I find it hard to stay in the loop these days. When it comes to new consumer products—especially in beauty, it seems like there is a new brand coming out daily. As a natural skeptic, I can be leery of “new” things. But, I rounded up seven innovative skincare brands that deliver clinical results that are definitely worth exploring.
Due to recent buzz, particularly in the K-Beauty space, snail slime as a hero ingredient may have popped up on your radar. But like so many trends, they are rooted in something much older. In fact, Hippocrates used to prescribe the mucus to clear up skin inflammation while small, rural communities used it to hydrate skin and to alleviate acnes and calluses.
In the spirit of its traditional use in skincare, Eskafil was created in fall 2020. Founded by Jeffrey Lee and Marius Ronnov, Eskafil is a dermatologist-crafted beauty line of highly effective skincare products packed with ingredients found in nature. “We are brand that revolves around the power of natural ingredients, in our case snail slime,” Ronnov tells me. “We believe ourselves to be gatekeepers of nature’s secrets and stewards of self-care. To us, skincare is self-care and we work to inspire our customers to commit to themselves everyday, with something as simple as a skincare routine.”
Ancient Greeks coined snail mucin as the “fountain of youth” due to its ability to stimulate new cell repair and increase collagen production, the protein responsible for young healthy skin. What makes snail mucin so effective is one of its active ingredients, allatonin. “It is this substance that repairs the snail’s shell when it accidentally becomes chipped or split. So just imagine what it can do for your skin, especially if you suffer from scarring caused by acne or from eczema,” states Lee. “The extract’s healing properties are also known to heal cuts, soften scar tissue, fight infections, repair sun damage, regenerate skin cells and make skin look younger, tighter and brighter. Recognizing its hydrating properties and skin healing abilities, we wanted to introduce this ‘miracle’ ingredient to users in the Western world.”
Eskafil’s three-step skincare range is easy to use, packaged beautifully, and effective. After a few weeks of use, my skin definitely looks brighter. I would imagine this is due to the high levels of snail mucin concentrate in the products, which is 98%. I haven’t used eye creams in years since many of them felt heavy and often congested my eye area. But I love the way this light formula instantly cools and hydrates my eye area. It feels like you have nothing on your skin. “We pride ourselves on using dermatologist-approved formulas that take supporting ingredients such as macadamia oil, shea butter and golden seaweed to enhance the healing nature of snail slime,” explains Ronnov. “This combination of ingredients across our products drives hydration, acne scar repair, reduction of fine lines and protection against signs of aging.”
If you are wondering if any snails got injured in the whole process, the pair tells me that what makes their brand stand apart from the other snail slime products is there ethical sourcing. “We obtain the snail slime through a system that places snails in an environment that makes them extremely pleasured and happy, Lee tells me. “This environment is a room that’s at the exact temperature and darkness for ultimate snail happiness. The snails then excrete their slime over a mesh covering then the slime is removed and placed into Eskafil’s skincare products.”
Launched this past spring by Amir Nobakht MD, MBA, and Ben Van Handel, PhD, two of the top leading researchers on the topic of ‘inflammaging’, Heraux offers a paradigm shift in skincare.
“Inflammaging is the aging process that is attributable to chronic, low-grade inflammation in our bodies,” explains Van Handel, PhD, who is a stem cell biologist at the University of Southern California. “Inflammaging is actually caused by things like oxidative stress and environmental damage. These stressors cause our body to release inflammatory molecules, which harm the cellular environment and result in the visible signs of aging. Inflammaging specifically is what happens when this inflammatory process stays active on our body over a long period of time due to stressors like the environment, sun, and even our diets.”
It is important to reduce chronic inflammation because once you have it Van Handel, PhD tells me your body just creates more inflammation. “That’s how our cells work; by releasing some inflammatory molecules into our systems other cells respond by releasing more as well and the cycle, if left unchecked, continues. When we treat the inflammatory component of these conditions, we stop that cycle and allow the cellular environment to improve so our cells, including stem cells, can regenerate and function at an optimal level, continues Van Handel, PhD.
“Heraux is the world’s first anti-inflammaging skin care product. It is the only skin care product to address inflammaging,” Nobakht MD, MBA tells me. “We are a science forward skincare brand that uses proprietary molecular technologies to improve our skin by combating the negative effects of inflammaging which is the aging caused by everyday chronic inflammation. Unlike most skin care products that only treat the symptoms of medical issues like acne, rosacea and the visible signs of aging, Heraux Molecular Anti-inflammaging Serum gets to the root of the problem by modulating the inflammatory pathway in the skin.”
The serum is the brand’s first product release and is based on HX-1, a proprietary biomimetic lipid the pair discovered while researching arthritis for over a decade. Van Handel, PhD explains to me that the lipid is a major breakthrough in the fight against chronic inflammation and skin aging. “This revolutionary one-of-a-kind molecule shields stem cells from the effects of stress and promotes their overall youthful function by modulating the protein that regulates regeneration versus inflammation.” The lightweight formula also has hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamins C + E, and red maple bark extract included to make it a well rounded face serum.
“The formulation itself is patented,” continues Van Handel, PhD. “The main benefits include a reduction in wrinkles and fine lines, improved skin texture, increased brightness, reduction in hyperpigmentation and increased skin elasticity, all of which have been verified by an independent clinical trial. Results are seen in as little as 1 week with continued improvement with extended use.” When I ask if there will be any other products to follow Nobakht MD, MBA responds, “We are looking to launch a spot treatment version for acne and hyperpigmentation as well as a sunscreen very soon.” I really like the way my skin feels and looks from using this product for the last few weeks. My vascular rosacea has definitely calmed down. A sunscreen would be a welcome new addition.
Pour Moi Skincare
Skincare brand Pour Moi was created based on the premise that regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender that our skin’s appearance is affected our exposure to daily, local weather. Founded by Ulli Haslacher, the company officially launched in 2020 (after a soft launch in 2017), shortly after receiving its first patent, with a second one issued a few months later, and with several more on the way.
“Climate-Smart® Pour Moi is the world’s first climate-based skincare brand, changing everything you think you know about skincare,” Haslacher tells me. “Our brand offer products that are specifically formulated for six global and seasonal climates considering how each climate’s distinctive range of humidity, temperature, air pressure and light profoundly impacts the look and feel of skin. They are not created in the traditional way to only manage visible symptoms of aging skin. But rather scientifically designed to counteract the major cause of an aging complexion—the climate that you are in!”
Not only did Haslacher change the approach to skincare based on climate research, she even changed the way her products were tested. “During R&D our formulas were not just tested in a controlled lab environment but tested on actual people in climate chambers, mimicking different climatic conditions and sudden changes to these conditions,” explains Haslacher.
While each formula is based on one of six climate types, Haslacher tells me that there is one consistent principle across the entire ranges, the brand’s Geo-hydraDynamic Complex. “It’s the vital operating system of Climate-Smart skincare. It is the only complex in the world that intuitively aligns the upper layers of the skin with the various local atmospheric humidity conditions to achieve optimal hydration in each distinctive climate. Due to the adaptive nature of our complex, it has the unique ability to self-adjust to meet skin’s ever-changing hydration needs within the millions of nuances of specific climate.”
“Customized for each specific climate, our patented complex is comprised of ingredients with skin-identical properties including multi-size molecular hydra-actives and a French fungi, high in amino acids and valuable sugars,” continues Haslacher. “Together, they act as a biomimetic supramolecular network to uniquely boost the hydrating potential of the climate-specific creams and increase the efficiency of the entrapped actives. These include climate-specific antioxidants (for example the Red Snow Algae for Mountain climate and the ocean micro-algae Thermus Thermophilus Ferment for Marine climate) as well as encapsulated vitamins including A, C and E and anti-wrinkle peptides for an optimal release within the skin and a long lasting effect in each climate.”
Haslacher tells me that the reason she has received both global and domestic patents is her three-step system of quenching, drenching, and geo-moisturizing. “Step 1 is our Hydrating Balancer. It is an anti-aging liquefier that instantly hydrates, softens and preps skin for the next steps. Step 2 is our quenching serum that intelligently supports skin’s natural defense system against geo-climatic stressors in specific locations such as the mountains, beaches, plains and deserts. Step 3 is the geo-moisturizing game changer. Select the Day Cream that matches your daily weather to adapt, repair and protect skin in the climate you are in. This allows the customer to customize the system for their exact location. Think of it as anti-aging skincare for your zip code!”
When I ask Haslacher if there is any sunscreen in her products, she tells me, “We are working on an innovative sunscreen line which will launch in 2022. But, Our formulas account for how light impacts skin differently in different location and seasons. While the formulas do not include SPF, they include climate-specific antioxidant strategies.” I really like the concept of the brand. I just started using it, so I am excited to see what kind of changes my skin sees.
If you were under the impression that exfoliation means stripping your skin of moisture, Reflekt is on a mission to change that with their 3-step hyaluronic acid-based products. Launched in 2017 and founded by Nancy Schnoll, Reflekt is a luxury K-Beauty for any skin type that’s brand rooted in pharmaceutical and medical principles and centered around simplifying your skincare routine while delivering clinical results.
“Reflekt is a skincare company that believes gentle daily exfoliation is the key to healthy balanced skin. We realize daily exfoliation is a novel concept, but it is the cornerstone of our brand,” states Schnoll. The brand’s hero product, Reflekt 1 is an exfoliating cleaner designed for all skin types and is gentle enough to use morning and night. “Reflekt 1 was intentionally launched by itself to educate people about the benefits of a skincare regimen that consists of deliberate light exfoliation coupled with the infusion of hydrating actives.”
This May, the brand will launch Reflekt 2 Brightening & Hydrating Serum, a silky serum that seals in moisture, brightens and gently exfoliates the skin, and Reflekt 3 Renewing & Hydrating Face Cream that gently exfoliates while moisturizing the skin to promote cell renewal and a firmer and even skin tone.
The entire Reflekt range is vegan, clean, and non-toxic and both exfoliates and hydrates the skin while not disturbing the skin barrier. Each product has unique characteristics. “The exfoliating component in Reflekt 1 is the biodegradable jojoba esters that melt from the warmth of the water and your body as you cleanse,” explains Schnoll. “For Reflekt 2 and 3 the exfoliator is our unique fruit enzyme blend consisting of 9 different fruits (like pomegranate, passion fruit, and pineapple) and varies in percentage depending on the product. The hydrating aspect varies, but whether hyaluronic acid, aquaxyl, or squalene, each product packs a one-two punch of exfoliation and hydration.”
I love the Reflekt collection. After using the 3-step system my skin looks dewy, brighter, smoother, and it feels hydrated. I also enjoy the light fragrance.
Saro de Rúe
By now, most of us have heard about the benefits of hyaluronic acid for the skin. But Saro de Rúe takes the experience to a whole new level. Founded by Mimi Kim, the brand launched last fall with their first product, the freeze-dried hyaluronic acid experience.
“Saro de Rúe is a K-Beauty ‘luxury’ brand rooted from the medical and pharmaceutical field for the professional results at the comfort of our own home and it is designed for any age, gender, any skin types, and skin conditions,” Kim tells me. “I have been sourcing ingredients and inventing beauty products for nearly three decades, and I have seen some very impressive technologies, products and unique ingredients that are not available to consumers. My goal over the years has been to make these discoveries available to the masses. When I partnered with a Korean Pharmaceutical R&D team and found something this ground-breaking, I knew we had something very unique.”
Not all hyaluronic acids are made equal. “Our hyaluronic acid is 99.9% pure. No water, preservatives, fillers, additives, or chemicals. Each tablet is made up of 98.5% highly concentrated hyaluronic acid with a small amount of two additional ingredients for moisturizing: Squalene and Vitamin E. Clean beauty at its core,” states Kim when I ask her what makes her formula unique.
“Other hyaluronic acid serums on the market contain primarily water as the number one top ingredient, which means the hyaluronic acid is not in its purest form. Our product has the patent on the method of preparing low molecular weight range that is small enough to permeate, but large enough to attract and retain the most abundant water, continues Kim. “In fact, 1000 times its weight in water and the ability to release it for an immediate plumping and hydrating effect on skin with long-lasting results. No other brand has the capability to create HA in this molecular weight, which requires it to be in its purest form.”
The ingredients are then freeze-dried and preserved until they are activated by the Saro de Rúe Pure Activator, which includes adenosine for wrinkle reduction, Niacinamide for skin brightening, and Allantoin and Hyaluronic Acid for hydration. “Once activated and applied, it adds instant hydration that lasts up to 72 hours on skin with just one application. No competitive products can make this claim or be used once every other day or every three days,” states Kim. “Additionally, there are three botanicals included in the activator that synergistically work with the main active ingredients to achieve superior anti-aging benefits including purslane, pomegranate, and White Mulberry. Users can expect instant and accumulative results including plumper skin, a brighter, tighter complexion, and improved tone and texture.”
I have seen a huge difference in my skin with the addition of this product. I also like the alchemic process of activating the hyaluronic acid. I definitely feel like I am getting a lab-grade product when compared to other hyaluronic acid serums that I have used. It also works great with Reflekt skincare range. As for any follow up products, Kim tells me that the brand will be launching some new products soon.
The Nue Co
Discussion about the gut microbiome and overall health have become mainstream and correlations between immunity and the gut have been supported clinically. But, the body’s skin is its largest first line of defense when it comes to immunity so it makes sense to treat it similarly. Enter The Nue Co, a wellness brand launched in 2017 by founder and CEO, Jules Miller that approaches health holistically, as an entire ecosystem.
“For too long health issues have been viewed as siloed issues. For example, ‘breakouts are an issue with your skin, so the solution should be focused only on your skin’. But actually, your skin is usually the mirror to our gut. Stress plays out on your skin and sleep affects your skin. To get to the root of an issue and drive real results, you have to view health as an ecosystem,” states Miller. “We definitely take that approach with our skincare – which we view as topical supplements. Whilst many brands focus on what we call, ‘cosmetic ingredients’, the kind which deliver on the instant glow and lovely scent but are proven to increase inflammation and erode the skin-barrier over time, every ingredient in our formulas delivers benefits to your skin health-long term.”
The Nue Co’s skincare formulations are grounded in clinical science and as such provides users with clinical results. “They are a blend of natural ingredients, with the best of clinical research, which enables them to drive real, fast results, without compromising the health of your skin or the environment long-term,” Miller tells me. “There seems to be so much misinformation about skin health, with one of the biggest myths being that elaborate skincare regimes are the secret to healthy skin. Restoring the health of your skin and removing the complication of multiple products from your routine was part of a bigger shift we were noticing towards ending a culture of overconsumption, what some are calling ‘skip-care’ or ‘skin fasting’. The impact of our beauty addiction has been profound, not only on our skin, but on our planet.”
This cycle of pollution, Miller tells me, is also a contributing factor to our skin’s barrier health. “Our skin barrier, or the outermost layer of the skin, is responsible for defending against pollution, UV light, infection, and locking in hydration. The erosion of the skin barrier is identified as the number one cause of skin issues by dermatologists, causing premature ageing, breakouts, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity and dryness,” explains Miller. “ And just like the gut, our skin is home to an ecosystem of microorganisms that help to keep the skin balanced. “Our topical microbiome is just as important as our internal microbiome. In fact, it’s estimated that 21% of our microbiome lives on our skin whereas 26% lives in our gut. Like any ecosystem, it can be disrupted by outside forces and pollutants.”
To support the skin’s barrier health and the skin’s microbiome, the brand is launching two new skincare products, BARRIER CULTURE Cleanser and BARRIER CULTURE Moisturizer on March 22nd on their website. Using patented, first to market technology, BARRIER CULTURE contains prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics to rebuild the skin’s microbiome. “BARRIER CULTURE is the most comprehensive delivery of skin-barrier building ingredients in a two-step routine. In addition to its microbiome technology, BARRIER CULTURE uses anti-pollution ingredients to protect from external aggressors and boost the skin’s natural immune system; and hydrating actives to replenish and lock in moisture,” states Miller.
“The cleanser is designed to replace your double-cleanse, by removing dirt, pollution, and makeup without stripping or disrupting the skin’s PH. Almost immediately, we have found people have noticed a difference to the feel of their skin with a focus on deep-cleaning, rather than stripping. The application of pre, pro and postbiotics works to replenish the topical microbiome, whilst actively calming and conditioning the skin,” Miller tells me.
The new moisturizer leaves skin instantly plumped and hydrated. “The formula rebuilds and restores your skin barrier, containing ceramides and probiotics that rebuild and restore the skin’s natural defenses. Niacinamide activates the skin’s immune system, helping to repair dark marks, scarring and support natural healing and regeneration, whilst squalane protects against pollution and everyday stressors on the skin barrier. BARRIER CULTURE’s microbiome technology also delivers an instant soothing effect to the skin, calming irritation and redness.”
I just started using the products so I won’t see all of the results for at least a month. But, I am already hopeful. I do love the way my skin feels squeaky clean, yet moisturized when I use the cleanser.
U Beauty launched in 2019 by Tina Craig (aka. The Bag Snob) with the philosophy of less is more. “U Beauty is tech-driven, science-backed, high-performance skincare,” Craig tells me. “Our strategic and singular products replace excess with essence and provide real results, without the risk of irritation. We’re about amplifying your skin with a select, strategic edit of multifunctional products that streamline your routine and simplify your life.”
What makes the brand’s three products, the Resurfacing Compound, The SUPER Hydrator, and the newest product The SCULPT Arm Compound, is the brand’s proprietary technology called SIREN. “Unlike most skincare that release actives all over the skin, SIRENS lures damage-causing free radicals to it like a magnet, explains Craig. “By attracting only the compromised cells, healthy cells are preserved, while the Capsule releases age-reversing actives on free radicals (generated after exposure to pollution, secondhand smoke and sunshine), which materialize as vulnerable, damaged areas, instead of all over your skin’s surface. So your skin gets nothing but benefit.”
While the Resurfacing Compound contains the original SIREN Capsules, The Super and The Sculpt feature dual SIRENS. “The SUPER’s HYDRA-SIREN produces immediate hydration and with five unique types of hyaluronic acid, it continues to hydrate for up to 48 hours. Specifically designed for the arm area, the SCULPT-SIREN contains a targeted blend of marine extracts, probiotics and select ferments. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to the skin, increasing anti-aging ATP levels and boosting hydration,” Craig tells me.
U Beauty’s latest formulation, The SCULPT Arm Compound, is a product of years of dreaming on behalf of Craig. “No matter how often I work out, I was never able to change the fragile texture of the skin on my arms. It’s not about being thin. It’s about a healthy, bouncy skin consistency,” says Craig. “I can honestly say The SCULPT is unlike anything you’ve ever used. Thanks to a genius blend of peptides, marine extract, our signature SIREN Capsule technology and now the new SCULPT-SIREN, it visibly tightens, tones and sculpts the skin on the arms. Overall, skin is less subject to the effects of gravity and more resilient in its ability to address the visible signs of damage.”
I just received The SCULPT so I can’t say for certain what the accumulative results will be just yet. But, I can say that my arm skin feels much tighter immediately after applying the formula—so I am very hopeful. When I ask Craig if she will be creating any other body specific products she tells me, “We’re about taking a 360-degree approach to skincare, which means treating the whole body, not just the face. I will never create a product if there’s not a white space in the industry and a personal need for it first. With that in mind, we have some exciting and revolutionary things coming out in the near future, so look out!”