Molly Sims won’t accept “I can’t” as an answer. Not from others, and certainly not from herself. It’s part of the reason she has morphed from a model into an actress, blogger, author, podcast host and, now, beauty entrepreneur with the launch of skincare brand Yse Beauty.
For the decades-long beauty enthusiast, it’s a culmination of years of appreciating all that the skincare industry has to offer while also struggling with her skin and searching for answers that didn’t make her situation worse.
Sims is refreshingly candid about the highs and lows of her skincare journey on a Zoom call one month before the launch of her brand and two months before her 50th birthday.
The timing of the former, she tells PEOPLE, is not entirely a coincidence. “My girls want to look good, and they want their products to be cool. [In this industry] It’s either you’re millennial or you’re old, and I’m just not into that.”
Ahead, Sims shares everything — and we mean everything — that led to her six-product, “problem-solution” brand that celebrates the beauty of being Gen X.
“People think the makeup, your glow comes from your makeup. It comes from your skin.” — Molly Sims
Sims says her mother was her biggest beauty influence. “I think it all started with [her]. She always had such a love of beauty, and she appreciated self-care. She would buy me the Vogues and the Harper’s Bazaars and the Marie Claires,” Sims recalls.
But living overseas played a key role, too. “When I went to Europe [in the 1990s to model], I never met a French pharmacy I didn’t love. As one does when you’re living abroad, you soak it all up. The makeup artists and hairdressers and stylists, that world, I fell for it pretty hard. I learned how to be cool in London. I learned how to be chic in Paris. I learned how to be sexy in Italy. I was a little bit of a sponge.”
And while she found success in the modeling world and beyond, she also began to have issues with her skin, which was a “brutal” blow to her confidence. “I had cystic acne in my 30s. The volcano that would erupt every two or three months that would last was pretty bad. So I did every type of cycline you can imagine — doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline. I took Accutane,” she reveals.
As she approached 40, she faced more devastating skin setbacks.
“When I had my first baby in 2012, I traded cystic acne for hyperpigmentation. Everything struck at the same time — the sun exposure from my 20s and 30s and melasma. And for seven years, I had a pretty massive problem.”
Sims was able to conceal her skin issues from her fans, but those closest to her were well aware of her frustration.
“I patched my skin with a MAC concealer I kept in a baby bag. In 2015, I spent $10,000 on a laser because a doctor promised it would work, and it was an absolute disaster. I once went to a board meeting with my husband with an orange peel on my face. I was the queen of no-makeup makeup. I was the model who led with her skin until I wasn’t. And I was desperate [to fix it].”
Sims would get into a vicious cycle of trying topical treatments that would work, until they didn’t, and then she’d be on to the next, all while her skin’s condition got progressively worse.
Then a comment by her husband, who lovingly mistook discoloration on her face for dirt, would ultimately cause a major shift in her approach to skincare and lead her to Yse Beauty.
She stopped everything — from topical products with skin-lightening hydroquinone to more invasive lasers — and took a hard look at the industry.
“I thought, ‘Why is everything potent too strong? Or, in ugly packaging? And everything that’s gorgeous isn’t efficacious? Why can’t we have something that looks beautiful and works, instead of leaving you red and dry?'”
Fast-forward three years, and through Yse Beauty, Sims has amassed a collection that addresses not just her biggest beauty qualms, but those of her loved ones.
“I want my village to look good. I want my community to feel good. I hate when I’ll ask an actress or an influencer or someone in the business, ‘Oh, what do you do?’ And they’re like, ‘I just get a lot of sleep. I drink a lot of water.’ You don’t! But, whatever.”
Sims says the name “Yse” (pronounced “wise”) comes from her life experience. “I think what I have learned over the years had made me wiser. The one thing I do is, I listen. If someone tells me to try something, I don’t just stick my head in the sand. I think we want to live wisely, to put our best foot forward.”
If you are consistent with the regimen, she says, “It will change your skin, period.” And she went through clinical trials to prove it. “Having that to back it up was really important to me.”
First up is the brand’s Take It Off Gel-Oil Cleanser ($45). Sims says of the essential step’s effects, “I didn’t want my skin to feel tight or stripped.” This antioxidant-packed formula removes dirt and makeup (sans waterproof mascara) while leaving skin “soft and hydrated,” Sims says.
For her Your Favorite Ex Exfoliating Pads ($72 for 45) Sims quips, “Everybody has a favorite ex. I’m not going to tell you who my favorite ex is, but everybody wants to go back. That’s this product.” The model says she understands the importance of preserving your skin barrier, but adds, “If you want the dead skin cells to come off, you have to use something.” Sims spent two years perfecting these glycolic acid pads, which resurface the skin’s texture gently.
With Morning Cocktail Vitamin C Serum ($85), Sims was extra-particular. “There are amazing vitamin C products on the market. But do you know why women don’t use theirs? Because they don’t like what it smells like. They don’t like that it’s sticky.” This, which has triple-stabilized vitamin C and niacinamide to brighten and even skin, Sims says, “has a beautiful texture — and it doesn’t smell like pee or oranges.”
For Sims’ Last Call Retinol Serum ($88), which is spiked with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, the proof is in the pictures, she says. “We had great results. Ninety-one percent of users felt firmer. Eighty-five percent felt their skin was more youthful and brighter.”
The Xtremely Rich Moisturizer ($65) was a labor of love for Sims. “I like a rich moisturizer, but because of my cystic acne, a rich moisturizer does not like me.” Sims and her team went back and forth until they got the consistency just right. “It’s so nourishing and you actually feel plump,” she says of the ceramide and squalene-infused formula.
Last but not least, Sims created The Problem Solver Brightening Treatment ($88). It’s the mother of all skin fixer-uppers, she says. “This incredible spot treatment” relies on tranexamic acid to reduce dark spots, but “doesn’t leave you dry,” Sims explains.
Yse Beauty naturally aligns with Sims’s approach to skin now. “My philosophy is: Take control of your skin, take control of your health. Lean in. Own it. I’m not trying to be younger. I’m just trying to look the best I can be at whatever age I am. I do not feel that I look 50. I don’t, but I’m not trying to look 40. I’m just trying to be the best I can be at whatever age I am. Embrace your beauty, don’t waste it.”
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With everything she does, Sims is bringing her authentic self to Yse Beauty. “This ain’t me hawking a product. This is my life. Having bad skin really affected me.”
And thanks to her late mother’s enduring support, Sims is ready to make her mark again.
“I have had very pivotal moments in life. Mean girls in high school and in college. And when I started modeling, people who told me I would never do anything. Never be on the cover of French Vogue. Never going to do Sports Illustrated. Never going to walk the runway,” she tells PEOPLE.
“My mom was really great at saying, ‘You can do and be anything.’ So I dug deep. A lot of people have doubted me. The more you doubt me, boom, watch out. And I might fall off every day. But who cares? I think if I can say to women or to men one thing, it’s: you got this. Let’s go!”