Interview with Deciem (The Ordinary) Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Davin Lim

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How to cite: Wong M. Interview with Deciem (The Ordinary) Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Davin Lim. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. October 29, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2024.

Dr Davin Lim and I sat down with Deciem’s Chief Scientific Officer Prudvi Kaka (PK) very early one morning (well, early for me at least – Davin gets up before dawn and PK’s in Canada). What we covered:

0:53 Do you use your own products? Which ones?

1:07 What’s your skincare routine?

1:22 Who does Deciem’s formulations?

2:11 How do product ideas come about?

2:59 How did you get into formulating skincare?

3:31 What does your R&D department look like? How long have you been at Deciem?

4:41 When will The Ordinary’s chemical sunscreens be released? Can you tell us more about them?

7:26 How stable are The Ordinary’s retinol products?

9:55 Refrigerate your retinol for 3 month shelf life

10:24 How do you ensure your products are effective? (lots of talk about the different types of testing)

12:31 Do you do clinical testing?

13:26 Has the testing changed since you’ve been at Deciem? Have you gone back and tested the old formulations?

14:08 Why does Deciem say you can’t use vitamin C with copper peptides?

16:40 How did 100% ascorbic acid powder come about? Do higher percentage vitamin C products work better?

22:25 Why 100% niacinamide powder?

23:52 Testing niacinamide, L-ascorbic powder mixes for penetration and irritation?

25:15 Taking into account ethnic variations when releasing products in different countries?

26:25 Why does Deciem say you can’t use niacinamide and vitamin C together?

28:35 Any more DIY products coming up?

29:35 Can most people really use AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution once a week?

32:35 Testing products in terms of how consumers tend to overuse them?

36:09 What else can’t copper peptides be used with?

37:20 Why aren’t there many gels or creams from The Ordinary?

38:14 Have you tested the effectiveness of different formulations?

39:33 Different approaches with NIOD and The Ordinary formulations?

40:41 Disease-specific product lines?

41:49 Next big ingredient for The Ordinary?

The video is on YouTube here.

One of my readers kindly helped me clean up the transcript below – thank you!

M: Hi I’m Michelle from Lab Muffin Beauty Science, I’m here with Dr Davin Lim and PK from Deciem.

D: Hey guys!

M: Introduce yourself, PK?

PK: For sure! Hello everyone, this is Prudvi Kaka, I’m the chief scientific officer at Deciem. I’ve been with the business for about seven years with a pharmaceutical and biotechnology background.

M: So we have a whole bunch of questions that I gathered, and Davin gathered from people who love Deciem. Mostly I think… a lot of people love Deciem, your products have reached so many people, one of the most burning questions I’ve been asked is – or I’ve been asked to ask you – is: “Do you use your own products? Do you use Deciem products?”

PK: Of course I do! I use two products: Buffet and Multi-peptide serum for hair density.

M: Do you have a proper skincare routine? I know a lot of people who use Deciem products, use like 20 products.

D: True!

PK: No, I’m a minimalistic guy, so just the two products.

D: Who does most of your formulations? Tell me a little bit more about your work – your background is science, yes?

PK: Yep, so formulations are all done by a team of people here.

D: Yeah.

PK: We’re a multi-disciplinary team. We’re about 30 people in the R&D here at Deciem, so we got physiology experts, we got formulators, we have regulatory, clinical microbiology, analytical, so all of us together, we create formulations. My background being pharmaceuticals, I come from, fundamentally, the chemistry [background].

D: Right!

PK: So, that’s how everything kind of started.

D: Right, so one thing I’d like to know is, when someone conceptually thinks about a product or a product line, how does it go up the chain? Do you have a whole heap of guys brainstorming and go “hey let’s introduce, for example, niacinamide powder”? How does it actually work?

PK: So, product concepts are actually created by the lab team. At Deciem we don’t have, how typically in the industry, it’s all run by marketing professionals; here it’s the opposite – here the scientific team actually thinks about the concepts and executes them.

M: How did you get into formulating skin care?

PK: Part of the pharmaceutical degree that I finished in one of the years, we had the course on cosmetic formulations in specific. That was the time that I gained a lot of interest, and I started to follow the skincare industry, ingredients, products – and that’s how everything started to flow.

M: What does your R&D department look like? How many people are in it – you mentioned a bunch of different roles?

PK: Yeah, so the scientific team here is branched into three functions: R&D, regulatory, and quality. So in R&D, again the disciplines that I mentioned – physiology, research and development which is formulations, and specific regulatory – analytical, microbiology – so it comprises a group of professionals together.

M: I don’t know if this is too detailed, but how many of you are there?

PK: In R&D we’re about 30 people, and in general [in the] scientific team were about 90 people; when I first started in Deciem I was the only one!

D: How long ago was that? Your growth is extraordinary, so how long…?

PK: That’s all just in six to seven years.

D: Wow!

M: We also had a bunch of really specific questions that people had about particular products. Again, one of the biggest ones is, when will you release chemical sunscreens?

PK: Yeah, we constantly keep receiving that question! So we’re really working hard and we’re planning to launch it for next summer.

M: And can you give us any sneak peek details about them, or is that all under wraps?

PK: For sure, I can just give some brief details about it. It is a hybrid – it does contain chemical and physical sunscreen filters – it is transparently encapsulated, so it contains zinc oxide, avobenzone, octisalate and octocrylene.

M: And is that going to be released worldwide?

PK: So initially we’re gonna start launching it in Canada, US and Europe, and Australia will be after.

M: Amazing!

D: I think Michelle, as you know, with the Australian TGA regulations it’s very hard to get sunscreens here. When I did my photobiology in Ireland in the UK, we had the LRP products [La Roche-Posay] and it took 17 years before they came to Australia.

M: So I’ve heard that one of the big hurdles is getting the TGA to approve your manufacturing facilities, I think?

PK: And it does also have different microbiological testing requirements; so again, it’s just the time that it takes to get through the whole process.

D: Michelle, I was about to ask – when PK mentioned avobenzone… I’m pretty rusty with avobenzone, but I think in the past it used to be photolabile. Is it photostable now?

PK: So the reason we went with the transparent encapsulation is actually to protect the integrity of avobenzone.

D: Right, right!

M: I don’t know what stage you’re in with the process, have you done photostability testing with your sunscreen formulation?

PK: Yes, we’re doing a whole lot of stability studies as well as the efficacy studies. Again, that’d be the ISO, FDA, and the internal in vitros – everything is being handled.

M: Amazing. So, more product-specific questions: how stable are your retinol products? I think people are particularly curious about The Ordinary’s products.

PK: For sure! So, retinol in general to begin with is a tricky molecule to work with.

D: Yes!

PK: Any method or any product concept to begin with, it’s all just to delay the degradation of the retinol. It’s like an emulsion – emulsions are more dynamically unstable – it’s all about controlling them to extend the shelf life. So, we actually took a couple of mitigation steps. One is once the bottle is opened, we have a short product after opening time – it’s only three months. Also, after opening we recommend to store the product in the fridge, and additionally we do add two antioxidants to the formulation, and that is primarily to protect the structure of retinol.

We’ve actually done a few interesting analytical studies. As you may know, retinol is a cyclic compound with a six benzene structure with six carbons, and it has the polyene extension with a hydroxyl group at the end. So the double bonds, the conjugated system in there, is extremely sensitive and the antioxidants’ role in the formula is primarily to cap the conjugated system as well as the hydroxyl group, and within the analytical and stability [studies] that we performed it actually has come out positive that our system is helping the stability of retinol across its shelf life. So, to conclude, it is quite stable but one really has to carefully follow the directions we provided.

M: Do you know how much longer does your retinol stay active if it’s in the fridge? How long does that extend the shelf life compared to room temperature?

PK: Three months is the time after it’s open, after that it’s not advisable to keep using that product anymore.

M: Is that three months in the fridge, or three months at room temperature?

PK: Three months in the fridge.

M: Okay, so everyone, keep your retinol in the fridge! How do you ensure that all your products are effective – do you do tests on skin samples or cells, or on humans?

PK: Yeah, so, it’s primarily two things. I mean, there’s safety [and] there’s efficacy. When it comes to safety, we do combinational things. We do a lot of in vivos, in vitros to begin with, like a HRIPT or a patch test, comedogenicity, and coming to in vitros there are three tests from OECD which are the DPRA, KeratinoSens, and h-CLAT. Together, that’s our routine safety testing. When it comes to efficacy, it really depends on the product type but as a basic, we do skin penetration studies and product-dependent efficacy studies.

M: I’m assuming the skin penetration studies are on skin samples?

PK: That’s right, so skin penetration it’s two types: we do a qualitative and a quantitative [test]. The quantitative is Franz diffusion cell experiments – in-house we have nine-chamber automatic Franz cell equipment. We extract skin samples from plastic surgery procedures or cadavers, and we kind of do a basic tape stripping followed by a HPLC quantification. [The qualitative test] is the confocal Raman spectroscopy that is almost like a chemical mapping – we can trace the chemical in each of the skin layers.

D: So you’re talking about in vitro testing. When it comes to in vivo – with clinical trials in assessment – with regulatory, I guess, constraints on retinoids compared to retinol… How do you perceive your actual testing – clinical testing – for your retinol? Are you gonna go ahead with clinical trials in vivo?

PK: So, for some of the technologies – I mean especially when it comes to vitamin C, the retinols, niacinamides – we tend to mostly rely on the existing evidence that’s either published or that’s already been done.

M: Has the testing changed since you’ve been at Deciem? I’m assuming when you were one person you probably didn’t do as many studies, so have you gone back and tested the old formulations, or is the testing mostly for the newer products?

PK: Any new products we are launching or working on are being tested, and old formulations we retrospectively went back and tested them as well. We started with safety, and when it comes to active ingredients that don’t have much of an evidence [base], we started to do safety and efficacy studies together on them.

M: Cool! So, we also had a bunch of questions about product interactions and very specific, I guess, sciencey questions. So: why can’t you use vitamin C with copper peptides?

PK: Yeah, so that’s an interesting one! Vitamin C and copper… when it comes to vitamin C, again, when you look at the structure of vitamin C there are two places where it has double bonds; again, it’s a conjugated system and when you look at the copper ions, when the copper ions are ionized, copper tends to have a 2+ charge. Together, it’s always an exchange of ions – one is electropositive, one is electronegative, and it tends to react and change color as a physical effect. Initially, when we launched the products, we actually received some feedback from the user saying they applied both and went to bed, the next morning they saw an orangish appearance on the light sheets; so, that’s how we kind of fell deep and came to a conclusion that we would like to put that as a “don’t combine”.

M: Do you know if that has any effect on the skin, or is it mostly just they stain the sheets?

PK: It’s mostly topical. If you look at one of our offerings, we have 23% suspension. Suspensions, as we all know, reach the skin slowly as they’re getting solubilized and metabolized, so meanwhile in a regimen if both together are applied in the presence of air, as they’re getting solubilized, it just makes the oxidation faster and turns the color. So it’s mostly a superficial reaction, but at the same time it also minimizes the effectiveness of both the products as they’re reacting outside of the skin.

D: On the topic of ascorbic acid and vitamin C, from a clinical point of view not just myself, but quite a fair few other dermatologists see quite a few reactions from it. Because, I think, the best bioavailability is somewhere around pH 2.5 to 3.5 – is that right – somewhere around this, pretty acidic?

PK: Yeah.

D: Yeah, so just looking at your preparations where you’re having the 100% ascorbic acid powder together with your 23%, when you conceptualize these percentages, what was the actual aim – was it a high percentage product to be released to the public, or was there an aim in actually aiming for such a high, high percentage formulation?

PK: So, when it comes to percentages and active ingredients, we tend to usually use higher concentrations for active ingredients that have multiple benefits.

D: Right.

PK: When it comes to vitamin C, the reason we have different formats is in all those formats we tried to avoid water, and with 23%, 30% percent the two offerings are suspensions with different textures; and 8% is actually a solution combined with arbutin, and 100% is because we weren’t able to offer a water version – it’s just an option to give the ability for the customer to mix it in a water-based formulation.

M: With the high formulation ones, do you actually need that high a percentage? Have you tested if it does something in addition to the ones on the market that have a lower percentage?

PK: So, unfortunately we do not test any competitor products, or we don’t compare ourselves with anyone. But as I said, the higher percentage offerings are only to the active ingredients that have multiple benefits. As an example, vitamin C has an antioxidant benefit and the antioxidant benefit of vitamin C really depends on the UV exposure of one particular skin; on top of that it also has anti-aging benefits, so together the strength really justifies those multiple benefits.

M: So, in terms of the strength… sorry, it’s very early here, it’s before I wake up… So, have the higher percentages been tested to have a higher effect? I guess because most of the studies on vitamin C that I’ve seen have been on like 10%, 15%?

D: If I might add something… As a derm, we see the clinical effects of high percentage or high concentration, and we’re well aware that everyone’s an individual obviously, and everyone has a different threshold. But, generally speaking, for example, when we’re looking at kojic acid, generally speaking anything more than 2% will cause irritation or increase the incidence of allergic contact dermatitis.

Ascorbic acid is another thing which we’re very mindful of, because when patients are layering things, when they’re using things like powerful retinols, even prescription retinoids, they start layering the potentially irritating formulations and we’re seeing – from a clinical point of view – anything above 15% like Michelle said, (which is probably industry standard 15%, 20% max) we’re getting a lot of irritation. So I’m just wondering, when it comes to your conceptualization like Michelle said, with high percentages do we take into consideration the patient?

PK: Right, so first, to begin with, when we start conceptualizing a percentage, it really depends on multiple factors, one being the penetration of the active ingredient, and then the half-life of the active ingredient. One of the published literatures explains that when an ascorbic acid used at 20% is explained as the highest concentration that it’s actually tested on. But that actually depends on the skin type, and the penetration, and the format of the product. So it’s really multiple things together; ascorbic being a nutraceutical ingredient, when it comes to a margin of safety calculations or when it comes to a NOAEL, which is the adverse reaction limits, it tends to show positive results even at higher concentrations. It’s really blending multiple things together here.

D: I understand.

M: So, why did you decide to release a 100% niacinamide powder? I had a lot of people asking me this; with the vitamin C obviously there’s a stability issue, so mixing it yourself does help a lot but with niacinamide I don’t think it does have the same issues? What was the motivation behind that one?

PK: Niacinamide is one of our best sellers, and with the 100% offering our intent was to not promote to say “more is better”, it’s only to offer a format that can be used with different textures; and we also provided a detailed mixing guide which we’ve extensively tested on our site. And just to be transparent here, we are taking the feedback into consideration, especially what you provided was really great, and we’re actually coming out with a specific scoop specifically for ascorbic acid separately, so again the intent was to provide a format so that one can mix in different textures.

M: So with the mixing and the testing, have you tested what the skin penetration is like mixing with different The Ordinary products?

PK: Yes, we did! We actually did the patch test as a safety practice between the combinations we suggested, as well as the absorptions, and it did show the positive results in both the cases, as in not irritant and penetrating.

M: Did you do that with l-ascorbic acid as well, especially with the irritation, and how long is that irritation test for? Is it just like how many applications?

PK: We always start with the patch test which is just 48 hours, and we then do a HRIPT which is like a one month long study, it includes a three week induction followed by one week observation.

M: Like a one week wash out?

PK: Yeah, like observation, so for both the combinations we did study those parameters. And with ascorbic acid, on a separate note, we are about to come out with detailed instructions on the size as well as the combinations, like we provided for niacinamide.

D: I’m just wondering… Once again, clinically we see a vast difference between skin types, so for example ethnic Asians, we have – generally speaking – a higher threshold for irritancy compared to someone who’s, for example, type one, type two, living in Ireland with a genetic propensity for rosacea and sensitive skin. Have you taken that into consideration when you’re releasing the products worldwide, whether it’s going to be a genetic and racial variation?

PK: Most of our safety and efficacy testings we try to include a diverse population with different age groups, with different types of skins, but again it’s impossible to take a representation of every group – but we try our best in every panel of subjects.

M: Why can’t you use the niacinamide and the vitamin C together, is that again user feedback?

PK: So it is user feedback. As you know, a few experts actually published some good observations when niacinamide and ascorbic acid are combined, it is actually indeed reversible, but it’s reversible in a beaker. Knowing that we’re offering different strengths of vitamin C and niacinamide we wanted to take a conservative approach even though it’s reversible. But again, I’d like to highlight that reversible aspect is only in a beaker, not on the skin.

M: Do you think it’ll be different on the skin?

PK: It would be different on the skin, especially when someone uses a vitamin C suspension and a niacinamide, the strengths are quite high and suspensions are like a delayed entry into the skin, and it could antagonize each other.

M: I guess from a basic science perspective I would have thought that it would be more reversible on the skin, because some of it might penetrate and then the equilibrium would shift, but I don’t know – clearly there aren’t many biological studies on this yet?

PK: Exactly.

M: Maybe you guys can do one, with the Franz cells!

PK: We’re actually doing a confocal Raman spectroscopy study on just the combination of niacinamide and vitamin C. I’d be happy to share with you once we have the results!

M: That’ll be amazing!

PK: We did some bench trials here as you know, when both are mixed together the optimum pH for that combination is automatically reached, and just to make it reversible either we have to acidify it or alkalize it. That is always possible in the lab, but it’s not possible on the skin.

D: Without revealing too much, I think there is a shift [in the market] now… I guess when you release the ascorbic acid and niacinamide, it’s DIY which I think is a good marketing ploy, because people who are interested in [skincare] like to make their own cocktails, concoctions and cook at home. Are you guys thinking of releasing any other DIY formulations, something like a glycolic acid maybe [laughs]?

PK: No, so far it was only niacinamide and ascorbic.

D: I think niacinamide is good… the way I look at things, if you’re gonna do one thing that’s probably banal, it’s probably niacinamide over ascorbic acid, and definitely over any of the skin [inaudible].

M: I had another product-specific question: Can most people really use the peeling solution once a week? I think what tends to happen when people start getting into The Ordinary and getting into skincare, usually that’s one of the first brands they start using because it’s so affordable and so easily available – which is amazing – but I think people tend to go a bit… too heavy into it, they get a bit too excited and they see a good result after a day, and so the next day they’re like “I’m gonna use it again”!

So, with the peeling solution, I think that’s one of the real danger products when they get too excited. What do you think, how often do you think most people should be using that?

PK: I’ll give some context for this one. Before launching acids, we actually launched a product called Non-acid acid precursor under NIOD. I mean, our stance [is] acids are aggressive, so the better way is actually to energize your skin to actually do that job, instead of using an acid and aggressively peeling. And then following that, we got into acids. When it comes to acids, our stance is pretty clear – we want an experienced acid user to use acids, but if someone is not, then we strongly recommend to start from a lower strength and slowly build up their tolerance.

When it comes to how often one should use… I mean there are two types of exfoliations, as you know, mechanical and chemical exfoliation. With beads or any physical exfoliators what tends to happen is it just loosens up the superficial part of the skin, and it’s really not that deep, and anyone can use it like once a day or as frequently as they would like.

But when it comes to chemical exfoliators, they tend to go a bit deep and that deepness really depends on the strength, acidity, and how long the chemical is exposed to the skin. So, let’s take AHA 30% as an example. Something like that can actually reach to the topmost part of stratum lucidum, but again each layer has its own turnover times; so, a product like that is only advised to be used once or max twice a week. But when it comes to lower strength, again the way it works – as you know – is just loosening up the intercellular linkages between the cells, so again the lower strength means the less of the activity, so it all can be accumulated so it can be used daily.

D: Okay, I think when you mentioned about testing products, and patch testing, and the way Deciem does things… Has anyone done a study whereby you look at what’s out there, as in, the end user who are using your products, doing a study in regards to how their skin reacts? As in a broad study, rather than a controlled study [where] we actually apply one product at the time, in this situation we’re looking at what the retail is doing, where patients are out there.

They’ve got, like Michelle says, you’ve got great products, affordable, very high percentages, and very easily obtainable, so I think we’ve seen the paradigm shift as dermatologists – just working for the last two decades and seeing how the average punter in the street uses skincare. We’re seeing that, because of social media and the availability of information, a lot of the patients now, like Michelle was saying, using a lot of things, they’re layering and it’s because it’s so affordable.

And, as you mentioned, you get a good result with a once- or twice-a-week application of the skincare acid and you’re thinking “man, you know, let’s combine the retinoid, let’s do this, let’s scrub, let’s combine the beta hydroxy acid!” and at the end of the day we’re seeing the increase in a lot of skin conditions apart from rosacea and irritant dermatitis, and contact dermatitis – things like perioral dermatitis as well.

Has the company thought about doing some bigger studies in regards to just the end user?

PK: We are definitely planning something big around BHA, but again nothing is concrete. I mean, everything is narrow at this point of time, but as we see how some users are trying to portray or trying to use AHA, it’s quite scary to see. But at the same time as as a business we’re trying to do our best in providing as much educational content as we could, and we’re always trying to be conservative, we always try to warn with enough necessary cautions on how to use, how not to use… But just to answer your question, we don’t have anything concrete yet but we’re planning to do something big.

D: Michelle, what are your thoughts?

M: Yeah, one of the things people have told me about the Deciem website is that there’s lots of information on that but it’s a little bit hard to navigate, so I think maybe it is a matter of educating the consumer better about not getting too excited and not just buying everything and putting everything on at once… which is really hard because that is human nature! But I think sometimes they need to be told.

D: I think that old saying with Spider-man… with the high-strength formulations, with power come responsibilities [laughs].

M: So let me see what questions people have asked that I haven’t managed to ask yet… I think you pretty much covered why can’t copper amino isolate be used with other products, so you mentioned vitamin C – what other products can’t the copper products be used with?

PK: We usually say not to combine them with direct acids as well. That’s again [because] peptides are usually sensitive to different pH conditions, whether that be acidity or the alkalinity. It also really depends on the strength of both the combinations, because we have some strengths around 5%, 10%, and peptides being at a good level there is a potential that acids can hydrolyze the peptides; but at the same time we also put a note saying if someone used it and if they’re seeing good results already, then they don’t need to separate them. But if someone is starting fresh and they’re trying to use both together in one regimen, then we usually tend to provide that caution saying not to combine.

M: Another question that people had was why aren’t there many gels or creams from The Ordinary – most of your products are very watery serums?

PK: We tend to focus more on the safety, effectiveness of the formulations, and we try always to keep them minimalistic. If you look at most of our The Ordinary products, I don’t need to say they’re extremely minimalistic – they’re stripped down to just the bare minimums of what a formula can have, and we don’t usually focus on textures. In the case of vitamin C, the only reason we have two different textures is because of the grittiness, where 23% is slightly gritty and 30% is more towards the velvety texture, only because there are suspensions.

M: With the stripped down formulas, have you ever done any efficacy testing on a gel formula versus a serum? Because in the literature there’s lots of ingredients where having a gel formula helps; azelaic acid, for example, works better in a gel formula.

PK: We have, we have done quite a bit of studies on penetrations, so there’s definitely a difference between a water-based formula to an emulsion. Again, even in emulsion there’s a difference between oil-and-water to water-and-oil, and there’s also a difference between different types of oils used with the formulas because of the polarity difference, so yes, there are differences and we’re mindful of the difference between an active ingredient and the formulation. Most of the time we try and keep that in mind when we’re trying to come up with the formulation, so niacinamide is a good example – it’s paired with pentylene glycol and, as you know, pentylene glycol helps with better bioavailability of niacinamide.

M: Do you take a different approach with NIOD and The Ordinary in terms of the formulations? From talking to a lot of other people who have used the two brands, we all really, really enjoy using NIOD, whereas The Ordinary it’s a bit more hit and miss.

PK: Right, so NIOD is again extremely different in the approach itself, like the example that I provided as a difference between an acid and a product we have called Non-acid acid precursor, it’s called Naap 15%, so that nicely tells the difference between two brands: The Ordinary has an acid which we all know is aggressive and can provide quick results, but when it comes to NIOD, it’s more increasing the skin’s potential to exfoliate or come back to its normal, is how NIOD is approached.

M: Davin, did you have any more questions on niacinamide? I know you were particularly interested in those.

D: I guess [I’m interested in] PK’s view on disease-specific formulations. So, pardon my ignorance, but is there an avenue to go for disease-specific skincare, for example, like a range for acne with the active ingredients for that, and then combining your particular products based upon the actives which you would package, because I think that’s probably something which I’m sure your marketing team would have thought about?

PK: Right, so from a high level we try to draw a line and we try to stay within the cosmetic scope of things. When it comes to disease or any medicinal claims, we tend not to cross that line and that’s why if you see most of our claims, even though we know products have those benefits, our area of business is purely cosmetics.

M: What’s the next big ingredient? Are you allowed to say what’s your next big launch with The Ordinary?

PK: I really would like to answer this question! However it belies all the excitement. So as much as I want to say, I can’t – know the difference between having myself versus having a team of 30 people, you can already imagine what’s cooking here so I will ask you to… stay tuned.

M: I think that’s all the questions we had!

D: Very good! Thanks for talking to us here, it’s insightful and it’s great to see how your R&D team works, and your concepts, and how things are tested. A lot of viewers and especially, you know, in Michelle’s and my Instagram feed and YouTube viewers, a lot of them are very interested in skincare, so this gives us a really good insight and transparency in regards to your company. So thanks for fronting up! There’s not many companies that would dare to do that, especially with Michelle asking the questions!

M: And Davin! You’re much more awake than I am…

PK: It was really a pleasure meeting you! I do follow both of you and I really enjoy reading through all the content, so please always provide the same positive or negative feedbacks that you see and observe, we’re always receptive to a positive or a negative. So, keep doing that amazing stuff, thank you!

D: Thanks!

M: Thank you!

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6 thoughts on “Interview with Deciem (The Ordinary) Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Davin Lim”

  1. Wow, thanks. You did a great job!
    I have been trying to find the science behind Deciem’s advice not to layer copper peptides with Tretinoin and I can’t find it anywhere. I would love to hear your take on the matter.

  2. I thought you and Davin went easy on him 😛It’s so interesting that they haven’t compared the efficacy of their array of vitamin C products and don’t even know if the higher percentage ones are even more effective. And that they haven’t even looked at how different regimens affect the skin (but I imagine most companies haven’t studied this). So informing the consumer about which products to use together does become a bit of a crap shoot.

  3. I am listening to this at my cubicle at work and squealed about that sunscreen out loud about the sunscreen answer.

    I love this interview and am happy to see Deciem interact with the skincare community in such a way.

    lots of great questions and I took notes myself. Thank you so much for doing this LabMuffin !!!

  4. You realize the FDA doesn’t allow zinc oxide & avobenzone in the same formula, right? So they cant sell it in the us, but they can in other countries

  5. I don’t think Michelle and Davin went easy on the guy. They asked the right questions and got the true answers from Deciem, but the answers just weren’t satisfactory unfortunately. That’s not dissing Deciem per se, it’s endemic to the industry.

    To date, I can only recall Avene’s RetrinAL 0.1 cream being studied scientifically for results and even then the study only proved it can diminish crow’s feet. I can’t think of any other company or Vit-C or retinoid serum subjected to actually testing.

    We’re really just buying products on good faith. When we think a product is good and showing results, we have no way to tell whether it’s the expensive “star” ingredient doing that, or all the other cheap ingredients therein.


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