Skinfix debuted in 2012, ahead of the current thirst for natural-yet-efficacious skin care in the mass market. The company cracked the code on getting the thumbs-up from dermatologists who had traditionally been reticent to recommend natural formulations.
WWD interviewed company chief executive officer Amy Regan to learn how she identified the need in the market for a natural/derm brand and why she thinks beauty companies have to move faster than ever to survive. Regan has a strong pedigree in the beauty industry with past executive roles at Space NK, Estée Lauder, Coty and L’Oréal.
WWD: What inspired you to launch Skinfix with its positioning?
Amy Regan: Not all natural skin-care products are created equal. Little regulation regarding the “natural” designation, and the fact that most natural skin care isn’t clinically proven, has created some cynicism among savvy consumers looking for efficacy in their products. Historically, dermatologists have not been big fans of natural products due to the lack of safety testing and clinical efficacy. In addition, many common ingredients used in natural skin care are considered allergens, and can actually be irritating for people with sensitive skin, and who are prone to dermatitis conditions.
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Recognizing that both the natural and dermatologist recommended categories were posting the highest growth in skin care, we saw an opportunity to develop the first skin-care line that delivered both. We work with the nation’s top dermatologists who are thrilled to find a natural product that they feel confident recommending, because their patient population is increasingly demanding natural, while unwilling to compromise on safety or efficacy.
Skinfix is actively involved with the American Dermatology Association, all of its products are vetted and approved by the Dermatology Review Panel, and the Skinfix Eczema Collection is approved by the National Eczema Association. Skinfix is the only natural skin-care company to achieve these critical professional endorsements.
WWD: What was initial reaction from retailers? From derms?
A.R.: Retailers see the growth in natural and dermatologist-recommended categories — and are keen to launch a brand that intersects both. Skinfix has made a deliberate strategic decision to manage distribution very carefully and judiciously. We have actually had to hold fire on new distribution opportunities, as we want to get the retail execution right and guarantee that we can deliver strong sales results before expanding. Because Skinfix is the first natural, derm-recommended skin care — we want to make sure that we understand how best to deliver that message and solution to consumers before expanding distribution too aggressively.
We have had to work a lot harder to get dermatologists on board. As I mentioned, dermatologists have historically dismissed natural products due to their lack of safety and efficacy testing, and because of their potential allergenicity. Skinfix has carried out rigorous safety testing and clinical studies to prove that we “do no harm,” and also that we can legitimately treat dermatitis and other skin conditions extremely effectively. We work with a panel of dermatologists to construct our testing protocols so that we can withstand the scrutiny of medical evaluation. This takes time and investment – but we feel it is worth the effort to be the natural brand that dermatologists feel confident supporting and recommending.
WWD: Why is the need for speed to market faster than ever. How is Skinfix keeping up and is this why we are seeing better growth in mass than prestige?
A.R.: In my former beauty days, getting a product from concept to market in nine months was a colossal achievement. As with everything else in this digital age, the expectations for speed have increased dramatically. Our timelines have shrunk to three months start to finish. This is driven by the lead-time for components, so where that can be squeezed, we have an even shorter development window. This requires dual-pathing formula development, testing and componentry sourcing, while taking calculated financial risks along the way. Indie brands are, by nature, more flexible and nimble in executing under these conditions. Skinfix is no exception. We move at a very fast pace all of the time.
I believe that mass is benefitting from the democratization of beauty in our social age. Women shop equally between online, prestige and mass channels. In fact, a recent industry report shows that 81 percent of women buy masstige beauty and 81 percent expect masstige products to have higher quality and more effective ingredients than mass brands.
Women increasingly want value for money, and are less apt to believe in the hype of a $300 moisturizer. Today’s consumer is savvy, understands ingredients and expects results. She has access to information from experts, influencers and competitors, and she does her homework before buying. I also believe that today’s beauty enthusiast recognizes she can get an immediate and material antiaging benefit from aesthetic treatments like Botox and Restylane. The growth in masstige may be attributable to her shifting her spending on antiaging to aesthetic dermatology — and expecting her daily skin-care routine to deliver maintenance naturally, effectively and at a good value.
WWD: What are some of the biggest misfires in skin care?
A.R.: The biggest mistake is going too broad or deep with distribution too quickly. As a small brand, it is always tempting to take the short-term revenue up-side of expanding distribution. However, it’s critical to make mistakes, adjust and figure out what success looks like before scaling. This may mean slower growth in the short-term — but will pay dividends and allow you to avoid more costly mistakes in the longer-term.
WWD: What’s ahead for the industry?
A.R.: I believe wholeheartedly that “natural is the new normal” and that the next generation of naturals will have to deliver more than just nice, natural ingredients. Millennials overwhelmingly demand natural products, 73 percent in a recent Harris Poll, but are unwilling to compromise on luxury, performance and efficacy. So I believe that we will see natural technology become increasingly sophisticated, and for high-performance naturals to launch in more product categories, like feminine hygiene.
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