Founder Nicolas Travis’ homegrown skincare brand is elegant, potent, and ready to conquer not just Singapore but the world.
The skincare industry can occasionally be marvellously straightforward. Consider any brand, for example. If you wish to know just how effective a product is, it’s probably worth taking a look at its founder’s skin.
Enter Nicolas Travis, proud Singaporean, skincare entrepreneur and founder of homegrown brand Allies of Skin. We won’t share his pictures (you can easily Google them), but Travis has positively glowing skin. He’s a walking testimonial and brand ambassador rolled together.
According to Travis, a biomedical and pharmaceutical science graduate, Allies of Skin’s philosophy is that taking care of your skin while you take on life shouldn’t feel like a chore. The brand creates ‘time-saving concentrated nutrient reservoirs’ designed to complement a demanding life, guided by the skin’s fundamental ability to heal itself.
During our chat, Travis reveals that he is due to travel for ten days to London and New York to launch Allies of Skin with international luxury site Net a Porter. His brand was also the first Singaporean name made available on Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter.
So despite having just three products out in the market – packaged in sleek, unisex glossy black – don’t mistake Allies of Skin to be a niche brand catering to select types of skin. Now beloved by beauty editors and industry stalwarts globally, Allies of Skin has found itself a budding star-studded fan base that appears to be only set to grow.
“It’s tough to not subscribe to instant gratification, but consistency and diligence is far more effective a solution than any special herb harvested by nuns at 3am on a full moon.”
Doyenne: Let’s talk about design inspirations and the sleek, well-designed packaging.
Nicolas: Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Philippe Starck provided large fodder for general design inspiration. As for the packaging, it was a very instinctual process – I created what I would want to see every morning in the bathroom.
D: Please explain your products for someone who isn't into skincare.
N: Our 1A All-Day Mask is the world’s first leave-on treatment mask designed to be worn under makeup and sunblock. It forms a breathable anti-pollution shield that prevents pollution particles from sticking to the skin and doing damage.
Our Molecular Saviour Toner Mist is an anti-evaporation liquid booster designed to cling to skin cells instead of simply vanishing. Its cocktails of antioxidants, probiotics, colloidal silver and rose oils provide a soothing anti-bacterial veil of nutrients. It can be used before and after makeup as well as before masks.
Our 1A Overnight Mask has a special form of time-released Retinol called Ally-RTM that forms a breathable shield against dehydrating conditions and helps reverse the effects of too much stress, alcohol and too little sleep.
D: What are some of the most difficult lessons you've had to learn to realise your vision?
N: When I was planning my entry into the US market, I knew I needed to hire a PR company. I spoke to a few but no one stood out. My gut told me that I should wait a little longer but I ending up hiring a unqualified person who had zero connections just because he was within budget. I spent $11,000 for two months and all I got was a Snapchat post.
It was an expensive mistake but you fail small and quick in business. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Always listen to your gut. I’m very impatient by nature and learnt the hard way not to rush into things.
D: Speaking of the US, we hear your lab is based there. How often do you travel?
N: Thanks to technology, you no longer need to be in the same country in order to be productive. Trust is also key. We spent the last three years building trust and the product creation process got easier. I go to the US once every two to three months.
D: What are some common skincare myths or misconceptions?
N: 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. Consistency and diligence is far more effective a solution than any special herb 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. Healthy skin is skin that is balanced; it feels comfortable not squeaky clean and tight.
D: As a skincare entrepreneur, what concerns you most about the future of the industry?
N: We’re experiencing a shift in consumers being savvier and demanding more from their products, but we’re also seeing a lot of new products in the marketplace that are loaded with toxic ingredients from companies that are just in this to make a quick buck.
My concern is not so much about the future of the industry per se, but rather the people who will buy said products that will do nothing for them.
D: You now have the ability to choose one moonshot skincare problem to solve with Allies of Skin. What is it?
N: Acne. I had really bad acne as a teenager which fuelled my passion for skincare. I know how debilitating that can be and with Allies of Skin, I aspire to help spread joy. The kind of joy feeling great in your own skin brings.