Meet Lisa Guerrera Of Experiment Beauty

Meet Lisa Guerrera of Experiment Beauty

A decade ago, Lisa Guerrera was a Long Island preteen plagued with cystic acne who found solace in the Reddit and YouTube communities that provided helpful tips on skin and confidence.

The skin condition piqued Guerrera’s curiosity about how to properly treat it without over-drying her skin and avoiding scarring. Soon, her research on skincare became obsessive; she’d soak up information about sunscreen and oil cleansing like a sponge.

“It made me feel more in control when my skin was totally out of control,” Guerrera said of this newly-acquired skincare knowledge.

An interest in science led her to major in chemistry while attending City College in New York City years later.

Guerrera worked in organic chemistry labs and completed a thesis project about chemophobia. Her campaign worked to challenge misinformation about ingredients and the vague use of marketing language like “natural beauty,” which she argued deters consumers from choosing certain products as their purchasing motivation was rooted in fear. Her passion in championing ethical marketing and the “skintellectual” consumer armed with education on product actives propelled her to start her first company. The beauty tech platform was called See Thru, and provided beauty brands such as Rosen Skincare, Holi Frog and Ghost Democracy prime opportunities to increase transparency with the posting of their product ingredient lists on their website.

In 2019, through Sephora’s Accelerate Brand Incubator Program, which provides early-career entrepreneurs with support for their business backed by digital and in-person resources, Guerrera met Emmy Ketcham, an R&D senior chemist with Benefit Cosmetics. (Sephora and Benefit are both part of LVMH.) After watching Guerrera’s demonstration about ingredient transparency, the women exchanged business cards. During that meet-and-greet, they realized they saw eye-to-eye on many different trends in beauty.

Ketcham wasn’t the only one impressed by Guerrera. Her work won her Elle Magazine‘s Future of Beauty Award, which is bestowed to innovators in skincare, haircare and beyond.

The Birth of Experiment Beauty

Emmy Ketcham and Lisa Guerrera, cofounders of Experiment Beauty.

On the heels of that success, 24 year-old Guerrera was then recruited in 2020 to serve as head of brand at teledermatology company Apostrophe. The brand’s acquisition by Hims later that year in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic proved a cue for her and Ketcham to start up their own Gen Z-centric business they would christen Experiment Beauty. Merging whimsy with forward-thinking ideals, the brand is grounded in the philosophy of clinically-backed products that are just as sustainable as they are “ridiculously fun” to use, according to Guerrera.

The New York City-based brand last year officially launched its first product, a reusable sheet mask called Avant Garde, following a soft launch on the Experiment Beauty website in November 2020. The lime green mask made of 100% medical-grade silicon has patent -pending ear loops that help enforce an occlusive barrier to the face. Consumers use their own moisturizers and serums and then apply the mask to achieve maximum product absorption for either 20 minutes or up to two hours for a deeper treatment. Unlike traditional sheet masks, that are soaked in serum and get discarded along with the packaging and materials, Avant Garde is meant to be a “forever” product that can be used, handwashed with warm water and hang-dried before reuse.

While sheet mask users tend to scroll their social feeds on their devices or engage in light reading while the mask penetrates their skin’s layers, users of Avant Garde are encouraged to be active—whether that’s on a treadmill or even doing a handstand. Avant Garde is that secured to the face, say founders.

Avant Garde acts an occulsive barrier to the skin. It can be applied after serum and moisturizer appliation for optimum product absorption. The patent-pending ear loops keep the mask adhered to the face.

Guerrera says she has used the Avant Garde sheet mask every day this past year and has nearly witnessed big changes in her skin in terms of its level of resilience and hydration.

“My skin used to be really sensitive and reactionary. I deal with acne and my skin overtime became desensitized,” she said. “When I use it as makeup prep, fine lines and wrinkles are plumped out for hydrated, happy skin.”

Avant Garde can be used twice-daily or twice-weekly, depending on consumer preference, although everyday use can accelerate consistent skin hydration, Guerrera contends.

Blue Bird Partnership

Experiment Beauty has partnered with Blue Bird, a climate tech platform that helps companies verify information about their purported waste-saving ways. The partnership affirms the brand’s stance as a so-called “guard” against greenwashing.

“We feel very strongly that the sustainability of claims should be quantified and measured and made publicly available to consumers, if we’re going to make certain claims,” said Guerrera. “We feel as a company, we have an obligation to make a product that’s better for the environment and better for consumers. That’s why Avant Garde is so amazing. It really does create an opportunity for consumers to feel like they’re making an impact, and we’re quantifying that impact.”

For instance, traditional, single-use sheet masks, she learned, can contain between 10-15 milliliters of serum, which equates to roughly one-half of a standard serum bottle.

“That may sound generous, but it’s really a huge waste of product,” she said. “Think of half a serum bottle being shipped around the world for one use.”

The mask is also resistant to microbial growth and prevents 99.9% of water from evaporating off of the skin—a substantial advantage in maintaining hydration. Avant Garde accounts for 93% less carbon emissions and plastic waste by 84% than its competition; that’s assuming using the mask for one year, biweekly.

“By 2025, there will be 320 million sheet masks produced every single year,” she explained. “All of those sheet masks have a shelf life of about a year or two, and all of those will end up in landfill at some point because none of them are recyclable. It’s all single-use waste being created—hundreds of millions every single year—and Avant Garde is an opportunity to essentially replace that as the industry standard.”

Teaching on TikTok

The covid lockdown prompted Guerrera to start a TikTok account broadcasting her skincare education to the platform’s often younger generation who benefit from her knowledge about beauty products, science and chemicals so they can become skintellectuals.

“The next generation of consumers really care about not being duped and feeling like they understand the efficacy behind their products and they want to buy products that really work,” said Guerrera. “As a chemist, helping them walk through picking a product and deciphering the label, that ultimately was super valuable to consumers.”

As for Experiment Beauty, consumers can expect new product launches from the brand in the near future.

According to Guerrera, sheet masks offer a fun entry point into skincare, especially for younger consumers.

“Once you’re into it, a lot of people realize just how wasteful it can be,” she said, referencing Avant Garde’s single-use competitors. “I think Avant Garde is more effective, environmentally-friendly and really fun. The way we are marketed is through selfies taken and posted on Instagram and making a TikTok video. The takeaway for Experiment is, we’re not just a reusable sheet mask brand. We have product launches coming focused on rigorous science, taking gold star ingredients viewed as boring and making them interesting. That is our formulation philosophy: unexpected essentials.”

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