Body Talk with Pharrell

Linking up with the GOAT to learn about mindfulness, charcoal, and the mystical power of silence.

For decades, Pharrell fans have been clamoring for the award-winning artist to “drop the skincare routine,” wanting to know the secret to how he keeps his exterior features as youthfully-oriented as his continued creative output. Last year he finally answered their wishes, introducing a new line of grooming products called Humanrace.

Echoing several important themes throughout his impressive list of creative endeavors, the line caters to all genders, is vegan, fragrance-free, and recyclable. That inherent inclusivity was important from the jump, as Pharrell sees this as a further opportunity for individual expression. The simplicity of the routine and all-natural ingredients that just do their job was developed with NYC dermatologist Dr. Elena Jones.

Not content with a reliable three-step face health regimen, Humanrace and Pharrell are on the cusp of releasing their latest product: a new Body bar. The Reenergizing White Clay Body Bar is a daily cleanser featuring kaolin clay, a moisture-lucking snow mushroom extract and hydrating shea butter. There’s also the Energy Channeling Charcoal Body Bar, which taps the natural exfoliants of charcoal to detoxify the body.

The latter has since become Pharrell’s go-to. So we caught up with him to discuss his morning routine, why he doesn’t listen to any music when he’s getting ready for his day, and the reason his Humanrace charcoal-infused body bar leaves his skin feeling “soooooft.”

Describe your morning routine.

Pharrell Williams: I wake up at 5 am, do my crunches, do my plank, and then do a 20-mile bike ride. After that, I take a 30 minute hot Epsom salt bath and then take a 10 minute cold shower. And then I start my day.

Showering can be both soothing and energizing, but also a moment where inspiration strikes. Have there been any ideas or epiphanies lately that have hit you while in the shower?

PW: That’s every day. I write in the shower, it’s all a mental exercise because you have to memorize it. Soon as I’m done, I’ll go recap in my voice memos in my phone.

The process of getting ready for the day, from grooming to dressing, is a fun ritual. Is there a soundtrack to how you start your day?

PW: No music...Silence. How can the day speak to you if you’re already playing music? How can your intuition speak to you? How can inspiration speak to you if you’re already playing music?

Silence is the absence of sound for a reason. It leaves space for ideas and inspiration. You know what’s so funny? Silence, darkness, and zero all serve the same purpose. It’s not a color, it’s not nothing, it’s not really silence. What it is, is the opportunity for intuition to make something. Silence is a void—it makes room for sound or inspiration to come through. It’s the same thing for color—that’s why black is magic. Black is so magical because black is the mixture of all colors but it’s also a void to give you color. White is the absence of color; it’s interesting.

What inspired you to create your own Body bar?

PW: It was time. We were so surprised that so many people lumped everything together—face and body care—in the shower. There needed to be some sort of distinction between time you spend on your body and the time you spend on your face. With so much emphasis put on skincare regimens and skin health of the face, our natural next step was the rest of the body. It’s your birthday suit. You gotta take care of it—and if I’m going to be in this space, how could I not have a bar that does everything that it’s supposed to do?

The one thing about soap is that it strips you of your natural oils and eats away at your pH balance, it doesn’t do much else after that beyond lather and a scent, while ours has no scent and has an amazing lather. Our Body bars actually do something. The Energy Channeling Charcoal bar exfoliates. It really does help you with the rebirth of your skin, similar to our facial Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator. Our bars actually do what soap should have been doing this entire time.

How did you discover charcoal?

PW: I knew charcoal as a supplement first, one which you induce. There’s something interesting about it, where one capsule absorbs about 1,000x its size, so when people have been poisoned or have ingested something that has not been good for them, they give them charcoal or activated charcoal. In doing our studies and seeing all the interesting ways that charcoal is being used in different categories, you see it being used in toothpaste or lemonade or supplements.

So we thought, why are we not looking at what it could do for the body? That research turned out to be 100% correct, it benefits your skin. It happens to be my favorite bar. No one uses that bar and says that their skin isn’t changed. There’s an immediate sensation of it working. It’s the only thing I use. So my skin can be soooooft.

The semiotics of cleanliness are interesting. From a color perspective white has been associated with clean and fresh, and darker colors are associated with when something needs to be cleaned or laundered. How does the inclusion of charcoal powder and its detoxification benefits make us think about this conversation?

PW: You know, I haven’t really looked at it through those lenses and it’s all really ingredient-based, which was something that just performed the best and it just so happens to be that the charcoal really happens to be the best exfoliator. It’s funny, what people would change the most is sometimes the most profitable, and it’s not just our Body bars: it’s our music, our dances, our clothes, our shoes and that runs pretty congruent with most other items that are in a black colorway. Black sneakers, black cars, black glasses, black dresses, most umbrellas are black, and we love that. We are part of the conversation. While we love a white cloud, man, but there’s not a white sky. It’s blue.

What’s the story behind the phrase featured on each bar?

PW: It’s not about what we think or feel, these are just words that we want them to speak to you. “Rejuvenate” to one person may mean one thing, and it may mean something different to another. This is about what it means to be an individual. This is our movement.

One of the overall themes behind Humanrace is mindfulness, taking time to be aware as part of self-care. Why is this important to you?

PW: Because it’s about the individual. We are giving thought to what our subscribers are going through and what they might need to hear. We can’t talk about empathy and not take measures to connect with our subscribers.

What are some ways you make sure to take time for yourself?

PW: Give thanks. Give thanks to the universe, all the time. God is the greatest.