Photo courtesy of Danielle Nemet
Thanks to the wellness boom, these days a jar of face oil is more sought-after than any barrel of crude ever was. Luckily for Fran Miller, the founder of skincare brand F. Miller, she’s in the business of bottling refined oil blends that have gained a devoted following.
Miller’s understated approach to clean beauty didn’t come naturally; like most things, it was earned the hard way. For years, hormonal-related illness fired up acne and skin irritations that stumped dermatologists and left her with a handful of over-the-counter prescription creams. It was only after turning to green products and natural oils that Miller found a solution. “I was always willing to spend more for the promise of results or a magic cure, but I generally found myself disappointed or overwhelmed by my options,” she explains. “It took a while to unlearn the routines that were actually doing more harm than good.”
After witnessing how non-toxic formulas cured her irritated skin, Miller began concocting elixirs for herself, and eventually passed samples out to everyone she knew. The rapturous reviews convinced her that she was onto something. Miller spent two years finessing the core products that she debuted in 2014—oils for the face, hair and body. “The collection that we launched was based, somewhat selfishly, on what I was ultimately looking for: a line of elevated essentials that were potent, guilt-free and effortless to use.”
If Miller’s verbiage strikes you as echoing com-mon fashion refrains, you wouldn’t be far off. Before joining the green beauty industry, Miller studied fashion communications and worked in retail management. She is the owner of a striking nonchalant personal style that permeates the brand in the form of restrained labelling, elegant flacons, and an impeccably dreamy and aesthetic Instagram feed.
Coming in at just 15 ingredients, F. Miller’s star Face Oil is simplicity at its finest. “The power of pure botanical [oils] has always been so fascinating to me,” she says. “It only made sense to begin with the ingredients that helped me the most years ago.” The jasmine, argan oil and rose-hip oil mixture has since been joined by an eye ointment, cleansing oil, lip balm and a collaborative line with Naked Beauty Bar. No matter the product, Miller insists on prioritizing the ingredients—“We hold ourselves and our partners to high standards”—and sources botanicals that are organic and culled from their indigenous regions to ensure maximum efficiency. According to Miller, “the process can be challenging but it is often the most fulfilling.”
When it was time to make the beauty-brand rite of passage and move operations out of the proverbial kitchen sink and into a workshop, Miller did so with characteristic attention to detail and splendour. She works in her west-end Toronto home in a converted basement-studio that gives her space to tinker with formulations and hang out with who-ever happens to drop in. The design echoes her brand’s DNA: clean and minimal, light and airy; a custom powder-blue work table and ceramics accent the space.
True to form, Miller’s own beauty routine is decidedly pared down. In the morning she uses F. Miller’s Toning Mist and Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique’s Soothing B3 Serum; she’ll pillage the fridge when she needs anti-inflammatory products and skin soothers like raw honey, turmeric and pumpkin. Her latest obsession is using smooth stone gua sha tools to gently scrape the skin to promote circulation and lymphatic drainage and melt tension from strained facial muscles.
Miller hints at new additions to her line to come, but she’s still clocking in the hours to perfect the products. “It’s important for me to always take our time with things, we will never produce items just for the sake of having something new.” It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.