The Interview: Lisa and Lauren Goldfaden, Co-founders Goldfaden MD
Goldfaden MD was founded in 2013 by Dr. Gary Goldfaden and sisters-in-law Lisa and Lauren Goldfaden. The dermatologist-developed, plant-powered brand is guided by the belief that proactivity equals prevention.
All of the brand’s products mimic the in-office treatments that Dr. Goldfaden has been performing for over 40 years. Each product features skin-nourishing, antioxidant-rich, plant cell actives that are organic, non-irritating and free of toxins and unnecessary additives. Goldfaden MD’s products can be found in over 1,000 leading beauty and luxury retailers in over eight countries.
Lisa Goldfaden joined the family business full-time in 2006. While working in the education department at The Paley Center for Media in New York, she realised that starting a skincare brand was the perfect platform to utilise her artistic and educational background. “I also felt compelled to share everything I’d learned from our father with the public. I was mostly fueled by the fact that there wasn’t a lot of natural skincare available on a retail level,” she says.
Health and wellness had always been a part of Lauren Goldfaden’s life. After years in the advertising industry working with global brands like Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Method personal care products, she wanted to do something that she was deeply passionate about.
“I’ve always felt that beauty is an extension of our overall lifestyle in terms of what we gravitate to. I’m focused on being what I call ‘naturally conscious’ in every aspect of my life. I joined Goldfaden MD over eight years ago and it has been the most exciting and rewarding journey,” she says.
The inspiration behind the launch of the brand was Dr. Goldfaden’s patients. Problem solving for his patients naturally steered him towards product development. When he began practising in the late 60’s, anti-aging hadn’t really begun on a medical level and most patients sought in-office procedures as the first line of defence. As Dr. Goldfaden gained experience in private practice, he realised how significant preventative at-home skincare could be for his patients and how it could hopefully reduce their need for extreme corrective measures in-office. It became clear to him that the world needed a serious yet chemically clean line they could trust, and Goldfaden MD was the answer.
The first step of the brand’s formulation process is to identify a problem or issue that Dr. Goldfaden encounters in-office and from there, the brand develops a solution that mimics in-office treatments, for example: peels, microdermabrasion and injections to name a few. “The challenge is keeping the formulas clean without compromising the stability,” Lauren and Lisa say. When he developed the brand’s first product, Dr. Goldfaden mixed various ingredients together in his office until he perfected the formula through patient trials and lab testing, which took a couple of years. The brand wanted to ensure they understood the retail landscape prior to launch. “We wanted to know the market and who our customer was. We did a lot of market research and brand analysis to hone in on this,” Lauren and Lisa say.
During the formulation process, the biggest standout for the brand was learning and understanding the advancements in the uses of natural actives and how significant they were. “We have witnessed a massive shift in the beauty industry toward a demand for ‘cleaner’ products. New and natural active ingredients with unique treatment benefits are being introduced almost daily, so we are constantly working to stay at the forefront of discovery and sourcing the best possible ingredients for our formulas,” Lauren and Lisa say.
After analysing the research they carried out on the Birds of Paradise flower, they incorporated it into their proprietary complex PURFLORA™, which is found within the Plant Profusion range, as an essential brightening ingredient. “We were fascinated to see that most times, natural actives are scientifically proven to deliver an equal or greater treatment benefit to a chemically-based alternative,” they say.
Over the last 50 years in practice, Dr. Goldfaden has been studying innovative ingredients that he’s found through travels, research and clinical experience. An example of this is his use of plant stem cells. “Plant stem cells are cultured in labs away from pollution and pesticides. This way, scientists have more control over the quality and quantity of whatever anti-aging substance the plant produces,” Lauren and Lisa explain.
The technology also provides access to purer ingredients because they don’t have to worry about toxins or chemicals sneaking in from an outside source. Dr. Goldfaden was one of the first physicians to formulate with plant stem cells and has written numerous articles for Life Extension Foundation on new ingredient research and topical applications in skincare.
When Goldfaden MD first launched, they were targeting 30-plus women who were looking for anti-aging solutions and/or solutions to specific skincare problems, i.e. dull/lacklustre skin, blemish-prone skin, photodamaged skin etc. “The Goldfaden MD customer is focused on or interested in natural ingredients. She doesn’t want to compromise the efficacy levels of formula potency in order to be natural. She spends money on aesthetic services and wants rapid or immediate results,” Lauren and Lisa say.
The brand was well received by consumers and took off from the moment it launched. Goldfaden MD is the first dermatologist-approved, naturally inspired skincare brand on the market. It bridges what was once a gap between natural luxury and physical strength dermatologist-formulated skincare. “At the time, the brand filled a huge void within the beauty space, one that consumers still demand. They want clean products of the highest quality that deliver on their benefit promise,” Lauren and Lisa say.
The brand’s best selling product is the Doctor’s Scrub. The emollient and vitamin-packed formula, which is combined with Ruby Crystal Technology, provides instant and visible benefits that make skin brighter and more radiant after just one use. “Doctor’s Scrub was known as a magic scrub and all our friends would take some when they visited us. Personally, it really helped our skin as we both had blemish-prone skin, so it worked wonders to clear up our complexion. It was the formula that made it so unique and a truly standout product,” Lauren and Lisa say.
35 years after its launch, Doctor’s Scrub makes up approximately 25% of the brand’s overall sales and attracts a huge variety of customers from ages 16-80, including celebrities like Kate Hudson, who has hailed the scrub as a staple of her red carpet beauty regimen.
Goldfaden MD has created a high-performance bodycare collection that features Doctor’s Body Dermabrasion Scrub, Firm Believer Body Contouring Serum, and the new Body Surge Moisturiser which works to hydrate, brighten and strengthen overall skin barrier function. “Keeping skin healthy and fit is paramount to our brand philosophy and that includes the skin on the body. The skin on our bodies needs daily exfoliation followed up by treatment with peptides, stem cells and nurturing hydrators to keep it looking vibrant while helping to prevent the loss of firmness and elasticity,” Lauren and Lisa say.
Goldfaden MD’s Body Collection distils over 40 years of dermatologist research and expertise into three supercharged skincare products as the brand continues to define the industry standard for clean beauty and bridges the gap between the face and body.
The brand is making beauty effective and accessible for all by continuing to develop products that provide skincare solutions to the common skin issues that men and women experience throughout their life.
“We are continuously working with our vendors to keep costs as low as possible without compromising on the efficacy or sustainability of our brand to ensure that we can be positioned as an ‘affordable luxury’ when it comes to topical products. We like to think that the brand can provide the highest level of treatment on a shelf without having to incur in-office doctor costs,” Lauren and Lisa say.
To add value to consumers’ experiences, Goldfaden MD have reconstructed their DTC business to personalise the customer journey through extensive email marketing and retargeting campaigns along with website updates to ensure that the customer shopping experience is seamless. “The pandemic really shifted how we interacted with our customers, from traditional brick and mortar to boosting our direct sales and marketing strategies,” Lauren and Lisa say.
Additionally, the brand has just launched the Glow Getters Membership which offers unique rewards and perks when you shop with them directly, inclusive of one on one skincare consultations, discounts, first access to new launches and much more. To further this, the brand launched a robust social and partnership strategy to offer more effective and digestible education to consumers so they understand exactly what they are shopping for.
Lauren and Lisa believe that beauty is beyond appearance and goes deep into how people feel about themselves. “When we feel good and secure about ourselves, we exude positivity to everyone around us and in turn mitigate hate, shaming and comparison. Physical beauty has no definition and exists in everyone. Internal acceptance, health and joy are crucial to feeling beautiful,” they say. As for their thoughts on how they think the beauty industry will continue to evolve, they believe change is and will continue to be the one constant.
“There has been a major shift in ethical expectations from consumers and the demand for transparency, inclusion and sustainability and this will continue to change and evolve. Consumers are looking for brands to become meaningful beyond the products. We also think multidimensional and multi-use products coupled with new ingredient innovations are also booming - there’s a lot of movement and growth in this category specifically,” they say.
If Lauren and Lisa could give one piece of advice to budding beauty entrepreneurs, it would be to understand and determine what sets your product or brand apart from everyone else in the marketplace. “Hone in on that messaging and don’t get distracted by the outside noise. You can’t be everything to everyone, so focus on your messaging and build your community one by one,” they add.
So what’s next for Goldfaden MD? The brand has a heavy focus on product development, so expect a few groundbreaking launches that are scheduled to hit shelves later this year and next year. The brand also has plans to grow into new channels and countries. By the end of this year, they’ll be expanding into South East Asia and further expansion into Europe, Australia and New Zealand is also planned.