"It took 59 different formulas to get here" Dr. LEVY's CEO on creating its anti-pollution shield

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

The brand has seen success in the travel-retail industry and recently won a prestigious award at the TFWA global summit
The brand has seen success in the travel-retail industry and recently won a prestigious award at the TFWA global summit

Related tags Cosmeceutical derma beauty skincare Stem cell Stem cells Travel retail Pollution blue light Formulation Ingredients

We spoke to CEO of Swiss cosmeceutical brand Dr. LEVY about the challenges of formulating its anti-pollution shield, as well as its success in the travel-retail industry.

‘Medi-luxe brand with a conscience’ Dr. LEVY was co-founded by one of Switzerland’s top aesthetics botox doctors and pioneer in non-surgical aesthetic treatments, Dr Phillip Levy.

Dr Levy invented the Nefertiti Lift, which re-contours and straightens the jawline without surgery, and is renown by industry professionals across the globe.

As a dermatologist by training, he was also fascinated by non-invasive skin treatments that could complement the results of injections and spent 15 years working on dermal stem cell research.

Dr. LEVY Switzerland®’s formula, which is protected by an international medical patent, is the result of this work and the brand creates products that are clinically proven to activate dermal and epi-dermal stem cells.

Formulating a next-gen anti-pollution shield

CEO and co-founder of the Dr. LEVY brand, Julien Levy, spoke to CosmeticsDesign-Europe​ about one of his ‘iconic products’ Pollution Shield Skincare Finisher, which took three years and 59 formulation attempts to develop.   

He explained that he didn’t want to simply add some anti-pollution ingredients to a skin care product; he wanted to create something that worked on many different levels to really tackle the effects of pollution on the skin.

“Think of pollution in terms of lightning bolt that strikes a house and goes through two floors, starts a fire, then water leaks, and then you wait five or ten minutes before the firefighters arrive,” ​explained Levy, who previously worked at Procter & Gamble where he led the Dolce & Gabbana makeup brand from inception through the successful global rollout, before joining the family business.

“When we created this product, we wanted to have something ‘on the roof’ that make sure this ‘lightning bolt’ doesn’t cause a lot of damage, then I wanted some firefighters on standby right here and the builders also there ready to repair immediately.”

So how does the product do all of this? Levy said it has a physical filter and a chemical filter that’s breathable but also prevents pollution from getting through. “Then we reinforce the epidermis as a lipidic barrier and then we have a lot of antioxidants in the skin and then we start rebuilding the damage with ingredients like niacinamide,” ​he explained. “We knew it can cause damage on a cellular level, so we looked for ingredients to help with this.”  

Levy said the important part for him was to test the various types of skin-harming pollutants to find something standardised that he could really be confident about in terms of efficacy.

The brand tested five key types of pollution: urban and industrial dust, which Levy said has a standard that’s based on Washington DC pollution; indoor chemicals; ozone; blue light and infra-red.

“I had a lot of in vitro information and I wanted to test on ‘live skin’, so I decided to go with ex-vivo testing as it allowed us to be more extreme with the testing,” ​he explained. “So, in two hours of outdoor pollution, we gave the equivalent of one year of the healthy limit of pollution in Washington DC.”

Levy explained that he used different Fitzpatrick levels and tested oxidation, inflammation and collagen damage.

“Oxidation and inflammation decreased up to 86% and 69% improvement in decrease in collagen destruction after one use,”​ he shared.

“If you don’t clean the skin, inflammation goes through the roof”

One other key learning he discovered while testing was the importance of regularly cleaning the skin, as if the product (or potentially any product) stayed on the skin for over 72 hours without being washed away, the tests showed that inflammation rose because it captured a lot of the pollution.

“The key point is that even if you protect your skin, if you don’t regularly clean your skin the inflammation goes through the roof,” ​he said. “You need to clean your skin every day because whatever comes into contact with it stays in the skin.”

Levy said the formula took a long time to get right because it was difficult to achieve stability, as there were a lot of vitamins that all interacted with each other and separated, so it was very complicated to do.

“That’s why we did it in an airless pack,” ​he explained. “We started with a drops type of product with a pipette for application, but that wasn’t possible. The formula is also thicker than it would have initially been as formulating it was so complicated.”

According to Levy, this product is ideal for women or men’s skin as, as it’s not oily.

“It’s also a great product for people who don’t want to wear makeup as it gives a mattifying effect, and for those who do wear makeup it’ll set and hold the makeup while preventing pigments from going into the skin,” ​he said.  

Trailblazing in the travel-retail industry

The travel-retail industry has been an important sales channel for the brand’s success and when CosmeticsDesign-Europe​ met Levy, the brand’s The Intense Eye Rescue kit had just won the Best Skincare, Haircare, Bath & Body Product (over €40) award at the Travel Retail Global Summit​. An impressive accolade considering it was up against leading industry players such as Coty, L’Occitane Group and L'Oréal.  

The winning product is a cleverly thought-out combination of its Eye Booster Concentrate and a skin care device that needs to be used with application of the formula.

“The device certainly creates an experience, but if someone buys it for the device, I hope that they will stay for the great results that the product gives” ​he said. 

This product duo was launched in 2017 but has been steadily gathering momentum as a traveller’s must-have, as the perfect under-eye de-puffer after a long flight. Levy said it sells particularly well on the Emirates and Swiss airlines.

Another travel-retail favourite is the 4 Miracles Mask & Stem Cell Cure, which allows the consumer to sample some of the brand’s bestselling products before committing to the full-sized versions.

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