Insider Spotlight: Root Remedies’ Founder, Chiew Yee Sian On Championing ‘’Clean Beauty’’

By: Aqilah Najwa Jamaluddin / August 11, 2021
Categories : Insider Spotlight

It’s the year of 2021, and the word ‘’clean beauty’’ is still somewhat murky, often overlooked by the beauty industries—even though big names like Kourtney Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow have been advocating it for years. To you, maybe it is hard to find products that are free from the harsh chemicals like parabens, phthalates, sulfates and artificial fragrances. But in truth, Malaysian local beauty markets have long been championing these green & clean lifestyles. You don’t need to stray far away from our local brand to find natural skincare that suits the needs of your skin. 

Root Remedies, founded in 2015 by Chiew Yee Sian and Leland Lo. They stand by their philosophy that less is definitely, more. This Malaysian based brand believes that nature is our greatest resource—from learning to adapt with the times, to finding perfect balance in their products. Thus, they do not believe in any sort of chemicals, alcohol nor alkaline should be mixed along your skincare products. Green, clean, sustainable and natural is the only way to go. 

Beauty Insider reached out to one of its founders, Chiew Yee Sian, to understand more in depth on what clean beauty means to her. Keep reading!

The Making Of Root Remedies

Believe it or not, Chiew Yee was a student of fashion and marketing, she even holds a degree for it. But somewhat along the way, she finds out that life has another purpose. It all started on a school project where she discovered the importance of incorporating natural ingredients into your daily beauty routine. She then began to experiment around, to express her creative side and to her surprise, Root Remedies was born out of Chiew Yee’s passion and love for natural products. 

You founded Root Remedies when you were just 21 years old—what exactly was the story behind this Root Remedies brand? 

It started with one of my school projects when I was studying fashion marketing. For a particular subject, I picked a natural beauty product. What really surprised me was how effective it was! After realizing this, I’ve also noticed that few brands or sources are providing good skin care knowledge. After that, I realized that the benefits of  natural products are not yet well known in Malaysia. I wanted to create a brand that Malaysians can relate to, but also inclusive, compassionate, and most importantly, result-oriented.

Why is clean beauty important to you?

The primary reason is simple – clean beauty products (that a lot of times, happen to be natural as well – work! From my experience, with proper understanding, they are just as – or in fact – more effective than a lot of conventional skincare products. This is important to me because from this understanding – the understanding that, sometimes, what nature provides is what we need. I have developed a greater appreciation for sustainability, nature, and the well being of ourselves and our planet. This is not saying that anything man-made is bad, on the contrary, I believe that with our scientific knowledge, and a healthy respect and appreciation for nature, we can come up with solutions that are both utilize the best of our scientific knowledge and the best that nature has to offer – without further harming the sustainability of planet.

Tell us more about ‘’clean beauty’’?

For me, clean beauty is the idea that beauty products can have minimal environmental  impact, while being effective at the same time. Often, but not always, this means natural products that are minimally processed. Aside from that, I also think that the definition of “clean beauty” has honesty built in – both on the environmental side and the personal effectiveness side. So for Root Remedies, it also represents our commitment to providing useful, effective ways on using our products and in skin care in general.

The Philosophy Of Root Remedies

Chiew Yee began her business venture at home—starting from the kitchen, as her mini laboratory. She mixed and combined extracts from different natural ingredients, using the famous traditional method called oil infusion. Though it was a positive beginning, the process was a bit tedious and complicated, given that other big beauty retailers rarely depend on this method. But she didn’t give up, in fact giving out samples to friends and family so she can listen to their feedback and improve what’s lacking. 

Can you share with us some of the things that you take into consideration when creating new products?

Effectiveness is very important, we rely on experts’ advice as well as studying scientific papers for this. Besides that, environmental impact is also an important factor – we try our best to ensure that our ingredients are sustainably sourced. The experience of using the product is also of utmost importance to us. We want to create products that people enjoy using, that not only is as natural as can be, but also fits our customers naturally in their lives.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a natural skincare brand and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges is the doubt on the effectiveness of natural skin care. There simply are a lot of myths floating around!  One of them is hesitancy and doubt on face oils. Despite the many real testimonials, we still have to reassure them that it is in fact, okay to use oils on your face! We do our best to overcome this by focusing on educational content that is also entertaining. I think as time goes on, more and more people are starting to give clean beauty a chance and it’s working well for many of them – at least amongst our customers!

What are three must-have products from Root Remedies?

First is our newly launched Yuzu & Turmeric Bright Cleansing Oil! I think that many still haven’t tried the magical makeup and dirt removal properties of a high quality oil. Give it a shot, and I think if conventional makeup removers are what you are used to, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. Secondly it’s our Gromwell Squalane Gentle Restoring Face Oil. This face oil is very very light – perfect for beginners that are interested in trying out face oils. It’s light but surprisingly hydrating. Thirdly, I’d like to recommend our Turmeric & Lemon Eye Serum. This is designed  to relieve eye bags and dark eye circles, as well as address wrinkle and hydration issues around the eye area.

Chiew Yee’s Takes On Modern Beauty

Whether you’re a self-practicing modern or traditional beauty, you can’t deny the fact that facial oils have become one of the most acclaimed products out of all. And that’s what Chiew Yee still believes in still. Facial oil carries high antioxidants elements and they penetrate the skin to transform and protect—helping to build a resilient skin layer known as the lipid barrier. So when we asked what is considered the most ‘’underrated beauty practice’’, the 27-years-old beauty straight away jumped in and said, facial oil! 

What do you think is the most underrated beauty practice?

I hope I don’t sound like a broken record, but definitely the usage of face oils! I am not so bold to say that  they will work for everyone, but I sincerely believe that most people will find face oils more beneficial for them in the long run. For those still hesitant, give a light oil a chance, use the appropriate amount  (3-5 drops once), and give it a fair shot. There are no guarantees, but I think the likelihood is that you’ll discover something that could change your beauty practice forever!

What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?

I believe the best beauty advice is that the best makeup is good and healthy skin. This quote, for me, isn’t about makeup, but about doing beauty in a wholesome healthy way that integrates holistically into other aspects of our lives. The healthiest you are the most beautiful you. When you take care of your body, eat healthy, exercise, do a skincare routine,  externally, you will be as beautiful as you can be. More importantly, you can develop an inner sense of beauty and confidence that emanates outwards. In other words, beauty truly is more than skin deep, it is how you live your life and how you see yourself, which affect how others see you. That, ultimately starts with taking care of  yourself in a way that you deserve to be taken care of.

What does your own beauty routine look like these days? How has it changed since the pandemic began?

I don’t think my routine has changed that much. It is not very rigid, I gently cleanse every morning with our Pure Castile Face Wash, followed by a few spritzes of face mist, then put on a light layer of face oil (about 3-4 drops). Right now I am rotating between our Dewy and Gentle Oil. Since the pandemic, I have been working from home, so at night I do a light cleanse with a cleansing oil, and the mist and moisturise as usual. If it were during normal times and I go out during the day, I more often do a double cleanse to get rid of the excess makeup and dirt – something that we recommend as well. If I have some blemishes or pimples, I’d do a little spot treatment using Tamanu Pure Oil or our Blemish Serum, if my eyes are a little tired I use the Eye Serum.

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