Artifact Skin Co.

Toronto’s Narae Kim and Elie Nehme first met in the painting room while studying architecture and design at Carleton University. Seven years later the newlyweds have created a unique line of all-natural facial masques that focus on cultural traditions in skincare. Artifact Skin Co. masques combine elements of aroma, memory, place and beauty traditions from across the globe. I’m smitten with the Egyptian Honey Rose Masque they created and I love that the Artifact line is produced locally in Oakville. I chatted with Narae and Elie to learn about their journey from architecture to artifacts.

What led you to start your all-natural masque line?
Narae: I’ve always loved face masques. I guess it comes from my early memories of my mom pulling ingredients from the kitchen to create a peculiar paste that would help with my sunburnt, dry, oily or scarred face. She always had an idea of a mixture that would benefit my skin. My mother is also a collector. She collects articles she finds in magazines about special fruits, ingredients or other methods that she could use. I’m not sure, but she might be one of those people who rip pages out at the doctor’s office. Shhh, you didn’t hear this from me!

We also saw an opportunity in the market. Companies always have a face mask as part of their skincare line but treat them like black sheep. It's there, but no one pays much attention to them. We really wanted to embrace masques and make them the star!

What is the focus of Artifact? What do you hope to achieve with your skin care line?
Narae: Our vision is to introduce an audience to natural skincare in a not-so-typical "green" way, keeping it light, fun and full of great design.

Your masques draw from cultural traditions and places. What is your creative process like for deciding on each masque and the combination of ingredients you incorporate in them?
Elie: All of our masques draw from a specific ingredient and it’s story. Some we knew of before. Others we found out about by just exploring and researching. It was so fascinating learning about all the different methods of natural skincare from all over the world. From there we would start visualizing what the masque would be once it is complete -- how will it make someone feel, it's texture, colour, scent and all the ingredients that play a role in making it what it is. We imagine that these masques have been brought back from these faraway places as “artifacts” and they all have their own story to tell.

Every detail of your brand is so beautifully executed from the packaging to the product itself. How important is each touch point in the customer experience to you?
Elie: Thanks so much! It means everything! From the very beginning we were very specific on how the product would feel in the hands of the consumer -- from the weight of the white glass jar, to how it felt in your hands and ultimately how it felt on your skin. We enjoy the little moments of surprise when opening a package. We think those moments are what makes it special. 

Which of your masques do you consider a must-have in your all-natural beauty arsenal?
Narae: Oh, this one is hard to answer! Each masque is so unique that it’s hard to compare. However, if I had to choose one it would be... Egyptian Honey Rose. I love honey and I always need hydration and the glow.  It would be closely followed by Tahitian Vanilla Monoi. The scent of Monoi alone puts me in a great mood. *phew! That was hard! I hope my babies still love me!

Elie:  Us guys tend to have larger pores so the Glacial Coast Detox is a must for me. I use that one regularly for deep cleansing and to keep my pores in check.

Outside of skin care products, which lifestyle choices make for beautiful, healthy skin?
Narae: Of course eating a balance diet and hydrating yourself is important for healthy skin. But trying to live a ‘stress-free’ life is important, which almost seems impossible at first! Don’t sweat the small stuff as they say. Clear your mind, stay focused on your goals and work like a dog towards it! When you stress over small things it instantly shows in your skin. Most important of all, you must sleep. Sleep is key to beautiful, healthy skin...even sleeping beauty got the right idea!

Of all the places you have travelled to across the globe, which do you love the most?
Elie: I'm not sure if I loved it the most, but it was definitely the most memorable. I spent a few weeks in the desserts of Morocco, living in tents, enduring the sandstorms and bathing out of buckets! From the moment I landed, the scent is what still remains with me-- burnt earth, spices and citrus. Everything had an earthy wash to it and buildings were beautifully detailed in intricate patterns. In 40 degree heat, I remember being served very sweet green tea with cumin spiced tangerines!

The Artifact Girl blog is so beautifully curated. You'll find inspiration for recipes and DIY beauty treatments that Narae has discovered. Be sure to check it out! And to shop the masques visit Artifact Skin Co.