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In this episode of the PSP Podcast’s “Skincare Products for Your Practice” segment, Epicutis Skincare Founder and CEO Max Stock share his unique journey to creating skincare products and what’s propelling the company forward.

Stock’s background in molecular biology, along with his father’s expertise as a world-renowned molecular biologist, led to the establishment of Signum Biosciences in 2003, a biotech company specializing in patented ingredients and drugs for skin conditions. This experience gave Stock an insider’s view of the skincare industry, where he identified areas for improvement. Epicutis Skincare, Stock says, was born out of a desire to create simplified, effective, and safe skincare products.

The skincare line follows a three-step routine—cleanse, treat, hydrate—suitable for all skin types and ages. Stock emphasizes the importance of gender-neutral packaging, making Epicutis accessible to everyone, including the rapidly growing male skincare market. Plus, Stock says Epicutis is the only product line in the professional channel verified by the Environmental Working Group for clean and safe ingredients.

Stock also discusses the significance of the professional channel for Epicutis, highlighting the importance of expert guidance and the opportunity for clients to try products before purchase. Epicutis supports clinicians by offering back-bar products that enhance various aesthetic procedures, reduce downtime, and promote quicker healing, according to Stock.

Also, Epicutis Skincare’s commitment to safety includes extensive testing and adhering to strict guidelines in countries like the U.K., mainland Europe, and Japan. Epicutis acknowledges the role of the skin microbiome and promotes maintaining a stable skincare routine to prevent microbial imbalances.

Finally, Stock shares that Epicutis’s future includes international expansion, new product launches, and a focus on partnering with representatives who align with the brand’s values rather than a high volume of skincare brands. He says the company aims to continue promoting skin health as a vital aspect of overall well-being. PSP

Max Stock, founder and CEO Epicutis
Podcast Transcript

Alison Werner 0:09
Hello and welcome to the plastic surgery practice Podcast. I’m one of your hosts Alison Werner. In this episode, you’re going to hear from my co host Keri Stephens as she talks to Max Stock, founder and CEO of Epicutis skincare as part of our skincare products for your practice segment. The to talk about how the product was developed, why it’s ideal for plastic surgery, patients post procedure, and how Epicutis can work with plastic surgeons to help them build better relationships with patients. Here’s their conversation.

Keri Stephens 0:37
So Max, welcome.

Max Stock 0:38
Hey, thank you. Glad to be here. And thanks for taking the time.

Keri Stephens 0:41
Yeah, we’re excited to hear from you. To start can you tell us about your journey and experience in the skincare industry that led you to found Epicutis skincare?

Max Stock 0:50
Yeah, of course. So, my father and I founded Signum Biosciences back in 2003, my father’s a professor at Princeton University. He’s a molecular biologist. And that’s my background, I, I went to school for molecular biology, grew up in his lab, as a kid. So really, science was kind of my language. It’s how I think. So he and I started the company that I guess 20 years ago this year. And we wanted to develop our technology for dermatological conditions. So over the last 20 years, we’ve been developing drugs for topical disease as well as ingredients for the skincare industry. And so that gave me this insider’s view to to the whole industry. So we would, typically we’ve been over the last 20 years, we’ve been a licensing company, a licensing biotech company. So we would develop patented ingredients and patented drugs, and then licensed those off to companies then who would develop them and commercialize them. So that’s what was really my experience, it was really from the inside. And being that insider, I really saw all these things that I thought could be better, that we could do better. And our technology actually, my my father and I both suffer from seborrhea dermatitis. And we were actually formulating our own our own ingredients and our own formulas just to what we wanted was our ingredient with a simple formula as possible. And so that that was kind of the beginnings of starting to think about Epicutis starting to think about where we wanted to really develop our own products. So in the industry, I really saw all these kind of ways that we could just do things better. They there was so many ingredients in these formulations, they would put very low concentrations of the actual actives. And then they had huge number of steps. So you would have 10 to 15 steps that they were recommending to use their system. So through all that experience resulted in that really culminated in in Epicutis skincare.

Keri Stephens 3:04
So what sets applicators skincare apart from other skincare lines in the market.

Max Stock 3:08
So first and foremost, it has patented ingredients, so you’re not going to find in other skincare lines. So we have TSC, which is a small molecule that we developed and discovered at Signum biosciences, powerful, anti inflammatory, small molecule. And then we have a botanical extract in chia seed extract that we call high via. So those two are very unique, so you won’t find anyplace else. And then our formulas, our formulas are, they have as few ingredients is possible. So let’s, for example, our lipid serum, which is our hero product only has eight ingredients. And the reason we’re able to do that is because our actives are very stable, very soluble, so you don’t have to put stabilizers or solubilizes or anything else like that. And they’re also very powerful, they out there they actually work and then I was able early on in the history of signum, we partnered with a Japanese pharmaceutical company, so I started to travel to Japan got exposed to Japanese skincare the way they do their formulations is, in my opinion, much better, less ingredients, just more simple formulations. And that’s when I met Masanori Tamura, who is the formulator behind the Epicutis skincare line and product so it’s really just kind of East Meets West that Japanese formulations with with signum bioscience, you know Western developed biotech ingredients. And then another another real difference that you’re gonna find from other brands that are out there, at least in the professional channel is we are the only EWG verified product line in the professional channel and the EWG is the Environmental Working Group. One of the things that I saw over the last 20 years is a lot of these ingredients that are in the skincare products are toxic, especially if you’re getting any kind of treatment, let’s say an aesthetic treatment where you’re compromising the barrier skin. It’s really critical have really clean formulations. And that word clean is a bit ambiguous because here in the United States, there’s really no regulation. I think 11 ingredients are banned across the country. And then California has done prop six, five, and they’ve banned, I think another around 40. But in Europe, for example, you have over 1600 ingredients that are banned for skincare products. So we chose the Environmental Working Group. It’s a nonprofit organization that evaluates ingredients in personal care products. And so basically, they have like an app on your phone, that you can scan the barcode of, let’s say, a tube of toothpaste, and you can see the toxicity of all the ingredients in your toothpaste. So to be EWG verified, it’s a very, very high bar in terms of the ingredients that are in the formulas. And then another differentiating aspect of the skincare of Epicutis skincare, is that we’ve really simplified the whole process. So I believe that skincare just had gotten way too complicated. And, and I guess being a guy, I kind of always approached it, like, I just want to have this simple routine that I can do. And so that’s another thing that we created with Epicutis cleanse, treat, hydrate, there’s only three steps twice a day, any skin type, any age, so it’s really a one size fits all. And then it’s also I wanted to make the packaging very gender neutral, so that it would really be accessible to men in the professional channel, that’s the fastest growing segment is man, it’s very small. It’s I think it’s around 10% or less. But But that’s another aspect of what we wanted to do with the brand. So kind of all those pieces kind of really differentiates Epicutis skincare from from anything that’s really out there.

Keri Stephens 6:46
You did mention the aesthetic procedure. So obviously, a PSP is for the plastic surgeons, and I know skincare is a big part of what they recommend in the derm spa space. But why did you choose to focus on the professional channel for selling your skincare products? And how does this approach benefits both consumers and clinicians?

Max Stock 7:06
Well, one of the big, you know, if you’re buying your skincare products online, you’re really not talking to anybody, maybe you would talk to a little chat box that’s on their website, but your skin is an organ. It’s it’s, we believe that that that skincare is healthcare, right. So you need to be talking to an expert, you need to talk be talking to an authority, a doctor, a dermatologist, a clinician to actually help in terms of your skin, right. And we think that’s really critical. It’s also really nice to be able to try the products actually, you don’t have to actually buy the products to try them. You can go to your dermatologist, your Med Spa, your plastic surgeon, and you can try the products. And we also have a big back bar. I think that’s another nice part of Epicutis is we really, we really want to work with the clinician work where you know, making their procedures work better people have less downtime. So I just believe the professional channel is the best channel for skincare, you need to be talking to an expert you want to touch and feel. And I think you know, people are more and more getting driven to buying their their products just in general online. And people want to have that touch, they want to have that expert opinion instead of trying to figure everything out for themselves. Because if you go direct to consumer, if you go to just a website, skincare company, they’re all kind of saying the same things. Everybody has science, everything works amazing. It’s hard to kind of differentiate between all the different products that are out there. So so that’s why I chose to professional channel.

Keri Stephens 7:58
Yeah. And I want to get back into the clean part that you’re talking about the clean skincare. So how do you ensure the safety of your products? Consider your lack of regulations around ingredients in the US compared to like what you talked about the EU are they’re really strict?

Max Stock 8:56
Yeah, so we do all of our safety testing. You know, we don’t test on animals, we do all the in vitro testing that that are required. Our episode of skincare is currently in 11 countries. So we’re in the UK we’re in we’re in mainland Europe, we meet all of those guidelines, as well as do some environmental testing, for example. So we’re in Asia, we’re in Japan that has a very high bar. So we do as much as possible to test the safety of the products. And then because we only have you know our oil cleanser has nine ingredients the lipid serum in our cream our Hyvia cream, only 23 ingredients. So that makes it a bit easier to have to have those such few ingredients and then all those ingredients are incredibly benign, you are Epicutis skincare products you can use while breastfeeding you can use while pregnant. And you know there really just wasn’t option like Epicutis out there. You have these other brands where they’ll have like 50 skews. 50 different products, it’s you just get paralyzed through trying to figure out how to use all this stuff. And then all the ingredients that are in each formula. So they, they want you to use 10 products. And then each product has like 50 ingredients on it, and you’re laying all these different products on. So you’re getting this kind of massive exposure to all these chemicals twice a day, every day, over time can, you know you can have some negative negative effects of that. So it also, it also one of the kind of the elephant in the room is your microbiome, on your on your skin, which is absolutely critical to your skin health, just slow it just like it’s so critical to gut health. And so a lot of people are really doing this thing called cycling, where they’re jumping from brand to brand to brand, because the brand that they’re currently using kind of stops working after three to six months. So they jumped to another brand. Well, what you just did is you just sent all your microbes into a tailspin, right? They just got used to what you’re putting on your face regularly, just like your gut, it’s important that you eat the same foods you you eat at the same time. And if you don’t do that, you’ll start to have some gut problems, what’s the same for your skin? And it’s not really well understood. I think that’s a very new area of understanding in terms of the relationship between your skin and how the microbiome plays. But my belief is that because we have so few ingredients, and they’re not toxic, you know, you want to you’re not just causing toxicity to your body, but you’re also doing that to your microbiome. So that’s also another thing to really think about when you’re thinking about skincare.

Keri Stephens 11:37
Yeah, and and you talked about like the skincare is healthcare. So how does Epicutis skincare support clinicians in their business? And how does the brand’s commitment to education and professional guidance along with y’alls belief that skincare is healthcare?

Max Stock 11:52
First and foremost, we we don’t sell online to we don’t sell them on dermstore. That was one of the biggest things that I saw, I just kind of blew my mind that these companies would sell through dermatologists and then undercut those same clinicians by selling online that’s something that we don’t do and that we will never do. signum Biosciences isn’t a marketing company with a skincare product, signum biosciences, a biotech company, and we have bench scientists, we have in house formulations, we do all our own stability work. So we’re really a biotech company with a skincare product. So that right away connects us to the clinician, we understand what they’re trying to do, we we have very deep understanding of the science behind skin. And so another way that we support the clinician is by creating back bar products. So our products are very nicely paired with these various aesthetic procedures, whether you’re, whether you’re getting micro needles or getting a bladed, or getting appeal, all these things can cause irritation, inflammation, discomfort for their, for their clinicians, clients, so the Epicutis line of products. First and foremost, it gives the clinician the confidence that they’re not going to get some kind of reaction from their client, they don’t want to see that. And then second, it really is going to enhance the procedure, the aesthetic procedure, so their clients got to have less downtime, less discomfort, the lipid serum that TSC molecule enhances wound healing by recruiting fibroblasts into the wound, so you’re gonna get enhanced, enhanced wound healing, that’s one of the things plastic surgeons like to use it on is, is their sutures, and then they get quicker healing time. So that’s one way that we really boost the clinicians business. And then our account reps are really not just focused on selling the product to the clinician, but also servicing the clinician talking to the clinician about their business, how can they make skincare profitable for their for their, for their practice? And so that’s also a big part of what we do. And then I think is reflected in our head of sales, which Lisa Johnson is our Senior Vice President of Global Sales and she was a PA for 15 years and that was one of the big reasons why she’s at the company is because she has that clinician experience and really knows what rubs clinicians the wrong way when they’re interacting with their with these different skincare lines. So everything that we do, we focus on the clinician, we really see the clinician is you know, first and foremost, that’s our customer, that’s who’s educating the client. That’s who you know, the end consumer. So we really treasure that that relationship and that’s a big part of the brand.

Keri Stephens 14:42
So what’s next for y’all? What is next for Epicutis skincare?

Max Stock 14:45
So we continue to expand internationally. We just launched the UK, which we’re super excited about with a great distributor there. So continue expansion, and then we have a great pipeline and exciting products. I don’t want to make an eye serum and toner and all this different stuff. It’s truly unique technology, different products, we are going to have a sunscreen that we’re coming out as well as a body firming cream. And then we have an exosome product that we’re developing with our Japanese partner Rhoto Pharmaceuticals, that we’re really excited about. So just continue to develop new products, we have a really robust pipeline. Because we are a biotech company, we really develop our technology, from the idea to the bench to scale up all the way to packaging and the final product we actually do in house manufacturing. And we work with outside contract manufacturers as well only here in the United States or Japan. And we’re pretty strict about that. But we can do small scale manufacturing runs to develop prototypes, work with our clinicians to develop these new products to make sure that it’s actually something that would be needed and use. That’s really critical. So So yeah, that’s that’s what we really see as the future we we spent actually zero marketing dollars on Epicutis, it’s really been word of mouth. And of course, our sales team that’s out there has been amazing. But we’ll start to move into that room of putting in marketing dollars. And I really want to partner with people that haven’t rep for a million other skincare brands, I really want to kind of break the mold in terms of who we want to rep first for Epicutis, again, we’re really focused on skin health, our products do have anti aging properties. But that’s not how we talk about the product. And we and so that’s health is a big part of the brand. It’s a big part of what I believe in. So yeah, that’s, that’s what we really see as the future.

Keri Stephens 16:48
Awesome. It was so nice to talk to you, and where can people find you and your company?

Max Stock 16:52
So, you know,, that’s the that’s the company that developed Epicutis. And then we also have partnered with HydraFacial. So we have a booster with HydraFacial, which people can experience they can be very familiar with HydraFacial treatment. So So yeah, any any of those places and then obviously, any, your local clinician was a fantastic place to experience the Epicutis line of products.

Keri Stephens 17:19
Well, wonderful. Thank you so much, Max.

Max Stock 17:21
Hey, thank you.

Keri Stephens 17:23
As always, thank you for joining us and be sure to subscribe to the plastic surgery practice podcast to keep up with the latest episodes. And also please check out plastic surgery for the latest industry news. Until next time, take care.