Monday, 15 July 2024

Marc Briant-Terlet

Talking skincare and when to change your bedding, with the co-founder of Horace

FANTASTIC MAN - Casting_5_fm37

The 37-year-old lives with his family in Paris, oversees a workforce of 100+ employees and 17 Horace stores in France, one in London’s Covent Garden, and more to follow soon in the US and China. He also really likes clothes and disco music.

Photography by DANIEL RIERA

FANTASTIC MAN - Casting_5_fm37

Gert – Are you originally from Paris?

Marc – No, I’m from Le Mée-sur-Seine, which is a typical, super-mixed, quite poor suburb of Paris.

What’s your family like?

I was the middle child raised by my mom – a single mother who worked as a midwife. I have one big brother and one little brother, who came out as transgender. At 19, I moved to Montréal to study. I did a Bachelor’s in marketing, and a Master’s in consumption anthropology.

Consumption anthropology, what is that?

Like, the culture of stuff; why people buy things, why they use things the way they use them. For my final thesis I applied this to fashion: how clothes get worn in, the patina they get. I think that’s what men appreciate about clothes, how things get used and age well.

More than women, you think?

I’m not sure, but I find it quite typical for menswear. A brand like Ralph Lauren is basically based on that idea. His RRL line is completely based on patina. So, yes, I’ve always been really into style. As a teenager I’d sell counterfeit CDs to buy clothes. My mom couldn’t afford what I wanted to wear, so I found ways to make money. Wasn’t really a successful business.

But good enough to buy Ralph Lauren and Nike?

At the time I was buying hip-hop clothes, like Phat Farm, Pelle Pelle, Sean John. Sometimes real, sometimes fake.

Did it matter to you whether it was fake or real?

Back then, no. Now, also no.

What kind of career did you pursue after your studies?

After my Bachelor’s, I worked in marketing at Vans. I was also a fashion journalist and wrote for ‘GQ’ and ‘Les Inrocks’. It was a way to teach myself. Like, just an excuse to learn. I loved it. But I really wanted to start a beauty brand for men. Do you remember those ads for Dove soap, with all these women in all shapes and sizes and colours and ages?

I do.

I was 16 at the time and remember thinking, why don’t we have that for men? I wanted to build brand that my friends and family would feel comfortable to use, where they’d feel welcome regardless of who they are. So one day I quit my job and went all in and I started Horace with my friend Kim. He’s French, just like me, and was one my roommates in Montréal.

This was eight years ago?

Exactly. We released the first products in November 2016 – the Purifying Face Cleanser and Mattifying Face Moisturiser. They’ve been our best sellers ever since.

Isn’t it interesting that you started looking at aging clothes, and now with Horace you’re fighting against aging skin?

We’re not fighting against aging skin. See, you can use skincare products in the same way you can take care of clothes to make them last longer. Maintenance and care have always been an interest of mine. I have clothes that have been with me since I was 15 years old, and now I’m 37. I’m applying the same philosophy to skin and hair – taking care of yourself.

When did you get into skincare in the first place?

I grew up watching my mother using all kinds of skincare products. She’s very French, so she was using L’Oreal and Lancôme. My grandfather died of skin cancer, that must be a reason why she took care of her skin and told us to take care of ours.

Did you use your mother’s products?

In the very beginning I just used her moisturiser. The first skincare product I bought was a face cleanser that I’d seen on TV, and hair products like the French brand Pento, which is basically petroleum jelly for your hair.

When you arrived as a teenage student in Montréal, were your roommates surprised about your big toiletry bag in the bathroom with lots of different skincare products in it?

Yeah! But they were even more surprised by the amount of clothing I had. Bottom line – they ended up using the products, and that’s great because taking care of yourself is a super nice thing. Maybe they were joking about it at first, like, ‘Wow, you put on so much stuff,’ but I find it interesting to be chatty about those kinds of things. Did you know that because of testosterone, men have a thicker skin than women, which is one of the key things why men age with less wrinkles?

One of the benefits of being a man! We lose our hair, but we have less wrinkles.

Exactly! I’ve actually had thinning hair since forever. I remember I was 23, 24, which is when I met my wife, and around that time I had this huge shock, like, ‘I’m going to be bald in five years.’ Which didn’t happen, but at the time I was stumped. As a teenager I’d gone through every possible hairstyle, from mohawks and mullets to cornrows. Was that going to be over for good? I think what really helped is when I changed from regular shampoo to a sulphate-free one. Sulphate is the cleansing agent that makes a product foam. You find it in pretty much every detergent.

That’s what sulphate does? It just makes things foam?

Yes, because people in Western society have this idea that foaming is cleansing – it must be because of the TV ads we’ve been seeing since forever. Anyway, sulphate is good for foaming but harsh on your skin. So since I changed to sulphate-free, my hair is thicker, fuller, better looking. What I find interesting is that hair is the only beauty topic that men are sort of okay with to discuss, because it’s such a masculine thing. No one will say it’s a feminine subject to discuss balding or beards or the hair on your back. At Horace we have a help desk where we receive thousands of questions from people every month. One of the most recurring is: I have a patchy beard; how can I fill up the holes? Men are obsessed with hair. Men want a nice, full beard – it’s a key part of a man’s outfit. For my little brother, when he began his transition, one of the first things he did was find a way to grow a beard. For him, it’s important to have a proper beard, like, “I’m a man, I have a beard.”

Can you talk me through your personal daily beauty regime?

I wake up and have family time – read stories to my child and chat with my wife. Then I shower and clean my face.

With a cloth?

No, just my hands. I have a very specific order: first I clean my body, then I clean my nose with a netty pot. I have allergies and it works well.

That’s a good one.

Just make sure to add salt, otherwise it’ll be painful. After that I thoroughly clean my face. Once I’m out of the shower, I brush my teeth, and then use Horace’s moisturising Hyaluronic Acid + Panthenol Serum, our Vitamin C + Glycolic Acid Serum, and the Moisturizing Eye Cream. Then apply a sunscreen. I do this every day. It doesn’t take long. It seems like a long regimen, but only takes a couple of minutes. Sometimes, for days like today, because I had a party last night, I use a concealer to hide my dark circles.


I don’t use deodorant.

Nice. Do you put something in your hair?

Not that often. I go to the hairdresser, like, every four weeks. So I don’t need much.

And then at night? The big product application party starts again before you go to sleep?

I used to have a night routine, but our bathroom is next to our son’s room – it’s not very soundproof. But ideally I cleanse my face, then I use our Skin-Perfecting Exfoliating Solution that I apply with a cotton pad. And finish off with our Rich Face Moisturiser and apply a lot of it. It’s like a thick balm, like a mask. It’s also very important for the skin and the hair to change bedding every week. Especially if you don’t wash your face at night.

That’s a good tip!

It’s an easy tip for clear skin. Drink lots of water, change your sheets, get at least seven hours of sleep. Which I do. I’ve always been very strict about sleep, like, I will leave parties in order to get enough sleep.

That’s very wise. Do you go to the gym?

No, I’m so bad. I used to exercise a lot, but my child really changed my schedule. I did boxing for the cardio and yoga twice a week. I really want to do it again, but I don’t want to cut off time from my family. And actually I’m okay with having a dad bod – I’m a dad!

And it’s not like you’re not sitting on the sofa, eating chips the whole night.

No! I don’t exercise, but I walk a lot, a lot, a lot. Which is a very good thing. It’s a real pause, because I’m not on my phone. I just enjoy the beautiful city of Paris. It’s a way to disconnect. I don’t talk, I just have my music and I walk, walk, walk.

What music do you play?

A lot of disco. I used to throw parties in Paris. And I deejayed, and it was disco from the early ’80s – the New York Scene, Paradise Garage. Super joyful!