How Beauty Founder Sabrina Tan Changed the Personalized Skincare Game

The founder of Skin Inc. Supplement Bar talks to InStyle about the brand's future.

Beauty Boss Sabrina Tan

Sabrina Tan

The one-size-fits-all method often just doesn't cut it — especially when it comes to skincare. Everyone's skin is unique, and a personalized approach is essential for tackling individual concerns. Skin Inc. Supplement Bar CEO and founder Sabrina Tan knows this all too well.

"I was constantly frustrated with my inability to find products that worked for my specific skin condition, which is sensitive, dull, and eczema prone. Many brands in the market addressed generic skin needs and did not account for individual differences or the fact that our skincare needs constantly change," Tan tells InStyle. "As a mother and career woman, I was and am constantly extremely busy juggling my career, family, and personal interests; I definitely could not afford time for trial and error."

So, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and thus Skin Inc. was born. The brand seeks to fill a gap in the beauty market by offering bespoke solutions to skin concerns. Touted as the "world's first customizable serum cocktail bar," Skin Inc. offers a personalized quiz that will help determine which serums are best suited for your skin and lifestyle. You can mix and match based on the results of your test or just buy one with the active ingredient you're most interested in.

The brand also has expanded to other products, like cleansers, moisturizers, and masks. You can find skin devices, too, that will give you the ultimate at-home spa experience. "Skincare should not be about one-size-fits-all," Tan explains. "[It's about] a one-size-fits-one."

In a conversation with InStyle, the entrepreneur discusses why she wanted to make customizable skincare, how Artificial Intelligence is the future of beauty, and her advice for those who want to disrupt the beauty industry. Below, read our interview.

Why did you decide to hone in on customizable skincare? 

Essentially, I was tired of having a skincare "vanity grave," as I like to call it: too many products with false promises. I knew that there had to be a perfect solution for my skin and my skincare needs, as everyone is different. Why not have a solution just for me? With that ideology [of customize, don't compromise], I decided to reboot beauty and start Skin Inc. 15 years ago — and I never looked back. 

What were some of the challenges you faced while starting the brand? 

[The first was] hiring people with the right skills but not the right attitude. Always focus on hiring people with the right attitude [to] ensure the team understands the vision and the purpose and is concentrated on impact. Remind your team that perseverance and resilience are key to success. [The second], trying to be perfect; it’s about impact, moving fast, and learning fast.

What's the best part about starting a brand? 

It's all about writing your own story and being the creator from start to finish. Your own brand is essentially your baby. You bring it into the world, nurture it, and hope and pray that it's successful in the end. It takes a lot of effort: late nights, early mornings, training, and discipline. However, these are all important things to ensure its success. The best part is to see how it has grown and impacted people's lives in a positive way.

Skin Inc. is moving more and more into the tech space. Why is that?

Having worked 11 years in the tech industry at Oracle, HP Inc., and IBM, I saw early on that there was an opportunity to infuse technology into skincare. We introduced one of the first LED devices in the market, [which are] customizable to each person’s skin frustration and stays true to our mantra: customize, don’t compromise. We have used technology for the benefit of our customers.

Two years ago, we saw a need to go beyond by infusing what I have known from Asia for a long time: the need to track your wellness [to] improve your skin health. The Skin Inc. Tri-light +SABI AI, the first A.I.-driven 360 Wellness and Skin Health coach was the answer. Artificial Intelligence allows us to truly give accurate personalized suggestions and treatments. This is the future. We are all different...and our skincare should mirror that. This is only the beginning. We can’t wait to continue to innovate for the benefit of our customers. 

I know it's hard to pick just one, so what are your three favorite products from the brand? why do you like them, and do you use them in your routine?

For eczema and sensitive skin like mine, I have a 3-step morning routine: My Daily Dose customized cocktail of serums which consists of hyaluronic acid, which is great for dry skin, ceramides for my eczema-prone skin to strengthen the skin’s barrier, and vitamin A for anti-aging and brightening [properties].

I then apply our Pure Serum Infused Moisturizer, [which is a] quick-absorbing hydro cream that hydrates from within and quenches the skin surface upon contact, allowing active ingredients to be released on demand. Then I use my Tri-Light +SABI AI, which is a device that combines sonic, Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field (PEMF) and hydro-sensor technologies with five targeted LED Lights to customize a routine that addresses multiple skin concerns synergistically and enhances the performance of your skincare ingredients for a radiant, healthy glow. Last, I top it off with the Serum Glow Filter for a naturally radiant, no-make-up glow, and I’m set for the day.

I guess that's four products, not three.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring beauty bosses? 

Make sure that you have a purpose and that it’s clear to you, your team, and — most importantly — to your customers. Our purpose has been custom beauty for every you. This means we will never compromise on giving our customers customized solutions for their wellness and skin health. 

Aside from purpose, I think the hardest part sometimes is that it’s lonely at the top. Make sure you do what I did and [apply] the big mindset shift: talk to, discover, energize, and try not to blame yourself. You are human. Yes, you are running a company, and people expect you to lead them to some extent but don’t take it all on you. Lastly, keep five to 10 close partners and friends informed, bounce ideas off them, and fine-tune your strategies.

Beauty Boss profiles the brains behind the brands making waves in the beauty industry. From the ideas that first inspire brands to how best-selling hair, makeup, and skincare products are made, find out how these leaders get it done.

Related Articles