Toxicologist Christina Ross’s New Brand Troos Sticks To Rigorous Testing And Stays Away From Marketing Hype
Toxicologist Christina Ross is bringing scientific rigor to a clean beauty segment where unsubstantiated claims are common.
Her new brand Troos Skincare + Apothecary is grounded in extensive testing, ingredient purity and formula potency. Its first product is Fine Botanical Facial Oil, a $46 blend of grapeseed, jojoba, olive, rosehip and sweet almond oils, and French lavender essential oil intended for everyday moisturization.
“Just because something is plant-based, natural and sustainably-sourced, it doesn’t mean the percentages of each ingredient is optimized for therapeutic use,” says Ross. “Looking at other brands, I was really surprised at the lack of understanding of therapeutic grade, what penetrates the layers of the skin and what doesn’t, and how that will affect underlying sensitivity or skin issues.”
She elaborates therapeutic-grade formulas avoid counteracting ingredients and contaminants that could potentially degrade them, and incorporate compounds in the proper amounts to deliver results. Troos carefully studies the oils and essential oils, which don’t have to abide by a specific concentration standard in the beauty marketplace, it employs to make certain they’re untainted, and depends on Ross’s background to include ingredients at the right quantities.
“We love companies like Sweetgreen that are telling you where all of their different ingredients are sourced. Our rigorous testing will be published to reveal, for example, that phthalates were found at a non-detectable level. We want to encourage consumers to pay attention and hold brands accountable.”
“We use lavender essential oil at the correct percentage, and that’s lower than you might think because it’s so potent and penetrates the skin so deeply,” she says. Discussing rosehip, she continues, “It’s a really large molecule and doesn’t penetrate the skin deeply. It sits at the top level, which is wonderful for hydration, but, if it’s in the first couple of ingredients on a label, it will not let skin breathe and clog the pores. We have rosehip in our product at very low levels, so you aren’t getting clogged pores, but you’re getting hydration.”
To fill consumers in on its thorough ingredient evaluations, Ross is planning to upload toxicology data online and disclose suppliers. “We love companies like Sweetgreen that are telling you where all of their different ingredients are sourced,” she says. “Our rigorous testing will be published to reveal, for example, that phthalates were found at a non-detectable level. We want to encourage consumers to pay attention and hold brands accountable.”
Ross didn’t take a straightforward course to the skincare segment. After originally considering becoming a doctor, she obtained a master’s degree in public health from The Ohio State University. “While I was in graduate school, I found toxicology, which I didn’t know existed as a career. I fell in love with it,” says Ross. “Toxicology specifically relates to how chemicals affect the human body. I focused on consumer product toxicology.”
“Consumers are becoming advocates. We’re proud of what’s happening, and we want to spread our message to them. We want to empower consumers through education and peel back the layers of misinformation that there is right now in the cosmetics industry.”
Ross went from graduate school into consulting and providing scientific support for companies. “We helped clients with chemical and regulatory guidance. It really gave me an insight into the small amount of regulation around cosmetic ingredients,” she says. By tapping into her toxicology and chemical regulation expertise, she continues, “I wanted to create something that could truly be called clean.”
As she sets out to build Troos, Ross acknowledges her marketing prowess doesn’t match her scientific know-how. She’s relying heavily on her motivation for the brand to market it. “Above all, we want to meet the luxury skincare expectation of something that’s effective, but that’s also sustainable because consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability,” says Ross. “Consumers are becoming advocates. We’re proud of what’s happening, and we want to spread our message to them. We want to empower consumers through education and peel back the layers of misinformation that there is right now in the cosmetics industry.”
Early on, Troos’ distribution targets are small retailers. The brand is constrained by the shelf life of its merchandise. The Fine Botanical Facial Oil doesn’t have a preservative and an unopened bottle of it will last for about a year. Troos doesn’t purchase boatloads of raw ingredients and keep them sitting around for long periods. Sales demand dictates raw ingredient purchasing, and the brand manufactures products in small batches on a weekly basis to ensure they’re fresh.
“It’s something that’s truly a plant botanical. Like food goes bad, so will this,” says Ross, adding, “We don’t ever envision ourselves in a large international retailer because we want to maintain control over how our product is distributed, stored and sold.”