Secretly disrupting the skincare industry

drs ciara
Dr Deb and Dr Ciara launched the startup back in 2019. Image Supplied.

Less than two years after being founded in Perth, one of the world’s first prescription skincare companies is eyeing a global rollout of its successful made-to-order range.

The Secret Skincare, founded by Perth doctors Ciara Hurst and Deb Cohen-Jones, is developing a cult following which it says is attributable to its formulation that seeks to tackle recurring skin issues such acne, pigmentation, melasma and ageing.

Currently, its cellular repair offering is selling at a rate of one per hour with an average order value of $400.

When asked how their innovation is impacting the half-a-trillion dollar global beauty industry, Dr Ciara said that combining a product offering with a service – in the form of hands-on support from a team of doctor-trained skin specialists – makes prescription more accessible to the everyday individual.

“We are educating people that you don’t need to have a 10-step skincare routine for incredibly visible results.  We offer so much more than effective products. We combine this with amazing service and hands-on support from a team of skin specialists trained by doctors that are invested in your progress,” she said.

People no longer have to jump through hoops, wait for doctors appointments, pay for expensive referrals and risk not being able to get the help they need at the end of it all. Our online system makes the process simple and fast and fits into people’s busy lives.

Dr Ciara Hurst

Dr Deb said the crunch point in her career was when, along with her husband, she established a clinic, whose experiences then flowed through to working with Dr Ciara when founding the startup.

“Our focus on providing a prescription skincare range to all patients was the first for Australia and on launching our website in June 2020 the orders started rolling in,” she said.

“Going from doing scripts to our patients in person to a global online prescription skincare service in the space of months was the tipping point for our brand. Definitely moving to online accessibility was a game-changer.”

Moving to an online platform was ambitious and challenging particularly due to the medico legal requirements of the online consultation and prescriptive process. It was, however, the point at which our little side business became a serious player in the skincare and medical industry.

Dr Deb Cohen-Jones

Although both note the focus of prevention, skin minimalisation, wearing less makeup, with fewer ingredients ending up in landfill, – factors that excite them about the modern beauty/skincare industry – there are concerns.

Doctors handing out prescriptions without proper instruction and “20-step skincare routines that can potentially harm the skin barrier and lead to the overuse of actives” are two concerns of Dr Ciara while Dr Deb is concerned about the fad nature of beauty, especially the “throwaway mentality”, with a lose-lose proposition to both a person’s skin and the environment.

“Doctors giving out prescriptions without proper instruction, aftercare or without a treatment plan in the prescription skincare space. Self-diagnosis. Everyone is a doctor in the age of the internet, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there in the beauty industry,” said Dr Ciara.

And what advice do the doctors have for those wishing to succeed in the industry?

A quality service, sustainable approach and a future-proof product offering are suggestions from Dr Deb, while Dr Ciara adds a strong marketing plan is paramount.

“There’s no use having an incredible product if no one is ever going to hear about it. At The Secret, we rely heavily on real-world results within our marketing, and decided early on to incentivise our customers to share their before-and-afters with us.”