Beauty counters and cosmetics aisles can be pretty daunting places for those unsure of exactly what they’re looking for. Hard-to-pronounce chemical compounds, shaky notions of “all natural” ingredients, and claims to stop the body’s natural ageing process are as myriad as they are confusing when deciding which labels to trust and which ones to be cautious of. While many brands willfully continue to capitalise on insecurity, Nicolas Travis, founder of local skincare line, Allies Of Skin, sought to go the other way. Through honest terminology, natural ingredients, and educating consumers on what should and shouldn’t go on your skin, the Singapore-based brand has taken a decidedly different approach by being upfront about what they do. We caught up with Travis to find out what at an ally of skin can bring to your skincare regime, and the dos and don’ts in the quest to look forever young.
What inspired you to start your own skincare label?
Having my own skincare line has always been the dream. I've always been fascinated by the link between confidence and good skin. We, unfortunately, still live in a time where women are paid less than men – but men get to roll out of bed, and show up to work.
Women, on the other hand, have more pressure to feel that they have to put on layers of makeup. The skin is the largest organ we have; it is brilliant and one of the few we that are capable of regenerating itself. So everything starts with the skin. If you have good skin, you don't feel like you need so much makeup. The choice to not feel like you have to hide or conceal anything in powerful. The choice to feel like you can leave the house as you are is powerful.
Good skin does not happen overnight and there is no silver bullet. I'm not a fan of the term 'anti-aging' because that connotes that aging is somehow inherently bad. The truth of the matter is, aging is a natural biological process and we get older with each new day. There is nothing we can do to stop the process. However, what we can do is be the best versions of ourselves at any given age. In this particular industry, there is a lot of fear-based directive. How wrinkles are bad, how unattractive anything besides a porcelain complexion is, etc. I felt it was time for products that empower instead of guilt-trip.
I am inspired by real people and real beauty. I believe beauty comes in all shades, sizes and forms. Through clean, honest formulas backed by clinical trials, I hope to be able to provide effortless joy; the kind that feeling good about yourself brings.
How big is the Allies of Skin team and how did it come together?
We are a small team of three. Besides myself, we have someone in charge of Customer Experience, making sure the orders are fulfilled and go out in time and ensuring that our order process stays as effortless as possible. Then we have a designer who works remotely from London as he finishes his studies at Central St Martins. He helps with the creation of our social media assets. We actually met when we were both working at Ogilvy & Mather. We have a great connection and I hired him for a few personal projects after I left Ogilvy, and then when it came time to work on Allies of Skin, there was no doubt who I wanted to lead the creation of our digital assets.
What does Allies of Skin seek to achieve through its products, and what sets it apart?
We seek to empower with every product. We are guided by three fundamental principles: 1) We hope our products give joy. We hope that by using our products, your skin becomes happier and healthier. 2) Every product we create is effortless. We believe taking care of your skin should never feel cumbersome, so every Allies of Skin product is fuss-free. We believe you should surround yourself with people and situations that recharge you and we hope our products recharge your skin. 3) Every product is a labour of love (our R&D process for every product is about two years because we create every formula from scratch), and we hope that that love translates and shines through and that the end result is you loving yourself and the skin you are in more and more.
Every product we create is a concentrated nutrient reservoir that acts like a booster for the skin. The adoption risk is very, very low. Whatever your existing regimen is, you don’t have to give it up. Every Allies of Skin product is proven to work on its own and designed to play well with all other products. This means you can layer your existing serums under our leave-on masks, you can use your makeup and sunblock and literally still reap all the benefits of our products.
What kind of ingredients do you use in your products?
We use a lot of intelligent antioxidants like spin trap, thiotaine and asthaxanthin that offer multiple benefits to the skin, like recycling vitamin C and converting free radicals to useful oxygen molecules that get reused by the body. We also are big fans of superfoods like Acai as well as cell-signalling peptides that train your skin to perform better.
Who are your products right for?
The truth of the matter is, skin is skin. It has no gender. All our products were created for and tested extensively on all genders from 20s to 60s (from sensitive to dry to oily to acne-prone). Allies of Skin is created for the modern multi-hyphenate. The individual who is a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a go-getter and, while having to juggle all of that, wants to look and feel good too. We want to help you check off that box so you can focus on chasing your dreams. This is why we created our leave-on masks. Everyone should be able to feel great in their own skin and now you can minus any hassle. Our 1A masks work throughout the day/night to repair and nourish your skin. Leave taking care of your skin to us and go live your dreams.
Can you tell us about your debut product, the 1A All-Day Mask?
Our 1A All-Day Mask is a game-changer with a two-pronged strategy. At any given moment in time, the skin is bombarded with many external aggressors (UV rays, pollution, second-hand smoke, dehydrating air conditioning, etc.). The 1A All-Day Mask first protects the skin with a breathable anti-pollution shield that repels smog, haze, second-hand smoke. This allows your skin to really focus on repairing itself. Charged with 35 different actives - the key allies are 11 antioxidants (brighten, heal, tighten and protect) and 12 soothing healers (natural moisturizing factors that intensively hydrate, strengthen the skin's delicate barrier and repair stressed skin) that work day and night to return your skin to its healthiest state.
Immediately, it provides a dose of restorative moisture. Over time, it trains your skin to be smarter - increase in production of collagen, elastin and growth factors, increase in natural moisture retention, decrease in fine lines and volume of wrinkles (23% in 30 days), 36% reduction of non-inflammatory acne lesions (open and closed comedones) in 28 days. Thanks to its advanced delivery system made from chemically similar fatty acids that have an increased compatibility with the skin, it absorbs instantly.
There is also an optimal level of caffeine which is great for de-puffing and tightening tired skin. It will help you look more rested. The wonderful thing is that this can be used on the eye area and the lips too. It is especially great for a night on the town, post-facials and after a day in the sun. The morning-after a long night out was one of the main driving forces behind the creation of the product. This mask will help you look like you had more sleep than you actually did.
Because it’s so concentrated, you don’t really need another product if you don’t want to use multiple products. It works under makeup and sunblock so you can literally repair your skin on the go. No fuss.
The name “Allies of Skin” suggests that there are things out there that aren’t so friendly to our skin. Are there any products or treatments you would recommend people avoid?
We adhere to a very strict formulation ethos and all our products are formulated without silicones, mineral oil, petrochemicals, parabens, polyethylene glycol, sulfates, GMOs, triclosan, DEA/TEA, phthalates, drying alcohol, synthetic dyes and fragrances.
Also, there are a lot of homemade mask recipes on the internet where they recommend putting fresh lemon juice on your skin to ‘brighten’ and ‘lighten’ the skin. That is a big no. It is extremely counter-productive, because besides irritating the skin, lemon juice will also increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, thereby increasing the chances of getting more dark spots.
What are some of common misconceptions or mistakes you see people make regarding their skin regime? Can you offer any solutions?
The most common one is not giving a new product enough time for it to actually work. In today’s fast paced society, it’s tough to not be big subscribers to instant gratification but it actually takes a product four to eight weeks, sometimes even 12 weeks, to work on the skin – so give it time. Consistency and diligence is a far more effective solution than any special plant harvested by nuns at 3am on a full moon.
The other one is mistaking dehydration for oiliness. When the skin is dehydrated, it produces sebum to compensate for the dryness. A lot of times that excess production of sebum means one needs to hydrate instead of mattify. An easy fix would be to ensure the skin is properly hydrated using a non-comedogenic moisturiser or mask.
What other products can we expect to see in the Allies of Skin product range?
We currently have nine products in the pipeline and our next two products will be our Overnight Mask (silicone-free with a special form of encapsulated time-release retinol that gives all the benefits without any of the irritation) and our heavy-duty anti-evaporation toner mist that is designed to cling to your skin cells instead of simply evaporating. I’m really excited for 2016.
Allies Of Skin's 1A All-Day Mask is available online at alliesofskin.com.
Text Trent Davis
Images Allies Of Skin