If you’re ever taken a stroll down Queen Street Wwest, close to the heart of downtown Toronto, you’ve likely seen The Detox Market. Since 2012 it has been a beauty destination focusing on natural and green beauty with a diverse and robust brand selection of products, including skin care, makeup, hair care and body products that actually work. Or at least it was. Don’t worry—The Detox Market is still alive and well (and thriving, to be honest). But it has moved from its King Street location around the corner to Spadina and opened a new, even more beautiful space with the same attention to detail and the same trusted brands.
You might be surprised to learn that The Detox Market has been operating since 2010 (and 2012 in Canada), though its steady gain in popularity is thanks to relatively new acceptance and championing of green products. To celebrate the new store and to learn a bit more about green beauty, we asked founder Romain Gaillard about how he decides what goes into the store, what he sees for the future of green beauty and what makes it onto his favourite products list.
Keep reading to meet Romain Gaillard of The Detox Market!
Edit Seven: Why did you decide to start The Detox Market?
Romain Gaillard: I actually started my career in tech—basically the opposite of wellness. I grew up in Paris, and ended up in San Francisco about 15 years ago in a very male-dominated industry working on ventures that never really resonated with me on a personal level.
When my close friend was diagnosed with cancer, I began learning about how environmental toxicity can play a role in your health. Toxicity in personal care products kept coming up, which blew my mind—mostly because I didn’t think that was possible. The importance of eating organic foods and avoiding processed ones was a big focus at the time, but no one thought twice about what they were putting on their skin. Most people, including me, thought, “If it’s for sale, it must be safe.” After all, in my native France, skin care is sold in pharmacies by people wearing white lab coats.
After doing my research, I realized that consumers needed to be educated, and that they needed better options. I began curating brands with passionate, excited founders behind them—all sharing the same dedication to creating not only non-toxic products, but non-toxic products that worked. The first-ever Detox Market—a 2010 pop-up store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, California—was the culmination of that transformative chapter of my life.
And so The Detox Market was born. By then, I had not only the inspiration and knowledge propelling me forward, but also our central vision: that beauty should be cleaner—and that health, beauty and wellness should be seen holistically. They are all connected. Today green beauty is “trending”, but ten years ago, we were very much ahead of the curve.
E7: What was the initial reception like?
RG: Besides a core group of green beauty fans that were thrilled to find a place where they could discover amazing brands, the initial reception was a mix of curiosity and genuine interest, but most clients were not really buying anything.
We started so early that the conversation about natural beauty products hadn’t started yet. But it didn’t matter to us as education and experience were our focus, and we were up for the challenge.
Canadians seem to be more knowledgeable about toxicity in personal care and the power of plants in general. This may be due to the strong presence of naturopathic doctors in Canada, but there was an audience for our brand as soon as we arrived.
E7: What were some of the biggest hurdles you faced in the beginning?
RG: I believe that there was a disconnect between our initial vision in 2010 and where everyone was. But just like all challenges, it made us who we are. Having this hurdle gathered the community of green beauty makers closer together—we were all convinced about our vision even though we were early to market. Also, we only attracted passionate team members, because we really had to be passionate to promote green beauty way back in 2011.
E7: What hurdles do you think you face now?
RG: It is very different now as everyone is talking about clean beauty, and every new brand pretends to be clean. That is the challenge—there is a lot of misinformation and greenwashing.
If you want to understand what is happening in beauty, think about what happened in food 20 years ago. Consumers became aware of how processed food and sodas were made and started paying attention. That is when large organizations came up with “fake” natural food products, saying it was sugar free but filling it with other bad stuff.
This greenwashing challenge makes us even more motivated to reinforce our high standards and help people to detox their beauty.
E7: How do you choose what goes in the store?
RG: When we first started in 2010, curating the best in green beauty meant connecting with a small handful of brands making pure, elegant products that actually worked. Now we receive an average of 780 brand submissions a year. To find the standouts, we work with experts to research, test, and compare hundreds of health and beauty products to curate the very best available. Meeting out strict ingredient standards is just a first step—we’re very interested in what goes into a formula, not just what’s left out.
E7: What were some of the original brands you started with?
RG: We launched with a very special curation. Pretty much all of the brands that we introduced to the US and Canada are considered green beauty essentials, and have seen enormous growth. Our original selection included RMS, Odacite, Ilia, Rahua, Vapour, W3LL PEOPLE, May Lindstrom, Honore des Pres, and MV Skincare.
E7: How has your vision of the store changed over time?
RG: The store changed a lot, yet it has the same foundations: strict curation based on ingredients, passion, and efficacy! The visual element is the biggest change. As we grow we are able to invest more in our design and have partnered with Suulin Architects, an amazing firm based in Toronto.
E7: Can you talk a bit about The Detox Box?
RG: I love The Detox Box! It is a great way to discover new products and brands, and the value is insane. As a team, we really enjoy working with brand founders to understand their world, and sharing it with our clients. Because the Detox Box focuses on one brand every month, not only are you trying new products, you get to know the brand and its maker more personally.
E7: What are some of your personal favourite products?
RG: During the cooler months, I rely on:
Odacite All-Embracing Serum – This oil has watermelon seed oil and colloidal oatmeal, so it has a velvety feel and a soothing effect. It’s great for moisturizing mid-winter, or for someone like me who travels often.
Province Apothecary Moisturizing Cleanser– I like an oil cleanser in the cooler months. This one has balancing bergamot and nourishing avocado oil.
Detox Mode Altogether Oil– I wanted to make a dry oil I could use head to toe, and it had to be TSA friendly. This one has a convenient mist and smells fresh and unisex.
Rahua Classic Shampoo– My hair is naturally curly and needs extra TLC. This shampoo has been a favorite for years for being hydrating, but not heavy.
E7: What are some Canadian bestsellers?
RG: Our top-selling Canadian products include:
Province Apothecary Nourishing + Revitalizing Moisturizer – This moisturizer will leave your skin looking and feeling radiant and nourished all year around! Perfect for combination, normal and mature skin types!
The Takesumi Detox Deodorant by Kaia Naturals – Formulated with activated charcoal, this popular deodorant both draws out toxins from your pores while fighting odor-causing bacteria.
Bathorium Bath Crush – Bathorium’s bath soaks are a tub time must! Wish a variety of formulas you can transform your bath to make it more relaxing, detoxifying, hydrating etc.
Schaf Shave Cream – Perfect for both men and women, this shave cream provides a super-close shave free of nicks and cuts, irritation and razor burn. Fragrance free, soap free and vegan friendly!
Sappho Essential Foundation – With light to medium coverage Sappho’s Essential foundation feel like nothing & leave a soft glow to the skin.
E7: Why did you decide to create Detox Mode, the house line?
RG: Detox Mode is a line we created asking our community what were their “dirty secrets”. Everyone has a conventional product they just can’t seem to quit, and we wanted to know what it was so we could come up with a worthy swap.
We started with the Altogether Oil—a multitasking dry oil that smells like a vacation on the Amalfi Coast, light and citrusy, and absorbs instantly. In the coming months we’ll be launching more not-so-basic basics. I am very proud of the work we did in ingredient sourcing and the formulation!
E7: Can you talk about the new Toronto store?
RG: I am obsessed with the new flagship in Toronto. It took us so long to find and design it. I think the result is spectacular, but what really moves me is how everyone who worked on it was so emotionally involved. From the architects to the meticulously detailed cabinet maker, to the stone guy who built the table. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.
E7: What do you hope for the future of The Detox Market?
RG: I see the future of The Detox Market as big and green! Over the past decade, we have worked to create a positive and meaningful experience around green beauty. While I hope we have achieved that, we have so much further to go. It’s exciting to see it finally gaining traction and momentum. What will the next years bring? New locations in new countries, and more beautiful stores to gather our community. From London and Paris, to Tokyo and Hong Kong, the grass is greener wherever there’s a Detox Market.
E7: What do you hope for the future of clean beauty?
RG: I believe wholeheartedly in the adage, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Clean beauty is a wonderful thing. I think it will grow bigger and bigger every year and eventually it will become the norm.
More formulators, ingredient makers, investors, and beauty enthusiasts will look into it, which is great. But what I really hope is that as clean beauty becomes a bigger industry, it remains a community driven by passion.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Alexandra Donaldson)