The Interview: Daniel Isaacs, director of research, Medik8
Daniel Issacs is the Director of Research at Medik8. Founded by Elliot Issacs in 2009, Medik8 produces high quality skin care products with the best ingredients at the right strengths, and with a proven track record. The brand’s team represents over 40 years of combined experience in skin care research and product formulation.
We spoke to Daniel Isaacs about how the brand’s much-loved formulas are developed, how the brand is simplifying science for consumers and why their CSA Philosophy holds the key to younger looking skin.
Can you tell us about your career background?
After studying Chemistry at Leeds University, I started working as a Formulation Scientist for Medik8. Elliot (my brother and the brand’s founder) desperately needed some help in resolving the technical challenges he was facing when dealing with Vitamin C and Vitamin A, so he enlisted me to help. I joined Medik8 when the brand was still so young. Being part of its growth and helping it get to where it is today has been an invaluable experience.
What are your responsibilities as Director of Research?
Innovation is at the core of mine and Medik8’s journey. I love developing world-leading skincare formulations that keep us at the cutting edge of skincare research. I help ensure that the very best of the best is developed by our team of incredible scientists and formulators, making sure we can scale, stay sustainable and deliver quality, results-driven innovation. During my career, I have developed over 100 unique formulations, specialising in retinoids (vitamin A), and I’ve also invented three patents in skin ageing and formulation stability. Additionally, I further pioneered the use of retinaldehyde in mainstream skincare products, and was the innovator behind our revolutionary Crystal Retinal Ceramide Eye; the world's first clinical strength retinal for the under eye area.
How have Medik8’s formulas developed?
Medik8 was born out of a passion to deliver the benefits of serious skincare science without needing to compromise on the demand for ethics, transparency, sustainability and beautiful textures and fragrances. Our mission was, and still is, to demystify the anti-ageing skincare category with our trademark CSA Philosophy of ‘Vitamin C plus sunscreen by day, and Vitamin A by night’. This simplicity, plus the end of choosing between results or experience, is the secret to Medik8’s meteoric rise. We’ve always been experts in Vitamin A, but we’ve consistently taken this to new heights. First, by harnessing the intelligent versions of retinol, then launching the first clinical strength retinaldehyde serum on the market, and then harnessing the power of our Vitamin A super molecule - retinyl retinoate.
What does the brand’s research process involve?
Before we dive into lab work, our first step is comprehensive market research. We scour the marketplace and determine what exactly the customer is looking for. Sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how often this stage is ignored. We seek to find legitimate gaps or problems in customers’ skincare experience with the end goal to develop technology to solve these problems and add genuine value to our customers' lives, ultimately improving their skin and skincare experience, sustainably.
We have three pillars (Breakthrough Technology, Super Stability and Unattainable Experiences) that we continue to innovate in, even as we expand and grow as a company. All of these allow us to deliver on our proven results and take skin rejuvenation to new heights with innovative product testing.
We put a huge amount of investment and effort into scientific research to further the science behind our core ingredients. We also clinically test our products to make sure they will deliver on the results our customers know and love - developing formulas that were previously unthought of or perceived as impossible.
Why is accessibility and affordability important to Medik8?
It’s so important to us that our customers have access to proven, science-backed skincare as well as correct and well-explained information. We believe that education is an integral part of our customers getting the best out of their skincare routines. Our extensive range of products has something to offer for all price points. This is something which is really important to us - aligning with our wider ethos that customers shouldn’t have to compromise on results, experience, or impact on the planet. With Medik8, you can have it all.
How is the brand simplifying science for consumers?
Our customers are increasingly aware of skincare science and ingredients - many of our customers are just as passionate about science in skincare as we are. We put huge amounts of research, thought and effort into ensuring that our products are science-forward, and we relish the opportunity to communicate that to our customers and have it be heard. We like to give different levels of information within our communications; preferring to go more in-depth with our blog posts, and keep it more top line and easy to digest in our social media posts. We often have our in-house scientists write our science-led content to ensure it is accurate. We put a huge effort into making real science easy to understand by using analogies, diagrams and simple concepts to make skincare science accessible for all.
A lot of beauty lovers want to incorporate retinol into their routines but either aren’t sure how to go about it or have reservations about the side effects – how is the brand addressing consumers’ concerns about the ingredient?
Retinol is the classic form of vitamin A, and the one which is most often talked about. However, Vitamin A does have its challenges. When delivered at levels high enough to have a visible effect on skin ageing, it can cause irritation in the form of stinging, redness and peeling. We have optimised our retinol and retinal serums to be suitable for use on even the most sensitive skin; elevating their results while optimising them to be gentle.
We do this by using time release technology as well as clever formulation techniques to ensure that the retinol/retinal is drip-fed into the skin overnight to minimise any potential for irritation. We also abide by ‘start low and go slow’, recommending most of our customers start at the lower ends of our vitamin A ladders. Most beginners would start at Crystal Retinal 3 and more experienced users at Crysta Retinal 6, then move up the ladder of strengths slowly to avoid overwhelming the skin. We also champion our phase in process; recommending usage of the Vitamin A serums twice a week for the first 2 weeks, then every other night for 2 weeks, and then every night thereafter. All of this helps to mitigate any potential irritation concerns for consumers.
The CSA philosophy involves incorporating three ingredients into your skincare routine for younger-looking skin but there are currently a lot of options on the market to choose from - do you think age-defying skincare has become overcomplicated?
In some ways, yes. This is why our range also offers multi-step formulas, including those which fit into our CSA Philosophy. But, essentially, CSA is still a very simple and easy-to-follow skincare strategy that ensures proven results you can see and feel.
Why does Medik8 believe that Vitamin C, Sunscreen and Vitamin A hold the key to younger-looking skin?
At Medik8, our ultimate mission is to help everyone achieve Beautiful Skin for Life. Our approach to demystifying anti-ageing skincare is encapsulated by our simple CSA Philosophy. We believe the secret to looking younger for longer is as easy as Vitamin C plus sunscreen by day and Vitamin A by night.
Vitamin C should be a core ingredient in anyone’s morning skincare routine as it boasts a multitude of benefits. It is able to brighten, illuminate and promote an even complexion. It also stimulates collagen production, helping to plump out fine lines and wrinkles for a smoother, more youthful-looking complexion.
We know that UV rays are responsible for up to 80% of premature skin ageing, and therefore sunscreens are one of the most crucial steps in any skincare regime. They work by blocking harmful UV rays which can cause signs of skin ageing and damage. They should be worn by everyone, every day - no matter the weather.
Vitamin A is the gold standard in age-defying skincare ingredients. It minimises the look of fine lines and wrinkles, resurfaces the texture of skin and evens out pigmentation. Vitamin A can refer to a whole group of molecules called retinoids. We champion retinaldehyde as an extremely powerful form of Vitamin A which is proven to work up to 11x faster than traditional retinol.* You can find retinaldehyde in our bestselling Crystal Retinal range.
Tell us about the brand’s latest launch?
Crystal Retinal Ceramide Eye is a world first with truly unrivalled results. Our mission was to unlock all the power of retinaldehyde for the eyes. The key? Not ONE but TWO forms of encapsulated retinaldehyde technology to ensure the ultra-slow release of retinal power into the skin to avoid sensitivity while ensuring effective results. This is coupled with our patent-pending carrot seed oil complex and cutting-edge airless packaging which work in perfect unison to maintain the potency and integrity of the clinical-strength formula.
Are there any innovations Medik8 is working on at the moment?
That would be telling!