According to recent research, the U.S. skin care market is predicted to reach $1 billion by 2018. The industry is made up of facial hair, body care, hand care, depilatories and makeup remover products but some would argue that facial care tops the list.
For legendary, award-winning Motown singer-songwriter-producer Smokey Robinson, whose lifelong work in the entertainment industry still has him performing 100 shows a year, launching a line of facial products was personal. In an exclusive interview, Robinson told TNJ.com that both he and his wife, Francis Robinson, have had skin problems throughout the years with the latter suffering from a bout of sun poisoning that damaged her skin badly. As for Smokey, he admits to having dry skin due to his active lifestyle that keeps him out in the sun a lot.
After the couple was introduced to a few doctors and scientists noted for their groundbreaking work in the skin care industry, Skinphonic was born.
“We’ve tried many products and were trying to find something just for us; then three years ago, we finally came up with something that works. And we decided we should share it with the world because it’s for people of color; not just Black people, but people with pigmented skin, which could include Indian, Asian, Latino and so on,” states Robinson.
The Skinphonic team, which includes top skincare developers, Les Riley, a 30-plus year veteran in skincare and the field of dermatology; Dr. Sergio Nacht, PhD, a skin biologist with over 40 years of commercial experience in the field of dermatology; and Dr. Edward Dickerson, dermatologist and plastic surgeon who serves as Chief Medical Director for the brand, had the challenge of developing skincare solutions that solved several different common issues facing people of color. These issues include hyperpigmentation, oily skin, dry skin, age spots and wrinkles.
By taking a new approach, they formulated a coordinated product regimen for men and women, respectfully, that helps improve the overall appearance of the skin and allows the skin to begin to naturally heal itself. This also restores and protects from damage caused by sun and environmental exposure.
Riley says he and the team are pleased with the end product. “In all my years, these are the best results I have seen a consumer product regimen achieve. I was surprised by how well the products performed for so many skin concerns without causing irritation and without side effects,” he said in a recent statement. “These products truly exceeded our expectations in clinical testing.”
Robinson agrees. “It’s a very simple 3-step program that is also great for guys because we don’t like regimentation when it comes to skin. We don’t want to put stuff on in the morning, afternoon and night,” he notes.
And of course, the two products, the “Get Ready Cause Here I Come” Men’s Skincare System and the “My Girl” Women’s Skincare System are aptly named after two of Robinson’s chart-topping songs from the 70s. Says Robinson, “The company chose those two songs in particular because they felt people would recognize them instantly and tie the products to me.”
While this is not Robinson’s first foray into launching a business, it’s his first skin care business. He used to run a food company, Soul in a Bowl, featuring a line of Creole dishes. And like all businesses, there were challenges. “When we were formulating our recipes, we started off with Albertsons, one of the largest marketing companies around at the time. They told us that if we sold two cases of the products in the first month, they would get the products into several retail stores. Well, we sold 80 cases the first day! There’s a term in marketing called factors, and this factor led to the venture outgrowing us. We were getting orders in too fast to even fill them. And then the economy fell, so we had to let it rest for a minute,” explains Robinson.
As for Skinphonic, his latest venture, it seems to be smooth sailing so far. The products are exclusively sold at select boutiques and through the company’s website, with possible plans to expand later on. Robinson says customer response has been great. “I would say to customers, if they want great skin and they want their skin to heal from certain problems they might be having, try it. I am living proof that it works, so I can vouch for it,” he says.
At 77, while Robinson balances his time between his performance schedule and his work with Skinphonic, he believes in practicing healthy living. Shares Robinson, “Currently, I am totally vegan; I do yoga, and I meditate. Before becoming a vegan, I was a vegetarian and had not eaten any red meat since 1972. When it comes to fitness, I believe that stretching the body is one of the most important, beneficial things people can do for their bodies. I used to run long marathons. Now, I’ll run a mile or two. I try to take care of myself; I do not smoke or drink, with the exception of a glass of wine sometimes. But I am conscious about taking good care of my body; it’s the only one I’ve got.”