Skin care

Peter Thomas Roth on how to become a skincare guru


Peter Thomas Roth on how to become a skincare guru

Skincare guru Peter Thomas Roth counts stars like Kim Kardashian, Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez among his devoted stars.

Suffering from acne as a teenager led him to start his own skincare brand in 1993. Born in New York City to a Hungarian family that ran spas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he learned all about the mineral-rich thermal waters that were essential to his family’s resorts.

Roth, who still lives in New York City, has traveled the world in search of the most effective ingredients for her skincare products. He’s made a name for himself as a leader in anti-aging products and has posted viral clips on TikTok showing how his formulas work: some say his products are like “Botox in a bottle.” He has also created acne products for adults, which are sometimes hard to find on the market, as well as skin firming formulas and acne lozenges.

Roth is also a jewelry designer (his parents owned a jewelry store) and a philanthropist.

Roth speaks Penta on her brand’s 30th anniversary, the ever-evolving beauty landscape and her skincare regimen.

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PENTA: Adult acne is a real thing and people don’t like to talk about it. What do you think?

Peter Thomas Roth: For those of us who have it, we don’t need greasy moisturizers. I have many acne products. If you have it, you need to fix it. Everyone likes to solve it differently. Salicylic acid prevents it, but people put so much stuff on our face that we may be lighter with what we put on our faces. You don’t want to be anointed. Everyone is different, it’s all personal.

How did you get into skincare in 1993?

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Can you imagine that 30 years have passed? I’ve always been the new kid on the block. Now, they are a legacy brand. Don’t even say those words together! My grandparents on my father’s side had a spa in Hungary and there are springs everywhere. They are really interested in skin care. I have had acne for years. I fell in love with hobby skincare.

What’s the best revolutionary formula you’ve had?

I opened my own workshop and did my old fashioned stuff because it’s not that hard to do. Bigger brands, and I don’t want to speak for them, but I know what I make costs more. I try to do everything possible with good ingredients. Why buy a cream that doesn’t have enough of the desired ingredients? It makes no sense to me. Like a car, I want to know about the engine, the leather, the wheels, everything.

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Your three areas of focus are acne, anti-aging and sun damage, which is the biggest?

Anti-aging is the most popular. Everyone ages. With Botox, it dissipates month after month, even if you look great walking out of the doctor’s office. With my skincare line, we’re there to help her continue.

What are the highlights of your 30-year career?

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I see it as climbing a ladder: there is always something that takes us to the next level. It started with a few spas and skincare salons and then it reached Marriott and we got a bunch of spa accounts with Marriott Hotels. Then we went to other hotels. A few years later, Ulta knocked on our door, then QVC. We are now in anniversary mode. We are still trendy and young. I have so many young people come up to me and ask, “You started your brand a few years ago, right?” It’s still hot and trendy, but we’re not new.

How many people are on your team?

A few hundred people. We have 15 people in marketing. Dealers do their thing too. We are in Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia and more. We are available in over 25 countries. When we started, it was me and two people. We started in a small office in Rockefeller Center. We started with 10 products and what’s left is Cucumber Gel Mask and AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel, a different version. Both work.

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What’s your skincare regimen?

I use all my acne products including cleanser three times a day. Sometimes I use my Water Drench product, other times I use retinol. I also like using face masks. I also like to use new things. I use my face as a laboratory for branding. Sometimes my face looks bad because it’s not good for oily skin, or it was too strong for me. I have an idea.

What do you think of the anti aging cream that went viral on TikTok? A woman tried your Instant FIRMx Temporary Eye Tightener and the bags under her eyes disappeared.

It was crazy! That wasn’t paid. It is a 12 year old product. It’s a complicated formula. It took a while, and it’s strong.

What is your best selling product?

Interesting question. The Instant FIRMx Temporary Eye Tightener has been a bestseller for a while, but it depends on what certain stores sell. It depends on the level of the moment in the shops. But my Water Drench products are always in the top three.

Can we talk about your jewelry line?

My father came to the US after closing the spa in Hungary and made rings, as he used to do crown teeth in Hungary. He entered the jewelry business. For me it is nostalgic. I have my designer jewelry on QVC, but I still sell it through Macy’s. It reminds me of my father and I want it to continue because of that. I have my bracelet; I always wear it. I love it. He is my favourite. It’s unisex. My skin care products are all unisex too.

How has the landscape of beauty changed?

They were all department stores and some beauticians. Then when Sephora and Ulta came along, showcasing niche brands like me, it was amazing. Now, entry into the world of beauty is much easier than in department stores. Now, Sephora and Ulta are both giants. They keep things fresh. If skin care is selling, we all do well. If other skincare brands are dying, it’s bad for all of us.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.