Furcy Botanik Taps Haitian Tradition for a Grounded Approach to Skin Care

“Everybody in Haiti believes in ancient wisdom, ancestral medicine,” says Harvey Gedeon, a silver-haired beauty industry veteran who spent his childhood there. Whenever he was sick growing up, his family would summon his godmother’s mother—a traditional healer known as a doktè feuille. (The phrase translates to “leaf doctor,” owing to the practitioners’ fluency with beneficial plants.) In the early 1960s, Gedeon left Haiti for the States, where he studied to become a cosmetic chemist—a trajectory that led him to create formulas for companies like Revlon, Orlane, and Estée Lauder, where he rose to executive vice president. Lately, his career has circled back to the motherland, with a new skin care project, Furcy Botanik, that marries laboratory rigor with local know-how. In other words, as cofounder Nathania Dominique warmly explains: “It’s a mix of passion and science.”

On a recent afternoon in New York, Dominique, bright-eyed across the table from Gedeon, paints the scene of her own Haitian inspiration: the mountainous village of Furcy, nestled in the mist. “I grew up there, my grandparents, my parents,” she says. “Once you get there, the soil changes to this color,” she adds, holding up a jar of the Gel Crème Lejand, packaged in the brand’s terracotta red.

But it’s what springs from the earth that lay at the heart of Furcy Botanik: the djon djon mushroom. Known as a humble delicacy often paired with rice, the tiny dark mushroom turns out to be rich in beta-glucans—a component shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to being a moisture-binding humectant. The djon djon, transformed into a unique bioferment, runs throughout the line. Other odes to the region include a guava leaf bioferment (with demonstrated antioxidant powers to boost skin repair after UV exposure); the national flower, hibiscus; and vetiver oil, which lends a subtle earthy scent.

“I’ve been in this long enough to know what’s good and what’s no good,” Gedeon says with a scientist’s practicality—which means the formulas also fold in noted standbys like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and tripeptides. 

Arriving in time for a season marked by record-setting temperatures and soupy humidity, the initial trio turns out to be a welcome relief. The Essense Éklat is a heat-wave savior in mist form, to be spritzed throughout the day. The Sérum Nuit Mitïk, water-based and quenching, suggests an after-sun treatment. And the gel moisturizer feels like the skin care equivalent of cotton voile—airy, breathable. For Vanity Fair’s summer issue, the two founders shared a trio of inspirations, below, both for the brand and personally. As the illustrations suggest, there’s a through line about botanical wisdom and self-knowledge: what it means to venture deep and then offer those findings to the world.

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