For decades, the beauty industry construct has consisted of thousands of products all claiming to be the best for you, yet the industry knows nothing about you. The consumer desire for customized or personalized products is not new, but technology is finally making it possible. This has created a global market for next-generation personalized beauty, valued at $38.02 billion in 2019 and expected to reach $72.55 billion in 2028, predicting a promising CAGR of 7.5% during the period 2019-2028.
Not all personalization is created the same. It’s a concept that gets thrown around a lot, standing for everything from my name on a bottle to quiz-based curation of a few pre-made SKUs from inventory. The team of industry veterans behind the new precision skincare brand Revea are making skincare truly inclusive in a way that extends beyond age, race, and gender, drilling all the way down to the diversity of our skin biology.
BeautyMatter sat down with Revea’s Chaz Giles, founder and CEO of San Francisco–based start-up Revea Precision Skincare, to learn more about their ambitious vision.
The founding team of start-ups is crucial to success, and Revea is loaded with talent. How did you all come together and what roles do you each play in building the business?
This is my second start-up, so I knew how hard this is. My goal was to work only with people better and smarter than me … and I’m reminded daily that I checked that box. Our founding team actually spanned three countries, but we were all frustrated with the industry and saw how precision medicine and machine learning could reinvent skincare. That, plus a little help from our networks, ultimately brought us together.
I was connected to Kana [Panchmatia] while she was at Carnegie Mellon University working on her Masters in Product Development focused on Personalized Skincare. She is the driving force behind Revea’s experience and product design as we marry the artistry and science of skincare. Troels [Marstrand] was the Chief Data Scientist at LEO Pharma working on precision medicine in dermatology when we were introduced by a mutual friend and EVP of Precision Health at Mt. Sinai. Troels leads our Technology & Data Science. Lieve [Declercq], who leads our Biology and Formulation, was one of my first calls. She and I worked together at Estée Lauder Companies, where she led Science Research for Europe and Asia.
What was the vision and non-negotiables for the founding team as you set out to build Revea?
We came together to reinvent the industry. Our vision then, and now, was pretty simple—we wanted to flip skincare to start with you and give you the power to master your skin. We all fundamentally believe skincare should be driven by science, rooted in integrity, and truly inclusive. That is the core of Revea. That will never change.
The consumer’s desire for personalization is not new, but technology has made it a reality. That being said, the concepts of customization and personalization have become interchangeable and can mean anything from a basic diagnostic tool to products customized based on DNA, and everything in between.
Where do you see Revea living in this increasingly crowded segment of the skincare sector? How are you differentiated?
This is beyond a discussion of personalization. Consumers want products that work for them. Given the constant trial and error that is skincare today, it’s safe to say the current model isn’t working. Skin is our largest organ. It is alive, dynamic, and, most importantly, diverse. You’re never going to be able to understand and treat such a complex biological organ with a generic product, quiz, or static DNA test.
Revea actually has the technology, data, and biological expertise to deliver what consumers have been waiting for … products that work for them. By measuring over 100MM data points on skin health, we can determine your individual skin needs and optimize your individual treatment for your skin physiology.
Can you unpack the difference between precision vs personalization for us?
As you pointed out earlier, personalization has been thrown around a lot and, unfortunately, stands for everything from my name on a bottle to quiz-based curation of a few pre-made SKUs from inventory.
Precision comes from Precision Medicine, which is a healthcare approach where treatments are tailored to each patient’s individual biology. It is the holy grail in healthcare. We are bringing this approach to skincare—advanced diagnostics connected to individually designed treatments. We measure over 100MM data points on skin and can make over 3,000 unique formulations.
You’ve been quoted saying that one of your inspirations for Revea was that you wanted your daughter to grow up and have skincare that works for her and not to be stereotyped. Often technology perpetuates the systemic bias that exists in society at large. Would you share the role diversity and inclusion play in the brand?
I’m multiethnic. My co-founder Kana is Indian. It’s no secret that skincare hasn’t been built for us. We’re making skincare truly inclusive, and that extends beyond just age, race, gender all the way down to the diversity of our skin biology. Just because we are both southeast Asian females, or African-American males, does not mean our skin needs and how we respond to ingredients are the same. To understand that, you have to move beyond the “label” to the skin physiology.
Our team comes from six countries, speaks 10 languages, and is 50/50 male-female. It is our responsibility to build the technology and models to reflect the true diversity of our world and our skin.
At the brand’s foundation is technology, research, and a learning model. In layman’s terms, can you share how you are flipping the traditional, product-first skincare model on its head?
Skincare today starts with a product. A brand creates a single formulation, makes that one formulation thousands of times, stores them in inventory, and then goes looking for you (the consumer) to convince you it’s perfect for your needs. Thousands of products, all claiming to be the best for you, yet they know nothing about you.
We think that’s backwards. Revea starts with you. We measure your skin, understand your skin needs, and map your individual skin physiology. Then, and only then, we individually make your precision treatment serum. To do that, we had to build the first bioinformatics platform for skincare and reinvent skincare diagnostics, formulation, and supply chain, but the concept is pretty simple. Revea is what skincare should be.
Most personalized concepts are online DTC propositions based on a proprietary “algorithm.” You are launching with a brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco. Why was it important to make an investment in launching with a physical location?
We invested in getting it right for consumers. We knew precision skincare was possible and that it could ultimately be scaled online. But, to deliver precision online, we needed a physical location to connect the super-advanced (and expensive) diagnostics to the technologies that can scale to mobile and at home. We also recognize, in an industry filled with so much smoke and mirrors, it’s important that consumers can see our science, meet our team, and see we walk the talk.
Can you walk us through the Revea experience?
The Revea experience is as much about knowledge and education as it is about precision products. The experience in-store, and as we move online, begins with measuring your skin to understand your individual needs and skin physiology. Using a series of skin diagnostics we measure the seven parameters of skin health: Radiance, Hydration, Surface Texture, Energy Supply, Skin Tone, Skin Milieu, and Dermal Fibers.
While the measurement data is being processed by our bioinformatic engine, consumers experience our moisturizer flight with our four textures to sample the sensorial experience. Within a few minutes, we have analyzed your 100M data points, created your individual skin physiology profile, and modeled more than 3,000 possible ingredient combinations to identify the optimal formulation for your skin. Your bio associate then reviews your skin health report and recommended action plan with you in a personal consult.
Your precision regimen is then made in our lab and shipped to you in about two days.
The concept of customization is not a new one, but the ability to truly execute it at scale has remained a hurdle unless the business is vertically integrated and controls the manufacturing. Can you share how you are executing the precision skincare concept on the backend to ensure you can scale the concept?
You hit it. This is where most “personalized” claims fall down. We both know many of these brands are coming from the same contract manufacturers who are constrained by MOQs and inventories. So, they just end up pulling a pre-made product off the shelf to give to consumers.
At Revea, every precision treatment is individually made to order in our lab. To do that, we reinvented everything from formulation and manufacturing to the regulatory process to be a system of parallel processes with interchangeable “building blocks” and late-stage differentiation. This creates a very large combinatorial space of formulations. We have deep experience here as our Director of Engineering, David Espinoza, designed and scaled the Bare Minerals custom foundation supply chain for Shiseido.
Your first product—the moisturizer—is available in four textures and is priced at $85, which seems very approachable for this level of customization. Can you share the strategy behind the product assortment of precision treatment serums and personalized moisturizer?
When it comes to improving skin, serums and moisturizer are the real drivers, so we focused on these two steps in the regimen. Our goal was to make the most advanced skincare in the world also accessible. Our made-to-measure precision treatment serums are $145 and our moisturizer, available in four textures, is $85. Many of our consumers are sharing that they’re actually spending less and seeing better results with Revea.
Beyond the initial launch, what is your distribution strategy? Does it include more branded locations?
We are democratizing dermatology. Branded locations will continue to play a role as they allow us to continually integrate cutting-edge technology and science as we make skincare truly inclusive. But, our focus right now is perfecting the experience and technology to bring precision skincare to everyone. This will happen online, in our stores, and very likely through one or two interesting partnership opportunities that will bring our technology and precision skincare to consumers even faster.
In March you announced a $3.5 million seed round led by the beauty incubator and accelerator Waldencast. Why was Waldencast the right partner for Revea and what do you look for in investors?
Waldencast has been an amazing partner. They shared our belief that the future of skincare is the marriage of brand, biology, and data science. Most importantly, we needed a partner who saw the long game. Where many investors simply wanted to put something in a box and ship it, Waldencast understood that, by being the first company to map skin biology to ingredient mechanisms of action and outcomes data, we could transform multiple industries. We’ve built in what people said was impossible and the reviews have been nothing short of amazing.
I know you are just getting started, but what will success look like for Revea?
Success looks like skincare without trial and error. An industry that is built for you, your skin, your needs. An industry that is truly inclusive. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are super inspired by the love we’re getting.
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