Sage & Ylang was founded in 2018 by Irene Chong, a former registered nurse turned organic skin care formulator.
Recently, the brand debuted its first microbiome-friendly range with a moisturiser and will extend the line with a facial wash and a beauty essence shortly.
Later this year, the brand will also be launching four beauty boosters which can be added to the beauty essence depending on skin type or concern. The first four boosters will target oily skin, acne-prone skin, wrinkles and uneven skin tone.
The products were developed with the support of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), a Singapore government-supported research and development institute, and its Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE).
“In 2019, we started a collaboration with A*STAR and IMRE. They supported us in the process of us creating the formulation. This included using machine learning to help us optimise the performance of our formulation and they also did some bacteria viability studies for our company,” Chong explained.
The company also collaborated with Sequential Skin, another local start-up, to test the products with its skin microbiome testing kit.
“The team at Sequential Skin was a real help to us. We tested our focus group with the test kits before and after [using our products] and they all showed that their skin microbiome diversity was increased after use just after one month,” said Chong.
The company also managed to attain a microbiome-friendly certification from German association, My Microbiome.
Keeping it simple
Chong told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that developing a customisable solution was one way of keeping the entire range as minimal as possible.
“We designed the skin care routine to be very simple because we believe using too many products can damage the skin microbiome. At the same time, we saw a need for a more specialised solution in the market because most people with sensitive skin are limited to [mass market] products you can find in a [pharmacy].”
Currently, the brand is available primarily via its official website. However, this year, it will be launching a physical retail outlet.
“The main reason why we need a physical location is simply to engage with our consumers. We want to give our customers that retail experience and educate them as well because when it comes to the skin microbiome, there’s still a lot of education that needs to be done on the subject and the product,” said Chong.
She added that the company plans to use the unveiling of its new retail outlet to officially launch its microbiome-friendly skin care series in order to drum up more awareness of the brand and its products.
“We definitely want to build up a strong foundation in Singapore. I would say the choices of sensitive skin in Singapore is quite limited so I really believe there is a market here that we can help. The main goal for this year I would say is to gain [the consumers] trust and build it up from there.”
Aside from Singapore, the company also has ambitions to expand into new markets such as South East Asian countries as well as the UK.
“Once we build up Singapore we can talk about expansion. We actually already have omnichannel partners in the UK, but we won’t move to fast. Our first step will probably be around the SEA region, but we will definitely want to expand further into markets like the UK where we believe there is a natural draw and attraction.”