Jennifer Rock is a name you should get to know.
Also known as The Skin Nerd (her online consultation business), Rock is an Irish entrepreneur with a vast knowledge of skincare science which she shares with all of us through the vector of her very own skincare brand, Skingredients.
Why should you get to know her? I hear you ask. Simply because she can help people navigate the often daunting, oversaturated world of skincare and as an ex dermal facialist, she knows what she’s talking about.
In fact, the first time I spoke to her, her years of experience and know-how was evident in every single thing she said. She was at ease explaining the complicated science behind her collection to a zoom full of influencers and the beauty press. The kind of ease that only comes with the confidence of knowing you’ve done the work and you know what you’re talking about.
Rocks commitment to education combined with her own time in the beauty industry left such an impression on me that I knew she had to be my next interviewee. I had to know more about her story and how she managed to create a successful network of intelligent skincare and in today’s interview we explore just that.
How did you get into the world of skincare?
For my 13th birthday, my mother took me for my very first facial. From the moment we stepped inside the salon, I was filled with questions: “Why are you doing that?”, “what are you using?”.
From then, that was what I wanted to do so – I became a qualified facial and body therapist, aromatherapist and reflexologist. A few years into my career I realised that for me, it was really all about skin and education and that’s all I wanted to do. I feel very fortunate to have found my passion so early.
Why did you start The Skin Nerd?
I began The Skin Nerd due to the over- saturation of the skincare market and confusion surrounding skincare in general – ingredients, techniques, products and treatments.
When I was looking for my own facts as a contributor to professional publications, it became very clear that a lot of the information available was marketing rather than knowledge-based, it was more brand-led as opposed to being driven by what we know about skin physiology and anatomy. I wanted to create The Skin Nerd as a factual resource for facialist-led, unbiased information.
It was while I was working as a skin tutor for global skincare brands that I thought of the concept of online skin consultations, now called the Nerd Network, with a focus on bespoke guidance, advice and results-driven skincare with many brands recommended. Our Nerd and Nerdettes (skin consultants) act as skin personal trainers with an unbiased, active skincare shop to support each member’s goals.
When did you know it was the right time to start your own skincare brand and was it difficult?
After 15 years of experience, travelling the globe, and listening to my own clients and their demands for affordable, results-driven, education-focused, simple skincare, I knew that the key ingredients for skin health weren’t available in one place, in one regime with the education to support.
The Nerd Network was a huge success and around the time of getting started on bringing Skingredients to fruition, we had approximately 10,000 members who constantly told us what they wanted for their skin, what they wanted from skincare products, what they liked, what they disliked and although I had my own ideas too, this feedback from such engaged skincare lovers helped to shape the range too. It was a learning and listening process made up of two-way conversations with our own clients and with followers on social media.
One of the most difficult parts was actually deciding what would make it into the range. Originally, I was going to launch maybe one product but then it was a bit like a wedding. We can’t have Auntie Vitamin A without Uncle SPF, if you know what I mean. The first product that I wanted to launch was Skin Veg, an antioxidant product with more than just hyaluronic acid, which appeals to the instant gratification element. Antioxidants are the underdog of skincare, the anti-inflammatory antidote to the busy lifestyle we all lead.
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How are you navigating running a relatively new brand in the era of a pandemic?
We are working hard to stay true to our roots and provide education for all hoomans. We have been making content galore as a bit of relief to all that is in the news. We are running a number of initiatives – Upskill Skin School is a free online knowledge-sharing programme for beauty and pharmacy professionals, At Home Skin School is our online interview and demo series on Instagram Live and In Clinic Skin School shows some amazing treatments being performed for those who are curious about the salon and clinic side of the industry. Our goal through this time is to continue chatting, interesting and enjoying our community, however we can.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced working in the skincare industry?
I feel that the industry has always been underestimated and that the tide is only beginning to turn on this, due to advisory bodies in Ireland and the UK who work tirelessly to improve standards. For example, the British Beauty Council in the UK, and Image Skillnet and HABIC (Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation) in Ireland.
Our efforts as highly-skilled individuals aren’t always fully recognised, nor is our value as a sector. According to Forbes, the estimated value of the global beauty industry in the year 2019 was over €465 billion. I hope to use my voice to enlighten many on the impact we have as a sector, both financially and emotionally, in terms of the results we can help acquire for our clients.
As an ex dermal facialist, what’s one piece of skincare advice you wish more people knew?
Wearing SPF is your main mode of tackling accelerated ageing. I feel people are closer to recognising this now, but in general, it’s believed that 90% of extrinsic skin ageing is caused by UV. Don’t get me wrong, peptides and vitamin A are gamechangers, but prevention is always the easier method, and SPF every day is one key step you can take to help to reduce the signs of ageing.
Also, antioxidants and vitamin A are essential, inside and out! I know I’m already giving more than one piece of advice, but bin the wipes and opt for many ingredients combined consistently rather than a range with just a few of the same ingredient in each product less consistently!
Sustainable beauty is a huge part of the beauty industry at the moment, how does Skingredients stay sustainable?
The Cleanse Off Mitt, the 00 to the Core 4, is a sustainable option compared to the single-use face wipes that I created the Cleanse Off Mitt to replace. It’s our skin-friendly, reusable, machine-washable cleansing mitt and it was technically the very first Skingredients product.
The outer tubes of the Skingredients range are recyclable and we have a full-focus, whole range initiative launching in the second quarter of 2021, which I am very proud of.
What kind of research is involved when you develop your products?
Initially, a concept would be decided and discussed in detail, which then leads to ingredient and formulation research where myself and the chemist discuss at length the ingredients including beloved, highly-active ingredients and more novel ones. This enables us to then formulate a product which emulates all of the things we stand for as a brand.
Once the concept has been confirmed, various versions of the product are formulated to ensure that the product performs from a sensory perspective for the user. Once all the trials have been completed, our best version is put through vigorous testing to ensure safety, microbiological compatibility and stability. This process can take up to 6 months.
Once this is completed, the product goes to manufacturing – this is where you need to look into the type of packaging. You need to test how effective the product is in this packaging (in different temperatures and conditions), and the individual ingredients are sometimes tested for efficacy before they’re in the formula.
Sometimes you need to test a formula in a specific way to say “improves the appearance of X”. After manufacturing, you finally get to see the product you have created, ready for shelf after a long new product development process. It’s a bit like watching your baby start their first job – it is truly rewarding.
Are there any skincare ingredients you wouldn’t ever use?
Honestly, not necessarily. In the last few years, I’ve learned that many of the ingredients some call ‘naughty’ serve a very feasible purpose in small amounts and in particular formulations.
The basis of the range is fragrance-free, because smells don’t change cells. I don’t think you can read about an ingredient and think “this always does this” as it will perform and behave differently depending on formulation. It’s a very contentious topic, and in general, I stay open-minded on ingredients whenever I can.
What goals do you hope Skingredients will achieve?
Our main goal is to educate, support, interact with and chat with hoomans aka humans about all things skincare.
Photos courtesy of Skingredients
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