Rose Gwet of Luxcey is Encouraging Radical Self-Love Through Ancestral Beauty Rituals
By Johanna Ferreira
Decades before Rose Gwet could even conceive the concept of self-care, she was already being exposed to the sacred beauty rituals of her ancestors. Born in France and raised for five years of her life in Cameroon, Africa — where her family is originally from — Gwet grew up surrounded by nature, whether it was the countryside of south-west France or in the African wilderness. It was through her exposure and discovery of sweet and sensual aromas, bright and vibrant colors, and rich textures that she was able to formulate her very own all-natural cream when she was only 16. The cream would be the very first product in the Luxcey brand — the Emma Ultra Moisturizing Body Balm, formulated with rich Kalahari melon oil, organic cocoa butter, palm kernel butter and cucumber extract, that leaves skin deeply nourished and baby skin soft.
“Back in France — actually near Paris — the heavy pollution, overpopulated places, and fast-living rhythms was definitely a shock for me. I started to develop eczema probably due to this situation and winter dryness. After trying many medicated solutions, my mother asked my grand aunt to send us 1kg of hand made palm kernel butter,” Gwet tells thirteen lune. “Within a few weeks my skin was calm again. But for those who don’t know palm kernel butter, it’s a dark, heavy scented butter with a waxy feeling. It’s a mess on clothes and the perfume is not pleasant. At the time, I had zero interest in sciences but I was killing my chemistry! It was an amazing challenge for me to formulate an ultra-moisturizing balm that I called Emma, like my father. He is probably the most compassionate and patient human being that I know.”
Influenced by the ingredients and rituals she grew up around in both France and Cameroon, Luxcey was born in Quebec, Canada, 10 years after Gwet created the Emma Ultra Moisturizing Body Balm. Her beauty philosophy is simple and is anchored in the rituals one does for themselves everyday. “When you take care of yourself properly, with consistency, you are sovereign of your body, mind and soul. You embody beauty with no compromise and no one can actually define you. It starts by taking care of your body, then you can explore other dimensions of your being.”
Get to Know – Rose Gwet
What was the impetus to start your brand?
I was born in France. When I was 7 years old my parents decided to make us discover their villages in Cameroon. We lived there for 5 years. At that age, I was conscious of how people take care of themselves. I am not talking here about heavy routines. It was actually simple, repetitive, and efficient rituals using all natural concoctions or plain natural oils, butters, and plants.
Luxcey as a brand was born in Québec, Canada, 10 years after creating Emma and other formulas in the meantime. The climate was so extreme here. I didn't really like my career in the public health field. But back at home, every evening I was so excited to take up the challenge and adapt and seriously confront my creations to chemists and to first-testers (family and friends). Also, I believe so much in the power of touch. My mission is to spread the magic ritual of massage from Central Africa all over the world.
Do you have a beauty philosophy?
Everyday, we get messages through social media or emails from women of all backgrounds, telling us how much watching them massaging themselves mindfully has changed their approach to beauty. I gave birth to my son in 2019. Since then, I’ve been sharing with our community all the rituals that I’ve been doing (belly massage, face massage, breast massage, my cold-pressed juices, etc.) To be fully honest, even if I grew up watching the women of my family doing a lot of this through motherhood, I was afraid to be alone in Canada taking care of myself without them adjusting my gestures. But I finally did all of it and even more. I’ve never felt so confident in my own skin and beautiful after baby #1. I thank this part of my heritage everyday for this and I want to share it as much as possible.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
My parents are from Cameroon but they went to cities quite late in their life. This is why they are so closed to their traditions, history, and ancestral knowledge. I was born in France and so far, I’ve spent most of my life there. I have lived in Montreal (QC) Canada since 2010. So, in addition to my Cameroonian and French backgrounds, I am kind of becoming French Canadian! I embrace all of these cultural identities. Different languages, philosophies, lifestyles, approaches to life and so much coexist in me. It’s a treasure that I deeply cherish with harmony.
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up? What are some early beauty influences?
My mother’s red lips are probably what I associate the most with beauty. She never wore makeup but only those beautiful red lipsticks that enhance her beauty in minutes. She was always adding a few drops of perfume on her wrist and putting on her beautiful silk shirts. When I was little, the first scenes I can remember were in France. But in my mind these moments are like it was yesterday!
What does self-care look like in your life?
Self-care definitely starts with rituals in my life and the closest people around me. My Bassa’s heritage (from Cameroon) makes me consider collective rituals and self-care. This is probably why I share mine so much. My rituals are generally around spirituality first because taking care of the soul and the mind is so important. Then I take care of my body everyday through my lifestyle. People are often surprised to see that I don’t watch movies, Netflix or other shows. I want to use this precious time, before or after work, to honor my body — the temple where I live in. We practically never eat out nor processed foods. We do a lot of things ourselves like preparing botanical conceptions as natural remedies and having our raw cold pressed juices everyday. I massage my face twice a day with a serum that suits my skin. Morphée around the time of my menstruations and Léo the rest of the month. And of course, massaging my body every evening before sleeping.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
I am happy to see alternative approaches penetrating the beauty landscape: traditional hand massage from Africa or more sophisticated ones from France, massage with tools (examples of Gua She from traditional Chinese medicine), mindfulness for self-acceptance and stress management, facial reflexology, quantum, Ayurveda, functional medicine and skin health. For me, it means that worldwide, we are finally accepting what my family members know very well while being in the rainforest: human beings are multidimensional beings. Body, mind, and soul needs care, love, and kindness. Only treating or taking care of the physical aspects makes no sense. It is actually a sign of a decadence of our human nature and I am happy that people are waking up!
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Being self-funded is a blessing and a curse at the same time! A blessing because we are truly an independent, small and family-run business. We don’t have a board of investors or a group pushing us to do a lot of things that don’t resonate with us. It is a curse because you are truly alone, especially in the more challenging moments. We poured all our savings in the first steps of formulation and I ended up homeless with my husband. But within a few weeks some friends helped and offered us shelter. Others offered us the first place we started to work. We received so much help and still today. We are truly grateful for this.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Creating a simple, minimalist but effective skincare line with natural ingredients is definitely amazing. We mostly run our company thanks to the old-fashioned word of mouth. We can hire new talents in the same way and have so much opportunity for growth with people helping us again and again.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
In the beauty landscape, I tend to see the same kind of people talking about the same things, behaving in the same ways, and their skin is heavily modified with Photoshop or filters. After listening to them, so many people feel insecure, inferior, and never enough. I would love to see different people talking, showing, and sharing about other approaches to beauty and self-care. I want to see them become mainstream or their voices become mainstream. I want to see more human beings committed to supporting others about radical self-love, self-acceptance, and self-consciousness. And sharing beauty as a ritual is my way to contribute to the necessary elevation of our humanity. After 2020, we deserve to find ways to thrive as much as possible.