There has been quite a bit of a buzz today around a new skin care company looking to raise money on Kickstarter called Sikasso De Suisse. It is a Swiss skin care company that is focused on a new niche, that is darker skinned people. The whole pitch is that pigmented skin tones have only half the ceramides versus other skin tones. Because of this, these pigmented skin tones are vulnerable to extreme levels of dryness. They experience heightened levels of water loss. And following an injury or inflammation, pigmented skin types have what is known as overactive pigment-producing skin cells that often lead to frequent hyper-pigmentation.
So I know that the hair care industry is pretty evolved and actually massive and high margin when it comes to catering to black women for instance. But there is no real skin care comparative. Rama Musa, the inventor of Sikasso De Suisse, speculates that skin care companies see darker skin tone customers “as second-class consumers.” She may be right as at least a quarter of the world has a darker skin tone, whether it is black or brown. But until now there really is no line of skin care products to cater to this huge number of people and their structurally unique skin.
As I write this article, only about $2000 has been raised so far on Kickstarter out of a $35,000 goal within 2 weeks. The funds are said to be destined for the final rounds of clinical testings required for product registration in the European Union in addition to inventory and packaging. This is the first time that I have heard that actual clinical testing is required for a cosmetic product to be registered in Europe. I’ve heard about routine safety tests but an actual clinical test to prove efficacy is not required for registration and its cost will well exceed any amount raised on Kickstarter.
Regardless, this has gotten a bit of attention today in the health and beauty media circles. Yet the campaign on Kickstarter has not performed very well and looks destined to fall well short of its target. While the science about the ceramides and increased water vapor loss in dark skin makes sense to me, I still think it will be a tough sell. It is extremely difficult to launch a brand new skin care line. Giants like Estee Lauder and L’Oreal completely dominate. Clearly they have considered this market and passed on it for one reason or another.
Similarly, I’ve criticized a number of men’s skin care startups here before. Truth be told, this is even more of a micro niche that will require a ton of advertising spend to educate the pigmented skin consumers of the benefits in using special products for their skin. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one launching this brand as I think it will be a very costly initiative to gain traction. And if it succeeds, the copycats will be out in droves ready to steal market share. This is maybe one of those ideas that sounds way better than it is.