Musicians Mike Einziger and Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger have been working on a new kind of debut: A skin care brand.
The husband-and-wife duo have teamed up with Jessica Goldin — an alum of Clinique, Murad and Beautycounter — to found Mother Science, which launches Tuesday with an $89 Molecular Hero Serum that aims to treat hyperpigmentation.
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The product’s star ingredient is a yeast-derived molecule called malassezin, which a series of clinical studies have suggested can be effective in treating myriad forms of hyperpigmentation.
“It was never our intention to start a skin care brand — we were just trying to figure out what was happening with my own skin,” said Simpson-Einziger, a violinist who in 2016 developed a series of harmless — but baffling — lightened patches of skin on her back.
After a visit to the doctor deemed the patches a “medical mystery,” Simpson-Einziger and her husband (who is also the lead guitarist of rock band Incubus) set out to identify the cause themselves — and see if its lightening effects could consequently reduce the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation.
“It was a long journey — we were in this state for maybe three years of researching and publishing papers on [The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology], without commercializing,” said Simpson-Einziger.
While there are studies of malassezin dating back to the early 2000s, more research was necessary in order to bring the molecule’s antioxidant properties to life in a consumer skin care product, which, prior to this launch, had never been done. To accomplish this, the brand tapped Dr. Pearl Grimes — who is the founder and director of the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute of Southern California — as its chief scientific officer.
“Malassezin works in three different ways: it’s able to slow the transport of melanin to the upper layers of skin; it’s able to slow the development of excess pigmentation, and it also slows the transfer of melanin between skin cells,” said Simpson-Einziger.
“All of our initial products are all going to be focused on malassezin; it is such a powerhouse ingredient, and we’re looking to see how we can play up its benefits in different ways and forms,” said Simpson-Einziger.
“A longer-term goal for us is we hope that one day malassezin will become the gold standard in treating dark spots and hyperpigmentation,” said Goldin, who serves as chief executive officer of Mother Science in addition to being a cofounder.
The brand has raised $6.2 million in funding to date, the majority coming from a seed round led by Female Founders Fund last November. Though the founders declined to comment on sales expectations for the launch, industry sources estimate Mother Science could do between $1 million and $5 million in first-year retail sales.
“I look at this brand the same way I look at music; it’s extremely hard to make anything in this world that people will actually care about, and I’m humbled that I’ve been lucky enough to do that. My hope is that Mother Science can connect and resonate with a community of people experiencing these issues with their skin,” said Einziger.
“We want to make a hit,” added Simpson-Einziger, grinning.
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