Eva Alexandrides, co-founder of hot London-based premium skincare brand 111Skin, is wearing a ruffled black blouse and high-waisted skinny jeans synched with a chocolate brown Louis Vuitton belt. She stands relaxed in three-inch heels, her thumbs hooked into her jeans. She looks poised, composed, perfectly put-together. But when I ask her if it’s possible to buy perfect skin, she doesn’t hesitate. “No!” she says. “Perfect is out of fashion. Be yourself!”
Her candid nature is the result of a past she describes as a “very dramatic journey”. Alexandrides, now in her late forties, grew up in socialist Bulgaria. She talks of her childhood fondly, despite living in a restricted environment and lashings of Soviet propaganda. She had developed an international outlook thanks to her mother’s job as an air hostess. She also inherited her mother’s interest in skincare and was excited to see the products she brought home from abroad, Alexandrides was also inspired by her mother’s meticulous dedication to looking immaculate.
Leaving a school where even nail lengths were monitored, Alexandrides took advantage of the opening up of Bulgaria in the Nineties and landed a scholarship to study in San Francisco. The move from Sofia to UC Berkeley, which she describes as “the most liberal institution in the world”, was a culture shock, to say the least. “One of my classmates used to come naked to school – because she was allowed, because she had the right to do that.”
Alexandrides, who remains fiercely proud of her Bulgarian roots, thrived in a more liberal environment and, after meeting her Greek husband, cosmetic surgeon Yannis, who had studied at the University of Miami. She moved with him in 2001 to London, where he started up his practice on Harley Street – at number 111.
From the beginning, Yannis, who is co-founder of 111 Skin, offered the option of non-surgical treatments, which was considered to be somewhat revolutionary in the world of cosmetic surgery. He does, of course, still offer surgery – “at this moment he probably has someone in the operating room, under full anaesthesia,” she laughs – but his fundamental philosophy hasn’t changed. He remains cautious about doing any procedure that might be replaced with a product instead.
It was Alexandrides who saw the true potential of the remarkably effective formulas devised by her husband – including an eye cream that was so good it convinced a patient forgo surgery – and she convinced him to develop a skincare line. “I think it’s very, very important to have experts that can give you the wider span of opportunities. That’s why we’re so, so excited with the skincare – because skincare can go really far if you have the right regime.”
Alexandrides’ hunch proved spot-on. An early marketing strategy – prepping models’ skin at fashion shows (including Christopher Kane and Roksanda in London) – successfully struck a chord with the bare-faced beauty trend. Business was further bolstered by the heightened interest in skincare over the pandemic. 111Skin has now achievedcult status. Actress Margot Robbie raves about the brand’s Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Mask. The Celestial Black Diamond Facial is a must-have for supermodel Bella Hadid. The dewy skin seen at Victoria Beckham’s shows is thanks to Alexandrides’ team.
Observing her immaculate composure, I wonder how she manages it all while bringing up two sons in central London. “The way I balance it is, actually, I spend less time with my friends,” she says, speaking frankly. Alexandrides recognises that her business needs her as much as she can give as it gains momentum – even if that means her social life taking a hit. Family remains her priority: her boys have even charmingly featured in some of her 111Skin campaigns, posted proudly on her Instagram. Working with her husband gives them quality time on business trips together, but she is thankful they don’t share an office. “Or by now we would probably be divorced,” she jokes. “So, it’s my children, my work – and then my friends.”
Her brand is growing rapidly along with the skincare market itself – surging year-on-year and forecast to be worth $188 billion globally by 2026. What are her best insider skincare tips? Surprisingly, she recommends keeping it simple. “We have identified that you could have a very good skincare regime with a three-step routine,” she says. She recommends a cleanser, serum and a day or night cream. She emphasises that the important point is to use a product that makes you feel good – whether that’s a drop of hyaluronic acid a day or indulging in everything from exfoliator to eye cream.
Alexandrides, just like her husband, doesn’t advocate spending all your time and money on beautiful skin. In her opinion, positivity and a big smile are just as important. As she puts it, “If you’re positive, and if you have a good attitude, people are not going to look at you and say you have wrinkles.”