A Natural Upstart in Clinician Offices, EWG-Verified Epicutis Plants a “Clean” Seed at ISPA
As the first (and thus far only) professional skincare brand to receive the Environmental Working Group’s coveted “EWG Verified” designation, two-year-old, Princeton, New Jersey-based Epicutis brought a clear point of difference to its debut at the recent ISPA show in Las Vegas.
Understandably, that’s a point of pride for Max Stock, founder and CEO of Epicutis and its parent company, Signum Biosciences.
According to Stock, EWG verification was a goal for Epicutis from the get-go, primarily because American skincare safety standards are notoriously lax. “In the US, there really is no regulation around ingredients,” he notes. “Eleven ingredients are banned here, while the EU bans more than sixteen hundred. Of course, our products are approved for use in the EU, but we wanted to set some kind of bar in the US market, and we believe the EWG verification does just that.”
Sold in 500-plus clinician offices in eleven countries, Epicutis was developed around the goals of ingredient purity and transparency, and taps the expertise of co-founder Dr. Jeffry Stock, father of Max and longtime Princeton University professor of molecular biology.
Stock, Sr., a leading expert in signal transduction and global cellular regulation who has published north of 150 original scientific articles, evidently has a knack for skincare, too. Working in tandem with formulator Masanori Tamura, Dr. Stock help develop compounds and botanical extracts that mimic molecules that are crucial to signaling in the body and cellular regulation.
One such powerhouse functional ingredient is patented TSC, a tiny molecule with a massive checklist of attributes. Not only does TSC reduce inflammation, it also blocks UVA / UVB damage, provides antioxidant protection, stems collagen depletion, and balances the skin microbiome. No wonder TSC plays a starring role in the brand’s Lipid Serum, which contains a whopping eight ingredients but still manages to quell a whole host of epidermal upsets, including redness, eczema, rosacea, and acne. Lipid Serum is also a slam dunk for calming post-treatment skin, and given the brand’s primary distribution in clinician offices, post-treatment skin soothers sound mighty smart.
Keeping it Simple–and Powerful
Not only do Epicutis formulas contain just enough ingredients to get the job done, the product lineup itself is bare-bones. Launched during the pandemic, when restless skincare obsessives let their routines balloon to “keep track of it on an Excel spreadsheet” proportions, Epicutis is incredibly lean, comprising just four other products alongside Lipid Serum: Hyvia Crème, Oil Cleanser, Enzyme Exfoliating Powder and Lipid Recovery Mask.
While not all products are based around a hero ingredient, some, like Hyvia Crème, certainly are. Crafted with Hyvia, a patented chia seed oil extract, it hydrates at a cellular level, per the brand, while strengthening the skin barrier.
Although Hyvia also plays a role in the Oil Cleanser, there’s a refreshing lack of hype in the product descriptions on the Epicutis website. Straightforward and streamlined, the range nods to the “quiet luxury” trend in which the world is currently besotted.
“The spa channel has been one of the holdouts in the clean beauty movement, and we believe Epicutis will fit perfectly into the channel.”
Now, a Push Into Spas
Having solidified its clinician office distribution in just a few short years, the current goal for Epicutis is to expand its presence in the spa arena. To that end, it’s already partnered with eight Spa at Equinox locations, including two each in California and New York City, Washington, DC, and Boston, with more to come.
Stock says he’s thrilled Equinox is among Epicutis’s first spa clients. “The two brands have incredible alignment, with the focus being health and at the same time luxury,” he says. “People will pay more for quality, and Equinox and Epicutis deliver.”
While the direct-to-consumer and traditional retail channels have seen a massive uptick in demand for clean skincare in the past few years, Stock believes the spa world has generally been slower to hop aboard that train.
“The spa channel has been one of the holdouts in the clean beauty movement, and we believe Epicutis will fit perfectly into the channel,” he says. “Luxury packaging is a key factor in spa, and the channel also seems to love that we have minimal SKUs. We recommend three steps twice daily to simplify skincare routines. This means less confusion for the client and less room on the retail shelf.”
Not that simple skincare regimens aren’t infinitely more effective when you have someone qualified to explain the benefits and best practices for usage. For example, someone like a clinician or esthetician. That’s why a key focus for Epicutis is providing in-depth educational materials and pairing the products with procedures such as facials, microneedling and laser treatments.
But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is performance. In other words, does that high-tech barrier crème or low-tech exfoliant generate see-it-in-the-mirror results? Stock says he rests easy on that point. “What differentiates Epicutis,” he says, “is that the products really work.”