When I came across cosmetic chemist Javon Ford during a scroll through TikTok, it was a welcome relief. Even as a self-proclaimed skin care obsessive, I’m often overwhelmed by the unending launches of beauty products and constant cycles of newly touted ingredients that promise to help alleviate my latest insecurity. Ford’s refreshing and simplified take was an outlier among the barrage of influencers promoting all the new, must-have goods.
Ford studied science and chemistry at Howard University, has worked in the cosmetics industry and is currently formulating his own makeup products based on the needs of deeper skin tones. In his videos, he speaks unpretentiously and with a passion for product formulation. I got the sense that, through his content, he aims to empower consumers to know more about what ingredients and products work best for them and why, rather than reaching for the latest trendy ingredient.
Ford’s also a fan of product essentialism, which can be a bold take in a beauty culture filled with influencers and their 10-step skin care routines.
“Skin care is oftentimes a less-is-more approach,” said Ford, who’s based in Los Angeles.
“Beyond a cleanser, moisturizer and SPF, all other products are nice-to-haves, they aren’t necessary for healthy glowing skin, and if you’re using too many actives at once, you can negate their effects at best or compromise your skin barrier at worst,” he added.
I was most curious to know which products Ford chooses for his own bathroom shelf space. Turns out he’s a fan of sunscreen, a uniquely textured water cream and all things containing glycerin. See some of his recent favorites as well as some worthy skin care tips.
A glycerin-rich peptide serum
Ford's favorite ingredient is the humectant glycerin, because it's cheap, usually vegan and very versatile for hydrating and protecting the skin.
"Every so often, a new hydrating ingredient comes along as a fad like hyaluronic acid or polyglutamic acid or snow mushrooms that work but they’re more fickle to work with in your routine than old-fashioned glycerin. It’s why you see it in so many products. Chemists love the stuff," he said.
This lightweight hydrating serum by The Inkey List features glycerin as one of the first named ingredients alongside a duo of collagen-supporting peptides.
An intensive glycerin hand mask
Another glycerin-laden product is Fenty Beauty's Hydra'Reset Intensive Recovery hand mask, perfect for hydrating dry, cracked hands in the winter months. In addition to a 40% concentration of moisture-binding glycerin, Hydra'Reset contains a nourishing blend of murumuru and mango butters for a skin-softening effect.
A weightless "unseen" chemical sunscreen
Ford said the internet-beloved Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop is a personal favorite because it "hydrates my skin without making it greasy, but giving it a nice subtle glow, and [it helps] blur the appearance of pores." It also doesn't irritate the eyes or leave a white cast when blended out.
This weightless gel-like formula contains a broad spectrum SPF40 that also helps protect against blue light, as well as a meadowfoam seed-derived complex to help increase hydration.
A skin-perfecting SPF primer
Another sunscreen Ford mentioned is Charlotte Tilbury's Invisible UV Flawless Primer, which can layer well underneath makeup to create a smooth and primed skin canvas with a minimized appearance of pores. This is important because, according to Ford, sunscreen should always be layered, never mixed. "Mixing sunscreens with other products can deactivate the SPF value," he said.
This SPF50-containing primer features both vitamins E and C for added antioxidant protection, as well as hyaluronic acid to support skin hydration.
A satin-like mineral sunscreen serum
Murad's Correct & Protect serum is Ford's favorite mineral sunscreen option because, unlike most mineral (also known as physical) sunscreens, it doesn't leave a white cast, which is an ongoing problem for people with deeper complexions. He said that it contains an ingredient often found in mattifying foundations, so it doesn't leave a greasy finish and kind of sets into the skin.
This satiny serum also contains beet root extract for a continual dose of hydration and claims to impart brightening effects as well as protection from blue light and environmental pollution.
A hydrating foaming oil cleanser
"I love foaming oil cleansers," Ford said. "It’s such a unique type of formula but it’s excellent at removing all traces of makeup and you could get away with not even double cleansing, unlike with standard oil cleansers that have to be followed up with a another cleanser to remove any residue."
Ford said that there's actually not many of these cleansers on the market because it can be difficult to formulate an oil that can foam.
However, we dug around and thought the Skinfix Barrier+ cleanser looks like a solid choice. Using a barrier-repairing lipid complex and a plumping blend of seaweed hyaluronate, this hydrating foaming oil cleanser can eliminate impurities without stripping the skin.
A nutrient-rich water cream
According to Ford, Tatcha's Water Cream has a "unique texture for a moisturizer because it’s an inverted silicone emulsion." He said that most moisturizers are oil dispersed in water, whereas this one is water dispersed in silicone, giving a light moisture boost with a silky feel and blurring effect thanks to the silicone elastomers in the formula.
A hydrating snail mucin essence
On his TikTok, Ford spoke
about this product from Korean skin care brand Cosrx, which at this point has reached cult-like status. It's a snail mucin essence (yes, snail), which according to Ford, works as a great universal humectant for all skin types. He said that this particular formula contains six types of snail secretion for a truly hydrating effect, as well the addition of allantoin, which can be great for soothing inflammation.