Grooming Guru: Francesco Clark, Founder of Clark’s Botanicals
For former fashion editor Francesco Clark, the successful skincare brand that bear’s his name was never meant to be a full-time gig. It was born out of tragedy and necessity. After a fateful dive left him paralyzed, he found that his skin had lost the ability to sweat, which led to a host of skin issues. “I developed acne, rosacea and dry and oily patches as well,” says Clark. After exhausting all available in-store solutions, he decided to go the D.I.Y. route and began testing a variety of natural remedies alongside his father, a physician trained in homeopathy. After using himself as a human guinea pig (“It took 78 versions to get it right, and some pretty ugly-gnarly test runs.”), he finally hit on something that did the trick—a blend of jasmine absolute. When friends, family, and his father’s patients tried it, liked it and clamored for more, he realized there was a market for his creation. And so Clark’s Botanicals was born. Here, Clark shares insight into the brand, his personal regimen, and the products every man should stash in their dopp kits.
What were your priorities when formulating your line?
Really, just products that work! It wasn’t complicated, because nothing I tried worked for my skin. I did want paraben-free, sulfate-free, petroleum-free formulas that marry the best of science and nature, but really, if you’re spending a premium price on skincare, you need to see results.
How do you decide what types of products to add to the line?
It can feel overwhelming when deciding on which skincare lines to use, not to mention trying to figure out the right regimen. We wanted to keep the Clark’s Botanicals line edited and clear, so our product names are clear for customers to know what, why, and how it’ll work for him. Our Smoothing Marine Cream and Anti-Puff Eye Cream sell very well at Harry’s Barbershop for that reason; guys are loyal to products that will work, and there’s no need to overthink it.
Which product is your personal favorite?
As in, which one would I keep on the island, as my go-to? It depends on the time of year, because everyone’s skin changes with the season. Right now, my skin is dry since the weather is cooling off, so I’m using more of our Smoothing Marine Cream. I also have the worst in-grown hairs from shaving everyday and the sugar-derived glycolic acid helps to prevent and treat them, while keeping my pores clear. Multi-purpose is key to keeping grooming time short and sweet.
What is your daily grooming routine?
I use Skin Clearing Face & Body Wash in the shower everyday because it gently exfoliates and treats breakouts, but isn’t overly drying.
I apply one or two pumps of Nourishing Youth Serum. It has retinol palmitate so it’ll help with lines and also prevent minor breakouts, and if the weather is really hot, I’ll use this as a moisturizer. One bottle should last four months.
Then I use Anti-Puff Eye Cream. This speaks for itself. Eyes give away your age and lack of sleep, and I use this in the mornings to feign six hours of sleep.
Age-Defying Radiance Cream is a matte finish so it doesn’t show as ‘product’ on your face, but it helps slap your skin into shape, while smoothing and ??sing natural diffusers hide imperfections.
Finally, Ultra Rich Lip Balm. It has no petroleum, and the dehydrated algae microspheres give long lasting hydration, while Calendula helps to heal any irritation or chapped lips.
How has your skincare regimen evolved since founding Clark’s Botanicals?
I definitely have a newfound appreciation for serums and masks, and that’s probably because as skin ages, it needs more intense treatments, which serums deliver well. I’ll use our Intense Radiance Mask once or twice a week, but layer a couple drops of our Cellular Lifting Serum before applying the mask for a more concentrated treatment, so the clay mask helps to lock-in the actives and give a more marked improvement.
What is your favorite piece of skincare advice?
If it’s too long and annoying to do everyday, you just won’t do it. Keep it simple and use what works for you. That’s why ingredients are important and we commit to including so many active botanical ingredients to each CB product.
What are the skincare essentials every man should have in his arsenal?
A multi-purpose body/face wash because you can take it to the gym, or travel with it. An effective eye cream: Find a good one you really like, and it can also be used on frown lines, if you need an extra boost. A moisturizer that will help you with aging, breakouts, and in-grown hairs. And carry a lip balm in your pocket. This is one product that’ll make you feel better and look better if you’re heading out after work and can’t really do much because of time constraints.