Meet The Skincare Brand Catering To The Rising Skintellectual Class With Serious Science
The Sephora Accelerate program has helped many female founders refine their businesses. For cosmetic scientist Shuting Hu, founder and CEO of skincare brand Acaderma, the boot-camp experience totally changed her go-to market strategy.
The brand goes beyond basic natural ingredients with no scientific backing for skincare purposes to a multistep process involving sustainable sourcing of plants, procedures to isolate the most active components of plant extracts and continually study the mechanisms of those active components, and artificial skin models for clinical trials. Hu teamed up with James Simon, a plant biology professor at Rutgers University, to shape and implement Acaderma’s meticulous and eco-friendly sourcing system, and works with non-governmental organizations in Africa to explore ingredients for beauty and health functions.
Needless to say, the details of Acaderma’s behind-the-scenes operations can go over the heads of laypeople. During a Sephora Accelerate presentation last year, Hu shares, “I witnessed firsthand the confusion from all the panel members trying to understand all the complex scientific terminology I was using. It was in that moment I realized that my biggest challenge was trying to find a way to clearly communicate long-form scientific data into concise information that is easily understood.”
With the presentation in mind, Hu pivoted Acaderma’s messaging to explain its scientific rigor in a straightforward manner. It’s touting its positioning under the tagline, “Next Generation Naturals,” and has come up with content to support the positioning. For example, Hu created a 52-second video to show the Senegalese environment the shrub kinkeliba, which the locals turn into medicinal tea, grows in and a glance at its journey into skincare via Acaderma’s lab.
The brand gets its patented ingredient Seh-Haw EX from kinkeliba. Seh-Haw is the name for kinkeliba in the Wolof language spoken in Senegal. Acaderma invested more than $500,000 in research and development to harness the ingredient that’s intended to repair the skin’s outermost barrier, and offer soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Although she’s simplified Acaderma’s message, Hu isn’t out to make her brand too rudimentary. She emphasizes its customers craves information about the science behind skincare and calls them “skintellectuals” that covet healthy, natural skincare products. Hu elaborates, “Skintellectuals not only want clean beauty products, but they want transparency from brands and effective products, and we’re committed to providing that.”
“The skincare industry is oversaturated with brands and misleading language that can easily confuse consumers. By recognizing that the study of skin is a science and learning the intricacies of how skin functions, we’re trying to better educate consumers when selecting the right products for their skin.”
Acaderma is currently sold through its website and dermatologists’ clinics. Hu doesn’t rule out expanding the brand’s reach to retailers. She’s hoping Acaderma’s distribution venues will be platforms for cutting through the clutter in the beauty market.
“The skincare industry is oversaturated with brands and misleading language that can easily confuse consumers,” says Hu. “By recognizing that the study of skin is a science and learning the intricacies of how skin functions, we’re trying to better educate consumers when selecting the right products for their skin.”
Hu wants to combat the notion that skincare products deliver quick fixes, a fallacy that often causes consumers to constantly shift their regimens in search of immediate results. While Acaderma’s The Oasis Barrier Booster is formulated to supply hydration in three days, according to the clinical studies, results from other products in its line take a few weeks to materialize.
On top of The Oasis Barrier Booster, an infusion serum to replenish skin and strengthen the skin’s barrier, Acaderma’s product lineup contains Star Light Spot Corrector, a serum targeting dark spots, roughness and post-acne marks; Chrono Wrap Restoring Essence, a serum to revive skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines; Lunar Glow Illuminate Serum, a cherry-tomato extract for rejuvenating, firming and restoring skin’s radiance; and Invisible Shield Defense Serum for protecting against free radicals and environmental stressors such as UV radiation and pollution. Prices range from $68 for The Oasis to $120 for Lunar Glow.
“Skincare requires patience and a steady routine of usage before true results can be seen,” says Hu. If she’s successful at encouraging patience and consistency, Acaderma will be able to build loyalty, a tricky endeavor in skincare where in-the-know consumers tend to jump from one hot ingredient to the next in search of the perfect complexion.