We catch up with beauty innovators Dr Clara Hurst and Dr Deb Cohen-Jones, co-founders of prescription skincare brand, The Secret Skincare, and find out more about their business journey. This interview was first published in Issue 9 of ele Magazine, The Green Edition.
1.Tell us about The Secret journey and how the brand was founded.
We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and connected over a shared love of skincare after realizing we were both prescribing similar products to our patients. We saw a gap in the market for a simple yet effective skincare range to treat complex cosmetic conditions, but which could also be used as everyday skincare. We wanted to offer patients access to customized, bespoke skincare that directly targets their exact skin requirements and issues. Particularly in the case of medical skincare, the ability to access prescription products without having to have specialist referrals and costly appointments.
2.Why is prescription skincare so different to more mainstream skincare?
The strength of prescription skincare is unparalleled to anything you will find on regular retail shelves. Like all the best kept secrets, they’re not so easy to find. Prescription ingredients are medically proven through studies, medical trials, and years of research to treat an array of challenging skin conditions – melasma, acne and rosacea, to name just a few. Over the counter products cannot utilize these ingredients in the strengths in which they have been clinically proven to produce results. In the case of The Secret, our compounded formulas allow multiple medically proven ingredients to be combined into a simple day and night regime. You won’t find us on the shelf because we’re not your standard day and night moisturizer. Our products utilize the power and strength of prescription ingredients and are hand-made to order for each individual based on their medical details and skin history.
3.What are the benefits and challenges of working in a partnership?
It’s beneficial that we have different backgrounds and experiences in this field to contribute to the business, we bring two separate sets of skills and can play to each other’s strengths. We’re able to bounce ideas off one another and see things from a different perspective.
We’re very lucky in that although we both have a strong work ethic; we recognise our strengths and weaknesses, and we complement each other’s skill set perfectly. As business owners, there are times when you can get extremely frustrated with the challenges you’re facing. It’s helpful to have a partner to keep you motivated when you might otherwise want to throw the towel in! In any partnership, there will always be some things you disagree on. Over the years we’ve grown to understand each other’s perspective and come to the best mutual agreement. Good communication is key! We also have very different leadership styles but have made them both work for our team.
4.What has been the biggest challenge in founding your own business?
Moving to an online platform was ambitious and challenging particularly due to the medico legal requirements of the online consultation and prescriptive process. The COVID-19 pandemic was a tipping point for our business, it presented an unexpected boom, people were suddenly at home more and wanted to use this time to elevate their self-care routines. Thankfully having the accessibility of an online store and working hard to have a strong foundation from the beginning meant we were able to keep up with this unexpected boom in sales.
5.If someone could only afford one skincare product from your range which would you recommend?
The coveted Secret glow starts with our hero product, the Cellular Repair Night Cream. It has been formulated using a prescription-strength retinoid which encourages the skin’s natural rejuvenation process to mimic the behaviour of younger skin. By undergoing this process of rapid cell turnover, dead and damaged skin cells are removed from the skin’s surface and subsequently replaced by younger, healthier skin cells from underneath. Why healthy skin cells? These are the blue-print for a smoother, even-toned and, of course, glowing complexion. Everyone will be asking – “what’s your secret?”. Intensive prescription-fading ingredients also work simultaneously with rapid cell turnover to regulate the cells responsible for melanin production.
6.Can you share a little more about the brand’s sustainability journey?
When we first started developing the brand, we knew we wanted to do things right from the very beginning, investing heavily in perfecting formulas and considering sustainability in each step, including minimalist regimes and packaging. We speak a lot about the journey, specifically, the patient journey which starts at our website with the skin quiz through to the goal of glowing skin, now we’re taking a different journey, launching refillable packaging which means less waste without sacrificing the efficacy of our formulations.
We have just launched our new Sustainability Series, which means The Secret has become the first prescription skincare brand in the world to launch refillable packaging across the entire range. It’s all the products our patients know and love, with new recyclable & refillable packaging, dispensing the perfect amount of product every time. We’re still made to order, but now with zero waste. We also believe this new direction of the brand will encourage our patients to start considering a more conscious journey for their skin and for the planet.
It’s essential to us that the footprint we leave behind is a positive one, not only on the skin of our patients but on the planet, sustainability remains one of our core values and we’re proud to offer our patients a solution that minimizes product wastage and usage confusion while providing optimum skin health results.
Den and Clara have just released a new product onto the range – The Oil Cleanser which is part of the Base Range, a curated collection of non-prescription skincare essentials, created to support The Secret’s prescription offering. See more here thesecretskincare.com @the_secret_skincare