Ray Simons is the founder of his eponymous line, a skincare collection using essential and vegetable oils to create something totally natural and unique. Read on to learn more about him, the perks of using oils, his signature product and his highly anticipated foray into women’s products.
You’re been in the essential oils industry for over 25 years. Why did you decide to go the natural, organic route?
I walked 2 routes: skincare and essential oil diffusing systems in hospitals and elderly care homes. The skincare started about 10 years ago in Amsterdam where I made personalized skincare for women in a niche cosmetic store. This grew out of hand and I decided to stop with it. Then my female clientele panicked and the store kept asking me over and over to come back to continue providing the ladies with my specialized and personalized oils. It took up so much time, so I decided to make a 1 size fits all for women over 40, where I would only use the best ingredients, in my opinion, without looking at costs. I even put a diamond in the very bottle, and Roses & Diamonds was born. This oil has made me “world famous” -even the New York Times wrote about it.
Marie Claire UK wrote about it as one of the top 5 best luxury skincare products, and there were many other press-related articles. I had to choose at that moment if I wanted to go further in the beauty industry or medical industry. I chose the medical industry. We grew this company to become the market leader in The Netherlands for diffusing essential oils in the medical sector. We even installed our system in the Intelligent Nutrients store at 1 Fifth Avenue in NYC. So this company is up and running solid, so now I have more time to go back to my passion which is creating niche, high quality beauty products.
Tell us about your signature product, Rayman.
Rayman is probably one of the only products that caters to soothing the bald head, as well as the face and neck, and a shaving oil too. 3-in-1 – what a multitasker!
Men definitely appreciate the fact that it’s all-in-one – was that your thought process during development?
I made an oil for myself. No nonsense, it has to work, smell good, not be greasy or sticky, and suitable for extremely sensitive skin. It had to be in a bottle that can’t break, it has to look cool (can you imagine that a friend sees it and it looks ‘girly’?) Yes, we do still have ‘shame’ that we men must use skincare also, so it better look cool, too.
What are your favorite men’s grooming trends right now?
That is very clear for me: Hot Towel straight razor shaves!!!!!! Every third Friday, it’s RAY DAY at 15:00 hours! I get a hot towel straight razor shave by Ramona, the best barbiere in The Netherlands. It takes about 45 minutes including face massage with RAYMAN and a whisky to end the treatment. It is the break and the afternoon off from work that makes the picture complete and ready for the weekend.
What is your own grooming routine?
I am a ‘lazy’ type of guy: I don’t like creams, standing in front of the mirror for a long time, blowdrying my hair ;), having 10 different jars of stuff to put on my face, but my wife told me to take care of my skin. So I started thinking how do I please my wife and without having all the hassle of the different kinds of sticky beauty products. I do have to mention also that I have extremely sensitive skin. Due to my sensitive skin, I have to shave myself with the razor and not with a machine. Why not combine my shaving ritual with skincare? While I’m at it, why not create a skincare for my bald head also! This part of the skin I have the biggest problems with: sunburn, very dry in the winter, etc. So my grooming routine is: Wet my face, apply 5 squirts of RAYMAN in my hands, rub it over my face and bald head, take the razor blade and shave. That’s it, it takes 3 minutes max, no residues of foam, no razor burns. The skin treated and scalp protected and ready to go!
Oils have experienced a huge boost in popularity recently. Where do you see oils going in a few years?
Oils are really popular because if you use the right quality they are very light, absorb quickly, are extremely rich in GLA’s, vitamins, Omega unsaturated fatty acids (the good fats) and you can combine endlessly with cold pressed oils and essential oils blended together with divine scents and extreme results. My opinion is that you have 2 paths that lead to oils: 1) skin problems: if you have extremely sensitive skin, shaving burns or acne problems you should try 100% natural and organic skincare as an oil, because your skin will tolerate these kind of products and therefore heal itself. 2) it’s your own state of mind, what do you want for yourself? Mass produced skincare which has water as a main ingredient and stuffed with preservatives and added (non natural) compounds to create a product or you go 100% natural, botanical (from plants) and organic, this is the purest form there is that you can put on your face/body, has no water, chemicals, preservatives, etc. Go for small companies which are driven by passion, creativity and results that makes you feel happy and makes your skin healthy and look good.
Is there a particular oil that you think will really take off?
Yes, the Immortelle / Everlasting (Helichrysum itallicum). This essential oil is really a wonderland for the skin, its stronger than tea tree, arnica, calendula and lavender combined, works great on scars, dark circles around the eyes and with extreme healing properties. The downside is that it is very expensive.
We know you’re relaunching your women’s line soon. Are you planning on releasing an all-in-one product for that line as well?
No, on the contrary. Woman like to have many different kind of jars, bottles, sprays, hair stuff, etc. In our bathroom, my part in front of the mirror has a toothbrush, a razor blade and 1 bottle of Rayman. On my wife’s side you think you are in a store with all the different kinds of bottles. My Roses & Diamonds oil took me around the globe, and at the moment we are in the process of redesigning the packaging, NOT the formula. I also have a tanning oil…here there is a 2-in-1 function. To become very, very suntanned and an aftersun, as well, to get that sunkissed look in the evening. No SPF so you must use it before 12:00 and after 17:00 hours. The next product in line for women is going to be a body oil for the decollete.
How does your approach for creating a women’s line differ from the men’s line?
It’s a huge difference and it’s all in the chosen ingredients. For women, the oils are much more subtile, very fine and flowery. For men, it has to be straight, not sticky and woody. For example, the best and richest source of vitamin A is carrot oil. But carrot oil is deeply red colored due to the high content of beta caroteen. I can use this oil in the formula for women, because you must apply the oil very carefully and let it melt into your skin for a while so it is completely absorbed, otherwise it will stain your white clothes. Men don’t take the time for it and they will stop using it when it stains their white T shirt.
In what ways does Dutch beauty culture differ from American?
The Dutch are not so glamourous, as the Americans are. We are very down to earth, we play it safe, and we have a Dutch saying: just be as you are, that’s crazy enough. We like to look and feel good, but we don’t spend huge amounts of money on it. It has to work – that is the main issue.
RAYMAN is one of our picks in our new Father’s Day gift guide – check it out here!