In many ways, Fran Miller was ahead of her time.
In 2014, the conversation around skincare was very different. “Clean” and “natural” weren’t words we used to describe our beauty or body products. We didn’t talk about ingredients or care where they came from. We didn’t know to ask about transparency.
These things are commonplace now—even required for many of us beauty fiends—but when Miller foundedF. Miller Skincare, she was taking a big risk. She was following her intuition and hoping the rest of the world caught up. Eventually we did.
F. Miller is a streamlined assortment of predominantly oil-based face and body products that celebrate the power of plants. With simple, whole, high-quality ingredients; gorgeous, durable, displayable glass bottles; and a focus on sustainability that extends from its manufacturing to its boxes to its formulas, the brand shows up for its customer every step of the way.
Products like the Shave Oil, Face Oil, and Cleansing Oil are luxurious, nourishing, and beautifully scented (thanks to those aforementioned high-quality ingredients). Using F. Miller items means taking a beat—a moment of reprieve. Really, in this upside-down world, that’s all we can ask for.
Via phone, Toronto-based Miller discusses the impetus for her brand, what she does to stay grounded at home, and why she loves oils so much.
Let’s start at the beginning of this journey. Where did the inspiration for your brand come from?
It really stemmed from my own personal skincare issues that I was having pretty much all throughout my university years; I was dealing with a lot of bizarre skin sensitivities that were going undiagnosed by several dermatologists, and nothing was really working. It was eczema, psoriasis, and there was no rhyme or reason.
I really only started finding relief and seeing actual results when I started shifting my routine to one that was simpler and cleaner, and started looking at everything with more of an intuitive approach—rather than overwhelming myself with a lot of products, which is what I used to do.
Much to my surprise, I quite quickly saw that it was helping, and that certain things that I was trying out were actually much more effective than the prescription creams that I was being given.
Fast-forward to a little bit later, and I was finding a noticeable gap in terms of products that felt super streamlined. And things that also happened to be natural and made from really beautiful plant-based ingredients, and also happened to look really nice and were beautifully designed: something you would happily have on your sink or counter. I felt like there weren’t necessarily too many brands at the time that were checking off all of those boxes. I initially came from a fashion background, and I think I just felt at the time that I could put my own stamp on something that I felt didn’t exist.
What made you want to focus primarily on oil-based products?
Oils were the first ingredients that I found to help the specific sensitivities that I was dealing with. Back before anyone was really talking about face oils or cleansing oils, that’s where my research started. So I kind of became obsessed, to be honest, with oils and with formulating different blends. And I find oils specifically to be super multifunctional, which is in line with that less-is-more approach. There are so many incredible healing plants that, when sourced correctly, can have just as high of a level of efficacy as a lot of chemical-based things. They have a lot of skin-supporting benefits, and they’re super nourishing. I felt like it was a natural cornerstone, I would say, for a line that was centered around multifunctional essentials.
So what is your skincare routine now?
My skincare routine now is very minimal. It always kind of has been; I’m pretty lazy and low-maintenance.
My non-negotiables are our Toning Mist, Face Oil, and Eye Oil—those are my main go-to essentials. Sometimes I’ll add a water-based serum in between, because I’m super dry basically all the time and I can always use the extra hydration. And SPF, if I’m leaving the house.
At night, our Cleansing Oil is what I wash my face with. I don’t wash my face in the morning; either I’ll splash some water or wipe on some Toning Mist.
For the times when I need a bit of extra self-care, baths are definitely my go-to. I pretty much take a bath every evening, and I’ll add some magnesium or Dead Sea salt. I like to file my dog’s nails, too.
File your dog’s nails!
He doesn’t love it so much. But it’s a nice break in the day.
What else have you been doing to stay grounded at home?
I think that feels like a constant work in progress; I think we’re all just figuring it out. It’s crazy to think that over a year has passed now [since the start of the pandemic]. People’s priorities and values have very much changed and started shifting into something else. There’s been an increase in the focus on personal care, if you have the time to do so—in addition to finding those moments of comfort in your own space.
What makes you feel comfortable in your space?
We’re very blessed to have outdoor space. That, especially when the weather is nice, has been such a saving grace for me. We did the big task of landscaping our backyard ourselves last summer, in June, a couple months into quarantine. I then essentially spent the entire summer working from the backyard, and it really was wonderful.
I do notice that now I kind of regard the home in a slightly different way; it definitely feels like more of this safe zone.
Cooking has been a huge thing for me, spending time in the kitchen—actually going through the stack of beautiful cookbooks that I own. Because I’m obsessed with and addicted to buying cookbooks, but then really thinking back on it, when was the last time I’d actually cracked one open and made something from it? So I’ve been doing a better job at that.
I think any sense of something fresh and new is definitely comforting for me: buying flowers all the time. It was never something I really did, but now it’s weekly. As soon as one bouquet is dying, I’m immediately replacing it with something new.
It’s just about having great things to look at and smell. Those kinds of routines, I think, have been quite helpful and important with time-blocking and structuring the day—so that it doesn’t feel like it’s all just one long moment in time. I think that’s all we can really do.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.