Dermalogica Founder Jane Wurwand on The Evolution of Skin Care – Glossy
When Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand arrived in America in the 1980s, going to a beautician and adopting a multi-step skin care routine was almost unheard of for the average client. Born in Edinburgh and raised most of her life in England, she was inspired by the skin care industry in Europe. She decided to change the American market and her brand Dermalogica was born in 1986. On Tuesday she released her first book with HarperCollins titled “Skin in the game “, reflecting on his life, career and experience making Dermalogica the skin care giant which was acquired for an undisclosed amount by Unilever.
Glossy spoke to Wurwand at the Los Angeles-based Dermalogica headquarters to hear his thoughts on the book’s inspiration, the history of professional skin care in the United States, and the pandemic’s effect on the industry. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What inspired you to write the book?
âTwo or three years ago I decided I wanted to write a book. I could write a skin care book, but someone else could write it. [So] I wanted to write a book on “How to do a major reset in your life? You do something that you feel is just not right [and thinking], ‘I should do more, I should do it differently. But I don’t really have the tools. I don’t know what to do. How do you find that bigger “Why” of what you want to do?
It’s not really a dissertation, and it’s not just a business book. The trick is, how do you reset where you are going in your life and in your career? And how dare you risk and grow, which is my mantra as an entrepreneur? I think it’s absolutely prescient for people who think, âI don’t want to go back to a new normal. I want to go to my new neighbor.
Who is the audience?
âI don’t like being too gender-specific, but mostly women. I’ve spent my life in a 98% female industry, so I tend to always think of it that way. Corn [I was also] thinking of a person who was at a point in their life or career where they said, âIt’s not that I’m wrong; I’m fine. I don’t think this is my biggest idea. I don’t think this is my greatest life. It’s comfortable; it’s not scary. But I don’t feel like that’s all I could be. If you have that idea, I wrote the book so you can explore it and see if there is anything else.
Do you think a lot of women are currently rethinking their careers and looking for such advice?
âFor quite a long time, people, especially women, have been unhappy with the lack of flexibility in their careers. What has happened now is these people said, âYou know what? I won’t come back to that. I want to have time with my family, I want to have time with my children, I want to have time for myself. And I also want to have more flexibility in where I work and what time I go to work. ‘
The key element [moving forward] is going to be “Can I live my life?” And forget about the work-life balance, because it’s a binary and a separation. I really think we are in an industrial revolution that started before the pandemic. But the pandemic has given us that boost. “
How has the pandemic changed professional skin care?
âThe shows have outperformed any of our retail channels. We are at Ulta. We are in Zipporah. We have a presence in retail channels around the world where there is a skin therapist or someone to professionally advise, but none of them were open for services. And although many of our independents the salons were not open to services, they showed growth in their product sales because they were doing virtual consultations. When we’re done, we’ll see more skin care salons adding this virtual element. And it will change our industry for the better.
In the book, you step into the history of professional skin care. How did you aim to move the American market with Europe at the start of your career?
“[I wanted] create the industry in which I was trained and fill the gap between a few hundred hours of training, which was the norm [for estheticians in the U.S.], and the two-year full-time training with apprenticeship which was the norm in Europe.
At the time, if you opened a [U.S] magazine, there has never been an article on skin care. Everything was makeup, everything was hair. I would go to the pitch editors, aAnd they were like, âYeah, every few months we do something about skin care, but never about professional skin care. ‘Is it really a thing? Do people really do this? Most states did not have a license. So the early years of the brand, we were very popular, word of mouth. We kept sharing the information, seeding the product, and teaching at every trade show booth we could. “
When did the multi-step skin care routine become mainstream?
âNot soon enough. We started the double cleanse, and then we launched products called serums and boosters. And we took a lot of heat to [around] 15 years old. People kept saying, ‘Nobody understands the word serum. What are you talking about? It is like a bodily fluid. What does it mean?’
I have taught a lot in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. And when I first went to teach in South Korea, around 1985, Korea’s multi-step skin care routine was not in place; there was a very nascent industry. The multi-layered routine entered the mainstream perhaps 10 years ago, [though] people might think it was five years ago. And thank god [because] we can finally be understood for what we do. What has really helped is the internet and social media. People went online and showed how they used [products] and what they would do. There was that [new] idea of âânot covering up irregularities in the skin with makeup products – and actually treating the problem and not the side effect.