Singapore Beauty Startup Sequential Skin Uses Science to Help Identify the Best Skincare For You
What is the secret to healthy glowing skin? It’s a question that still baffles us as we go through a lifetime’s worth of trial and error to find the products that suit our skin. For the team at Sequential Skin, the answer can be found in science.
In 2018, genetic scientists Oliver Worsley and Albert Dashi, the co-founders of the Singapore-based beauty startup, created the world’s first at-home skin test based on genetic analysis and microbiome identification to help its customers find products that truly suit them. Microbiome refers to the living organism on your skin, including bacteria, fungi and viruses—or the “invisible players”, as Dashi aptly describes them. The Swiss national met Worsley, who is from the UK, while they were doing their PhDs in molecular biology at the National University of Singapore.
“We were both driven by the idea of bringing basic science into the beauty world and to commercialise it for the benefit of people, especially those suffering from major skin conditions,” shares Dashi. “As we were both into molecular biology—the study of molecules necessary for cells to function—we eventually developed a technology which allows us to collect your genetic material and microbiomes at the same time.”
Today, customers can get their hands on a test kit by ordering it from Sequential Skin's website. The kit comprises five items, including a test patch, a test tube and an instruction card. The process is simple: stick the test patch on your forehead in order to collect your skin sample, before mailing it back to the team. After which, you will receive a complete skin analysis in a week’s time, as well as recommendations for three products: a cleanser, a day treatment and a night treatment.
The sample will first be subjected to Sequential Skin’s next-generation sequencing technology, which gives the team a clear view of the skin’s genetic make-up (what you were born with) and the DNA of the skin’s microbiome (the environment you are in). From there, the team will make an in-depth assessment based on five key traits: hydration, sensitivity response, firmness, sun protection and antioxidant capacity. These factors have the most impact on skin health.
The skin’s microbiome is dependent on external factors such as air quality and sunlight, and largely impacts the composition of protein—collagen and elastin—that retains the skin’s elasticity and radiance. Capturing the diversity of your skin’s microbiome informs the team on the good bacteria that requires a boost and bad bacteria that needs to be reduced, Dashi explains.
The microbiome is also unique to your geographical location. For example, the dry climate in Spain will show a very different microbiome set to that of Singapore. Mapping out skin microbiomes in different parts of the world is something that the team looks forward to in the next stage of their development. Not only will it help them to better understand the nature of microbiomes from a global perspective, it also offers a more accurate analysis for customers moving forward. Sequential Skin is also in the midst of scaling up its operations to reduce turnover time and eventually offer the service to more customers.
(Related: Beauty Talk: Marie Drago, Founder Of Gallinée Tells Us Why Bacteria Is Good For Our Skin)
People are now becoming more aware that it is really important to look at this external factor. At this moment, the number of skincare products that target the skin microbiome remains a small number, but it is increasing.
— Oliver Worsley
To better assist customers in their quest for better skin, Sequential Skin brought on board skincare director Pétronille Houdart, who brings with her a wealth of experience in the beauty and pharmaceutical industries.
She explains: “Based on your skin profile, we will choose off-the‑shelf products with suitable active ingredients for you, taking into consideration your preferred price points, among other factors.”
(Related: You Can Influence The Way Your Skin Ages—Here's How)
- Photography Darren Gabriel Leow
- Art Direction Jana Tan
- Make-Up Zoel Tee