When you go shopping for skincare products, you probably scan the label for a few key words that describe your skin type and your needs, ranging from oily to anti-aging to dry, to name a few. The thing is, sometimes we have more than one concern. What if there was a skincare line that could precisely target exactly what you need? Enter Skinsei, a new personalized skincare monthly subscription service from beauty behemoth Unilever. Valentina Ciobanu, Skinsei Founder & Global Brand Vice President of New Skincare Brands at Unilever, tells us all about it.
How was the idea for Skinsei born? It all started roughly two years ago. Paradoxically, the idea was actually born because I thought skincare alone, in itself, was not as important as we were led to believe. For example, when I cut sugar, stick to my exercise habits, and stay out of the sun, I feel well, and my skin shows it. But the moment I give in to apple pie, a long night out, or jetlag – my face, my posture, my energy levels… they all tell a different story. As the largest organ in our bodies, skin does not exist in isolation.
I noticed the same thing with my best friend throughout the years every time I spoke about beauty products with her. We’re both the same age and have combination skin, but I live in rainy London and she’s in hot Singapore. We both agree that a bit of exercise keeps us sane, but I’m addicted to coffee, eat a lot of fruits, and travel a lot; she loves cheese, doesn’t sleep enough, and wears more makeup than I do. So, saying that we both have combination skin is useful but insufficient. If we live in different cities and have different lifestyles, then why is skincare ignoring how we eat, sleep and live?
Too often I’d try beauty products she’d recommend, or bestsellers with great reviews, but they wouldn’t work for me. Skinsei was born because I felt the skincare industry took a too-narrow approach, with products tailored to our age and skin type, but ignoring our individual wellness, lifestyle, and environment. I wanted to connect our skincare to our wellbeing and create a brand that recognizes that there’s no skin like mine… and no skin like yours.
How is Skinsei a gamechanger in the skincare world? Skinsei is a gamechanger in the skincare world for of three reasons. These were obsessions I had while building the brand, and while individually significant, I think they’re even more powerful together:
- We have personalization embedded in every way: Not only is Skinsei truly a holistic brand that takes into account how you eat, sleep, and live, but it’s a highly personalized brand as well. We have a staggering amount of regimen combinations available to match your exact skin needs and preferences, which has come as a result of our R&D expert who has lead the product innovation charge since day one, going through thousands for formulations and ingredients. He ensures that we select and create exactly what’s needed not just for various skin types, concerns and ages; but also how to respond to how nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the environment influence skin health. Beyond formulation, we use technology to assess every single product we have against every single answer in your diagnostic, score it, and understand exactly why it matches your needs or not. So, the claims for your products are also personalized to you, and we rank the products you see in order of their fit to your skin.
- All Skinsei products not only deliver with some serious actives – they are also microbiome-friendly. I’ve been fascinated by the emerging science around gut health, and I’m convinced that over time, microbiome will be increasingly seen as a factor when designing skincare as well. Skinsei serums, moisturizers and cleansers are all vegan, microbiome-friendly, and contain prebiotics and plant extracts.
- We are an accessible offering, for real people, by real people. It would have been easier to charge hundreds of dollars for products to have a bit more freedom to formulate or invest in design, but we strongly believe that everyone should be able to have access to good skincare that matches their skin and their lives. We also strongly believe in representing our community – on our website and in our ads, there are no celebrities or models. The people you see are either street-casted, or creators that we work with. You will see different personal styles, various ethnicities and ages and genders; and everyone in their own clothing, jewelry, and hair styles. No digital distortion, no retouching of anyone’s skin – having real people with their real skin is a big part of who we are as a brand.
How did you develop the diagnostic quiz and choose which questions to include? Our diagnostic was developed based on a deep understanding of what impacts skin. Our R&D lead has gone through thousands of clinical studies and tapped into 40 or so internal and external experts in skincare to craft our diagnostic quiz and the algorithm behind it. We know that things like climate, UV exposure, air quality, exercise, stress, and what you eat can greatly affect your skin. For example, your skin can lose anywhere between 8 to 12% of its moisture when the temperature increases even about 2 degrees; or that fish, fruit and veggies help people with acne prone skin see less flare-ups whereas dairy can actually trigger them. Each question is designed to elicit a specific piece of information that helps the algorithm identify which products your skin needs.
In addition to the questions, we offer an advanced diagnostic service using facial recognition technology, able to measure 10 parameters which our unique algorithm then combines with your online questionnaire answers to identify your skin’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve realized through a trial done earlier that around 48% of people mis-identify their own skin – as simple as dry, oily, combination – so the visual skin analysis provides an objective view of your skin. Combined with the diagnostic answers, our algorithm provides a highly personalized skincare regimen.
Why was it important to include tips and expert advice alongside the products? Skinsei is all about holistic skincare – we recognize that improving different aspects of your lifestyle will have a positive impact not only on general wellbeing, but also on skin. Including tips and expert advice alongside the products will hopefully help you better understand your skin, what it needs, how to care for it, and of course have healthy, glowing skin.