Brand profile

Imagene Labs part I: Personalising wellness through DNA

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

DNA and wellness

Related tags: Dna

As the genetics-driven wellness brand prepares to celebrate its first anniversary and attend this year’s in-cosmetics Asia, we spoke to Jia Yi Har, VP and General Manager of Imagene Labs, about how DNA profiling is transforming the personal care sector.

Fast-growing startup

Following the company’s launch in Singapore in September 2016, it has experienced a rapid Asia-based expansion period; reaching Malaysia in October 2016, Hong Kong in January 2017, Thailand in March this year and just completing its extension to its most recent Asian marketplace: Indonesia in August 2017.

“We are very excited to introduce DNA-based customised wellness to the whole Asia Pacific region and beyond,”​ Jia Yi Har, VP and General Manager of Imagene Labs said, revealing that the enterprise has big plans to “solve the problem of the one-size-fits-all wellness”​ approach.

Headquartered in Singapore, Imagene Labs currently has native employees placed in local markets to drive this growth.

DNA and customisation

Commenting on its position as a newly-launched genetics-driven wellness company and what this means, Jia Yi Har elaborated: "We believe DNA is the gold standard for customisation."

As a result, the brand’s custom-blended skin care and nutrition products, as well as their wellness recommendations are based on insights extracted from each individual’s unique DNA profile.

In recent years, the genetics-driven wellness market space has evolved through genetic testing technologies, including DNA sequencing and microarrays.

As these have advanced, the cost of DNA testing has lowered, making DNA insights accessible to the public, “as opposed to 10 to 15 years ago when only elite athletes or the premium market could afford DNA testing”​, Har revealed.

When it comes to the future of genetics in skin care, traditional ingredients-driven marketing is expected to play a lesser role, according to Har: “Genetic insights are going to drive consumer behaviour in selecting wellness products and services such as skin care, nutrition, diets and fitness training that fit each person, rather than what the market is touting at any moment”.

Advanced technology

Har puts this down to DNA technologies advancing, as they now have better microfluidics, increasing lab throughput and much higher computing power to make sense of the large volume of raw genetic data generated from DNA sequencing or microarrays.

“New discoveries on genes that affect diseases and our body are being made rapidly — it is now possible to screen for genes affecting skin traits, such as collagen breakdown, hydration, pigmented spots, so we can customise skin care products according to the individual’s areas of concern,”​ Har highlighted.

Imagene Labs emphasises how DNA-based customisation is "scientific, objective, and pre-emptive"​, as it provides insights on future risk profiles rather than just what is manifested on the skin at the present.

Using the example of a 20-something skin care user, Har states that the shopper may not have collagen breakdown at the moment, but if she has a high risk of premature collagen breakdown, based on her DNA results, she should take reasonable precautions. Imagene Labs indicates how its test takes into consideration pre-emptive strategies such as these.

High demand for personalised skin care

When it comes to consumers’ key demands and considerations when opting for personalised skin care solutions based on their DNA, Har points us towards the 50.5% of respondents who selected ‘suited to my skin type’ as the feature that most influenced their decision to purchase skin care items.

In addition, Imagene Labs emphasised how global intelligence provider, Mintel, revealed that "consumers are no longer willing to be passive recipients of cookie-cutter skin care, hair care and make up products...and see no signs of this trend slowing down"​.

DNA precision skin care

The brand uses a saliva-based genetic test to generate skin health data. Approximately two weeks after the saliva sample reaches Imagene Lab’s genetics screening labs, the consumer will have access to a personalised DNA report. After a further week, the user will receive their bespoke facial serum.

Only botanical actives that have undergone rigorous in-vitro and in-vivo clinical testing are used in their customised skin serum. Each blend is specially formulated by choosing active ingredients that will address the individual’s key concerns and risk areas, based on the results of their own DNA tests.

Imagene Labs uses clean formulations that are free from parabens, alcohol, GMOs, phthalates and synthetic fragrances.

The second part of this brand profile will be published on Tuesday 26th September 2017 and will focus on the importance of communication and market education. 

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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