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Fig.1: Building a Value-Based Skincare Brand Backed by Science

July 26, 2022
July 26, 2022
Fig.1

It’s been said that the best skincare is the skincare you actually use. It’s not the skincare with the most Instagram followers. It’s certainly not the sleekest packaging that wins the day or chicest Hollywood dermatologist’s nod of approval. It’s the skincare that the everyday customer feels comfortable using enough to witness the product’s benefits. While Fig.1’s promise of the best formulation at a cost that fits consumers’ budgets feels overplayed, there’s something in the venture-backed, refillable products that’s worth evaluating. A third of consumers who are coming back for repurchases within three months would agree.

If Fig.1’s promises feel blasé in the current skincare landscape, that’s because brands’ intentions don’t always match their deliverables. It takes a true beauty lover, and in some cases, a real scientist, to tell the difference. That’s where Skincare Anarchy, a podcast hosted by Ekta Yadav, BS, BA, MS, MBA, MD, featuring candid conversations with founders and members in the skincare community comes in. Titled “Skincare Products for the Science Savvy and Intelligent Consumer,” her episode featuring Fig.1’s co-founder & Executive Chairman, Kimmy Scotti, offers an uncharacteristic sign of approval. Their conversation ranges from the brand’s commitment to testing on skin, not just in a petri dish, to offering information to the already informed consumer, and keeping their refillable packaging user friendly.

It’s not as simple as the highest-quality ingredients with great packaging and killer science. In the modern skincare landscape, it’s just as important to consider what a brand won’t put in their product. Here’s what you won’t find in Fig.1: trace amounts of ingredients, ingredients there simply for their buzz, harsh chemicals, hard-to-understand directions regarding application, lofty promises without viable science. When it comes to the synergy that is Fig.1, Scotti is the first to point to the rest of her team and their success as a unit.

Consumer fatigue from launching brands behind the faces of celebrities has yet to slow the influx of A-listers slipping on lab coats. Fig.1 was founded with the help of Lizzy Trelstad, co-founder and Head of Chemistry, and Courtney Rubin, MD, MBE, FAAD, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer. The brand’s recent public-facing addition of Ashley Graham was as intentional as building out its founding team.

“When we met Ashley, we weren’t looking for a face of the brand,” explains Kimmy Scotti. “We’re a science brand, not one of those brands that has a celebrity holding a bottle and selling it.” The decision to feature Graham, an investor and user of the brand since before its launch, was more about her communication capabilities. “Ashley is amazing at taking all this complicated information about how ingredients and molecules work together and turning it into why this works on your skin,” says Scotti.

Other celebrity investors, like Phoebe Tonkin, Claire Holt, and Mila Kunis, were all “super-users'' before backing the brand. Broadening Fig.1’s investment base to include more women is a personal mission of Scotti’s, whose work at 8VC has involved powerhouse brands like Hill House Home, Clutter, and Blink Health. Turning to Dr. Rubin’s expertise in the formulation of products, Fig.1 took on a human face in the crowded landscape of skincare, one that begins with the intimacy of a personal skincare routine.

“Rather than having to buy a retinol cream and also a hydrating serum and also a peptide serum, you can get all of this in just one of our products.”
By Courtney Rubin, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Fig.1

“The beautiful thing about being a practicing dermatologist is that I get to hear from hundreds of real people every month about their skincare concerns and questions, products they like, products they are missing, products that they wish were made, and products/ingredients they find confusing,” shares Dr. Rubin. The inspiration for Fig.1’s next products comes straight from what might be the most direct focus group of all time. “Our ceramide moisturizer inspiration was all of my patients who were looking for a deeply hydrating but lightweight lotion that they could layer with serums and sunscreen and makeup and wouldn’t cause pilling. Our niacinamide treatment was developed with my sensitive-skinned rosacea patients in mind,” she explains.

Distribution has been a strategic play for Fig.1. While the brand’s only been in the market for one year, they report nearly 2x YoY (sales) growth from last month vs. our launch month (June 2021). Deciding how to direct this purchasing power is no simple feat. Expanding distribution, online and office, with sites like walmart.com, heydayskincare.com, onequince.com, a large subscription box retailer, and a number of dermatology practices and medispas, has proven effective. The choice to lead with Walmart was an intentional one. “We love our partnership with Walmart because it allows us to meet our customers where they are,” the Fig.1 team shares. “Walmart has an expansive brick-and-mortar footprint (90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a WMT store) and free 2-day shipping for online orders.” The brand’s commitment to “democratizing access to healthy skin,” as only 4% of Americans have access to a dermatologist, comes alive in this partnership.

Made for skincare obsessives looking to pare back or newcomers with jargon fatigue, the line meets customers where they are. Fig.1’s new retinol system gradually progresses users through concentrations, avoiding the irritated skin or a Reddit rabbithole. “Rather than having to buy a retinol cream and also a hydrating serum and also a peptide serum,” shares Dr. Rubin, “you can get all of this in just one of our products.” Building a brand this way means fewer products, greater consumer trust, and lower prices. This is also accomplished through the site’s free skincare consultation. A short quiz that takes into account your current routine feeds back tailored suggestions, beyond selling Fig.1 products. A quarter of those who complete the consultation online end up purchasing from the brand, anyway. According to the Fig.1 team, it’s about more than the sale. “We love to sit alongside other brands, integrated together within a single routine - we call it “playing nice in the medicine cabinet.” By seamlessly integrating the products users already have, Fig.1 sees a more effective and sustainable future.

“We formulate all of our skincare this way, and our intentionality with product development means that consumers save money, need to buy fewer products to see great results and will use really elegant, custom formulas,” she finishes. With six new products on their way before EOY, there’s lots to look forward to.  It’s no wonder Fig.1’s positioned to become the next best skincare brand; the skincare brand people actually use.

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