The oxidation-resistant formula delivers full-strength results from first application to last.

By Erin Lukas
Jun 08, 2020 @ 5:43 pm
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Vitamin C serum is one skincare product dermatologists, cosmetic chemists, and beauty editors all agree on. The antioxidant is considered a must-have ingredient in every skincare routine because it tackles a number of common skin hang ups including fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, plus it leaves skin with that allover glow so many of us are chasing in our skincare routines.

Of course, vitamin C has a catch: it can be extremely effective, but it's finicky. The ingredient is extremely prone to oxidization, which not only turns the serum orange-brown, it diminishes its effectiveness. So, while there's a ton of vitamin C serums out there to choose from, depending on how much they oxidize throughout their shelf life, you're not going to get full-strength results from first application to last.

The unpredictability of vitamin C sent veteran Estée Lauder cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson into problem-solving mode. In addition to running BeautyStat, a website that offers expert skincare product reviews, he spent five years researching and experimenting in the lab until he landed on a proprietary encapsulation method for pure vitamin C. In 2019 he launched BeautyStat's first product, the Universal C Skin Refiner, a serum formulated with encapsulated 20% pure L-Ascorbic acid, along with EGCG (the active ingredient found in green tea), squalane, and exfoliating tartaric acid. Robinson has three patents on the serum, independent clinical trials to back up its claims, and it quickly achieved cult-favorite status in the beauty industry and became a best-seller at Violet Grey.

Since the success of Universal C Skin Refiner, Robinson has launched the Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream, a moisturizer with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, and most recently, the Universal C Eye Perfector, an eye cream packed with his patented vitamin C and CBD, another buzzy beauty ingredient.

Here, we caught up with Robinson to find out what makes products from cosmetic chemist-founded brands so effective, the deal with CBD and why it belongs in an eye cream, and more.

What was your knowledge of skincare prior to becoming a cosmetic chemist? 

Cosmetic chemistry wasn’t a part of any curriculum back when I was in school. Most of the chemists who became cosmetic chemists fell into it or studied more basic chemistry that would lead towards engineering. It was one of those things where you could bring your adjacent chemistry experience or education to the table, but you really had to learn it on the job.

BeautyStat started as an online platform for expert product reviews. How did reviewing other brands' products influence your own skincare brand? 

When I was working on product reviews of other people’s products, I also became a go-to cosmetic chemist for the media. A lot of beauty editors would tap into me for my expert opinion on ingredients and trends. Even though I wasn’t working in the lab at this time, I was constantly doing research and vitamin C would constantly come up in my discussions with editors. Specifically, the stability of vitamin C. I thought if my team and I were able to stabilize a pure form of vitamin C and deliver it in a product with great clinical trials, then we would have a brand. I had no intentions to start my own brand. My peers would always ask me why and I’d tell them there were already enough products on the market. Solving this gap with vitamin C is what finally inspired me.

How long did it take to land on your patented vitamin C serum? 

It took about five years of tinkering around on the side. The product had to check off three boxes in order for me to be believe it deserves to be on the market. First, being able to patent the serum was key because if I’m investing my time, I want the product to be protected. Second, the serum had to have a great texture so that consumers have a positive experience when they touch, feel, and use it. Finally, the serum needed to be good enough to put on an independent clinical test to prove that it really delivers results. Once we solved all three pieces of this puzzle, I knew we had a brand.

BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner

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To buy: $80; amazon.com.

What’s the difference between brands founded by dermatologists and cosmetic chemists? 

A lot of editors I work with want commentary from both perspectives. A dermatologist knows the science and biology of the skin and how to treat it from a medical perspective. However, they won’t know how to cook or bake the ingredients. A cosmetic chemist takes the general knowledge of ingredients and puts them together to make a product that delivers results and looks and feels good to use.

Your new vitamin C eye cream has CBD in it. How did you approach the trendy ingredient from a cosmetic chemist's point of view? 

As a chemist, I rarely rely on a single ingredient — especially if the product is supposed to do a lot for the consumer’s skin. Vitamin C is an exception because it is so powerful.

The eye area has all of the usual skincare concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and loss of firmness. What we think makes it different from the rest of the face is that it’s also prone to congestion and puffiness. What’s the underlying cause of these issues? Inflammation, which can cause fluid buildup and a breakdown of healthy cells. We could have launched an eye cream with just vitamin C but we felt like we also needed an ingredient that solved the problems unique to the eye area. So, we looked to adding CBD to our patented stabilized vitamin C. We were skeptical at first because everyone says how great it is but there’s no meat behind using it. However, we just got our consumer test results back and they’re fabulous.

BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector

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To buy: $65; beautystat.com.

What are your plans for BeautyStat's expansion? 

We’re being very thoughtful about it. We have a mission of scouring the planet for really interesting technologies and ingredients that are going to deliver results. We get feedback from retailers about how we only have a couple of SKUs and we need more presence in stores. That’s not us. We’re not going to throw out products just to take up shelf space. Each product has to stand on its own and really deliver a need to consumers.