: I think that the main thing about H&C is that we really care. I know what it’s like going from brand to brand and listening to different people and ending up being so confused about what actually is going to help me. The beauty industry is very difficult for both the consumer and businesses because new companies pop up every day and turn out product so quickly – how do you stay competitive in a world like that? And then at the other end, you have consumers who think they must have this and that [becasue it is the latest thing] – not all new things are necessarily better.
As a formulator, I see so many new materials that come through every day but the ones that really work are actually few and far between. You have to be very aware and make an objective assessment of it all and decide what to take on board with you. So really just using what your skin needs. I think this is the biggest difference. Our skin is an organ and if you just help it, it will do what it’s supposed to do it and it will look great.
J: What’s next for the brand? As its personalised, I expect it can’t really be stocked in stores?
E: I’m still thinking of a way to essentially pass down what I do in formulating for each client to other formulators so they can understand the thought process. Essentially that is one way I can have more hands. I’m very, very aware that the bigger you get, you lose that attentiveness and you lose the very personal relationship with your clients. Beyond a certain point, I couldn’t have the same priorities as I do now, which I want to remain as to why I started in the first place. I am really trying to work the growth out because I got into H&C not really thinking about business, it was really just to solve a problem. It was when my other family members started asking me for their own products, I thought – maybe I should start H&C to help everyone else.