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Ourself Enters Beauty Space With ‘Subtopical’ Formulation Technology

Pool together a team with expertise from biotech and leading brands like Alastin, SkinMedica and Estée Lauder, and what do you get? A new skincare brand that addresses major concerns like hyperpigmentation and loss of volume in the lips with products that founders say fill the gap between traditional topicals and needles and lasers.

Launching this month, Ourself contends it is carving out a new category in beauty and aesthetics. The brand’s trademarked “Subtopical” technology is said to provide an at-home alternative to cosmetic procedures like injectables, according to Scott Glenn, Lauren Otsuki and Vimla Black-Gupta—the trio behind this new skincare brand.

Lauren Otsuki

Glenn and Otsuki are co-founders of Glo Pharma, which develops novel approaches to skincare and aesthetics by leveraging biotechnology. During the past 20 years, they have collaborated on two pioneering professional skincare brands—Alastin Skincare and SkinMedica—along with numerous pharmaceutical companies aimed at solving medical issues like infertility, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Glenn, who has served as CEO of Alastin and SkinMedica before being sold to Allergan, is chairman of Ourself and Glo Pharma (which is parent company to Ourself).

Black-Gupta, a beauty industry veteran and expert in growing and scaling consumer brands, is Ourself’s president. A beauty industry veteran and expert in growing and scaling consumer brands, she brings more than a quarter-century of experience to Ourself from Procter & Gamble and The Estée Lauder Companies.

The trio set out to answer the needs of consumers who wanted real results from products they could use at home, not in-office procedures.

“Until now, there have been two extremes when it comes to undoing or preventing signs of aging— topical skincare products that make bold claims yet don’t deliver visible results, and cosmetic treatments that are costly, require downtime, and can lead to unnatural looking results,” Black-Gupta told

What’s Inside

Ourself’s ability to deliver on its promises without procedures comes down to advancements in delivery systems and greater knowledge about the receptors and pathways of the skin, according to Otsuki, who is serves as VP of development and operations of Ourself and Glo Pharma.

The Ourself range currently includes products for the face and lips.

“The advances in delivery system technology and specifically the technology that we use was not something that had not previously been invented. Our team of expert biochemists, pharmacists and clinicians worked together to develop a proprietary portfolio of exceptionally powerful peptides—which we call Intides—and a new way to deliver them into the skin, through our proprietary multiphasic vesicle delivery system, which makes it possible, for the first time, to deliver on the promises of injectables and lasers with a product that is applied topically,” she said.

“In addition, the scientific knowledge base and analytical methods for specific receptors and pathways related to skincare concerns have only become mature enough to support the development of these types of products in recent years. Through our exclusive technology, which informs products that plump, brighten and firm, consumers will finally have a better alternative to gently undo the deepest signs of aging,” Otsuki added.

Development brought about some challenges, said officials. But Glenn’s and Otsuki’s prior experience helped guide the brand.

“My time at Glo and Alastin grounded me in the innovation process in the aesthetic space, but it is really a combination of my two decades in biotech that provided the basis for the innovation and development of the Ourself products,” said Otskui.

“Establishing a new product category often means pioneering the support services, like technical manufacturing and raw material supply, and necessary analytical capabilities needed to launch a commercial product. The situation for Glo Pharma is really no different than the situation for biotech in the 1990s, when Scott and I guided Quidel Corp to launch one of the first OTC pregnancy kits and helped to pioneer the doctor’s office rapid testing market for in-office tests for things like Strep A and Flu,” said Otsuki.

According to the team, some of the biggest challenges they faced in the technical development and commercial production of the Ourself products were in the development of the supply chain.

“Since the proprietary Intides and multi-phasic vesicles had not been produced commercially before, Glo had to develop custom bioassays to support peptide optimization during the research phase and to insure peptide quality during commercialization, and then source and select suppliers for the production of large quantities of Glo Intides,” said Otsuki. In addition, the manufacturing process for the multi-phasic vesicles required specialized equipment and processes not normally used in cosmetic product manufacturing, so Glo has made a sizable financial commitment to equipment, facilities and personnel to insure the supply and quality of the products.”

The Ourself range currently includes products for the face and lips.

Ourself Lip Filler infuses hyaluronic acid to reclaim volume, suppleness and definition. In testing, 100% of users saw long-lasting naturally fuller lips in just three weeks and 91.5% of users saw naturally fuller lips in just one week, according to the company.

Ourself Lip Conditioner, formulated with vitamin E, replenishes moisture as it protects and is described as the partner to the Ourself Lip Filler.

For the face, Ourself Daily Dark Spot Intercept is a skin brightening treatment that is said to cut off the development of hyper-pigmentation before it begins. It targets overall discoloration, dark patches and spots, leaving skin looking brighter, more youthful and more even-toned.

There are two peels in the Ourself range. The Dark Spot Peel with 13.6% TCA is a highly potent, highly concentrated trichloroacetic acid peel that lifts away the appearance of individual dark spots, transforming the look of discolorations into visibly more unified, even-toned skin, according to the brand. Brightening Peel features 34% glycolic acid to help address hyperpigmentation to reveal visibly brighter, more even-toned skin and a silky-soft texture.

Ourself Daily Renewal Cream is said to infuse skin with the brand’s trademarked peptides as well as niacinamide and antioxidants.

A mineral sunscreen with broad spectrum SPF 50, rounds out the range. It offers pollution and blue light defense, too.

Ourself will sell a starter kit has both peels (1ml), the dark spot product (7ml), daily cream (7ml), sunscreen (7ml) and accessories (headband, alcohol wipes, gloves, cotton swabs).

The Funding and The Future

Ourself, which was seed financed by its founders, completed its first venture round in November 2020. The company has raised $30 million in funding to date. Investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, First Round Capital and Glenn Holdings LP.

There are 23 employees currently on the staff, 12 of whom are based in San Diego and focus on innovation and clinical operations. The rest of Ourself team handles the commercial side of the business out of New York City.

Vimla Black-Gupta

According to Black-Gupta, the company manufactures the highly technical vesicles in-house and uses CMOs for the filling, assembly, packaging and distribution. Glo Pharma owns all of the hero SKU formulations and the moisturizer formulations.

“There are a few custom OEM products, like our SPF and lip conditioner, in the portfolio,” Black-Gupta said.

Ourself’s range is compact—for now. But officials relayed to Happi that specific treatments for lines and wrinkles, along with several other restorative products, are “part of the near-term product pipeline.”

Ourself will launch as a DTC brand, according to officials, who said they have been focused on insuring success out of the gate with consumers.

“One of our biggest commercial challenges has been ensuring that we are capitalizing on our first mover advantage, insisted Black-Gupta. “We have breakthrough, category-creating products, and want to ensure that we have a commensurate breakthrough business model that meets the consumer where they are but with an experience that is truly transformative.”


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