Saturday Skin founder Sidney Beck on the science of good skin

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We sit down with K-beauty brand Saturday Skin founder Sidney Beck to understand the power of peptides in transforming our skin. Photo courtesy of ADORA

Anyone who menstruates knows about The Time of the Month, that week before one’s period where everything, quite honestly, feels all out of whack. A week before we start having our period is usually when our emotions feel most heightened because of the changing hormone levels. The skin seems dry, sensitive, and looks dull. Acne can flare up during this time. But once the period arrives, the skin starts clearing up. Estrogen levels are at their peak. The skin is at its optimal condition.

This is called the Golden Stage, according to Saturday Skin founder Sidney Beck. By understanding the menstrual cycle, the US-based Beck and a robust team of medical experts back in South Korea were able to identify a natural means to keep skin hydrated and at the peak of health.

Saturday Skin founder Sidney Beck. Photo courtesy of ADORA

Indie brand Saturday Skin is the latest K-beauty and globally marketed label to arrive in the Philippines. It is now stocked in luxury department store Adora’s growing portfolio of featured beauty labels. According to division merchandise manager for Adora beauty and lifestyle Kaye Maclang, there was also potential growth in the skincare category as more Filipinos sought out to expand or improve their beauty regimens.

“People are more into skincare [now] than they were prior to the pandemic,” says Maclang. “A lot of Filipinos are so into makeup and fragrance — skincare was not really that much of a lifestyle until the pandemic hit.”

They also wanted to broaden their market, appealing to the 25 to 35-year-old demographic who were concerned about wellness just as much as they were about beauty. The products are packaged in bright, cheery colors — lemon yellow and the iconic millennial pink — with blocky, minimal text. Pretty enough to be featured in a bathroom tour video. But it’s also a clean beauty brand; free of parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance or color. The packaging is 100% recyclable, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free.

“I feel like it’s K-beauty done LA-style,” says Alex Lumbang, a Filipino-American beauty content creator under the name @cityboyskin. “Very approachable and fun, but not sloppy.”

It’s a straightforward strategy for Beck, whose 20 years in the beauty industry working at Christian Dior and Amorepacific offered her a sharp view into what will make a beauty brand move. She wanted the brand to be palatable to a global buyer — one that she knew was worldly, highly informed, and on the go.

“What I learned is that they’re so curious to learn about K-beauty: the products, the regimen. The so-called “secret” of K-beauty,” Beck says in an interview with CNN Philippines Life. “But whenever we talk about the product or regimen, I see them getting so overwhelmed by these 10-12 steps of skincare. I thought that was very unfortunate, and that is definitely not the essence of K-beauty.”

Beck recalls how she grew up in South Korea watching her mother’s personal rituals, which informed her own philosophy on beauty. “For me, I thought she looked elegant, she looked graceful, but most of all, very relaxed. What I realized is, that’s the true K-beauty. Something that you look forward to every morning and night, that moment you enjoy and also relaxes you,” Beck says.

She conceptualized Saturday Skin with that in mind — not a system of products and steps to follow, but a selection of products that Beck describes as “the very basic and essential skincare products to begin with.” It was also her goal to maintain a certain price point, having worked in luxury beauty extensively. She emphasizes on how uncomplicated it should all be, hence the idea of “weekend” skin that is always at ease, but that behind the scenes, the product itself is doing all the work.

The secret lied in analyzing the skin’s Golden Stage. Beck explains that CHA Health Systems, a healthcare and biotechnology company based in Pan-gyo, South Korea, sought out a means on how to sustain the Golden Stage — a period that would only last for about five to seven days, and once the menstrual period is over and the estrogen level drops, the skin will go through the same process all over again.

Beck says that the turning point was realizing that skin vitality wasn’t brought about by the estrogen, but the peptides generated by the hormones. Out of a hundred different kinds of peptides in the skin and body, the team was able to identify seven of the most effective peptides that bring out the best skin. The peptides are engineered through a 21-day fermentation process (“the most natural and organic way”) and put in a liposome to maximize stability and skin absorption. The capsulized peptides are then mixed into all of the brand’s formulations.

“Saturday Skin literally gives you the golden stage skin, throughout the month, all year round,” Beck says.

The brand’s proprietary seven peptide mix is what Beck calls the foundation of all their products, but she made sure to complement that with actives that are found in fruits and vegetables. When explaining the Saturday Skin Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask, Beck says that she wanted to use yuzu because it has three times more Vitamin C than any other citrus fruit. She also put the entire yuzu fruit to use: yuzu extract from the peel, yuzu seed oil, and the fruit itself. She attests to its transformative power, and its compatibility with the Philippines humid weather. This no-rinse sleep mask has been awarded by numerous international fashion and beauty titles such as Elle Canada and K-beauty marketplace Soko Glam.

But while the brand offers cutting edge tech and attractive packaging, it’s tough to maintain a spot in a highly saturated industry like beauty. For Beck, to be a beauty brand at the very least is to maintain brand principles that goes beyond the business. “For me, it’s all about clean beauty and sustainability. I think it’s not a matter of choice anymore,” Beck says. “Not just as in the skin and beauty industry. Everyone has to follow this, which I respect a lot.”

She also believes that the key to maintaining a loyal customer base is to be an active member of the community that sustains them. “Whenever we have a product launch, we run consumer panel testing campaigns, so a lot of our fans get to try our product first, exclusively, and we get their feedback and we share the results, and we try to be as transparent as possible,” Beck says. “We listen, we answer all the questions and requests, and that’s what we are trying to do in a very organic way.”

It’s a philosophy that Beck stays true to — prior to our interview, Maclang mentioned how closely Beck worked with the Adora team. “It’s not always that you get a chance to collaborate and communicate with the founder, or somebody as busy as Sidney. But she’s always been there.”

After two decades working in beauty, Beck has certainly seen how the industry has grown into the behemoth it is now; innovation is truly the name of the game. But while Saturday Skin is rooted in natural science, its genius lies in how artfully simple it’s packaged. It’s palatable, it’s approachable, but lest we forget amidst the layers of yellow and pink — ultimately effective.

“A lot of followers and fans look at our packaging and think, ‘Oh, cute, fun!’ But we offer way more than that,” Beck says. “And I think that’s the true K-beauty innovation.”

Saturday Skin is available at Adora, Greenbelt 5, Makati.