Welcome to Take Note – a weekly rolodex of all the best in skin, wellness, and makeup from industry insiders. Each week, we’ll profile one woman who’s privy to beauty, covering everything from recommendations to routines. Today’s guest comes all the way from London. Nicola Kilner is the Co-Founder and CEO at Deciem, the Canadian umbrella company that includes brands like The Ordinary and Niod in its portfolio. Deciem is a brand that changed skincare. It refuted expensive formulations and meaningless ingredients. Instead, it was science-backed and cheap – and more importantly, it worked. It’s had a tumultuous journey (with the passing of Co-Founder Brandon Truaxe) but is now back on its upward trajectory, continuing to innovate and make noise in the beauty industry.

Kilner gets the science behind skincare. She knows what works. But she’s also a CEO and mom, so needs a routine that’s quick and effective. Here, she details her favorite products, her nonchalance towards cleansing and her sun-safe vacation trick.

Image credit: Courtesy of Deciem


GRAZIA: What does your morning skincare routine look like? 

Nicola: I don’t tend to cleanse my face in the morning with anything other than water so I use it as an opportunity to use a mask or treatment. NIOD Sanskrit Saponins is my favorite for a deep clean. Next, I use serum. The NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 is my go-to in the morning, and I like to apply a great antioxidant to protect my skin daily, so I follow with NIOD Survival 30. My bathroom is always filled with lab samples so it changes regularly! I love having a skincare wardrobe so I can tailor my routine each day to what my skin needs.

GRAZIA: And evening?

Nicola: I’ll clean my face with water (unless it needs a deep clean and I’ll use NIOD Sanskrit Saponins again) and then I apply NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Lipid 1% which is super hydrating so acts as my anti-aging defense as well as a hydrator!

GRAZIA: If you were heading to a deserted island, what three products would make the cut?

Nicola: NIOD Survival as it protects against so much more than just SPF – pollution really is damaging our skin. And probably NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 plus my rollers!

GRAZIA: Best professional treatment out there?

Nicola: I am keen to book a facial in with Nichola Joss as I want to learn more about facial massage. At home, I love to use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque and NIOD Sanskrit Saponins.

GRAZIA: Skincare cheap thrill?

Nicola: Water and sleep!

GRAZIA: And splurge?

Nicola: Skin doesn’t understand luxury. I’m a firm believer in science and strong levels of actives over textures, fragrance and fancy packaging.

GRAZIA: What’s your go-to method for treating a pimple, fast?

Nicola: Using The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque as a spot treatment… and no touching!

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NIOD’s Copper Amino Isolate Lipid 1% (CAIL 1%) is a pro-collagen, pro-lipid, pro-fat formula that takes on an enhanced approach to targeting overall healthy-looking skin.⁣ ⁣ CAIL 1% incorporates Tripeptide-1 (Palmitoyl) Copper at a 1% concentration (by weight) which works synergistically to restore and maintain a youthful appearance to the skin. The natural role of copper peptides (GHK-Cu), as found in the human body, includes the activation of a wide range of skin health functions such as healing, immune function, collagen synthesis, fibroblast production, and anti-inflammatory responses. Palmitoyl-GHK-Cu is a version of GHK-Cu with an attached palmitoyl group to the structure of the peptide, which works to enhance its lipophilic properties to enhance skin affinity.⁣ ⁣ CAIL 1% also includes Zizanoic Vetiver, an upcycled ingredient derived from the roots of vetiver exhausted by the fragrance industry. This unique ingredient aims to support skin tonicity, volume and firmness. Zizanoic Vetiver promotes the improved appearance of skin volume redefinition and firmness while promoting an overall plumping effect. ⁣ ⁣ With aging, the distribution of fat tissue changes due to the inhibition of adipogenesis and increased fat degradation via stimulated lipolysis. CAIL 1% incorporates a patented Dihydrodiisoeugenol Complex which offers a novel, multi-faceted approach to enhancing skin resilience, aiming to counteract the appearance of decreased adipose tissue through the improvement of elasticity and firmness of the skin, particularly when applied to the cheeks and jawline.⁣ ⁣ The formula is further supported by Aphanizomenon Aquaflo which facilitates the skin’s natural moisturizing factors to smoothen the skin surface for a younger appearance, helping to improve skin elasticity while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. 💙

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GRAZIA: Who is your makeup muse?

Nicola: Patsy O’Neill!

GRAZIA: What’s your go-to makeup look?

Nicola: I love a little blush and lip stain and being fair-haired, mascara is a must.

GRAZIA: Holy grail foundation?

Nicola: The Ordinary Serum Foundation! Biased to say ours I know, but our chemists really did take a new perspective when creating our foundations. They looked at how they work with our micro-vibrations and facial movement.

GRAZIA: And most used lip color?

Nicola: I am not really a lip person, but if I want a little bit of color I like the Clarins Natural Lip Perfector in Rose. I use the Abnomaly Petrowhat in Baobab to protect my lips in the UK winter, too.

GRAZIA: Best ever mascara?

Nicola: I think Benefit really owns the mascara category. They’re Real is the one I go to most.

GRAZIA: How do you shape and fill your brows?

Nicola: My brows are quite light. I leave them natural and find I can usually kind of smooth them down when applying my skincare.

GRAZIA: Signature fragrance?

Nicola: Avestan by Deciem. It has a very personal connection for me.

GRAZIA: What does your vacation makeup kit look like?

Nicola: My vacation make-up kit is as little as possible!! I usually take fake tan so I can be comfortable in the shade but still enjoy a glow. I love Tan Luxe The Water spray.

GRAZIA: Any makeup tricks you can share?

Nicola: When I was in Australia last year, our Education Associate, Minh told me this great trick her friend (a makeup artist) uses. Add a drop of The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil into a cream foundation and you’ll end up with glassy skin. It’s amazing under studio lighting as there’s no metallic or frosty finish that comes with traditional highlighters. It’s also great for dry skin.

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Retinol and Granactive Retinoid are a lot like siblings. 👯‍♀️⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ They’re part of the same Vitamin A family, and just like siblings, they appear to be similar but are actually quite different. Retinol (the "older" sibling) has been around longer than most of us (since the 1930's), and as such, has been studied very extensively. Retinol is often considered one of the most effective skincare ingredients due to its ability to improve the appearance of multiple skincare concerns, including visible signs of aging and textural irregularities.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣✨ ⁣ The Ordinary offers the pure, waterless form of Retinol in 0.2%, 0.5% and 1% concentrations in a base of Squalane. If you’re an inexperienced user, it’s best to start your regimen with our Retinol 0.2% in Squalane, and then adjust to higher strengths of Retinol 0.5% in Squalane and Retinol 1% in Squalane once your skin has grown tolerant to each formula.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣💪 ⁣ The "younger" sibling, Granactive Retinoid, is a much newer next-generation advanced retinoid active complex which has been shown to target multiple signs of aging, offering the same long-term benefits as retinol, without any of the drawbacks often associated with retinol use. This technology cannot be compared directly with Retinol itself in terms of concentration because they include a different Retinoid molecule, in a similar way that Retinol cannot be compared with Retinoic Acid in terms of concentration. ⁣⁣⁣🔬 ⁣ The Ordinary offers Granactive Retinoid of 2% concentration in a creamy emulsion format, as well as a 2 and 5% concentrations in a hydrating, light Squalane base. Sun protection is particularly important when using retinoids and they may increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Whether you stick with the tried and true retinol options, or go for the next generation granactive retinoids, both are incredibly effective in the long and short-term. If you have any further questions about these two technologies, please let us know in the comments and we'll be happy to help (as always). 👍

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GRAZIA: Favorite shampoo and conditioner duo?

Nicola: Aesop Classic Shampoo and Nurturing Conditioner.

GRAZIA: Can’t live without styling product?

Nicola: Percy and Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm.

GRAZIA: Best tip for styling your particular hair texture? 

Nicola: I love heated rollers. I find them so easy! By the time I’ve done my skincare and makeup they’ve cooled down. Once I take them out, and my hair has a bouncy curl all day.

GRAZIA: Hair tool you can’t live without?

Nicola: Hot rollers and an Aveda Paddle Brush.

GRAZIA: Celebrity dream hair? 

Nicola: Margot Robbie.


GRAZIA: In a sentence, what’s your approach to wellness?

Nicola: Stay calm and be as positive as much as you can.

GRAZIA: What are some common meals in your food repertoire? 

Nicola: For breakfast I usually have oatmeal with my daughter. For lunch, I enjoy a wrap or sandwich and then for dinner I would try to enjoy a plate of home-cooked food. In our house we are big fans of Gousto in the UK, which is a meal kit delivery service. You get all the fresh ingredients, and a recipe card to follow.

GRAZIA: Are there any supplements you take regularly?

Nicola: I love Seed’s approach to supplements.

GRAZIA: In what ways do you like to move your body? 

Nicola: I’ve always been a fan of dance, but I don’t get to enjoy it as much as I used to. I take my daughter out on a brisk walk most days.

GRAZIA: Coffee or tea? 

Nicola: Always tea! Either English breakfast tea with milk, or fresh mint tea with a small bit of brown sugar.

GRAZIA: What tricks do you put in place to ensure you get a good night’s sleep?

Nicola: If I’m at home, I’m always in bed by 10. I really believe the hours before midnight count so much more than the hours after.

SHOP NICOLA’s Edit Below

Niod Sanskrit Saponins, $34. SHOP NOW

Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1, $90. SHOP NOW

The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil, $19. SHOP NOW