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In The News: biomanufacturing beauty ingredients, cosmetics-fashion collab, brand leadership changes

L'Oréal invests in biotech, Beautycounter searches for a next CEO, EWG scores influence product formulation, and Clinique partners with kate spade.

Photo by Alex Basov on Unsplash

🔮💋PreDestined Product Development

Late last month, Farsedakis Beauty Brands out of Boca Raton, Florida, launched a skincare brand that promises to formulate products using only ingredients with a score of ‘1’ on the EWG’s Skin Deep ingredient hazard scoring system.

Farsedakis Beauty Brands got its start in the late 90s and has, until now, focused on color cosmetics with blinc ultra longwear cosmetics and Pretty Vulgar, “makeup that looks as good on your vanity as it does on you.”

The company’s new skincare brand, called What’s My Age Again?, launched with a single product: SuperActive Facial Moisturizer. Available on the brand’s own ecommerce site as well as on Amazon, the moisturizer is formulated using ingredients that have been given a hazard of 1 by the EWG—ingredients including butylene glycol, panthenol, radish root ferment filtrate, sunflower seed oil, glyceryl stearate se, niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, etc.

In his recent remarks to the press, Lewis Farsedakis, Chairman and President of Farsedakis Beauty Brands and Founder of the new What’s My Age Again? brand, expounds on this approach to product development saying, “Over the course of two years, we meticulously crafted our debut product, and our ongoing development will be driven by an innovation-focused timeline rather than a marketing-centric one.”

And a press release announcing the launch, clarifies that the idea behind the EWG-score-driven formulation concept is to “[eliminate] the ambiguity surrounding clean skincare and empowered consumers to make informed choices about what they put on their skin.”

💋❓Leadership Limbo

As June gets underway, advocacy brand Beautycounter is searching for a new CEO. On March 31st, the California-based brand announced that Marc Rey (after 16 months in the role) has stepped down. The reason for this change of leadership is not clear; a media release circulated by Beautycounter only conveys that, “Rey and the Board have mutually decided to transition to a new phase of leadership for Beautycounter.”

In his own remarks to the press, Rey states that, “It has been an honor leading Beautycounter… I have recruited a world-class executive team, bolstered tools and support provided to our Brand Advocate community, launched an exclusive retail partnership with Ulta, and built a strong innovation pipeline. I truly believe Beautycounter's mission is unique and will be transformative for the beauty industry, and I will continue to be a champion of the brand.”

While the brand searches for a new chief executive, Board Director Mindy Mackenzie is acting as Interim CEO. Roberto Marques is coming in to Chair the Board, having previously served as Executive Chairman and Group CEO at Natura &Co. And Nicole Malozi is joining the company as Chief Financial Officer.

And in a statement to the press, Beautycounter’s Board of Directors thanked Rey “for his contributions…and for laying the foundation for the next phase of growth for the business. We appreciate his dedication and service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

The statement goes on to say that, “We are thrilled to welcome Mindy, Roberto, and Nicole to the leadership team. We remain committed to Beautycounter's mission and to continue to Raise Up Beauty for all and know this collective expertise will be invaluable as we continue to grow the business and focus on operational excellence.”

💰⚗️Buying into Biomanufacturing

Debut Biotech was founded in 2019; that’s when the venture spun off from the University of California, Irving, where now CEO Joshua Britton was working as a scientist specializing in cell-free systems for biomanufacturing.

Britton holds PhD degrees from both UCI and Flinders University in Australia, and earned his Master’s Degree in Organic Chemistry at the University of Nottingham in the UK. The company he leads develops novel actives for the personal care and health industries using immobilized enzymes to catalyze reactions that result in sought-after specialty chemicals.

Back in 2020, the company picked up $2.6 million in a Seed Funding round lead by KdT Ventures and including investment from Better Ventures, FTW Ventures, and SpringTide Ventures. In 2021, a Series A round brought in $22.6 million to help commercialize Debut’s biotech platform. But this month, you’re seeing the company making headlines for its partnership with L’Oréal.

The beauty maker led Debut’s Series B round, which brought in $34 million and saw investment from not only L’Oréal but also Fine Structure Ventures, Material Impact, GS Futures, Cavallo Ventures, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, ACVC Partners, and more.

“We could not be more excited to be the first beauty leader to invest in Debut and partner with them to create stand-out active beauty innovations while protecting the planet's resources,” says Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology, at L'Oréal. And she goes to highlight the biotech company’s advantage in the ingredient market place, saying, “Debut addresses one of the beauty world's fundamental challenges: driving innovation without the resource-intensity and environmental impact that comes with relying on traditional manufacturing alone.”

This paragraph—borrowed directly from the company’s June 1st press release—gives a good top-level description of Debut’s approach to ingredient manufacturing: “Debut's proprietary Bio2Consumer™ platform spans ingredient discovery, cell-free, biofermentation, formulation, clinical trials and brand creation. The platform utilizes cell-free and advanced fermentation approaches such as continuous biomanufacturing to overcome the limitations of traditional methods, dramatically reducing the need for space, water, and expensive and unsustainable inputs. In addition to producing rare, high-value and novel compounds, Debut's technology also improves traditional ingredient manufacturing. The platform comprises a proprietary database of over 3.8 million pre-clinical data points to find and discover new ingredients that address beauty consumer needs. By overcoming the limitations of cell-based fermentation, Debut can produce high-value ingredients rapidly and more sustainably.”

🌏💋🌎🛍Multinational Beauty meets American Fashion

This month, Estée Lauder’s Clinique brand launched its first collaboration with a fashion brand. “kate spade new york is thrilled to collaborate with Clinique as we introduce a colorful capsule that perfectly infuses our heritage brand codes in fresh designs,” Charlotte Warshaw, Vice President of Americas wholesale, travel retail, and global licensing at kate spade new york, tells the press. “It's an exciting moment,” she says, “as we connect the fashion and beauty worlds for our global brand fans.”

As of June 1st, a limited-edition collection of Clinique's Pop Plush Creamy Lip Glosses are packaged in kate spade brand colors and patterns, with graphic elements added to further bridge the brands’ aesthetics. The lip glosses are available at Macy’s, Belk, Shoppers, and on

“This new collaboration serves as an incredible opportunity for long-standing fans of both brands to experience a fresh, lively take on our Pop Plush Glosses just in time for summer,” says Mindy Troutman, Vice President, Global Product Marketing, Makeup and Fragrance at Clinique. And the press release announcing the collab takes care to note that, “Both brands are consistently ranked by Gen-Z as iconic,” suggesting that the brand is aiming to reach consumers 43-58 years old with this collection.


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