For most people, getting a facial means an opportunity to relax and mentally control. But for Liz Whitman, the former president and CMO of Elizabeth Arden-owned spa brand The Red Door, it sparked a business idea.
When he started with The Red Door in 2015 and began testing its services, his facialist “talked a lot about why The Red Door mixed [the ingredients for its] fresh masks, serums and treatments of the moment before applying them to guests. ” The reason: “Skin-friendly ingredients, primarily antioxidants and acids, are super brittle and break down quickly when exposed to air, light and water,” Whitman said. “I was thinking, ‘OK, if that’s true, then how effective can these premixed retail products be?'”
Fast forward to Thursday, when Whitman Exponent’s skincare brand officially launched via DTC. Calling it a “self-activated skin care” brand, Whitman spent two years developing a new system: powder-based ingredients are blended with a liquid serum just before use to preserve the potency of the ingredients better than a typical brand on the market. T.The powders have a recommended expiration date of three years and the opaque packaging protects the powders from light and air.
“We think of Exponent as a whole new category within clinical skin care,” said Whitman.
The brand starts with four products in a dry powder format: Vitamin C, CoQ10, Green Tea Resveratrol, and Probiotic Enzyme.
“We were trying to address ingredients where degradation is a problem,” Whitman said.
When ready to use, the powder product is mixed with a separate moisturizer with hyaluronic acid via interlocking lids connected and twisted together. Whitman emphasized the brand’s “precision dosing” to avoid overdoing the percentage of the active ingredient. Doses are measured by the lid, which releases an exact measurement of the powder when twisted. Concentration percentages are listed on the brand’s website. The vitamin C dosage is 10% L-ascorbic acid, which Whitman says is the “optimal concentration” for irritation-free results.
While skin care may be about managing skin aging, more beauty experts are focusing on product aging issues. The power of skincare has been a growing topic of discussion due to the short shelf life of products with the popular ingredients of vitamin C and retinol, for example.
As part of the research and development process for the brand, Whitman sent in 20 best-selling skin care products to an independent laboratory for analysis. According to her, the results showed that 60% of the products “didn’t even have an initial concentration that would benefit your skin,” she said. Plus, she said, all of the products lost 40% of their concentration in eight weeks.
The exponent the starter kit, which comes with a dispenser, powder, hyaluronic acid, and jar, costs $ 168. The powder refills, which are 45 doses each, cost $ 88. The Hyaluronic Acid Hydrator Refill, which contains 90 doses. , costs $ 88.
Exponent is the latest brand launched with an emphasis on potency. Skin care brands such as Beautystat e Matter of fact stressed the stability of their vitamin C products, while the Opulus skin care device was presented in 2020 with single-dose creams.
When it comes to product potency issues in the beauty industry, “There’s an awareness there, and I was aware of it,” Whitman said. The “order of magnitude” of the lack of power of the product that was found in his study “was, frankly, what shocked me the most.”
To get consumers used to the new system, Exponent product boxes are equipped with a QR code that can be scanned for a video tutorial on how to dispense the mixed product.
The system was designed to be quick and easy to use, Whitman said, based on the idea that “no one is going to mortar a bunch of things in their bathroom.”
Investors have taken note of the performance of the power. Exponent has an undisclosed amount of initial funding from seven funds, including Founders Fund (Ritual, 8Sleep), Unilever Ventures (Kopari Beauty, Saie), SugarCap (Starface, Snif) and Bullish (Harry’s, Care / of), in addition to 15 angel investors. These include Sara and Erin Foster, who serve as Exponent’s advisors and investors and have worked with Bumble and Summersalt in the past.
Exponent has achieved B Corp status. Its powder refill package is made of recyclable glass and aluminum, while the reusable base and spiral caps are made of plastic.
For its marketing, Exponent emphasizes what it is “full” of versus the clean beauty’s typical focus on “free of,” Whitman said, adding that consumers are becoming more interested than ever in the benefits of active ingredients. He said he is “extremely supportive“of the concept of clean beauty, but added that keeping out harmful ingredients should be” at stake “and” we should just assume that all products are clean. ”
Clean is “only half of the equation,” he added. “‘Free from’ is important, but also: ‘What’s in our products that offer real benefits?'”
This year, Whitman plans to launch two additional products. And for retail, the brand is focusing on DTC, for now. While Whitman is interested in partnering with a “small specialty retailer” this year, wholesaling is “not the main focus for us,” she said.