There has been a sizeable shift in the way we approach skincare. We look to customer reviews and recommendations to help solve our particular skin concerns, we know our AHAs from our BHAs, our retinols from our peptides and these days we're no longer as focused on our skin type as our skin condition day-to-day. We look to brands that tell it like it is; so it's no surprise that Indeed Labs, the beauty disruptor pioneering the science-backed, no-nonsense skincare trend since 2011, is high on our most-wanted list.
The Canadian-based skincare company prides itself on high-quality products that do what they claim. Its ethos is 'Real science. Real claims. Real people. Real results'. You won't find any celebrity endorsements or exaggerated claims, nor do you need to have a degree in chemistry to understand the products. Packaging is deliberately simple and colourful (for our all-important #shelfies), while the formulas inside are potent. Many have gained a cult following too - notably the award-winning Nanoblur , which helps to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and was one of the first to create that Insta-filter effect in real life.
So what's the secret to their success? We met with the President and COO Dimitra Davidson to find out...
GTG: You started as a bond trader. How did you get into beauty?
Dimitra Davidson: "It’s been a bit of a winding road. My background is in finance – I did a business degree at the University of Toronto and moved into the world of luxury goods. I ran corporate sales for Tiffany Canada for nine years. It was a great foundation for understanding the consumer on the one hand, and the essence of the brand on the other. But when the opportunity presented itself to be involved with a start-up called Indeed Labs, I jumped at it. I realised that this was my calling."
Have you always loved skincare?
D: "I’ve always been a beauty junkie. I was a real girlie girl and started applying makeup at a really young age. But I was always a clean freak too – I wanted to get all that makeup off and was on a constant quest for a good cleanser. In trying out cleansers, I was drying out my skin. Luckily, I discovered moisturisers and that was my introduction to the world of better quality products."
What does the average day look for you?
D: "An average day in my world is juggling: family, responsibilities outside of work, a team and the many moving parts of a global brand. Every day looks different. I get up, work out, I drive my daughter to school, then head into the office. The part of my job I'm most passionate about is product development, and I have a really great team of people. I try to narrow down and focus my ideas to streamline them. We are an independent brand with mass distribution channels because we sell all over the world. I like to look at the business is holistically, so I can see the long-term goals."
How do you keep really potent ingredients affordable?
D: "It’s a real challenge! I don’t want to waiver over our brand promise to the consumer, so keeping that balance of high-quality ingredients and high-quality concentrations has always been very important to me. Our model is a tough one, but we seem to be doing something right!"
Canada is having a moment in beauty. Is C-beauty the next big thing?
D: "In recent years, brands like ours have been part of a group which has pioneered the messaging to consumers that what’s in your skincare is important. The ingredient call-out has become a really relevant movement in the skincare industry and I think that’s why Canada has become a beauty powerhouse. Luckily for us, there were a couple of brands in Canada that gave us the confidence to speak to the consumer like that. Finally, the world took notice of brands like Indeed Labs who spoke science and ingredients. I know there’s K-Beauty, J-Beauty and now A-Beauty, but C-Beauty should be a thing."
How do you discover new ingredients?
D: "Sometimes we find a really great ingredient that hasn’t made it to market yet; it’s either award-winning, or it’s going to be award-winning, and has strong clinical results. Sometimes we see an ingredient and it sparks an idea to create a product around it. Other times it comes from a consumer need, as in the case of our Bakuchiol Reface Pads, which came from a gap in the market for an alternative or complement to retinol that could address some of the sensitivity issues. Other times I'll spend my downtime in Sephora, Boots or Ulta looking for inspiration; either I'll spot something missing, or an alternative way to apply a product already on the market.
"We usually have around eight to 20 products in production. We’re constantly testing and tweaking them, and bring them to the market when the timing is right."
Our greatest accomplishment is the testimonials we receive every day from consumers who say our products are game-changers. That makes me really happy
What makes Indeed Labs stand out?
D: "A good example is the Bakuchiol Reface Pads story. We did a deep dive and realised that we should use bakuchiol as an alternative to retinol. Initially, we were going to use both bakuchiol and retinol in the same product, by increasing the amount of bakuchiol and lowering the amount of retinol so the product was non-irritating - but I realised that if we used active levels of bakuchiol instead of the retinol, we would achieve the same results for skin concerns such as acne.
"We also wanted to create a product that was non-irritating so it made no sense to add retinol. We spent a long time studying and understanding our ingredients – how they play and interact with each other.
"What makes us unique is our formulations and high-quality ingredients. We aim to be the first to market, award-winning, and we are passionate about clean beauty, of which we have been pioneers. Indeed Labs has been paraben-free and fragrance-free from the day we launched. Our greatest accomplishment is the testimonials we receive every day from consumers who say our products are game-changers. That makes me really happy."
What are your bestsellers?
D: "In the UK it's our Retinol Reface ; that’s because our formulation of retinol is non-irritating and everyone knows it's the holy grail of anti-ageing. Nanoblur does really well, especially in Canada. But our top products include the Vitamin C24 (because everyone needs their daily antioxidants), and our Bakuchiol Reface Pads are trending a lot too.
"Our Squalane Facial Oil is phenomenal - it's our only one-ingredient product. Our Collagen Booster does really well in the UK too, as does our Hydraluron series: we were one of the first brands that really highlighted hyaluronic acid and now we offer both medium and high levels.
"Our lip product, Hydraluron+ volumising lip treatment has just launched too. We had the highest engagement we’ve had on social media when we posted a picture of it just saying 'It’s here!'"
Which Indeed Labs products would you never be without?
D: "The ones I travel with a lot are our Hydraluron Moisture Serum and the Hydraluron Moisture Jelly . The serum is a low-molecular weight so penetrates beneath the skin’s surface and gives you that plumpness from the inside out - when I’m feeling dehydrated, if I’ve been travelling or eating a bad diet, I cannot live without it. My other staple is our Eysilix II , an award-winning eye cream that addresses everything from puffiness to dryness. There are some high-quality peptides in there too. I cannot live without the Bakuchiol now because it’s easy to travel with as it’s in a pad format. That’s my retinol alternative and means I don’t have to worry about photosensitivity [which can happen with retinol]."
What advice would you give to budding female entrepreneurs?
D: "Always trust your confidence, trust your instinct and don’t let your insecurities stand in your way. This is a fiercely competitive industry with a lot of ups and downs. Many entrepreneurs have a vision and it's important to stick with that. It’s not always roses. Even during times of hardship, I know that I’m OK and I have to keep on going. Some of the best opportunities come out of mistakes, you just have to keep your eye on the prize."
What do you do to look after yourself?
D: "I wake up at 6am and do my workout. That’s my time alone. I need that time to gather my thoughts. When I’m travelling, I go for long walks, which is a really great way to explore a city. Having a good diet is really important; I suffer from inflammation and it makes me tired and miserable. I make sure I’m eating a diet that is full of nutrition that is good for my body type."
And finally, what’s next for Indeed Labs?
D: "We are looking to launch a mist. The formula is complete and the product is in development right now. We are also working on new innovations in exfoliants and eyelash serums. We upgrade our products by reformulating them - this is part of our brand story. Our price points will be perfect for the mass market because there isn't anything else on the market like them right now.
"Our lip product is also imminent - everyone is waiting for it! We are super excited, can you tell?"
This feature was written in partnership with Indeed Labs. Shop for Indeed Labs at Boots here .