One of my favorite things about being a part of the beauty industry is the innovation. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something hits the scene that gets my blood pumping again, and this week, it was a revolutionary beauty concept from a new company called Opulus Beauty Labs.
Founded by Dr. Robb Akridge who brought us cult-favorite Clarisonic (RIP!), Opulus Beauty Labs is like the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory for beauty products, and as it turns out, the idea for the product was born in a candy shop. “I was in a candy shop in Paris looking at all the different packs of chocolates, and I thought, ‘Why can’t skin care be like this? Like a single little nugget of cream that’s customized for skin that you can change up,'” says Dr. Robb. “Because right now when you buy a jar of product, you’re stuck with it for three months—that’s based on old shopping habits. So I thought, ‘Why don’t we make these tiny, chocolate-like truffles of product. To do this, we had to reinvent cosmetic chemistry, and what we came up with are Opoules: never-been-done-before standalone beauty treatments.”
The patent-pending Opoules are handmade and contain two layers: an outer coat (the harder part) and the core (the softer part). “We’ve been able to discover how to keep ingredients in the two layers separate and suspended so all the actives are just waiting there for you,” says Dr. Robb. “Our Opoules are also anhydrous, meaning they have no water or very low water activity, and this is important because in the cosmetic industry, if there’s water in a formula, the brand just dumps in preservative to make sure it’s protected. What we’re doing is actually measuring the amount of water activity in our formulas so that we can adjust, if needed, the amount of preservative. We’re being very precise with what we do.”
To turn the Opoule into an actual cream, you activate it using the Opulus Activator. “This is not a device, it’s an appliance,” says Dr. Robb. “It’s the first beauty appliance—you can think of it as your personal lab.” You twist the Activator to remove the lid, and then place the Opoule inside the bowl and reattach the lid (similar to the idea of a K-Cup in a Keurig). “The bowl heats up rapidly to melt the outer coat of the Opoule, allowing it to be mixed with the core via a small blade,” Dr. Robb explains. “It starts slowly and then increases its speed to get to sheer force, so when it’s finished, the product is warm, and warm product absorbs into skin better than cold product.” The activation process takes just 100 seconds, which Dr. Robb says is actually the ideal time to cleanse your skin, and thanks to his many years at Clarisonic. So, while your Opoule is being activated, you can wash your face.
“We are a beauty company that has a wild imagination,” says Dr. Robb. “We can create serums, heavy creams or completely new textures that have never been done before because we have the ability to do combinations that standard chemists can’t do. They’re not allowed to do some of these things because the ingredients precipitate out or they spoil, etc. We can do it by having them separated.”
One ingredient that greatly benefits from the Opoule encapsulation is retinol—the gold-standard for anti-aging concerns—which is the ingredient Dr. Robb chose to focus on for the brand’s launch. In each box of Opoules, which resembles a box of chocolates, you get an easy-to-understand four-week supply of product. “One way to describe it is like an advent calendar because you always start in the upper lefthand corner,” he says. Night one is a retinol treatment, and then the remaining days are organized for you so your retinol usage gradually increases, alternating between retinol Opoules and a soothing Opoule called Restore, Hydrate and Rejuvenate (or RHR for short). “Once your skin is comfortable with R1, which contains 0.25 percent retinol, you can graduate to R2 (0.5 percent retinol) and R3 (1 percent retinol),” Dr. Robb explains. “We’ve also included ceramides in the retinol Opoules for protection of skin barrier, as well as bakuchiol, the retinol plant-based alternative. Another great thing is that because these are anhydrous formulas—all of them are—we can also include oil-soluble vitamin C for skin brightness, which is hard to keep active and suspended in typical products.”
The Restore, Hydrate and Rejuvenate Opoules (RHR) contain allantoin, which soothes and rebalances the skin in between retinol treatments. “When you look at the studies, 2 percent allantoin is optimal, but cosmetic chemists can’t get to that level without some issues,” says Dr. Robb. “They usually stop at about 0.5 percent because that means the allantoin does not precipitate out or become crystallized. We figured out a way to include 2 percent allantoin, as well as a hepapeptide for firmness and sodium hyaluronate for hydration.”
New York dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD has been using the system for a few months and says this is a one-and-done product because it separates the ingredients that would normally inactivate each other. “But then when they get thermally blended, you get peak potency of everything—you don’t need to also use a moisturizer or vitamin C. This has your retinol, your antioxidants and your moisturizers all in one. I also love that it’s warm because it feels pampering and I almost found myself looking forward to using it at night because it feels like I’m doing something nice for myself. I like to call it a ritual, not a regimen.” Each Opoule also contains a generous amount of product, which is enough to cover not only your face and neck, but also your décolleté and the backs of your hands.
Dr. Robb says daytime skin treatments are coming soon, and his ultimate vision for the brand includes expanding into other categories as well, including hair treatments, body treatments, and perhaps even color cosmetics like tinted moisturizers. “Consumers will be able to go on our website and self-select their Opoules for each box, just like a box of chocolates. You could have whatever you want. It gives us freedom to think about beauty differently.”
The Opulus Beauty Labs Starter System ($395) is now available for pre-order, and after pre-orders, the price will increase to $495. Stay tuned to NewBeauty for more information.