Meeting Nicolas Travis, it's hard not to feel his enthusiasm, both for giving everyone the chance to have good, healthy skin and for his skincare brand Allies of Skin. The brand which has just launched via its website, is all about creating smart, effective, safe products for the modern multi-hypehanate. We speak to Travis to find out what makes Allies of Skin different and how you can incorporate his products into your routine.
Why did you start Allies of Skin? What was the niche that you saw in the market?
Having my own skincare line has always been the dream. I believe it is everyone's birthright to feel great in their own skin. I've always been fascinated by the link between confidence and good skin. Through honest, concentrated formulas, I aspire to help people feel like they can be the best versions of themselves. The current status quo of having to use 14 products in order to attain great skin is something I want to challenge, because honestly, who has the time for that?
Good skin does not happen overnight and there is no silver bullet. I'm not a fan of the term 'anti-ageing' because that connotes that ageing is somehow inherently bad. The truth of the matter is, ageing is a natural biological process and we get older with each new day. There is nothing we can do to stop the process. However, what we can do is be the best versions of ourselves at any given age. I have 10 products in the pipeline and with every product, I hope to be able to provide effortless joy — the kind of joy that feeling good about yourself brings about.
Proceeds from the sale of every product will go into a fund that will help provide scholarships for orphans in Singapore. I believe that it's not where you came from that matters, it's where you're going that counts. Through education, I hope to be able to help kids feel like they too can be the best versions of themselves.
What is the concept of Allies of Skin, and how is it different from other brands?
We create effortless, time-saving problem solvers. We believe that taking care of your skin should never feel cumbersome. Your products should work hard for you; you should not be a slave to your regimen. Every Allies of Skin product is a supercharged, nutrient-reservoir that you can apply and then go about your life. They are fuss-free and formulated to play well with all other products. One great thing about our products is the very low adoption risk. They were created to be complexion boosters so no matter what your existing regimen is, you do not have to give it up. Through our blind clinical trials, our products have been proven to improve the skin when used on their own. If you have essences and serums that you love, go ahead and layer them before our masks. They will help seal in all the goodness of your other products as well as protect with a mega dose of healing nutrients.
What is special about your formulation and choice of ingredients?
Our lab is in the US and all products are made there. We adhere to a very strict formulation ethos and all our products are created in small batches to ensure maximum freshness. They are formulated without silicones, mineral oils, petrochemicals, parabens, polyethylene glycol, sulfates, GMOs, triclosan, DEA/TEA, phthalates, drying alcohol, synthetic dyes and fragrances.
Before every formula is approved, it undergoes multiple clinical tests. We ensure every product is chirally correct, allergy-tested, dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and non-acnegenic (won't cause acne). In fact through a blind clinical study, our 1A All-Day Mask was found to decrease the number of non-inflammatory acne lesions (open and closed comedones) by 36 per cent after 28 days. This is one of the ways we prove the efficacy of the product.
What is the inspiration behind the packaging and the product offerings? Is your brand a unisex brand?
We are inspired by real people and real beauty. We believe beauty comes in all shades, sizes and forms. We, unfortunately, still live in a time where women are paid less than men, but men get to roll out of bed and show up to work. Women, on the other hand, have more pressure to feel that they have to put on layers of makeup.
The skin is the largest organ we have. It is brilliant and one of the few organs we have that is capable of regenerating itself. So everything starts with the skin. If you have good skin, you don't feel like you need so much makeup. The choice to not feel like you have to hide or conceal anything is powerful. The choice to feel like you can leave the house as you are is powerful. That's what we aspire to do — empower people with every product.
The truth is, skin is skin. It has no gender. All our products were created for and tested extensively on all genders from aged 20 to 60 (from sensitive to dry to oily to acne-prone skin). Allies of Skin is created for the modern multi-hyphenate. The individual who is a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a go-getter and wants to look and feel good while having to juggle all that. We want to help you check off that box so you can focus on living your dreams. This is why we created our leave-on masks. Everyone should be able to feel great in their own skin and now you can do that, minus any hassle. Our 1A masks work throughout the day and night to repair and nourish your skin. Leave taking care of your skin to us and go live.
What are the challenges in creating a skincare brand from scratch and in Singapore?
It is a challenge to formulate from scratch adhering to a strict code. There are so many factors that go into making a product superb and a majority of them are pretty subjective. Besides the obvious efficacy; you have texture, smell, colour and product layering compatibility. To create a formula that is clean, optimally concentrated and free of fillers takes years of work. That said, the challenge can also be the most rewarding aspect when it's all done. When a formula passes all its clinical trials and people in the focus group request for more products after the beta phase, those moments make it all worthwhile for me.
Singapore is a fantastic place to start a company. The government grants offered have really helped us in costly endeavours like international trademark applications and necessities like electronics. It is tremendously helpful to have been able to get access to such subsidies.
Can you name us some of your signature products?
The 1A All-Day Mask is a game-changer, as it has a two-pronged strategy. At any given moment in time, the skin is bombarded with many external aggressors such as UV rays, pollution, second-hand smoke and dehydrating air conditioning. The 1A All-Day Mask first protects the skin with a breathable anti-pollution shield. This allows your skin to really focus on repairing itself. It is charged with 35 different actives — the key allies are 11 antioxidants that brighten, heal, tighten and protect and 12 soothing healers with natural moisturising factors that intensively hydrate, strengthen the skin's delicate barrier and repair stressed skin. These work day and night to return your skin to its healthiest state.
Immediately, it provides a dose of restorative moisture. Over time, it trains your skin to be smarter, by increasing the production of collagen, elastin and growth factors, increasing the skin's natural moisture retention capabilities and decreasing fine lines and the volume of wrinkles. It also gives a reduction of non-inflammatory acne lesions. Thanks to its advanced delivery system that is made from chemically similar fatty acids that has better compatibility with the skin, it absorbs instantly.
There is also an optimal level of caffeine which is great for de-puffing and tightening tired skin. It will help you look more rested. The wonderful thing is that this can be used on the eye area too and is especially great for a night on the town, post-facials and after a day in the sun.
You have great skin. Can you share some tips and tricks with our readers on how to achieve beautiful skin themselves?
Thank you so much. I am a big proponent of masking daily. When I'm stressed and don't get as much sleep as I would like, I use a clay mask daily. I forgo all other exfoliation and instead just rely on clay masks to purge and speed up cellular renewal. The trick is to massage the clay mask (you can actually do so with any mask you use); the heat generated from the massage will drive the mask deeper into the skin so it can better do its job. If you have drier or more sensitive skin, don't let the clay mask completely dry out. Rinse it off before it is fully dried to get all the purifying benefits without the tightness. Be sure to hydrate after. Chasing a clay mask session with the 1A All-Day Mask is the easiest way to ensure you get the best of both worlds — clean and nourished skin.
I am also a believer in using what you might already have in your kitchen. I like to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar which you can easily find at the supermarket as a toner. Mix it with a little water or any existing alcohol-free toner on a cotton pad and gently press and dab into the skin — pressing increases penetration. It helps to balance and brighten your skin as well as unclogs pores.
Raw and manuka honey and turmeric make for a great mask too. The texture might take some getting used to, but raw honey is naturally antibacterial and has enzymes that repair and brighten; all while drawing moisture into the skin. Turmeric is a superb anti-inflammatory that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Just sprinkle some into your raw honey, mix it up and massage it into the skin. Leave it on for 30 minutes or for as long as you want. You can use this in place of a cleanser too if you don't want an extra step.