In the beauty world, it’s hard to get ahead of the curve. But Nicholas Perricone, M.D., MACN, CNS, Board Certified Dermatologist, Master of the American College of Nutrition, has been doing that for more than two decades with his eponymous skincare line, Perricone MD. Embracing holistic skincare and touting its link to wellness long before it was a trend, he introduced an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle with his best-selling book, The Wrinkle Cure. Now Perricone MD is undergoing a re-branding and Perricone, along with his brand’s Chief Marketing Officer Robert Koerner, tells us all about the brand’s past and future.
How did you rely on hero science to make your brand a cult favorite over the past 20 years? NP: During medical school and my three-year residency in dermatology, I made important connections between inflammation and disease. To learn about hundreds of skin diseases we studied in books, we also needed to recognize them in clinical examination and under a microscope. This inflammation is sub-clinical, invisible to the naked eye, but it goes on day after day, causing great damage. I was convinced this was not a secondary response. I believed inflammation to be the key to the whole process of disease of every type. This led me to develop an inflammation-aging theory that is the basis of decades of my research. Thus began the quest for safe, effective anti-inflammatories that could stop, treat, and reverse the symptoms—without doing harm. My goal is to treat the signs of aging, including aging skin as a disease, rather than just cover up the problems, and reduce inflammation at the cellular level through the creation of a three-tiered anti-inflammatory program consisting of an anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements and anti-inflammatory topicals. Therefore, creating topicals that also act as antioxidants—nature’s natural anti-inflammatories—was and continues to be my inspiration. Because my field is dermatology, where signs of aging and disease are so very visible, I have made it my life’s work to intervene to halt this inflammation, reversing its negative effects, internally and externally.
Why did you decide now was the right time to rebrand your line? RK: Several factors drove our rebrand. First, after twenty years of innovation, our portfolio had become too confusing to the consumer. So we first took a hard look at the assortment, made many cuts and then repositioned the entire range into color-coded franchise based on skin concern. Next, we developed an entirely new brand positioning and tone of voice that reasserts our leadership in the scientifically-backed premium skincare market, refocusing our message to reach the Baby Boomer and Generation X consumer. These 40+ consumers are looking for serious skincare solutions that work, and our strategy has shifted to focus on straightforward results backed by our proprietary sciences, clinical studies and consumer testimonials. We don’t feel the need to chase millennials and we understand that we may not be for everyone.
How does the new color-coded packaging make it easier for clients to find the right products? RK: With products grouped into easy-to-understand color-coded franchises, consumers can more quickly self-select solutions that are right for their skin concerns and meet their needs. As well, more straightforward product names and streamlined packaging copy clearly communicate ingredients and benefits. We’ve significantly edited the assortment and improved the navigation, allowing consumers to easily curate their perfect assortment based on their individual skin concerns. The revised Perricone MD collections consist of the High Potency Classics, Vitamin C Ester, Hypoallergenic, Cold Plasma Plus, Essential Fx, Neuropeptide, No: Rinse, No Makeup, Masks, Pre:Empt Series and H2 Elemental Energy.
Why did you decide to partner with Scientista? RK: Honoring Perricone MD’s scientific roots was incredibly important to us as we evaluated the appropriate philanthropic partner. Scientista was an organic fit as it is a national organization that creates more opportunities in the STEM field specifically for women. Through our partnership with Scientista, we pave the way for the next generation of female scientists. Perricone MD has donated $100,000 to Scientista to provide four fellowships to young women seeking to further their studies in a STEM-related field. The four finalists will be invited to present a 10-minute talk to share their unique Born Seeker story at the annual Scientista Symposium, the leading conference for college and graduate women in STEM.
Why did you put the spotlight on female scientists? RK: We wanted to celebrate female scientists as they so naturally encompass the spirit of the Perricone MD brand, which has been built on a foundation of scientific pursuit and innovation. Female scientists make up a small percentage of professionals in STEM and the women who participated in the Born Seekers program are true trail blazers in their respective fields. In the same way that Dr. Nicholas Perricone established himself as a scientific rebel espousing an anti-inflammatory philosophy, the women in the campaign have paved the way for future female scientists thanks to their dedication to scientific research in industries ranging from genetic research to astronomy.
Your new products feature Vitamin F; what is it and what are its perks? NP: Vitamin F has been around for years but hasn’t been touted as a hero ingredient. Essential oils like Argan, rosehip and chia are wildly popular because they contain vitamin F. Vitamin F is the collection of unsaturated fats (like Omega 3,6, and 9s) that your body needs to obtain from the diet. They are essential building blocks of your skin barrier, making up around 40% of the dry weight of your cellular membranes. Vitamin F is unique in that its intensely moisturizing properties can improve the skin’s moisture barrier, resulting in more supple, glowing skin. Vitamin F is not found naturally within the body, but its benefits can be found within natural ingredients such as chia seed oil, flaxseed oil, macadamia seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, and sardines.
You were one of the first to launch no-makeup makeup. What ingredients should people look for to ensure their makeup is actually good for their skin? NP: Working with the world’s most beautiful and famous faces poses special challenges, such as how to provide a dewy and flawless look while letting your own natural beauty and radiance shine through. To find the answer, I turned to a major source of my research for the past two decades: alpha lipoic acid. This patented, proprietary multi-tasking antioxidant decreases the appearance of uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles and large pores while improving the appearance of your skin’s resilience, tone and texture.
What’s the link between our diet and our skin? NP: Our diet can either be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory and our food choices play a huge role in causing or stopping this inflammation. Therefore, understanding our food choices is vital if we want to lower inflammation and it is our single most important step in the holistic approach to health and beauty. My research has shown that the best strategy for keeping healthy and skin youthful and radiant is to follow the anti-inflammatory diet, which is designed to carefully control blood sugar and insulin levels. This means we must avoid the pro-inflammatory foods, which consists of foods that provoke a “glycemic” response in the body, i.e. cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin. This includes all forms of sugar, processed foods, pasta, breads, pastry, baked goods, and snack foods such as rice and corn cakes, chips, pretzels, etc. These foods cause an inflammatory response which results in the acceleration of the aging process of all organ systems in our body, including the skin, causing an increased risk of degenerative disease and inflexible, wrinkled, sagging skin.
What is the one thing you wish every woman did for her skin? NP: Make sure that your diet contains adequate protein. We need adequate protein so that the cells can repair themselves. In fact, it is the ongoing lack of protein that accelerates aging. Protein is the building block of life and the proteins in our body can be rapidly degraded by glycation. Protein cannot be stored in the body and needs to be eaten every day at each meal. Fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs and dairy products such as yogurt and kefir and tofu are excellent sources of high quality protein. Without adequate protein, our bodies enter into an accelerated aging mode. Our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin, and the antibodies that protect us from disease are all made of protein. Even the enzymes that facilitate essential chemical reactions in the body—from digestion to building cells—are made of protein. If our cells do not have complete availability of all the essential amino acids, cellular repair will not only be incomplete, it will be much slower than it should be. Ideally, we should eat three meals per day and two snacks evenly spaced to provide a steady flow of nutrients, fats, protein and carbohydrates for optimum performance and to avoid physical and mental fatigue.