It is generally acknowledged that a beauty brand must be started by a woman with a story to tell. She mixes a salve that magically cures her toddler’s eczema, or when she can’t find the perfect lip shade, she just invents her own. There is never a lab or a scientist. There is always a kitchen table.
Another day, we’ll investigate why an industry that traditionally serves women sells cosmetics via romanticized, hokey stories rather than cold, hard facts—such as what a product will do for skin and what evidence there is to support that.
But today, we’re going to talk about Regimen Lab, which was founded in Toronto by Webster Magcalas, a lab scientist who previously specialized in infectious disease research, and Alex Apostolopoulos, a digital marketer and management consultant. Its raison d’être? Just effective skin care.
“We noticed when we were looking at starting this company that brands were not talking about products. It was all celebrities and origin stories,” Apostolopoulos says. “We really felt that there were three things missing from this space: transparency and trust, accessibility, and education on real skin-care science.”
The brand is starting to sound like another Toronto-founded company—Deciem, which made its name on science and education—but Magcalas says there are some key differences. “Deciem is all about unbundling,” he says, referring to the Ordinary, a line of products with a single ingredient such as retinol or hyaluronic acid that customers buy and then layer. “This is great for skin-care geeks who already know what they want. Our approach is to talk more about people’s concerns.” And of course, you could say “we’re science-based” is just a different kind of marketing story, but Regimen Lab can back it up.
The brand has relatively few products—just five, in fact: one cleanser, three serums (antioxidant, hyperpigmentation, and hydration), and a moisturizer. This reflects its keep-it-simple mentality. “Part of our philosophy is that we don’t create without need,” Apostolopoulos explains.
Everything is developed in the Toronto lab by in-house cosmetic scientists whose goal is to push skin care further. All active ingredients are backed by clinical trials. As well as efficacy, the brand is concerned with how products feel on the skin and how they perform in different environments. “We have 1,000 testers around the world to make sure that our products can perform in all environments,” Magcalas notes.
The brand has a realistic approach to skin care. “There isn’t any magical ingredient that will change your skin overnight,” Magcalas says. “But people can trust us because we show our workings, we make effective products that are usable by everyone, and we won’t create anything that doesn’t need to exist.”