You know you've struck gold when a brand sells out its cult products within days of its launch and that's exactly the scenario with IT Cosmetics — the latest offering from the beauty industry that's really skincare cleverly disguised as makeup. Eyeing this label since it began making waves several months back via beauty gurus and influencers, women in the know have tacked their IT wishlist off the side of their computers as they refresh our local Sephora website daily, awaiting the moment they can finally become IT Girls.
So what's up with this sensational outpouring of enthusiasm? Is it all just hype and hogwash? For the uninitiated, IT Cosmetics is an innovative beauty brand ahead of the curve, developed with leading plastic surgeons and dermatologists to be a rung above the rest in the makeup field. And the results show: Selling out on QVC in the United States and garnering scores of loyal fans who preach IT to all and sundry. If a tiny part of yourself is even at all curious about why you should get into IT, read on for the inside word from co-founder Jamie Kern Lima on what makes this brand the life-changing makeup and skincare you need in your life.
You were formerly a news anchor before you found your calling as a beauty mogul. Was it a very big the transition coming into this industry?
Yes! I thought I loved being a journalist and that was what I was going to do forever. Being on camera was fun when I had nice skin but then I started getting hereditary rosacea and there's no cure for it. I began having huge red patches and bumps, and losing my eyebrows. I didn't realise all the years I had good skin, any foundation or concealer I wore looked good and there was actually a gap in the marketplace for products that really look good on every skin type even if you have problem skin.
So I ended up spending my entire paycheck on beauty products, trying every foundation, concealer and brow product. Everything I tried either wouldn't cover well or it'd be thick like a mask when I put it on. I would be talking on camera and all of a sudden I would see I have lines from when you smile because the foundation cracks. I realised there wasn't any brand out there that made products that really worked, or that would actually work for me — someone who has problem skin and a lot of visible pores.
It was a huge transition as I'm not a makeup artist or an expert and I didn't know why I was getting bumps all the time. I just knew I tried every brand out there. So when I created IT Cosmetics — IT stands for 'innovative technology' — we partnered with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to create skincare products infused with full coverage or colour into them instead of making makeup the same way that everyone does from the same factories. Transitioning from being a news anchor to creating a beauty brand, I knew that if I do what everyone else does, a) it's not going to solve my problems and b) it's just going to be the same thing that everyone else does. So we committed to creating a brand where we won't launch a product unless it works and does what it says.
IT Cosmetics really took off in a fairly short span of time. How did you grow the brand? Was there was already a big demand in the market that you didn't expect?
Before we launched the company, I worried because most brands you see are running television commercials constantly and when we started we wondered ''How are we gonna break into the beauty industry?" Our products actually work but if people don't know about them, how are we going to grow?
The thing that surprised me and that I most grateful for is a lot of beauty editors and influencers actually tried it and then shared it with their readers. Also, a lot of real women were freaking out that they got real results, and they would take their own 'before and after' and post them online. So we are a brand that grew from complete word of mouth because the products actually work. I think that's how we've grown and that's been the biggest gift.
What were some of your struggles with rosacea when it comes to finding makeup products that work? Were there certain ingredients that could exacerbate the condition that you had to cut out in the process of creating IT Cosmetics?
Working with our advisory board of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, one of the first things I learnt about was chemical sunscreen, which is in almost every foundation, and can cause bumps so we only use physical sunscreen in all of our products. The CC Cream took us three years and we made it so that it's skincare and it has only physical sunscreen. That was huge and for me, and it was life changing because now I can wear any product in IT cosmetics and never get bumps. Another ingredient is bismuth oxychloride. It's in a lot of products but can cause cystic acne and breakouts, but people use it because it's a beautiful colourant. However, we have no bismuth in any of our products.
Everything has to be skin loving, problem solutions
There's also talc, which has nothing wrong with it, but under the microscope the particles are square and triangle so most finishing powders can make our skin look dry and accentuate pores. So instead of using talc, the main ingredient in our Bye Bye Pores is spherical silica and hydrolysed silk, for a pore blurring finish. You can keep applying it to absorb oil and sweat, and it never gets cakey. The way we formulate is different as most brands have makeup and they put in special ingredients for marketing, but IT Cosmetics start their life as skincare and then we infuse coverage into it, so it's a totally different ballgame for your face.
In your opinion, what are the three most groundbreaking IT cosmetics products and why?
Oh gosh, it's funny because we don't roll out something unless we believe it's really groundbreaking. Okay, only three? Can I talk about a couple? (laughs). So first, we have Confidence in a Cream. It took seven years to launch our first moisturiser as we wanted to create something that gives the most efficacious, most powerful results but you can wear it even if you have sensitive skin. It's an amazing moisturiser for AM and PM. It literally transforms your skin.
But I would say the most innovative is definitely the CC Cream. All of our IT Girls everywhere of all ages, all skin tones and all backgrounds say it's the number one product that changes their life and changes their skin. Because it's skincare first, what happens to your skin is so different and a lot of people never wear foundation again; they just wear this. We do clinical studies on our end for consumer use, utilising instrumentation to clinically measure that the CC cream increases hydration and improves your skin barrier repair. So we know it's proven to give you better skin after ten days.
Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer: This is the product that put us on the map in the US, because so many women wanted concealer but most crease, crack and make us look older. So this covers everything, even a tattoo but doesn't crease or crack, and it's loaded with skincare ingredients.
Brow Power: I have no eyebrows, and for me to find something that makes me look like I actually have brows is so hard. So when we created Brow Power, it adheres to skin and looks like real hair. For women who are prone to gray hair, it covers those and looks like full brows. It's one of those products that are so good, for every one we sell we donate one to a Good Look, Feel Better programme to help women who have cancer, helping them face the effects with more confidence. As a company, we've donated over $50 million to the Good Look, Feel Better cause.
And Superhero Mascara: It's got elastic stretch technology so your lashes stretch wider and longer, and here's a peptide based serum in here... oh, and brushes! Women have started naming their IT Cosmetics brushes like their pets and when you're having a bad day, just take your brush all over your face and it reduces stress (laughs). Plus it applies makeup amazingly.
What are a few tips or advice you've picked up regarding sensitive skin since the launch of IT cosmetics?
Look for clinical testing. That would be my recommendation because a lot of times people can say anything on a product, but can they back it up with clinical testing and prove that it does what it says? Or you can just come to IT Cosmetics and all your problems will be solved (laughs).
I would say to really look at ingredients and pay attention to how your skin reacts to them. I think making that switch to using physical sunscreen alone is life changing for so many women. And if you're prone to fine lines and wrinkles or breaking out, avoid talc-based products because they can accentuate that. Just look for skin loving products — it's why we work with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to create products that start off as skincare first and then infuse full coverage. We're the only brand that formulates makeup as skincare first and having that is life changing with lasting benefits.
Oh, one more thing: We don't use animal hair in our brushes, and it's not just because we're cruelty-free. We have heavenly luxe hair that's synthetic which doesn't require spraying with pesticides and chemicals. A lot of people don't realise companies have to spray pesticides on the animal brushes to prevent mould growth, which actually create hives on sensitive skin. At IT Cosmetics, we're detailed obsessed so every component in everything has to be skin loving problem solutions. So when you use our brushes even with other brands and makeup, it's great.
How are you planning to develop IT Cosmetics as your following grows stronger? Is there something special in the works?
My dream is that every woman is an IT Girl. We believe with every ounce of our being that every woman is beautiful and every woman deserves to look and feel her most beautiful — whether she's a teenager dealing with acne or she's a mum, a grandma or a great-grandma whose hasn't made herself important in years. We want her to put a little CC cream on and know she's beautiful! Our dream is for that to happen everywhere. Being here in Singapore is such a big deal because it's emotional and such an important part of our journey to see women here using IT and connecting with the brand.
Product-wise, we are expanding more into skincare and for Sephora specifically, we're creating more targeted, problem solving skincare. We'll have a Bye Bye Lines serum, so we're saying bye bye to lots of things and hello to your most beautiful skin.
Shop IT Cosmetics here and at Sephora outlets