Photograph: Getty

The future of skincare, despite everything, is one that looks exceedingly bright. 2020 in particular was a banner year for the industry; one characterised by innovation, newness and an enormous upswing in sales. A technology-focus in particular, feels prevalent. Maybe it’s the fact we’re finally moving away from wishy-washy marketing behaviour, or that the pandemic has us on a daily diet of science-led information. Either way, there’s an overwhelming demand for products that are effective, interesting and make noise in an otherwise very saturated space. If you can couple this with sustainability and a strong corporate compass, you’ve got a recipe for skincare success.

So here, we’re looking at four figures redefining what skincare is, what it’s for, how it works and where it’s going. Emma Lewisham, who has managed to marry science and nature in the most sophisticated way; Tina Craig, who’s using the latest in tech to whittle down our routines; Dr. Augustinus Bader, the reluctant beauty pioneer who turned his work in medicine into one of the most successful launches of recent years; and Tiffany Masterson, the brains behind “biocompatible skincare” giant and industry leader Drunk Elephant.

Read their stories, in their own words, right here.

Emma Lewisham

SUSTAINABILITY MEETS SCIENCE

Emma Lewisham, founder and CEO of Emma Lewisham

Before Emma Lewisham, the idea of a considered skincare brand that was efficacious, luxurious and environmentally-savvy seemed impossible. But for the new Zealand native, her eponymous line is proof that you can have it all (and find success while you’re at it). Here, we’re talking with the founder and CEO on just how she got here, and where’s she’s going.

My route to beauty was not an obvious one. For eight years prior to launching Emma Lewisham, I was a senior executive for a global Japanese technology company. I loved critical thinking and solving seemingly impossible problems. It was this mind-set that ultimately got me into beauty. That, and the fact that I learned a product I had been using to treat a personal skin issue contained a potential carcinogen.

I took on the challenge to redefine industry standards and prove it was possible to create natural, sustainable skincare with scientifically-validated results. I’m a person who seeks understanding. I care, and to me, Emma Lewisham is so much more than just selling products.

Initially, we questioned the sprawling global supply chain that makes up this industry. We spent one year pushing for change and now have 100% traceability on every ingredient that goes into our formulas. We also publish this on our website. You can see where an ingredient is from, the certifications it holds and confirmation that it has not been tested on animals. I wanted to show our customers that we seek excellence and will never turn a blind eye when making decisions.

Packaging is another focus. Currently, the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year. Subsequently, only 9% of plastics produced are recycled and 12% are burned into our atmosphere. All remaining ends up in landfill. I thought this wasn’t good enough. All Emma Lewisham products are designed to be either recyclable, refillable or compostable. We also offer refills and a recycling programme called the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle.

I think the creation of a skincare line that is natural, luxurious but also scientifically-proven is a real point of difference for us. We commission independent laboratories to perform in vivo and in vitro testing, plus work with leading global R&D laboratories. Of course, our method involves years of detailed research, not to mention up to 50 sample rounds to get the right balance. Take our Skin Reset serum. It took three years to develop, but now contains a patented plant stem cell extract that’s proven to inhibit the tyrosinase enzyme which is linked to pigment production in the skin.

As a business, Emma Lewisham is going to continue challenging the status quo, particularly in the area of sustainability. I see the future of skincare shifting from a take-make-waste linear model to a circular model. And it’s not just us. It’s important that every single business should take responsibility for this.

Emma Lewisham is available via emmalewisham.com and davidjones.com.au

SKINCARE, SIMPLIFIED

Tina Craig, Founder of U BEAUTY

Tina Craig might be known to some as the creative brain behind Bag Snob, but she’s since entered the world of skincare, launching her brand U Beauty just last year (available for purchase at Net-a-Porter). U Beauty’s premise is simple: minimal products with maximum results – plus a targeted, tech-based delivery system that ensures your skin actually receives active ingredients where they’re most needed. Here, we’re talking with Craig about minimalism in a maximalist industry, the idea of clean beauty and targeted formulations.

After spending sixteen years in the beauty blogging world, I’d been exposed to the best in skincare. But I still found myself suffering from cosmetic confusion. I began asking the brands I’d worked intimately with, “How can I create a great science-proven, results-oriented product that could replace half of what I’m using?” Everyone told me no, until I caught up with Katie Borghese, a seasoned beauty-brand developer who’s now my partner, and she said it was possible. This idea went on to become our now-hero product, the Resurfacing Compound.

Our philosophy is do more with less. U Beauty is tech-driven, science-proven, high-performance skincare. Our strategic, singular products replace excess with essence and provide real results.

Developed by scientists at our medical-grade lab in Italy, SIREN Capsules are our proprietary patent-pending technology. It’s this innovation that sets us apart. The SIREN Capsule’s molecular structure sends it right where it needs to be: anywhere that free radicals accumulate on the skin. After it lures the free radical in, the SIREN Capsule neutralises it, stopping it in its tracks and preventing damage. Next, it unloads key ingredients, working to preserve healthy skin cells. It’s an incredible, targeted way of maintaining optimal skin health.

Since there’s no official definition for our brand ethos of “consciously clean”, we can only speak for ourselves. For us, it equates to prioritising safety and efficacy while relying on science (ample clinical and toxicological testing included) and making a concerted effort towards sustainability. It also means devoting energy to educating the consumer and leading with transparency, honesty and integrity.

While product is always king, a massive sampling program has proven to be successful for us. We started the brand with all our money spent on clinical trials and free products – namely 100,000 free trial kits of our Resurfacing Compound. It was a no-brainer. We knew if people could try our product, they would see results. And so far, this has been overwhelmingly true.

I see skincare evolving on two simultaneous levels. One is the advancement of ground-breaking technology and an increasing spotlight on smart science, which includes the targeting of active ingredients (which we’re already doing). The second is an increasing focus on simplicity. I believe our skincare should serve us, not the other way around. Net-a-Porter is a great example of a retailer that’s already prioritising this desire, thanks to a tight edit of products.

U Beauty is available to shop via net-a-porter.com/en-au

Tiffany Masterton

FUNCTIONALITY MEETS FUN

Tiffany Masterton, Founder of Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant entered the skincare market at a unique point in time, where consumers were demanding transparency and questioning how and if a formulation actually worked. For Tiffany Masterton, the need for a clinically proven but non-irritating skincare line that still felt fun was obvious. And so she launched, and it’s been nothing but success and sold-out launches ever since. Here, Masterton speaks to effective formulations, her gripes with “clean” beauty, and why we should stop fearmongering and start educating.

Before I created Drunk Elephant, I was a stay-at-home mum of four. I started using this hyped-up bar cleanser that had a long list of misleading claims. It did in fact clear my skin, but I figured out that it only worked because of what it didn’t contain: sensitising ingredients like essential oils, fragrance, silicones and drying alcohols. The break from these ingredients was exactly what my skin needed to get back to a healthy place. I then applied that knowledge to helping others and eventually, to formulating my own products. At the time, there really was a void in the marketplace for a line that was clinically effective but non-irritating.

My original vision was to create a biocompatible range that everyone could use. That hasn’t changed! I made Drunk Elephant so that people (me included) could finally have the option of clean skincare that was clinically effective. We are committed to using only ingredients that either directly benefit the health of the skin or support the integrity of our formulations. We never take into account whether something is synthetic or natural. That’s why we focus on healthy pH levels, formulations the skin recognises, small molecular structures that are easily absorbed and effective active ingredients that support the acid mantle. But what we leave out is just as important as what we put in, so you will never find the DE Suspicious 6™ in our line. These include essential oils, SLS/SLSES, fragrance/dyes, drying alcohols, silicones and chemical screens. They aren’t necessarily scary or toxic, just disruptive. And when they’re removed entirely, the skin can return to its healthiest, most balanced state.

There’s no industry-wide definition of the word “clean”, which is confusing for the consumer. I’m trying to get away from it because Drunk Elephant’s point of difference is not that it’s clean, it’s that we avoid particular ingredient categories. In my opinion, the industry needs to stop talking about being clean and just do it.
Also, I think ingredients like parabens and mineral oils have unfairly gotten a bad rap. The consumer is scared and often for no reason. More education is needed, and it’s important to remember that skincare isn’t always black and white.

I truly enjoy the process of formulating. I’m amazed when I see a product with great actives also contain silicones that can ultimately block the absorption and prevent results. We study what makes an extract or ingredient effective, and how it works in synergy with the skin. I’m very picky with things like quantity and pH levels. These have to be exactly right so that the product works, and the customer sees real results. That’s the Drunk Elephant difference.

Drunk Elephant is available in Australia exclusively via mecca.com.au

STEM CELLS AND SINGULAR ROUTINES

Dr. Augustinus Bader, Professor, Biomedical Scientist And Co-Founder Of Augustinus Bader Skincare

Dr Augustinus Bader is not your traditional skincare pioneer, but it’s fair to say the hero product of his eponymous product line, The Cream, is by far one of the most revolutionary launches in recent years. With a background in medical science, Dr. Bader’s skincare philosophy is anchored on TFC8®, a revolutionary compound that uses epigenetic technology to promote optimal  skin health. Here, Dr. Bader explains his skincare philosophy, stem cell science, and the magic that comes when you work with the skin, rather than against it.

After three decades of research into wound and skin healing, I discovered the stimulating mechanisms of stem-cells and, subsequently, how to replicate the natural healing process that occurs in minor injuries.

I developed a medical treatment based on my findings that could cure and rejuvenate damaged tissue with unprecedented efficiency. Despite promising results, I was struggling to secure funding for further clinical testing. It was Charles Rosier, my now-partner, who had the vision to apply the technology to skincare in order to fund my research. After two years of Charles’ perseverance, I finally understood this potential to apply this knowledge of intrinsic stem cell communication to beauty.

Augustinus Bader skincare technology moves in the field of epigenetics. In other words, it works with the skin’s own intrinsic repair needs by delivering active ingredients that influence the cells in a targeted manner. This combination of active ingredients is what makes up our proprietary “Trigger-Factor Complex 8®” or TFC8®. This particular complex contains building blocks of amino acids, vitamins and synthesised molecules in an exact concentration and combination of that found naturally in healthy young skin.

TFC8® functions like GPS by utilising a novel transporting mechanism (made up of ceramide structures). Its purpose is to navigate and deliver a complex of nutrient compounds to a specific location in the cellular microenvironment. In short, the formula naturally supports the skin to undergo a healthy remodelling process. When you’re able to do that, you can influence epigenetic factors that enable the body to fix your skin according to your own needs – this is one of the reasons our products are so effective.

For us, it’s quality over quantity. The reason we don’t recommend a multi-step routine is because we believe that as long as you have one product with TFC8®, you’ll see results. It’s essential to focus on skin health rather than temporary solutions that camouflage  issues. Skin is a tissue, an organ that has needs. That’s why I developed our products based on my understanding of the body’s own protection and care needs for our stem cells. We focus not on how the skin looks but on how it works.

It’s been gratifying to see how many people have been helped by the Augustinus Bader brand. Word of mouth and recommendations from satisfied users has been the best response. We’re not traditional beauty developers, we have 30 years of scientific research behind our products. The secret sauce? Our products aren’t just a temporary fix; they are state-of-the-art, and they contribute real solutions in a rational, scientific way.

Increasing demand for sustainable, science-backed healthy skincare products that use physiologic ways to support the body’s healing processes has developed naturally over the last years. The attention is shifting towards the science and efficacy of the brand rather than vague claims. As consumers become more educated, they are conscious of their choices. Our products are held to this high standard.

Augustinus Bader is available via net-a-porter.com/en-au and augustinusbader.com/au/en

“NEXT OF (S)KIN” WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE NINTH EDITION OF GRAZIA INTERNATIONAL. PURCHASE YOUR COPY HERE.

thoughts?