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Founder of mySKINBAR has discovered the crux of acne (and it involves bugs!)

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Founded by Singaporean Eva Soh, mySKINBAR is a local skincare brand that wants to break the box and challenge conventional beauty norms – to have fun with it – sans the usual prescribed five-step skincare routine.

And at the crux of the brand? The epitome of acne eradication. The solution – also their star concoction – is none other than The Crux, an acne correcting gel that is made of natural ingredients such as willow bark extract, iris root extract, vitamin A, balm mint, ginseng extract and garlic extract. Yep, your ingredient label reading friend (or self) would approve.

The acne gel has gone through five years of clinical trials to effectively remove bacteria and Demodex Mites – creepy crawlies (!) that are part of our face and body microbiome! “I wanted our products to be unconventionally useful,” Eva shares. “They are trusted to work and show in the results.”

Available in three sizes, 6ml ($18), 15ml ($45) and 50ml ($119), The Crux has a track record of miraculously made pimples disappear – don’t take our word for it, try it for yourself! We also get up close with Eva on how she started mySKINBAR, her experience and advice as a womenpreneur.

1. Tell us all about yourself, as the founder of mySKINBAR!

Before starting mySKINBAR, I was the Chief Operating Officer of Transamerica Life. I started out as a business analyst in Cargill. As I was passionately in love with finance, I spent the next 15 years working my way up the corporate ladder.

I was actually blessed to be born with good skin. However, as an athlete in my younger years, I didn’t understand how the skin works and was complacent. I had accumulated significant sun damage by staying outdoors without proper sun protection. It didn’t really hit me till I was in my thirties when I started seeing pigmentation manifesting.

Now, I keep my skincare regimen to a minimum.  I use my own brand’s anti-aging cleanser, Whole’istic Cream and sunblock Summer Lovin’ which is also a primer with pigmentation reduction benefit in the day. I mix my probiotic-infused toner Early Addiction with my skin age-reversing elixir Gets Better With Age, which doubles up as a moisturiser in the night.

2. Why did you start mySKINBAR? 

Ten years ago, I met the doctor who would become a close collaborator with mySKINBAR. At that time, he and his lab were working with patients suffering from serious acne. They were baffled because while effective as spot treatments, our treatments were only 60% successful in totally eradicating acne. This wasn’t enough; we wanted to dig deeper to the root of the issue.

They decided to squeeze out sebum from the nose (the oiliest part of our skin, because it has the highest concentration of oil glands) and put it under the microscope, and to our surprise, we found feasting away on the sebum and skin – the Demodex mite.

We later found out that such feasting by the Demodex Mite along with acne bacteria on our skin triggers an inflammatory response that’s called acne.

When the team discovered the Demodex Mite and its connection to acne and realised that there may be an alternative non-invasive method of addressing our skin – in particular, acne – concerns that will not cause long-term damage or side effects, I was overcome with an inexplicable desire to share my findings with people who were, struggling with skin troubles. It was so much so that I couldn’t sleep for two weeks and almost checked myself into the hospital to seek help for my insomnia! I then knew – this was something I had to do, and it prompted me to take a leap and start mySKINBAR.

3. How did you start the business?

I spent three years after my discovery with the doctor studying on my own for the business – from the scientific know-how of how skin works, and hence how our products could work effectively, to brand development and a whole laundry list. It definitely wasn’t easy figuring things out since I started off with what was an essentially blank state.

I struggled with building the brand and its concept as well as spreading the word initially after setting up the company in 2011. In 2012, we set up a 700sqf concept store in Park Mall to test things out.

4. What is one challenge no one knows about when you first launched your business? 

The skincare industry is highly competitive and saturated. It was tough on our part to break into the market, especially since I started the brand from scratch. I took it upon myself to learn the ropes of a new industry, of what would work and what would not.

Amidst all the competition we had, I wanted us to break out knowing we had the right products on hand that could touch and heal many lives. With our top acne treatment, The Crux, and our signature Skin-Age reversing treatment, Gets Better With Age, I believed firmly that they were heroes before their time. We just had to hang on long enough, spread the word and allow its results to speak for itself. From our initial launch till now, we’ve healed many acne sufferers and helped individuals in their late 30s-50s regain time on their skin. That was what made the difficulties from our early days feel so much lighter and rewarding in hindsight.

5. What is mySKINBAR all about?

It’s to Break the Box™, that is the spirit that underpins all that we do at mySKINBAR. We want to break the barriers that confine how we can approach skincare, and in a larger sense life.

To begin, our concept is rooted in a bar, to be able to mix and match whatever may be suitable for your skin, in no particular order and have fun. We want to bring to the table a fuss-free, laidback attitude towards skincare.

mySKINBAR is a gender-neutral brand that provides a holistic range of products, from ASAP acne solutions, ASAP sensitive skin solutions to ASAP pigmentation solutions and cleansing duos. When I was still in the early stages of building this business, I always thought that it has to be unconventionally useful, a game changer—especially in a saturated market. However, at the crux of it our products are trusted to work and show in the results. That’s what we desired, breaking the box of highly effective topical treatments that are progressive.

6. What is Demodex Mite and how does it help combat acne? Who is it especially suitable for?

There are two types of mites that live on our skin: the Demodex Brevis and the Demodex Folliculorum.

The key difference is location; the Demodex Folliculorum tends to stay on the face, while the Demodex Brevis can distribute all over the body, particularly on areas that have oil glands.

These mites are found in areas with oil glands as they feed off sebum and skin cells. When the Demodex Mites seek refuge in the oil glands, an inflammatory reaction may occur due to the chemicals from the mites that affect hair follicles, leading to acne. The Crux is concocted to kill both of these.

Over the years, we have perfected the formulation of natural ingredients that includes Willow Bark and Iris Extract, to combat the mites and consequently, acne. The Crux not only works to reset your skin’s ecosystem to its equilibrium, but also regulates the secretion of excess sebum without drying out your skin. It is really made for anyone, from expecting mothers to teenagers with sensitive skin. As long as you are suffering from acne, The Crux is the product for you. Even the most chronic cases of acne can be treated topically. Paired with The Sidekick, which flushes out the bacteria, they can eradicate the mites and consequently, acne.

7. What do you envision the future of the beauty and cosmetics industry to be?

The beauty and cosmetic industry will definitely continue to grow. According to statistics sources published in May 2020, the global skin care market is estimated to be near USD 190 billion by 2025.  The global cosmetic market grew by an estimated 5.5% in 2018 and 5.25% in 2019 compared to the previous year sales.

Although the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis may have put a damper on the market, in the coming years, global cosmetic companies will continue to focus on their efforts on product innovation. As consumers’ tastes and preferences shift to focus more on the ideals of self-care, product innovation is one of the keys to continue to attract new customers and keep existing consumers loyal to the brands.

For example, the development of 5G and AI technologies, new concepts in the ‘cosmeceuticals’ in the United States or ‘quasi-drugs’ in Japan may play a role in re-shaping the beauty industry.

8. What is one health hack or wellness tip you personally subscribe to.

It’s definitely exercise. There’s a reason why it’s highly recommended, and I’ll spare you listing the whole list of benefits. It boosts metabolic rate and encourages the secretion of endorphins. And it’s scientifically proven that aging kicks in when metabolic rate starts to dip dramatically around 30s, so that means exercise naturally helps to keep you looking and feeling young – it’s all about from the inside out mentality. Also, endorphins make you happy.

It’s one major thing we’ve rooted the brand in, and I strongly believe in it on a personal level too. Happiness just brightens you up from within, but it also helps to preserve your youth and allow your body to recover faster. So, just keep moving everyday – be it a stroll in the park, a bike ride or a workout at the gym.

9. What is one advice you would give to budding local womenpreneurs today?

It’s one thing to want to become an entrepreneur, but there are demanding commitments to build a business from scratch. You can’t be committed to the dream and attain it. You have to be committed to the process of building that dream.

While you’re going through this journey, you will definitely encounter difficulties and it will get tiring. But as matter of fact, it’s the process that builds your stamina, your insight, and most importantly your relationships, which are the lifeblood of any business. So keep at it, and create rich experiences for yourself, you are definitely qualified to build and own your own successful business.

Relish in the process of building your experience — it allows you to build resilience to be able to respond to diverse and unexpected conditions, which is what you’ll experience a lot in running a business. Just like how an experienced pilot knows they must be ready to adjust their course at any time. You are in charge of steering your business in response to whatever changes the market undergoes. Change should never surprise an entrepreneur.

New entrepreneurs need to realise that their vision must extend forward all the way to their destination – the success of their business – and then work backward. Think first about the end result you want to achieve. While we would all like to explode overnight into crazy success beyond our wildest dreams, that simply isn’t likely or feasible for the vast majority of entrepreneurs. Yes, it does happen, largely thanks to social media and technology, but those success stories are the exception and not the norm.

Count on cultivating your new venture over time, knowing you have much to learn through this process of experience, maturity, and growth. Your power to reach your destination lies in the process! Have patience, and as scary as it seems, trust it. You will get there. And I would like nothing more to see more strong women-led brands going forward.

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