Interview With Szilvia Hickman, Senior Vice President of Szep Elet

ilike organic skincare

As writers/makeup aficionados, there’s nothing that appeals to these bunnies quite like the opportunity to interview someone who has an insider’s view of the beauty industry. So, when an invitation to do just that found its way to our inbox, we jumped at the chance. If you haven’t heard of ilike, get ready to have your interest in organic skincare piqued. This pioneering Hungarian company has been providing skincare products made in small batches from organically grown herbs, fruits, and vegetables for over 60 years!

We had the good fortune to interview Szilivia Hickman, Senior Vice President of Szep Elet (the exclusive distributor of ilike organic skin care) — and what she had to say about both ilike and the beauty industry in general was truly compelling.

Chelsy: What do you think makes your products and your company different from your competitors? 

What makes ilike so unique is that they strive to maintain the natural state of the herbal ingredients – using handmade pulps versus extracts. Their organic ingredients are formulated and processed in a way that maintains the vitality of the natural active ingredients resulting in an immediate experience of the deep, rich penetrating effects of the ingredients as well as their magnificent aromas, textures, and colors. Each product is made in small batches from organically grown and handpicked herbs, fruits, and vegetables containing the highest possible levels of natural active ingredients. Using handmade pulps versus processed extracts, the natural ingredients retain the full concentration and power of the herbal ingredients. You truly have to experience the products to fully appreciate the care that goes into them.

Chelsy: What do you want your customers to know about your vision as a company?

Ilike organic skin care is a simple, traditional company with a passion for growing and harvesting the finest organic ingredients. Ilike knows that nature provides an abundance of tools for everyday needs and it is this philosophy that guides their product development process to create and deliver the freshest skincare products possible. The products are formulated based on a simple understanding that Mother Nature provides us with the solution for everything we need.

Laura: How do your products evolve from “farm to beauty?” ilike organic

The process from farm to beauty: Grown > Harvested > Minimal Processing > End result = Product

— Herbal ingredients grown in certified organic fields in Hungary 
— Harvested in small batches by hand to ensure plant structure not damaged (not mass produced – ensuring the highest quality)
— Products made with handmade pulp vs. extracts (resulting in magnificent aromas and true colors) 
— Cold processed to maintain the effectiveness of the herbal ingredients

Trisha: When did you first realize that making organic cosmetic products was important to you? 

The company was founded in the late 1950s by ‘Aunt Ilike’ whom the industry refers to as an “Organic Product Pioneer.”  Aunt Ilike came from a family of village herbalists where she learned about herbal medicine and how the fruits, vegetables and herbs that nourish us can also protect and heal us. She studied biochemistry and learned that our physical being can be dramatically altered by what we put in our bodies. During this time, she developed a fondness for aesthetics and how herbal remedies extend to skin care. Being a beautician in communist Hungary in the 1950s required a lot of creativity because she did not have access to expensive cosmetics. Based on her childhood experiences from a rural farm family, her vocational training along with the help of some pharmacist friends, Aunt Ilike started mixing natural ingredients that were simple and easily accessible. Quickly, word began to spread about her effective formulations and soon thereafter, she was creating skincare products for the best beauty salons in Budapest.

Laura: Why is being cruelty free — and vegan and vegetarian friendly — important to you?

This question goes back to the brand’s commitment to Mother Nature and understanding that nature provides us with everything we need. Our relationship with nature, the environment, animals, is interdependent. We believe that our responsibility to our customers is to offer skincare products made with ingredients that nature provides us with. Ilike has never tested on animals and almost all of their products are vegan. Ilike continues to donate to environmental causes in an effort to do its part in giving back to the environment and nature. 

Chelsy: Your products are available in 45 countries — is one of those countries China where animal testing is required by law? 

No – ilike is not available in China; exactly for the reason you have stated. We do not believe or allow for animal testing. 

Chelsy: In terms of your company and your products, what are you most proud of?

We are very proud of ilike’s ongoing commitment to creating the best organic skin care products by adopting new technologies to process its raw ingredients into finished products as well as adding “high tech” herbal ingredients such as concentrated plant based stem cells and hyaluronic acid.  Szep Elet received ‘Green Skin Care Company of the Year Award,’ at the Green Carpet Spa Sustainability Awards, presented by the Green Spa Network at their Annual Congress in Yosemite, California. And just recently, ilike was name “Best Organic Line” by ASCP (Associated Skin Care Professionals) featured in the Sept/Oct issue of Skin Deep magazine. 

ilike carotene moisturizerLaura: How would you sum up the difference between the beauty industry in Hungary and the beauty industry in the U.S.?

In Hungary, the beauty industry is more interested in preventing skincare issues and taking good care of skin early on. Starting at a young age, kids are taught how to take care of their skin and the importance of a healthy skincare regimen. Whereas, it has been my experience in the US that the focus tends to be more reactive and quick fix…whereas if we can focus on treating the skin from the inside out with ingredients that are natural and non-irritating to the skin, I believe we would see a significant decrease in the need for prescriptions to treat some skin issues. 

Trisha: What is your favorite part about being in the cosmetic industry? 

I am an ingredient junkie and love learning about the newest developments in biochemistry, as well as about the nutrients in plants and how specific ingredients benefit the body and skin. Being a part of the cosmetic industry is so much more than my profession; it’s my hobby and I’m very lucky to be able to do what I love.  

Trisha: Where do you hope the beauty industry will be in 5 (or 10) years?

I hope there will be regulations all over the world against animal testing (like in the EU). And that all companies will eliminate harmful chemicals.

Trisha: What is one important part of beauty regimes that you think is often overlooked? 

Serums. They might be the most expensive beauty products but they supply the most nutrients and penetrate the deeper layer. If you pay for your internal supplements why don’t you for your skin’s supplements?

Trisha: What is your current favorite product in your line and why? 

The AHA Fruit Peel layered over by the Hungarian Paprika Gel Treatment for the immediate and long lasting beautifying effects.

Laura: What’s one beauty product you just can’t live without?

Serums! I use serums on a daily basis – all year long. 

 

So there you have it! We want to thank Szilvia for taking the time to answer our questions, and give a special shout-out to Shelly Cellak for arranging the interview. Stay tuned for our upcoming reviews on ilike’s Apple and Lemon Whipped Moisturizer!

 

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