When you think of all things French; baguettes, macaroons, Chanel and the Effiel Tower are probably some of the first things to come to mind. With that being said, Bioderma is usually not far behind on this list.
Bioderma, founded in 1977, has become synonymous with the ‘french pharmacie’ – also known as the treasure trove of highly effective skincare products at reasonable prices. The brand’s Micellar water is a firm fixture in the bathroom cabinets of every beauty obsessed consumer.
It was only fair that I met up with Sébastien Pergeaux from Bioderma at NAC, a French-inspired bistro in Mayfair. Apart from the bread bowl, Sébastien’s grooming regime and journey with the brand were also apart of the menu.
What is your role at Bioderma?
I am a medical representative for Bioderma UK. It means that I am the link between my company and healthcare professionals. I am proud to be a Bioderma ambassador because the people I work with give me their trust as the preferred intermediary – the UK’s health care providers have.
My role is to promote the products but also the philosophy of Bioderma. Doctors are always interested in knowing more about what is available on the market for their patients and are keen on recommending them the best skincare. Personally, I am very interested in exchanging with doctors and nurses about their daily challenges.
Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in London?
No, I arrived in London on the 31st March 2015 via the Eurostar. I’m from North-West of France – Normandy. I was born in Granville, Normandy – where Christian Dior was born. My parent’s house is next to Christian Dior’s original home.
What is your background?
I studied Pharmacy at Caen University, Normandy (Université de Caen Normandie). In France, Pharmacy takes six years to complete. We obtain a PhD. So you get a doctorate in Pharmacy.
“My parent’s house is next to Christian Dior’s original home.”
I was more interested in the business side. I was attracted by the pharmaceutical industry – because, in typical French pharmacies, pharmacists are usually confined in a shop setting. Whereas, the pharmaceutical industry is more exciting and innovative. That’s just my personal preference.
I enrolled in a Specialized Masters degree at ESCP Europe Business School in Paris. This degree allowed me to develop my marketing skills and knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry. It also gave me access to an important network of pharmaceutical professionals.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Faithful. Practical. Funny.
How did you end up at Bioderma UK?
Thanks to my background in Pharmacy! Bioderma is more so considered as a cosmetic brand in the pharmaceutical industry – however, it’s a scientific, medical brand. It is the perfect balance between cosmetics and medicine.
I wanted to have the experience to live abroad and learn English. So I specifically looked for opportunities in English speaking countries.
At the beginning of this search, I was more attracted by California or Australia – because of the waves (I love surfing). But then I found this opportunity in London. It’s an English speaking country, but without the waves – however, it’s close to Normandy so I can go back and visit family easily. When I saw the advert for the job, it matched all of my expectations.
Where did your love of surfing come from?
My first family home was along the harbour near Granville. Then we moved to a house on the cliff. So every morning I woke up with views of the ocean.
What is the history of Bioderma?
Bioderma was founded in 1977 by Jean-Noël Thorel.
Mr Thorel is a biologist and pharmacist. When he created the brand, the first product was a shampoo (Nodé – Hair Care range) – which comes from the word ‘non-detergent’.
This was pretty innovative in 1977 to create shampoo without detergent (sulphates and SLS). This type of product was not available on the market at the time.
He studied the functions of the skin, which allowed him to provide the best solutions for the skin. Thanks to the biomimetic concept, he was able to mimic the natural components and natural functions of the skin. The aim is not to reduce the causes but to act upon the consequences of the skin issue. Essentially, it was a way of him being able to provide products that are safe but also efficient. With regards to expanding the Bioderma range; his biological and pharmacological expertise shone through.
Bioderma’s Micellar Water is somewhat of a cult beauty product. What is the science behind it?
Bioderma invented the 1st and only dermatological micellar water perfectly biologically compatible with the skin in 1995. We didn’t the invent the ‘micelles’ (similar to the phospholipids of the skin cell membranes and naturally help rebuild the skin’s hydrolipidic film), we were just the first to use these ‘micelles’ in a solution as a cleanser. This was innovative and a revolution in the cosmetic industry.
When we created the micellar water, it was a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin on the face, not necessarily a makeup remover as it is today. It was made for people who are sensitive to things like hard water, soaps, detergent and alcohol. We wanted something gentle and efficient.
Micelles are a group of molecules, and all of these molecules are the same. Each molecule has a lipophilic (attracted to lipids) part and a hydrophilic (attracted to water) part. When you put these molecules together – the lipophilic part of the molecules will gather in the centre and then hydrophilic part surround it…. imagine it to be shaped like a ball.
You have trillions and trillions of micelles in the Micellar water. So basically, when you put the micellar water on the cotton pad, it will open up the ‘ball’ of molecules. The hydrophilic part will stay stuck to the cotton pad, and the lipophilic part will catch all the impurities in the skin.
How does the French and British skincare consumer differ?
Firstly, I think in France there is an emphasis on looking after your skin and being knowledgeable about your skin. This difference is reflected in the set up of French pharmacies. In a French pharmacy, you will be advised on the best cosmeceutical products by a pharmacist (with a scientific and medical background). Pharmacists are seen as healthcare providers. Whereas in the U.K., if you want help with your skin you have to go to a dermatologist.
How do you feel about working in a ‘female-heavy’ industry?
I got asked this question in a job interview when I was applying for a part-time role in a chemist in Granville!
The owner said that a lot of the customers and employees are women. Then he asked, “Would that be a problem with you?” (laughs) – it just reminded me of that moment.
It ended up not being a problem at all. I’ve been told that women like having men in the beauty industry – to act as a balance to the team. If I’m being asked specific questions about makeup, it would be difficult to answer that. All I can give is my scientific opinion. If I don’t know certain things (to do with female grooming or makeup) – I won’t be ashamed to admit that.
“In France, there is an emphasis on looking after your skin and being knowledgeable about your skin.”
What is your morning and evening grooming regime?
I have my shower in the morning (laughs). I basically only use Bioderma products obviously!
I use Atoderm Shower Oil. I like the smell and the texture of it, and it’s so moisturising. It’s called an ‘oil’, but it’s actually water based! They’ve created a nice texture of oil, but it’s water. So when you wash off your body, it doesn’t leave a funny texture or film to it.
After I use the Sensibio Foaming Gel. It’s gentle and even with its pink packaging – I really like it (laughs). I’ve tried a lot of different face washes from Bioderma, and this is the one I prefer.
Then, I wash my hair using Nodé Shampoo. Sometimes I use the Klorane Dry Shampoo when I don’t have enough time.
After I moisturise my face with Hydrabio Gel-Crème. It’s light in texture. It’s moisturising, and I like the way it spreads. At night, I just use the Sebium Micellar Water – the range for acne and oily skin.
I shave with Nivea Men or Gillette because it’s the cheapest one I can find in Boots and it’s usually on offer! (laughs). I prefer shaving foam than foaming gel….I prefer to have the foam straight from the container. My favourite is razor is – Gillette Fusion Pro Glide. It gives you baby skin – that’s why I like using it! After shaving, I use Sensibio Forte – which helps to soothe any burning sensation or irritation of the skin. It’s really good!
Do you use anything else on your hair?
No. However, I’m trying conditioner, but I’m not convinced if it works yet! (laughs).
What book are you currently reading?
Nothing at the moment. I’ve been advised by a friend recently to read ‘Barbarian Days – A Surfing Life’ by William Finnegan. To be honest, I’m focusing on Netflix (laughs). I’m currently watching ‘Bo Jack Horseman’ and ‘Power’.
What was the last song you listened to?
Cassius, Daft Punk & Dimitri from Paris – Shut It.
What are your three favourite Bioderma products?
Micellar water. Sensibio Forte. Photoderm Aftersun – this smells so good, and the texture is amazing.
What are your favourite colognes?
Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme and Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain for men. I don’t wear much perfume because I don’t like aggressive, strong smells – you know the ones that have a strong smell of alcohol. However, I love it when a woman walks past, and I can smell her perfume.
What makes a woman sexy?
No revealing outfits. Women are sexy when they are elegant. A woman with long, nice hair and smells good!
“I love it when a woman walks past, and I can smell her perfume”
Where do you like to shop for clothes?
For work – Gap, Uniqlo and Primark because it’s cheap. I really like sneakers. I have 60 pairs of sneakers! The brands I like are Nike, Supreme (not because it’s famous thanks to the Louis Vuitton collaboration). I liked the old school 1994 Supreme when it first opened in New York. I also love Carhartt.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
To be honest, I have no idea. The only thing I hope for is that I’ll be happy in 10 years and I’ll be able to surf every day – in a place like California.
How much do you spend a month on grooming?
Not a lot. Let’s say £15 a month.
Can you tell us about any new Bioderma products?
There are a few exciting things coming….
Shoes or Trainers?
Suit or Tracksuit?
I prefer to be elegant but comfortable. I like hoodies but not tracksuit bottoms. Jogging pants are forbidden! I prefer jeans.
Gin or Rum?
London or Paris?
London. I like Paris for the weekend, but I prefer London for daily life.
Beard or clean shaven?