Can “Black don’t crack” be bottled? We’re about to find out, because Pharrell Williams, whose famously flawless skin has yet to develop a crease in years, is making our long-held holiday wishes come true. The multihyphenate hitmaker launching a skincare line by the end of this month—and no, apparently the blood of young virgins is not a prime ingredient.
Nevertheless, what we do know is that Pharrell’s new line does have a patently Pharrell-sounding name: Humanrace. According to the brand’s Instagram page, it is “A new universe dedicated to the everyday pursuit of wellbeing.” As Pharrell explained in his now prototypically philosophical style while being interviewed for Allure’s December/January issue cover story, his new line’s aesthetics are equally esoteric.
“Sometimes you need to cleanse your spirit. Sometimes you just need to cleanse your mind. Sometimes you’ve just got to get rid of some dead skin.” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get rid of some bad habits. Sometimes you just need to be humidified, brought to life. Sometimes your spirit needs that.”
“What our spirits might also need, Williams suggests, is three skin-care products—cleanser, an exfoliant, and a moisturizer.”
In less than two short weeks, we will get exactly that; a three-product launch line that includes Humancare’s Rice Powder Cleanser ($32), Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator ($46) and Humidifying Cream ($48)—or presumably, all three in the brand’s Routine Pack ($100). Allure reports that all are packaged sustainably; the housing is comprised of 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic “with only a small amount of virgin plastic used—and each product has a removable inner chamber that can be exchanged for a refill.” Additionally, the already tactile embossed logo also appears in Braille.
Aside from the prospect of preserving our skin in amber like the super-producer, what’s also promising is that Pharrell worked with a Black female dermatologist to develop the line, the Bronx, N.Y.-based Dr. Elena Jones, who has worked with the artist and entrepreneur for years.
“What struck me most about my first meeting with him was how committed to his skin and health he was at his age,” Dr. Jones tells Allure, explaining the three basic objectives of this or any optimal skincare routine: Prepare, repair, protect. “He wanted a routine to follow, and he’s dedicated to a skincare regimen. He wanted explanations for everything.”
In fact, Pharrell has reportedly always sought out the advice of women for maintaining his own famous skin, including this gem from Naomi Campbell: “‘As soon as you’re done washing your face, you wash it with cold water.’ She would always talk to me about never washing my face with the downward strokes of whatever cloth I was using, to always go upward, to go against the gravity.”
As for what accumulated genius Pharrell is now bringing to his own product line, Allure outlined the following after its own exclusive trial of Humanrace’s initial offerings:
Rice Powder Cleanser: “A dime-sized dusting of the stuff, mixed with water, produces a milky, lightweight emulsion that gently exfoliates using fruit alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)...Over half of the cleanser formula is kaolin clay, a common skin “detoxifier” mined for centuries for the manufacture of porcelain.
Lotus Enzyme Exfoliant: “Formulated foremost with glycolic acid...at the relatively high concentration of 8 percent, the cream invites new and fresh cells to the skin’s surface.”
Humidifying Cream: “It is a dense and creamy blanket of moisture, formulated foremost with snow mushroom extract, a moisture-binding organic ingredient with roots in Chinese medicine that behaves similarly to hyaluronic acid...the cream has HA, too, plus soothing rice water and niacinamide.”
It seems the mogul may have already chosen a hero product from his inaugural launch: “‘You put on that humidifying cream...You’re like, ‘Oh man, my skin is popping,’” he tells the magazine, which further reports:
If you wanted to invent a title for him, Williams is Humanrace’s chief sensations officer. He defines his particular skin-care expertise as a talent for being able to “describe sensations,” which are then reverse-engineered by his team, making previously nonexistent experiences real. Like the experience of wearing shoes that grasp your feet with the gentlest of embraces, or the feeling of humidity on your face, but in a cream that also glazes your cheekbones.
Again: okay. But beauty secrets weren’t all Pharrell waxed poetic about during his chat with the magazine. Aside from releasing music of his own as of late (the aptly named “Entrepreneur” with Jay-Z, a song he tells Allure was created “as a PSA”), he’s been working with fellow beauty mogul Rihanna on her long-awaited ninth album.
“Rih is in a different place right now. Like, wow. She’s from a different world. I‘m willing to bet, because Venus is gaseous, that if they had a telescope that could zoom through all that shit, you’d see Rih laying there naked,” Pharrell shares, noting elsewhere that he’s an Aries with Cancer rising (perhaps giving some explanation for his planetary metaphor). But in reference to the far more serious and earthbound matters we’ve all been mired in as of late, Pharrell apparently also reads The Root, shouting out not only Senior Writer Michael Harriot but our co-founder, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates.
“Gates said, there are many different ways to protest, to be on the front lines,” he says. “Some people are great orators. Some people are great strategists. Some people can stand and hold a placard, protest sign, for way longer than other people. There are people making sandwiches and bringing nourishment to people who are out there. My activism has [taken a lot of shapes]. Because my culture, our lives matter.”
In that context, it’s clear Pharrell considers Humanrace a bit of activism, too—albeit an aesthetic one.
“Humanrace is a full-on brand,” he tells Allure. “We just want to make things better. We want to democratize the experience of achieving wellness. And I’m not trying to be like any other wellness brand out there. That’s what they do. That’s what they give. Ours is all based on results and solutions and sensations. We wanted to look at sensations. I mean, we live in a world that needs it.”
Allure’s December/January issue, starring Pharrell, will be on national newsstands on November 24.