The Swiss brand INSTYTUTUM has gained immense popularity worldwide, attracting the attention of discerning market experts and Hollywood celebrities.

The brand was founded by Natalia Derkach, a PhD in medicine, whose goal is to disrupt the global skincare industry and educate the world how to transform their skin at home.

Natalia Derkach shares her insights on skincare, business and the path that led her brand to its industry leadership position.

What are the current skincare trends?

I would identify two categories: trends and anti-trends. The first one includes:

Science-based skincare are care cosmetics that combine advances in science and nature, and which are gradually replacing organic and natural cosmetics on the market. This is the result of customers demand for products that really work and provide results. This is not possible with natural cosmetics — most natural ingredients simply cannot penetrate the skin without proper processing in the laboratory.

Skinimalism. According to the principles of skinimalism, one no longer needs to purchase entire product lines for each skin problem separately. Skinimalists choose effective multifunctional products that solve all problems at once and do not increase the amount of plastic (they aren’t buying a million individual jars).

Glowing skin with a slightly damp effect is also in trend — it gets a different name every year, either glass skin, dolphin skin or glazed donut.

New generations of components, for example: granactive retinoid (hydroxypinacolone retinoate), THD vitamin C. They penetrate into deeper layers of the skin and make cosmetics really effective. And anti-pollution cosmetics that protect against polluted air.

As for anti-trends, we say “no” to:

Toxic ingredients that adversely affect the skin and body. At INSTYTUTUM, we call them the “stop three”: mineral oils, sulfates, and parabens. They are often added by unscrupulous manufacturers to enhance the “visual effect” from product use. I put this in quotation marks because it is deceptive or the effect of surface tension, which is often confused with the lifting effect. In fact, these components do not solve the problem, do not transform the skin and after you stop using products with these components, the skin condition becomes worse than it was before.

Excessive peels by a beautician. Previously, it was believed that real results could only be achieved by a cosmetologist, but now aggressive procedures are a thing of the past. For the effect of fresh and radiant skin, you no longer need to endure peeling, erythema, burns and heightened skin sensitivity. Modern products allow for a gentle transformation of the skin at home as a result of regular care. They also enable better, safer and more stable results. Let me explain using the example of peeling.

All peeling procedures work according to the same principle: they remove the dead skin layer and stimulate metabolic processes. Normally, the skin regenerates itself every 30 days, but these natural processes slow down with age, so they need to be additionally stimulated. But the principle here is in large measure similar to the “lose weight a week before your vacation” approach.

Instead of regularly taking care of our skin at home, we tend to “let things go” for a few months and visit a beautician when our skin becomes dull, pores become clogged and wrinkles deepen. The cosmetologist takes a powerful cocktail with a high concentration of chemical acids that is excessively damaging to the skin. Of course, there will be results, but after some time passes, the peeling disappears and the skin recovers at least a little. However, you don’t need to do this. In most cases, gentle and regular care is more effective.

Tell us about the brand’s philosophy.

The brand is based on three fundamental principles:

High concentration of the most advanced ingredients. We only use ingredients with clinically proven efficacy, as well as new generation active ingredients, such as THD vitamin C, the most powerful fat-soluble form. As well, we use the new generation retinoids, granactive retinoate (hydroxypinacolone retinoate) and encapsulated retinol, which give amazing results and avoid unwanted side effects.

Safety. We do not use toxic components such as mineral oils, sulfates and parabens (we call them the “stop three”), while the active composition is supplemented with components that balance the effect of the active agents, soften and soothe, so that the product can be used at home without fear of consequences.

Texture. Given the active elements and non-standard combinations of components, we work hard to ensure that our products are also pleasant to use and provide a unique experience. That is why people fall in love with them.

Which customer needs does your brand focus on?

In cosmetology, there are two main principles of care selection: care for the problem or for the skin type. We decided that we would develop problem-based care and make the products multifunctional, so that each one would simultaneously solve the majority of the skin problems.

We have developed protocols for four main groups and categorized them by problem area:
– sensitivity, impaired skin barrier function and rosacea;
– hyperpigmentation;
– uneven texture, inflammation and post-acne;
– age-related changes.
+ Additional care protocol for normal skin without noticeable problems.

Our products effectively solve these problems, showing visible results after an average use of one month. Thus, each client can choose the appropriate care for themselves at INSTYTUTUM.

What is the key feature of INSTYTUTUM skincare?

The key feature is that this skincare really works. For years, I thought that cosmetics could not give results, that it was all marketing, and that to get a real effect, I had to go to a cosmetologist. But over time, I realized that no matter how professional a specialist is, if the patient does not take proper care of the skin following the procedure, the result is unpredictable. That is how the idea came about of creating a line of effective care cosmetics to maintain flawless skin at home.

We launched INSTYTUTUM in 2014 and have not stopped since then, changing and improving our formulas to ensure that our cosmetics meet the needs of discerning Western markets and can compete with major players around the world.

An interesting fact in the history of the brand’s development is that in the nine years of our work, we have made one large-scale relaunch — we relaunched the entire line. When we began to actively develop in the US market, and in order to be attractive for American customers, we enganced the composition, changed the formulas of most products and developed a new identity and packaging design. I consider this a new starting point.

All INSTYTUTUM formulas are developed in a Swiss R&D laboratory by a team of scientists with more than 30 years of experience in creating skincare cosmetics. In creating our formulas, we use high concentrations of active ingredients that have been clinically proven to produce outstanding results. We supplement them with softening and balancing ingredients to make them safe for use at home and suitable for any skin condition.

What currently is the most popular product?

I can’t single out one because each of our products is a blockbuster in its category. For example, our products with retinoids are highly rated by cosmetologists and the professional community. At the Cosmoprof beauty exhibition, Powerful RetinOil was ranked among the top 20 trending products by the more than 300 participants. In addition, Ava Shamban, the internationally renown Beverly Hills dermatologist, is delighted with our Powerful RetinOil and prescribes INSTYTUTUM to her celebrity clients.

When we speak about the most versatile product that always suits everyone (men are also thrilled with it), this is, of course, Hydrafusion 4D HA Hydrating Water Burst Cream. By the way, it has already received 2 Awards — from the trendiest specialized American glossy New Beauty and from the Czech Cosmopolitan.

We are very proud that New Beauty magazine named our Hydrafusion cream the best moisturizing gel cream of the year among 200 nominees. To select the finalists, the magazine’s experts tested more than 9000 new products from the world’s leading brands.

Do you take part in the creation of new products?

Of course. The idea and concept of the product are always proposed by me. And then I personally supervise the processes — from development to production. By the way, I also test each new iteration of the formula on myself. I am a product perfectionist, I do not stop until the product is perfect. Overall, our team has developed more than 200 formulas. For example, during the development of C-Illuminating 3D Moisturizer, we had to change the formula 17 times. And we set our absolute record when developing Superbiotic Plant-Based Ceramide Cream by creating 32 variations of the formula. And we ultimately achieved an impeccable result. It is an ideal regenerating cream for sensitive skin.

What are your plans (dreams) for brand development?

These are goals rather than dreams, because this approach is closer to me. Instead of daydreaming, I set ambitious goals for myself and the team, work out ways to achieve them and go for it, not forgetting to celebrate victories. The brand grew by 93% in 2022 alone compared to the previous period. And in 2023, we reached +100%.

My global goal is to disrupt the skincare market by 2030, i.e. to change the rules of the game. I want to reject the status quo of the industry — where products are often balanced between aggressiveness and ineffectiveness, and are more about marketing than about results. My solution is a brand that breaks stereotypes.

We are on our way to our big transformational goal, which inspires me greatly — to educate the world how to transform skin at home. It defines everything we do as a guideline. Today, the brand has more than 100 thousand customers, including professional dermatologists. And we want to teach at least 50 thousand more clients in 2024.

One of the large-scale goals in the near future is to strengthen our position in Asia, as this is a particularly interesting market for cosmetics companies. We have entered the market of China. And of course, my priorities are to continue to grow exponentially and increase the pace in the markets of the United Arab Emirates, America and Europe. And, of course, to develop a few more of our planned cool products. You will find out about the first one very soon.

What are the top 3 INSTYTUTUM products that everyone should have?

It is very difficult to single out just three products, because it is all very individualized. It depends on the condition of the skin and the problems which the client wants to solve. But in terms of versatility, I would highlight these three products:

Acid Resurfacing Glow Toner with an optimal pH of 3.5 normalizes the skin’s protective barrier (since the normal pH of healthy skin is more inclined to acidic values), brightens the skin and activates the regeneration processes (works as a very soft and gentle acid peel), due to which the skin stays smooth and radiant. It also visibly smoothes wrinkles, makes pores less visible, evens out uneven skin tone and helps make skin look smooth, clear and bright.

The perfect morning serum Anti-wrinkle Brightening C-erum with 15% THD vitamin C and niacinamide. Vitamin C protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals that enter the body through contact with polluted air and lead to premature aging. It also brightens and has an anti-inflammatory effect, while niacinamide stimulates intense blood circulation and strengthens the skin. The serum evens out skin tone, reduces wrinkles and sagging, visibly corrects enlarged pores, dullness and uneven skin texture, reduces pigmentation and post-acne.

And, of course, it is important to help the skin better cope with the effects of stress and hypersensitivity, which is extremely important now. I recommend that everyone try our powerful regenerating cream based on plant ceramides, adaptogens, pre- and probiotics — Superbiotic Plant-based cream. The cream strengthens the skin’s protective barrier, restores the balance of the microbiome, eliminates redness and dryness, accelerates skin healing, effectively soothes and reduces skin sensitivity to irritation. It also saturates the skin with moisture and retains it inside. Our versatile bestseller perfectly complements products with acids, Vitamin C and retinoids. It should be used daily in the morning and evening.

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