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How Tommi Skin built a cult skincare brand from a single product

WORDS BY GIULIA BRUGLIERA

One of the brand’s green clay masks is sold every four minutes.

Anyone who has battled with acne will know it can be a long, long road to acceptance.

For Melbourne couple Bethany Brown and Noah Hunter Dorsey, acne is an inevitable part of life.

“I suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, so I’ve had acne my whole life and I still suffer from it now. There have been so many times when I wouldn’t leave the house, I just felt so insecure,” says Bethany.

“We’ve both grown up suffering a bit of acne and it’s always been a huge concern,” adds Noah.

As with many acne sufferers, both Bethany and Noah have tried “every product under the sun” to find the one that will settle their skin. Eventually, they gave up and decided to do it themselves.

Drawing on their own lived experiences of exhausting trial and error, they both had an innate understanding of the ingredients most suited to acne-prone skin. They began further research into which combination could best treat acne naturally, prioritising cruelty-free and vegan ingredients that would be suitable for all skin types.

Eventually, they settled on a green clay mask. Theirs features a blend of natural plant ingredients high in antioxidants, including green tea, montmorillonite clay, aloe vera, shea butter, rosehip and peppermint.

And so launched Tommi Skin.

Bethany and Noah are so confident in the mask’s effectiveness that they’ve made it Tommi Skin’s sole offering.

“We had a vision; we knew we had a really good product,” says Noah. “We did a lot of research into the ingredients, but also the mask. The clay really does work.”

Part of what separates Tommi Skin from its peers is its gentle formula, designed to suit sensitive skin. This was a deliberate decision by the pair, who wanted Tommi Skin to service one market in particular –teenage girls.

“Because our target market is younger girls who may be going through puberty, we wanted this to be really gentle and suitable for all skin types,” Noah explains. “A lot of other anti-acne products can be quite harsh; we definitely didn’t want that.”

While many clay masks are undoubtedly effective (green clay acts as a magnet, pulling impurities from the skin), Bethany and Noah found that many on the market can leave skin quite dry. This causes the skin to go into overdrive regenerating its natural oils, and in turn can lead to more acne. It’s a vicious cycle and one which Tommi Skin is striving to end.

“The formula is based on natural plant ingredients and it’s also full of antioxidants. We chose to use really smooth ingredients like aloe vera, peppermint, shea butter, green tea. All things that would just be good for young, sensitive skin that’s acne-prone,” says Noah.

With lived experience as teenagers suffering their own bouts of acne, both Bethany and Noah want to do their best to support others going through similar challenges. Beyond the clay mask, they recognise Tommi’s clientele require more than just a physical solution. “We want Tommi to be by their side and ease them through [their] battle with acne,” explains Bethany.

To this end, Tommi Skin’s face masks can be purchased with a brush, to encourage a more thoughtful, ritualistic application. “That process of siting and painting your face; it’s almost like meditation,” notes Noah.

“We definitely don’t want to send the message that acne is a bad thing,” adds Bethany. “[Tommi Skin] is more a form of self-care.”

Importantly, Tommi Skin is connecting its market with other women with a shared experience. The brand’s Instagram features almost exclusively user-generated content. “ It’s everyday girls and customers suffering from breakouts,” says Noah. “Tommi as a brand is a reflection of these women; we’re holding a mirror.”

This isn’t necessarily by design, though. It’s more of a happy coincidence. When the brand first launched, part of Bethany and Noah’s awareness strategy was to send the green clay mask to as many young women as possible.

“When we launched Tommi, the first month we were going negative; losing money. In the first months we were a few grand down,” explains Noah. “The turning point was sending [the mask] to as many girls as we could – everyday girls that were actually starting with the problem.”

The pair sent Tommi’s debut product to hundreds of women, asking for one thing in return: honest feedback. Instead, positive reviews began flooding in across the brand’s socials and website. An astonishingly large number of women also started posting images too.

“Without prompting, they were happy to post images of their ritual, their results,” says Noah.

Tommi Skin now sells a mask every four minutes, generating hundreds of thousands in sales each month. With just over a year under their belt and an expanded product line on the horizon, it’s worth watching this space.

tommiskin.co

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