By Katherine Lawless on Nov 12, 2020 1:14:00 PM
The beauty and makeup industry has dominated consumer beauty culture and influenced major fashion trends across the globe for over 100 years. The beauty industry has now taken the plunge into scientific research to make the best products possible for consumers. Compared to a few decades ago, shoppers are more educated and interested in understanding the science of their bodies and how unique they are. The human microbiome, for example, is not just a topic that scientists are interested in, but the general public as well. The interest in human microbiome has widened from the gut to other parts of the human body, like skin. One company saw an opportunity to combine the science of the human skin microbiome, makeup and skincare.
On DNA Genotek’s Podcast, Molecules, Microbes, and Multiomics, I had the pleasure of interviewing the co-founders of Pure Culture Beauty Joy Chen, former CEO of Yes To and H2O+ Beauty, and Victor Casale, former chief chemist of MAC Cosmetics and co-founder of Cover FX.
Listen to the full podcast below:
The evolution of the beauty industry
“[30 years ago], formulation of make-up products was about making a product and putting it out and trying to make as many people want to buy it as possible. That was the way it was for most of the beauty industry for a long period of time. Communication at that time was very limited. You got your information from commercials, television, newspaper, magazine or in store. And it was important to have a product that was available, was easy to understand by everybody and that everybody could use.” - Victor Casale
Like Victor explained in the quote above, the evolution of the beauty industry followed closely with the evolution of how we gained access to information. Both Victor and Joy explained how decades ago, consumers were very brand loyal and purchased only from that brand. Today, people are more aware of their skin and body types. We no longer purchase beauty and skin care products from one brand, we mix, and match based on what specific product works best for us individually.
“There has been an evolution around how [consumers] get information today. A lot of it is through the internet and through their friends. Today, consumers also get their beauty information from their influencers. There are skin experts today on the internet, on [social media], that share a lot of information and advice on how to take care of their skin. So, the consumer has really changed in terms of how they capture information when it comes to skin-care.” - Joy Chen
This changing world has led shoppers to become more educated about themselves and their health. Victor and Joy saw the potential in that change to start a company that would provide the consumer with a customized skin care product based on their skin microbiome and other contributing factors.
Makeup and skincare specific to the individual
Victor brought up an interesting point during the podcast. He explained that if you go to the doctor and tell them you are not feeling well, they won’t look at you and say, “take this and call me back in three months.” They will do tests and ask questions. A lot of skincare and beauty products are recommended to you based on visual assessments, like the sales associate at the makeup counter looking at your skin and recommending a product for you.
“The surface on our skin is living in symbiosis with our body. We have the technology that can see it now. It’s not expensive and doesn’t take up a room full of computers to analyze. We can take a swab of your skin [using ] and tell you exactly which microbiomes are living on it, which ones are feeding the good conditions of your skin and which ones are taking away from that. We can help create a solution for you. We couldn’t do that 10 years ago.” - Victor Casale
In order to achieve this personalized skincare and makeup solution for each individual consumer, Pure Culture Beauty teamed up with microbiome laboratory services expert Diversigen, Inc and microbiome collection device expert DNA Genotek, Inc to make this vision a reality.
“One of the things that really attracted us to Diversigen and DNA Genotek is their ability to provide the one cohesive process to the consumer, which includes the  swab kit all the way to the services and the analytics. The capturing of the data from the consumer is probably just as important as the process of analytics itself. So, the fact that the companies together, provided both offerings really attracted us to them.” - Joy Chen
“As a chemist I was really impressed with the fact that [DNA Genotek and Diversigen] committed themselves to this specific industry, and segment. I know, the companies are doing a lot of work in other areas, but for them to commit to the skin, and create a tool which makes it a lot easier for a customer to administer on themselves was a huge asset. Their commitment to this, and their technology, gives us the ability to do this work. We couldn’t have done it without them” - Victor Casale
Collecting more from the consumer than just their skin microbiome
Pure Culture Beauty doesn’t stop at collecting and analyzing your skin microbiome to personalize a product for you, they go above and beyond. Joy and Victor explained the different types of tests they provide and information they will ask from the consumers in addition to the skin microbiome collection and analysis.
“The microbiome is a very important aspect of what we want to learn about the consumer, but we also want to understand a lot of the other parameters that are important in dictating or changing somebody's microbiome. So, we ask some survey questions about their lifestyle, diet, and sun exposure. Lifestyle and diet are important questions that we ask in order to supplement any type of microbiome understanding. We also have a test that measures their skin barrier, and the health of [their skin] through a pH test. And then we also have a test that measures the oil on their skin, so that it can objectively tell us how to customize the right products for them. So, the combination of the survey questions about their lifestyle, more objective tests that they do at home, we then provide their results into their online account. ” - Joy Chen
“This platform will give us more insight into what types of formulas, combinations, what ingredients or combinations of ingredients in our formulas we should use and that we can prescribe to various types of skin conditions based on the science. All this assessment takes it to the next level by making it more challenging for us. But with algorithms and AI learning, we can keep building on what we know as we get more data, feedback, and provide more targeted products, we can just learn more about the customer. And that's what makes it powerful.” - Victor Casale
Interested to try your own personalized skin-care product from Pure Culture Beauty?
Throughout all of November to celebrate Skin Health Month, Pure Beauty Culture will be offering 40% off of their products as well as gift cards for the holidays on their website https://pureculturebeauty.com/