Beauty Spotlight: The Best Kind Q+A

We are so happy to introduce The Best Kind - a skincare line developed by John-Charles Baucom! John-Charles created The Best Kind with the mission of making luxury, quality self care products accessible. (And fun fact! He got his wife's wedding ring from our Wedding Annex!) See our full Q&A with John-Charles below, and shop The Best Kind’s body, hair, face, and lip butters right here!

We are so happy to introduce The Best Kind - a skincare line developed by John-Charles Baucom! John-Charles created The Best Kind with the mission of making luxury, quality self care products accessible. (And fun fact! He got his wife's wedding ring from our Wedding Annex!) See our full Q&A with John-Charles below, and shop The Best Kind’s body, hair, face, and lip butters right here!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

So, I am John-Charles and I am from where I live, here in Bed-Stuy. I grew up wanting to be a wizard and eventually settled on becoming a synthetic organic chemist—which is essentially the same thing, if you ask me.  After getting my undergraduate degree in chemistry, I was fortunate to have the rare opportunity to teach chemistry overseas in Qatar for three years.  During that time, I got to explore the world I had read and heard about, but had never seen. Teaching abroad was really an amazing and formative experience that I will always cherish.  When I got back to the U.S., I worked for a personal care company as a lab technician, and inadvertently learned skills that I still frequently use in the formulation, production, and distribution of my products.  For the past couple of years, I have been in graduate school—working on getting my PhD in synthetic organic chemistry.  

In terms of hobbies, I am admittedly into too many things and don’t always have the time to do everything.  I garden, I game, I read, I write, I science, I build, I tinker, I wonder, I can’t necessarily remember.  But in general, if it is a matter involving complexity, nuance, or subtlety, I’m probably into it. More than anything I am intellectually curious and a lifelong learner. My personal goal has always been to remind people that learning never stops and knowledge is its own reward. I try, and continue to aspire, to incorporate that mentality and way of thinking into The Best Kind.  

A smaller batch of body butter I made for one of my first large orders. You can't tell but it was still hot, I was waiting to add the infusions.

What got you interested in creating skincare products?

I was always one to ask questions and go find answers however I could. In particular, I liked making things—sometimes with purpose, sometimes without.  Regardless of the purpose, I always enjoyed the act of creating something yourself. In terms of skincare products, I had pretty bad eczema on my hands as a teenager.  Back then, I would use Crisco (yes, the shortening!) to moisturize my hands every morning before school. Being one to tinker, I started asking elders in my community (including my parents) about what I could do to fix it. Soon I fell into researching systems of traditional medicine and the result was the first body butter! After consistent twice daily application, the eczema was under control. I made batches as I needed them, I didn’t think much of it really. Not until I met my wife many years later.

My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) had developed an odd and painful skin disease for which she was prescribed several different ineffectual topical medications—one of which explicitly mentioned that it caused cancer in large doses on the label. After seeing how ineffective these medications were, I decided to revisit my original body butter from when I was a teenager. It had been a while since I had made it, but I also had a B.S. in chemistry to lean on and make it better. Truth be told, I didn't expect it to cure anything, and after a couple of iterations, it didn't.  It did, however, provide significant relief from the skin irritation and halted some of the symptoms from progressing further. Her condition eventually cleared up—as to how, I still don’t know—but after seeing that the body butter was at least more helpful than these prescribed medications, I decided to refine the formula further. And here we are!

What was the first The Best Kind product you made?

The very first product I made under The Best Kind brand was the body butter. It made the most sense and I had already been testing it on myself, my wife, and some friends once I got the idea in my head to start making it. It’s a really great and universal product for moisturizing any part of your body.

 

A single unit hair butter I made in the jar, that is from before melting and homogenizing it. The colors and textures make it look extra funky.

Explain some of the special, key ingredients in your products and their benefits.

That is a difficult question because all of the ingredients I use are special key ingredients!  I sincerely mean that—particularly because none of my formulas include stabilizers, preservatives, or added fragrances of any sort. Every ingredient is thus special and key because, without them, the product stops doing what it's supposed to do. That being said, shea and cocoa butter as well as coconut oil are especially key ingredients. Few things are as good at long-term moisturizing and nourishing of the skin, while also being reasonably sustainable.  Mango butter is also very good, if a little less known; I find it has a phytochemical profile and consistency better-suited for hair care. The compounds in Mango butter are good for both skin and hair, but mango butter is better for hair than shea and cocoa butter.

  All of my products contain my own proprietary herbal infusions. The herbs have inherent properties described in alternative and traditional medicine systems that have been backed by at least some scientific studies. Basil, for example, is known to be well-suited for skin clearing; rosemary has a great innate ability to keep skin more elastic. Both plants possess a wide array of naturally occurring phytochemicals, with limited but collaborative anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and toning properties.  Calendula is another herbal infusion I make.  Interesting fact—calendula was widely used during WWII as a triage medicine; its extracts were used to treat battlefield wounds to prevent infection and promote healing. 

Because I do not use emulsifiers and stabilizers, all of the ingredients I include in each product are active ingredients.  This also means that my products look different from batch to batch, and depending on the temperature or climate—but they will always deliver more of what your skin actually wants.

How long did it take to get the formulas right?

The short answer is: it depends! We all strive to wake up with perfect ideas that work right on the first try. That almost happened with the lip butter, which was partly luck and partly effective formulation planning on my part. Altogether, developing the lip butter took three months total. The body butter has been in the making, off and on, for the past 15 years—when I first began making it to treat my eczema as a teenager. The face butter took about 9 months to get right—that was the product that I was least experienced with. And the hair butter took almost a year to produce.  Because everyone has a different hair type, I endeavored to create a formula that was as universal as possible, which required incorporating various feedback from early customers as well as my friends and family. Regardless of the product, I can attest that I have taken the time to ensure that it will deliver on its promises.  

A blurry picture of the early rosemary infusion, the particles in the tube are bits of powdered rosemary. Sometimes a little bit of herb matter makes it into the final products.

Do you and your family have a favorite product?

The face butter and the body butter are a tie for the favorite spot. The lip butter is a close second. I like the face butter texture, it's very indulgent and it spreads forever. It isn't quite enough for my hands and the rest of me which is where the body butter wins out. I usually butter my hands and face before bed and my skin feels new in the morning. Especially now with all the extra hand washing and hand sanitizer-use.

Are you currently working on any new products or formulas?

Several—including an aftershave, sunscreen, and a paw butter for our puppy friends to use during the winter. I have also been playing with a different hair butter formula for finer hair, and a stronger body butter that is specially formulated for hands. I am also in the process of developing a hand sanitizer, though testing is still needed on all of these. I find the most fun in formulating and doing the research on the products, but it is not easy or quick to develop them, as I mentioned. Given my limited resources (including being a one-person show), I do as much testing as I can before releasing any products or making any claims.

Do you have any summer plans, or goals, or books you'd like to read, or parks to visit? In other words, how are you spending this unusual summer?

I am pretty excited to stay in and work, to be honest. I like being home and am trying to set my house up accordingly.  I have done my best to see the positive during this pandemic and am taking the time to improve my skill sets and knowledge base. As I mentioned, I am currently a PhD student in chemistry; and while I can’t currently get into the lab because of the lockdown, I spend a lot of time in the weeds of the literature. I also have been doing some home improvement projects, including building my wife and I a better home office space. My wife has recently gotten into gardening, so we’ve been cleaning up our backyard and growing various veggies and herbs—including lettuce, peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers. I will probably try to catch up on some good video games and books as well. I really like the “Tales of …” JRPG series, and am playing through Tales of Berseria now. I also have the rough draft of a friend’s novel for which I need to give him feedback. I am, and always have been, a master at keeping myself busy!

What are your favorite neighborhood places?

There are some places in Bed-Stuy that aren’t there anymore that I was very fond of many moons ago. There was once a bookstore on Lewis Avenue between Decatur and Macdonough that was a pretty big part of my childhood. I’m not sure what happened, but the owner closed up shop when I was away at college. It was a great spot though, always an interesting selection and she hosted open mic nights I frequented. 

 

But in terms of current places, I love the garden center on Macdonough and Stuyvesant, Seasons—and not just because my mother owns the shop! My wife and I get all of our vegetables, herbs, and plants from Seasons. You may think I’m biased, but you will truly not find a better garden center in NYC, period. I learned a lot of what I know about plants and horticulture from my mom—she’s had me helping her in her garden since I was old enough to carry things! I also really enjoy the botanical gardens in Prospect Park, which is probably one of the best places in Brooklyn ever. I have outgrown it, but the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is also one of my favorite spots—a big part of my passion for science was sparked there so it’s a very sentimental place. I don’t have kids yet, but I will definitely be taking mine there one day.

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