This Successful Skincare Founder Keeps Her Email Notifications Turned Off (Yes, Really)

September 7, 2021
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Welcome to our monthly editorial series A Day in the Life where we ask women we admire to share the daily minutiae of their professional lives, from the morning rituals that set them up for success to their evening wind-down routines. This month, we caught up with Noelly Michoux, the founder of 4.5.6 Skin, to talk about what compelled her to start a skincare brand for melanin-rich skin, how she squeezes her skincare routine into her busy mornings, and why she believes in keeping your email notifications turned off.

Tell us a bit about 4.5.6 Skin and what inspired you to launch your business. What whitespace did you see in the beauty industry, and what need did you want to fill?

I was always frustrated by the trial-and-error I had to go through in order to find the right products to care for my sensitive, hyperpigmentation-prone skin. That frustration is what fueled my motivation to create 4.5.6 Skin, the first customized skincare brand, specifically researched, developed, and tested for skin phototypes IV, V, and VI using the Fitzpatrick scale for melanin-rich skin.

While the makeup industry has experienced an “awakening,” the skincare industry is still lagging behind in its melanin-driven research and development process. Most skincare products are being formulated and tested to fit the needs of white skin, but get marketed and sold as all-inclusive products. 

Besides pigmentation, skin phototypes IV, V, and VI (darker skin tones) have structural and functional differences. Our goal at 4.5.6 Skin is to align our scientific process to the physiology of our skin to create products that strike the perfect balance of efficacy and gentleness that also produce long-term results for skin conditions like dehydration, acne, or hyperpigmentation. 

Now, let’s talk about your workday routine! First, are you a night owl or a morning person?

I have two kids aged four and six, so I have no choice but to be a morning person! Their day starts at 7:50 AM but I will get up around 7 AM so that I have time to take care of myself before I start with their morning routine. Once I drop them off at school around 8:50 AM, I usually feel pretty energized and ready to focus on my day knowing that I have taken care of myself and my children.

When do you do your most important work and why?

It seems that most people do their important work early in the morning but for me, my prime-time brain is between 2 PM and 6 PM. So, I’ll typically start my day with meetings and more “shallow” work like emails, admin, etc., just to get my brain going. I’ll save the heavier work for the afternoon after I have a quick bite. 

What time does your alarm go off, and what’s the first thing you do upon waking?

I wake up naturally around 6:30 AM but I will usually start moving at around 6:50 or 7:00 AM when the alarm goes off. I always wake up very thirsty so the first thing I do is reach for my water bottle to rehydrate myself, then I’ll kiss my sleepy husband good morning and get started with my routine.

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like?

It’s fast! I’ll head to the bathroom to change into workout clothes and go downstairs to get a glass of lemon water and ginger, followed by coffee. I’ll start my day either in the gym or on a power walk for about 30 minutes. Once I finish up, I’ll take a quick shower and get dressed for the day. At 7:50 AM, I’ll wake up my kids, get them dressed, and head downstairs for breakfast. They will get a little bit of playtime in the morning with their dad and that’s when I usually take the time to apply some light makeup. Once I get back from dropping them both off at school, I’ll sit down at my desk and start the workday.

Take us through your morning skincare routine. How do you prepare your skin for the day?

Since I don’t have much time in the morning, I dedicate most of my time to my nighttime routine. However, in the morning, I’ll sometimes apply the To Be Clear Exfoliating Mask on my nose and chin and leave it on until I shower. These are the two areas where I get the most texture and whiteheads so it is important to exfoliate it regularly. I keep the Come Clean Cleansing Oil in my shower to wash my face. I keep a jar of leftover coffee grounds in my shower that I combine with a gentle body gel to exfoliate my body at least once a week. After my shower, I’ll moisturize my face with the Day Hack Matte Moisturizer and apply SPF. Et voila!

Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

I will take a quick look over our sales and through our customer service channels to see if there are urgent requests or complaints from a customer. Then, I check my inbox to pick up anything that is important and urgent that needs my attention and put it on my calendar.

What are you working on this week?

We have a small team so we all work multiple full-time jobs within the company. My focus this week is finalizing our latest round of fundraising and launching a new, optimized funnel that we’ve been testing on our website.

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your business? 

It’s hard to choose just one! Seeing something that started as just an idea in my head and has grown into something that makes such a positive impact on not only people’s skin but their confidence and overall life is so rewarding.

The most challenging?

It was challenging to find the right people to co-found the company with. Also, convincing investors to invest as a company that offers something fairly unique and new-to-market was difficult. Many investors could not relate to experiences that lead me to create 4.5.6 Skin so I had to find other ways of connecting with them and sharing our brand mission.

Do you ever reach inbox zero? 

I have… for a quick minute! And then, we are back to 100 unread emails.

How do you handle the constant influx of inquiries and communication founders are so familiar with? 

I have disabled my email notifications to avoid being pulled in every second. As a brand founder, it can be really easy to lose yourself to your work so it’s important to set that boundary. I do not reply to every email immediately but any emails that are important or urgent are transferred to my calendar as a to-do list item. For any newsletter or promotional emails, I try to unsubscribe to keep my inbox organized and down to a minimum. The rest is usually stuff that I can either delete or reply to quickly.

What is your go-to work lunch?

I like to keep it super light, healthy, and simple. I have been working from home so it is easy to put a salad together, or order from a few of my favorite lunch spots in my neighborhood.

What advice do you have for balancing the minutiae of day-to-day tasks with big-picture planning?

Big pictures are scary and can cause you to procrastinate. I will break down my big-picture idea into smaller projects or tasks that are easily achievable. This makes looking at the big-picture less intimidating and it begins to feel more manageable. 

What are some work habits that help you stay healthy, productive, and on track to reach your goals?

I am always working on improving my productivity! It is a never-ending learning curve.

But what works best for me is to dump my entire brain content on a paper, then organize everything from there. I’ll break down my ideas into smaller, more manageable projects, and then tasks then calendar items to create a clear path of how I will get to the end result. This helps me keep on track with my goals while also keeping my brain and thoughts organized and clear.

Any favorite apps you use regularly?

It sounds ancient but I am so thankful for WhatsApp! It makes it easier for me to talk to my family who lives in Cameroon. I use Slack for internal communications and I am currently onboarding my team with Notion as a productivity tool.

What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to right now to help you wind down at the end of the day? 

I have not managed to finish a printed book this year! I have a better chance with audiobooks because I can listen while taking my power walk in the morning. Right now, I am listening to “Loving What Is by Byron Katie and The Tanning of America” by Steve Stoute. I have “Femme De Pouvoir” by the French author Lea Salamé but I have been stuck at page 50 for a while, haha! I hope to finish it by the end of the year. 

When do you go to bed? What’s your “optimal” number of sleep hours?

I need seven hours of sleep! I always try to be in bed by 11 PM so I can be in a deep sleep by 12 AM sharp! 

What’s the most rewarding part of your day?

When I am able to put my kids to sleep knowing that they’ve had a great day and that my to-do list for the day was completed.

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