London-based direct-to-consumer skin care line 4.5.6 Skin has rebranded and is now eyeing a retail expansion thanks to a recent seed financing round and data collection drive.
Founder Noelly Michoux launched the brand in 2020 as a beauty tech start-up dedicated to offering premium and customized skin care for melanin-rich skin after failing to find the right products for her skin.
“The reason why I started 4.5.6 is that as a dark-skinned woman who grew up in France, it was always super challenging to find products that were made for my skin, for my hair, for my beauty,” said Michoux, who began R&D via incubation with LVMH research centers through the Cosmet’up program.
“I lived in Paris, but to me it was normal to have no inclusivity in the beauty offering because the POC community was not very visible,” she continued. “I lived in London, which is more cosmopolitan, but the offer there was not really different. I ended up living almost for five years in the U.S. and when I moved to New York City, I believed my struggles with beauty were over, because the USA is the most diverse country in the world with a vocal and empowered POC community. And although I found a lot more brands addressing darker skin tones, these were mostly white label formulations, which R&D and testing were based on the skin characteristics of people with skin phototype I, II, III on the Fitzpatrick scale, and skin phototype IV, V and VI were, as my research will show, always left outside of the R&D equation.”
The brand asks customers to go through a skin diagnostic quiz and tell them about their skin phototype based on their skin characteristics, skin concerns, their skin care history, their lifestyle and their location, which allows the brand to create biomimetic custom formulas.
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“This has been a fantastic model for us because it enriches our process with valuable data that feeds back into our R&D process,” Michoux said. “We are able to understand how certain ingredients and most importantly dosages impact melanin-rich skin. Our industry has zero insight and no understanding of these skin [types] hence the lack of expertise on how to approach formulations that fit the needs of melanin-rich skin.”
Her work has paid off as 4.5.6 Skin just raised around 1 million euros from corporate offices and a VC funds in Europe, and another 700,000 from the French Public Investment Bank.
At the same time, it has rebranded, including the brand logo, product renaming, more eco-friendly packaging and new imagery, as well as introducing a new product, Mela Skin Reset Biomimetic Essence.
The funding will also allow it to start to achieve its wider retail goals. “Since we launched, we have been selling customized skin care only and direct to consumer,” Michoux said. “This model has allowed us to iterate and perfect our formulations based on customer feedback. Personalizing has been a fantastic tool for us to find that delicate balance between efficacy and tolerance and have formulations that deliver optimum results across all phototypes. Now we feel more confident to introduce these formulations to retail. Our customers will then have the choice to buy a bespoke formula or our ready to use, 100 percent melanin-approved formulations. We’ll be ready for retail by the end of this year.”
Around 80 percent of its revenue comes from the U.K. and only 10 percent from the U.S., and Michoux plans to focus on growing the latter.