How does a small startup create a skin serum with more science than those of billion dollar companies?
Posted on Wednesday, January 06 2016 10:50:00 PM in News by Allon Jacobs
There’s nothing unique in Silicon Valley about a small, rebellious, and determined research effort that puts Goliath to shame. Big companies tend to do big projects with big bureaucracies and big oversight – a recipe for big, fat time frames, not to mention more risk aversion than progress. Big companies also tend to focus on one ingredient at a time. Small companies, however, exist because they can be nimble and more avant garde.
In that fashion, Alón Labs started as a result of a science minded plastic surgeon at wits end. He was unable to help his wife with her hyperpigmentation problem no matter what they tried in the existing marketplace, whether by prescription, over the counter, or fancy laser.
With zero overhead or bureaucracy, he began to dig. He started with a clean slate, ignoring where everyone else had gone over the last decades. Then, he aggregated a rapidly expanding field of research, ranked potential ingredients on the strength of evidence for safety and efficacy, cross-checked which of the ingredients showed activity in other biological systems (meta-biology), matched them for potential skin penetration, and then concluded that all-of-the-above is better than one-of-the-above when many exciting ingredient candidates exist. This was the beginning of his experimentation.
He spent hours tinkering with the myriad combination of ingredients, concentrations, and derivatives (for example, ascorbic acid has multiple forms) and after a while, to even his own surprise, he started seeing results. The more he progressed, the more his conclusions diverged from the norms of the time promoted by big companies.
As you can see, his unconventional approach allowed him to depart from the “common wisdom” of large companies. He began to realize that several skin and scalp conditions, especially those associated with aging and sun damage, have the basic common denominator of an increased inflammatory footprint. That is, youthful skin is replaced by irritated skin. When that happens, a downward spiral begins in which damage leads to inflammation, which leads to more damage, more inflammation, and off we go.
At that point, he asked why anyone would want to pursue a treatment program that actually increases irritation such as with retinols, hydroquinone, home peels, salicylic acid, even benzoyl peroxide, and so many more. To the contrary, whatever reverses the inflammatory milieu of the skin and scalp is much more likely to bear fruit. Given the common denominator, that fruit would not only improve hyperpigmentation, but also redness, blotchiness, scalp itching, and even age related hair loss. This was a completely different approach.
After two years of home experimentation, including adoption of new research as it became available, his wife’s pigmentation facemask had essentially disappeared. Even though he didn’t initially set out to achieve a product for redness, he tested the formulation on his own skin for possible side effects, and his own rosacea and overall skin tone dramatically improved. Others began trying the formulation, and they found benefits in scalp irritation and even hair growth.
It was at that time that the Alon Labs entrepreneurs realized that this could not just stay at the surgeon’s home and with a few friends. It was something that had to be offered to the millions of others who suffer from these aggravating, if not exasperating, conditions. With that, a new company was born from a frustrated surgeon and a small kitchen, with the mission of using science and innovation to improve what the big guys couldn’t.