Lydia Lukyanov’s Leap of Faith and How Subject[ive] Skin Is Revolutionizing Skincare Shopping

In a world where looking “perfect” has never come with so much pressure, it’s hard for anyone to trust beauty products these days. With fake ads, marketing tactics, and influencers who lie online for a profit, subject[ive] skin is changing the game.

As a uniquely new online skincare store, subject[ive] skin was born out of the notion that skincare is being sold in all the wrong ways. For them, it isn’t about a brand name. It’s about the customer.

Founded by Lydia Lukyanov and Astha Kanth, subject[ive] skin is reinventing how to shop skincare by making its focus the customer, rather than the customer’s money or the product itself. Before you can even access the products that might be right for you, the website invites you to a quiz about your skin type and beauty routine – customizing each buyer’s experience from the very beginning.

Lukyanov wanted to make skincare shopping personal, fair, and truthful. After years working in marketing fields for beauty and skincare brands, she decided it was time to take a leap and approach selling skin products in a new way.

Learn more about subject[ive] skin here.

Launched just last week, subject[ive] skin is a store where everything subjective has been taken out of skincare, leaving only the objective (and most important) information accessible for exactly who its made for. Written by the founder herself, exclusively for the first of The See Through’s small business features, Lukyanov’s inspiring story about leaving her secure day job and taking a chance on her soon-to-be revolutionary store came to be is as follows.

Reinventing Skincare By Lydia Lukyanov

I was told several times that I was crazy to try and do this. I was told that this was such a novel idea against such big competitors and that it probably wouldn’t succeed. 

Of course, success isn’t guaranteed in life but it takes people to go against the status quo to make a difference. The aforementioned status quo refers to our ingrained consumerist habits when it comes to personal care. Specifically, when it comes to skin-care.

Hi, my name is Lydia and I’m the co-founder of a skincare e-commerce platform called subjective skin. Why is it called subjective? Because we have taken everything subjective out of buying skincare leaving only the objective information behind. Sounds simple? As someone who worked for one of the largest skincare companies in the world for a brand you definitely know (and is most likely sitting in your bathroom right now) I can assure you that this is anything but simple. 

Let me start from the beginning. 

In university I ended up working for a relatively small skincare company (at the time) at their first store in Vancouver. This was a Canadian company and they were getting so popular that they were expanding very quickly. There are so many skincare brands and so many products out there, why did this brand grow so fast? They were one of the first skincare brands to say that a skincare serum like Vitamin C or Retinol can in fact cost only five dollars. In an industry where a typical serum with those ingredients costs $80, this company shocked the world with their radical pricing. This company was DECIEM, the parent company of The Ordinary.

During my time with DECIEM I learned everything about ingredients and became obsessed with skincare. I’ll admit, my skincare routine prior to DECIEM consisted of only using coconut oil to take off my makeup (which by the way please do not do this). However, the more I learned about skin care, the more I knew this was my destiny. 

After DECIEM I worked in marketing for that large brand I mentioned earlier. This brand didn’t have five dollar products but was famous for being medically endorsed. What I quickly learned was that we had sales teams constantly on the road building ‘relationships’ with these doctors to get those medical endorsements. I also learned that the priority for the brand wasn’t sustainability, nor customer satisfaction. It was sales.

While I was working for this large company, coincidentally my good friend from high school was also working for a large beauty company in France. We both compared notes and realized that we both were pretty unsatisfied with the big players in the industry. If you are a successful skincare company then you are likely bought out by the big giants. The focus then shifts to how much of a return that brand brings to this huge company.

I’m not one to bash on big businesses, but I do think that skincare is a very personal experience and is unique to each individual. We shouldn’t have to pay $80 for a serum in order for a skin to “look good.”  

We believe that skincare is a necessity, rather than a luxury. 

So we set out to take everything we didn’t agree with from what we saw at work and launch subjective skin. We wanted to be a Sephora for skincare but make it extremely easy for the consumer to find the best match for their skin. This means that we individualize the store to everyone who enters. Yes, the store is literally built around your skin, only showing products that would work for you. The consumer simply answers a skincare quiz about their skin and lifestyle and our algorithm matches skincare ingredients proven to help your skin concerns to the ingredients in our listed products. We also wanted to support small businesses and give them a platform to showcase their products. We only partner with small businesses with natural, sustainable ingredients and production processes. 

One last caveat is since we don’t want brands to compete on aesthetics or marketing, we strip all of that away. It’s the world’s first unbranded skin care store. We show you the outline of the product you would receive, the price, the ingredients, the reviews, and the founder’s story. Think about it this way, if these things don’t convince you to buy a skincare product, why should a picture of the bottle? 

We are so excited as two young women in our 20s to attempt to make such a dent in the industry. We really hope that subjective skin really changes the way people think about shopping for skincare.

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