Entrepreneurs

Meet The Secret, A Customized Skincare Routine That Stubborn Skin Issues (Like Hyperpigmentation) Don’t Stand A Chance Against

If you suffer from hyperpigmentation on your face and neck, you know the plight. It’s hard to get rid of and even trickier to conceal. Most of all, it can make you feel less confident in your own skin.

I have a variety of embarrassing skin issues including vascular rosacea, which makes my facial veins dilate, and a condition known as poikiloderma that makes my neck and chest look muddled with hyperpigmentation and more dilated vessels, known as telangiectasia. I have utilized both ablative and non-ablative lasers over the years with varied success, but hadn’t found any effective (and non-irritating) topical treatments until recently trying out, The Secret Skincare, a new bespoke skincare brand that hails from Australia—a place where sun exposure and the resulting damage are top of mind.

Developed by Dr. Clara Hurst and Dr. Deb Cohen-Jones to treat the most challenging cosmetic skin conditions, The Secret launched online in early 2020.  “We have worked closely with real patients on their skin journeys for over 20 years between the two of us; myself in the medical cosmetic field treating patients for aesthetic cosmetic conditions such as premature aging, melasma, and acne and Dr. Deb as a general practitioner with complex cases such as recurrent dermatitis and hormonal acne, for example,” Hurst tells me. 

Knowing firsthand that addressing skin conditions requires an individualized approach, the pair decided to develop their own brand. “We saw a gap in the industry to curate a product that would perfectly complement its owner rather than try to squeeze them into a one-size-fits-all formula. Prescription skincare allows just that; however, it’s usually not easily accessible for the everyday individual, with multiple referrals, long wait times and large consultation fees,” explains Hurst. “The Secret Skincare was our solution to this. We can customize and create bespoke formulations for the individual based on their needs and deliver them outstanding results consistently.” In fact, the results from the before and after photos were what compelled me to try the brand out in the first place. They are beyond impressive.

The Secret Skincare routine consists of three mainstay products (with a few add ons). “You won’t find us on regular retail shelves because we are not your standard day and night moisturizer. Our products utilize the power and strength of prescription ingredients and are hand-made to order for each individual based on their medical details and skin history,” Hurst tells me. “We exist to help every person to ‘love the unique skin you live in’ by offering world-leading results delivered via super simple and cost-effective skincare routines, with an added touch of luxury. Our strategic sourcing partnership with a leading compounding pharmacy enables an enhanced scientific process for product development and testing, underpinned by the necessary therapeutic governance to ensure that our products are of the very highest quality.”

The brand’s hero ingredients are ones that have been recommended for years to treat challenging skin conditions, like tretinoin and hydroquinone. “Years of research, medical trials and studies have shown them to be the most effective ingredients on the market,” adds Cohen-Jones. “This is one of the driving forces behind our brand. Our formulations are founded upon extensive research, proven efficacy, and of course, results. Prescription skincare requires a prescription for a reason. Our products need to be used under medical guidance, as regular consumers who are used to buying mass produced over-the-counter products often don’t understand the significantly superior strength of our active ingredients.

Cohen-Jones continues, “One of the challenges of a prescription skincare line that we’ve had to navigate (especially being the first in Australia) is monitoring our patients’ use of these ingredients. The service we offer plays a major role in this. One of our core values is to care for our patients—we always aim to achieve the best possible outcome for our patients and ensure they are using these ingredients safely with proper guidance and education. We provide substantial supporting product information with each order to make this easy for our customers, especially new users.”

When I ask about the controversy that surrounds both tretinoin and hydroquinone in skincare, Cohen-Jones tells me that most of the confusion in the marketplace is based on reports of these ingredients being misused. “People have abused retinoids and hydroquinone in grossly high percentages, for unsuitable amounts of time and without medical supervision. It is no wonder damaged was caused to the skin! The percentages we use in our products and the methods by which we have our patients use them is based on studies and proven evidence to allow safe use of these ingredients. Patients experiencing issues have almost always disregarded instructions for use. To people who may be considering using our products we would say that these products are unlike your regular day and night moisturizer—they will get you results, but they need to be used with care. Our team is always here to guide you through it.”

Hurst tells me that absolutely anyone can benefit from the brand’s product line up. “The idea is to create healthy skin functioning in optimal condition. When your skin is in optimal condition it does not overproduce oil and cause breakouts nor does it overproduce melanin and cause pigmentation. It does not lose collagen and elastin to cause wrinkles, sagging and premature aging. Not only do our products treat challenging skin conditions like pigmentation, rosacea, acne, and dermatitis, they also maintain skin health and prevent further damage. The nature of our skin coupled with the environment we live in means our skin health is always being compromised.”

The brand utilizes 13 base formulations that can then be customized specifically for each individual. “Ultimately, we want patients to be using our Brightening Day Elixir and Cellular Repair Night Cream. They contain seven different brightening ingredients between them to help resurface the skin and in turn brighten, nourish, and fortify the surface,” explains Cohen-Jones. “The Cellular Repair Night Cream is our hero product of the range. It works to increase your skins cell turnover at a rapid rate then to encourage healthy skin cells to come to the surface while getting rid of damaged cells. Since every hero needs a sidekick, we designed the Day Brightening Elixir to perfectly complement the active effects of the Cellular Repair Night Cream. Not only does it amplify your results, it supports them by nourishing and protecting the new skin cells the Cellular Repair is bringing through.”

Now that summer is coming and more outdoor time is on the horizon, I was curious if the use of retinoids and hydroquinone should cease. 

“This is a topic we are very passionate about, especially as an Australian company. Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world because we are close to the equator and have many clear, blue-sky days. We are a nation of sun-worshipers, which increases the burden of sun smart skin protection,” responds Hurst. “These ingredients can benefit the skin throughout the entire year. Retinoids in particular will help to repair the damage that the sun induces on the skin such as the breakdown of collagen and the over-production of melanin that causes pigmentation. Hydroquinone will also inhibit melanin production to help prevent and fade pigment. You would waste an entire half a year of skin benefits if you were to restrict such important ingredients to winter only. They key to utilizing these ingredients all year round lies in sunscreen. If you are diligent in wearing a SPF 50+ every day and are not overexposing your skin to the sun, you are fine to use them.”

After four weeks of consistent use, my skin has never looked clearer. The Brightening Day Eye Serum instantly de-puffs and tightens the skin around my eyes and neither the day or night creams irritate my sensitive skin, which was a pleasant surprise. The best part is that my poikiloderma is almost gone, which is something I never thought I would say. With continued use, I suspect the condition will no longer be visible. With results this impressive, this is one secret I thought was worth sharing.

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