Psychodermatology harnesses the intersection of psychology and dermatology, delivering results beyond aesthetic benefits. One such brand, Selfmade, declares itself an emotionally intelligent skin/body care brand.
Led by CEO and founder Stephanie Lee, the brand comprises the Corrective Experience Comfort Cream; the Comfort Serum+, featuring hyaluronic acid, Barnet Products' 1% Cortinhib G (a stabilized vitamin C) and marine algaes; the Resilience Scrub, featuring bamboo powder, fruit AHAs, holy basil, vitamin C and tee tree oil; the Intimacy Serum, featuring copaiba balsam, arnica flower, safflower oil and Schisandra berry; and more.
"Selfmade was never created to be a DTC-only [brand]," says Lee. "I’ve loved working with our current retailers Urban Outfitters and Thirteen Lune ... [T]hey’ve expanded their offering across our whole line as the consumer becomes more interested in psychodermatology: we’re leading that conversation. Because we are more than products, we are reimagining what it can look like to move into retail and create an experience that evokes emotional well-being at the point of sale."
Lee recently took some time to speak to Global Cosmetic Industry about the power of psychodermatology in today's beauty market, as well as the importance of rituals and mental health.
"The skin care market is incredibly oversaturated, with a new brand, product and campaign popping up left and right," says Lee. "It’s become hard to track as not just a brand founder, but a consumer, of what is effective and science-driven versus marketing language. Between the confusion around the amorphous definition of 'clean beauty,' consumer/industry outrage to the unending onslaught of celebrity brands, to the fall of influencer-led brands, we can see the consumer trying to navigate the noise post-truth era back to home base: facts and science."
She adds, "The power of psychodermatology is ... a discipline of medicine and research that has existed [for] over a decade ... As our world has become more stressful and we’ve been jolted into a mental health crisis accelerated by the pandemic, we are sick as a society and it is showing up on our skin, hair and bodies in a way we haven’t experienced before."
Lee concludes, "If we can understand [that] what happens on our skin (acne, moisture barrier loss, inflammation, etc.) is triggered by cortisol released in our body because of stressors, then we can put the self-judgement aside and learn to care for those needs ourselves."
Selfmade is designed to provide consumers with rituals that address contemporary mental health issues.
Lee explains that "96% of Gen Z reports experiencing anxiety today, with half saying, 'all the time,' and say mental health is a higher priority than physical health, according to the "2021 State of Mental Health Report" by Project Healthy Minds. Rituals that are healthily constructed have the power to help emotionally regulate and increase productivity and performance due to goal setting and provide ways to connect with others socially."
She concludes, "Rituals can bind ourselves to ourselves as a grounding force."
Selfmade keeps communication open with consumers when it comes to the co-creation of products, ensuring the brand taps into shopper needs.
"We built our junior advisory board of Gen Z and young folks as a way to build Selfmade with them and not just for them," Lee says. "It’s clear by the type of feedback, encouragement and opinions they share that they feel ultimately responsible for creating the future they want, and that includes their skin care products."
She continues, "We have a Gen Z consumer, Maddy, who has been in contact with us several times during their customer journey. During the consideration phase, they asked tons of questions about our Corrective Experience Comfort Cream and even brought up the other product that they were deciding between. This gave us insight into what they are thinking about as they are making decisions in real time ... Fast-forward, they’ve just emailed back about packaging, usage feedback and about peptides. It’s clear that not only do they do their research and care deeply about what they are using, but aren’t afraid to take up the space and continue to help us cultivate conversations on what it takes to change how we take care of ourselves to be more effective."
Beyond product innovation, Selfmade communicates its mission to shoppers.
Lee notes, "Because we approach caring for ourselves in a therapeutic and research-backed way, we start by validating our concepts with our mental health experts and junior advisory board members to ensure that it addresses issues that pertain to our community and rooted building a healthy relationship with self."
She continues, "Once we have a concept, we have a mental health deep dive with our mental health experts, entire team and junior advisory board so that we can fully explore the concept and the connection of a body and mind through the lens of emotional well-being, like having a 'secure attachment style' for the Secure Attachment Comfort Serum+."
In its execution, the brand focuses on the importance of its psychological concepts in consumer well-being and taps into "metaphors or creative expressions" to express these psychological concepts through social media, graphics and packaging.
"The team then turns the output into a marketing, education, messaging, social, and micro-influencer strategy and plan," says Lee. "We look at the benefits of what a secure attachment style are (a feeling of safety with self to be vulnerable, healthy boundaries that help protect and maintain relationships, healthy bonding with others) and what could that look like in a product experience (taking down stress and improving hydration in the moments with ourselves in rituals, strengthening our skin’s boundaries via the moisture barrier and as a makeup primer, and a texture experience that helps the formula bond to our skin and hyaluronic acid penetrating skin)."
She adds, "The product descriptions and the messaging are born out of the desire for giving our community ammunition that helps to create intentional experiences to fuel learning and curiosity around themselves and their physical and emotional worlds. We make it intentional in almost every touchpoint with the brand and products ... [to] spark curiosity in the pursuit of emotional intelligence and self-worth ... at our vanity, shower or nightstand. One of the first steps to self-awareness is expanding our emotional vocabulary, which is why each product embodies a tried and true human psychological concept: attachment, resilience and intimacy."