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Many skin-care brands have latched onto the promise of stem-cell science to reverse aging, but Hal Simeroth argues they’ve delivered little. His new natural skin-care brand, Stemology, is out to change that.
This story first appeared in the January 3, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Simeroth explained that the stem-cell by-products that have been used for beauty purposes often can’t penetrate the skin and don’t have the power to reinvigorate mature skin. He stressed Stemology’s so-called StemCore-3 technology doesn’t have those downsides. Rather than containing DNA or unwieldy stem cells, it has cytokinal peptides, growth factors and proteins derived from human adult stem cells, plant stem-cell and botanical extracts, and antioxidants.
Harvested from colonies of adult stem cells, Simeroth, the cofounder and chief technical officer of Stemology parent company Mission Viejo, Calif.-based DermaTech Research, who describes Stemology as the only antiaging brand harnessing both plant and adult stem-cell advancements, said, “We are getting very small peptides. They provide signals to your skin stem cells that causes your skin to renew itself. We speed up the renewal process, so it helps you look more like you did when you were younger.”
Simeroth’s interest in skin science was sparked in the early Aughts when he worked with universities on emerging technologies, including one at the University of Texas, Austin, on artificial skin for burn victims. “That research didn’t pan out, but I learned a lot about the use of stem cells for wound healing,” he said. Those lessons eventually led to Stemulance, a professional antiaging skin-care line Simeroth cocreated some three years ago fueled by an adult stem-cell extract combined with liquid collagen tri-peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid. Stemology picks up where Stemulance left off.
To assist in the development and marketing of Stemology, DermaTech brought on board former Murad chief marketing officer Lori Jacobus. Jacobus came up with the name Stemology to associate the brand with stem-cell science and designed Stemology’s mostly white packaging that has touches of green and blue, most notably in a leaf logo that appears molecular on one side and like a real leaf on the other to represent the brand’s connection to science and nature.
Stemology is starting with 10 products: 3.5-oz. Cell Refresh Foaming Facial Wash for $19, 3.5-oz. Cell Refresh Hydrating Cleanser for $19, 1.7-oz. Cell Rescue Active Gel Toner for $25, 1.5-oz. Cell Revive Serum Complete for $189, 1-oz. Cell Revive Brightening Serum for $99, 1-oz. Cell Revive Smoothing Serum for $99, 0.5-oz. Cell Revive Eye Serum Complete for $69, 1.76-oz. Cell Renew Moisture Complete for $75, 1.76-oz., Cell Reboot Ageless Mask for $85 and 1.7-oz. Cell Reboot Exfoliating Skin Polisher for $35. “It’s a very comprehensive line. We really tried to think of everything,” said Jacobus.
Cell Revive Serum Complete is Stemology’s hero product. “It’s designed to address 12 signs of aging. It’s not just a brightener or just a wrinkle product,” said Jacobus. Simeroth elaborated, “The early impact you will see is softness, increased moisture, pore refinement, tightness and redness being reduced. In four to six weeks, there is improvement in wrinkles and fine lines.”
Stemology certainly isn’t cheap. The prices are the result of a costly process to culture adult stem cells. Jacobus also pointed out that, on a per-ounce basis, Stemology is in line with its skin-care competitors and is packed with a greater number of active ingredients than products from those rival brands. She added, “What we are seeing is that people are ready to trade up, especially at dermatologists and plastic surgeons’ offices, and medi-spas.”
Stemology is being distributed through the professional skin-care channel and is planning to have a team of roughly 50 sales representatives in 2014 to grow its presence in spas and doctor’s offices. “For now, we are really focused on building the professional channel. They have really embraced us. They love the technology,” said Jacobus. “It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a retail play down the line.”
In its first year, Stemology expects to generate at least $8 million to $10 million in revenues. Looking further into the future, Simeroth conjectured, “It’s easy to conceive of this as a $100 to $200 million business in four to five years.”
Stemology’s product pipeline is full of stem-cell innovations it can bring to the beauty segment, and those innovations could target hair as well as skin. “We are committed to bringing cutting-edge stem-cell research to the market,” said Jacobus. “We know that stem-cell science has huge applications, not just in skin care, and we have intentions of playing in other categories.”