Beauty with precision: Imagene Labs aiming to make genetic-beauty ‘commonplace’ in 5 years

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Singapore-based genomics firm Imagene Labs is experiencing strong growth as personalised beauty continues to be in demand. ©Imagene Labs
Singapore-based genomics firm Imagene Labs is experiencing strong growth as personalised beauty continues to be in demand. ©Imagene Labs
Singapore-based genomics firm Imagene Labs is experiencing strong growth as personalised beauty continues to be in demand.

The company creates health, wellness and beauty products for consumers based on its proprietary DNA testing.

It currently offers a personalised serum that is based on the results of its skin test, oriSKIN, which consumers can purchase on its site.

The oriSKIN test kit assess DNA for 10 skin traits including premature collagen breakdown, impaired skin barrier function and UV damage risk.

Spurred by personalisation demand

Jia-Yi Har, senior vice president and general manager of Imagene Lab said the company had been spurred on by the increasing demand for personalised skin care.

“[Personalisation] is where the consumer is going and that’s where the demand is. Using DNA is something a lot of brands are doing internally or finding partners like us to work together. Five years from now using genetics is going to be commonplace because it complements the current way of customisation,” ​she said.

Recently, the company signed a deal with ONI Global to offer its genetic test in GNC stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines in the second quarter of this year.

The partnership will allow GNC to offer nutrition, wellness and skin care recommendations to its customers.

Har said this was the first time Imagene Lab’s DNA test was being used to recommend skin care products in a retail outlet.

The firm is already working on its second phase of personalised skin care that will address both genetic and environmental factors.

Phase two also includes a new serum system which offers more than a thousand combinations to give consumers “precision skin care”.

Har revealed that the company was already in talks with a few global beauty brands to bring this new project to the market.

Additionally, the firm is also working on creating a hair test as it believes there is a demand for personalised hair care in the market.

The company is focused on expanding in the Asian market where it believes there is a lot of potential.

It has even built a lab in China in order to service consumers there as the law does not allow DNA samples to be exported out of the country.

“In general, throughout the region the general quality of life has improved. So people are living longer and realising early prevention and intervention is the key. This is why they are always on the look out for solutions that can help them live longer and better,”​ said Harith.

He added that the firm has an edge in the market because of its Asian-centric based of genotypes.

More education and awareness needed

One of the challenges the company faces is the awareness to the benefits of genetic-based beauty solutions.

“There’s a big population that associate DNA-testing with forensics, ancestry or diagnostics. So we communicate in a way that’s more positive. We highlight that it’s for wellness. The message is that it is preventive and pre-emptive,” ​said marketing and community manager Reza Harith.

The firm is very aware that consumers may be sceptical of its tests, as such it goes out of its way to be as transparent as possible.

“All these genes you see in the report have been published in peer review studies. It represents the most advanced understanding of the genes related to our skin,” ​said Har.

Harith added: “We are also teaching brands and businesses to change the way they are selling their products. Don't just push something just because you have inventory but because your customer actually needs it. It builds a lot more trust in the long run.

“When the basis of making a recommendation is as robust as genetic science, it changes the way consumers look for solutions and changes the kind of solutions a business should be offering to the market.”

Placing privacy first

Imagene Labs sets itself apart with its strict privacy standards, said Har.

“I’ve seen other players in the market… The consumer has to write their name on the envelope containing their DNA sample and mail it out. It’s dangerous. I think this is the part the industry needs to catch up on.”

To ensure everything is secure, every test kit comes with a barcode. The consumer only needs to register online where their information is secured. When the test kit is ready for pick up, Imagene Labs sends a courier to pick up the sample.

“The tube itself it only has a barcode. Anybody who picks it up won't know who this belongs too. Everything else is online, no paper, all secured,”​ she said.

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