Los Angeles-based skincare label Smood Beauty enters the skincare space with the intention of creating inclusive products that are formulated to be safe for acne-prone skin and simultaneously inspire confidence.
Prior to launching the brand, Andrew Lau went through several topical treatments and oral antibiotics that would often work initially but fall short soon after. Thus, after a decade of research and experience, he created Smood Beauty with treating acne at the forefront of the brand’s ethos. “Our skincare philosophy is to treat your skin gently by listening to your skin’s mood. This means carefully assessing the condition of your skin and treating it accordingly,” he tells us.
The label’s inaugural lineup includes a cream moisturizer and antioxidant cleanser, both packed with a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that support the skin. Smood Beauty’s Calm Me Down Antioxidant Cleanser is a cream-to-foam formula that removes impurities without damaging your skin’s natural barrier. It’s made with ingredients such as licorice root extract, BHA, green tea water, and fruit extracts to name a few. Meanwhile, the Problem Solver Gel Moisturizer contains a whopping six forms of hyaluronic acid, which promotes deep hydration, as well as ingredients like retinyl palmitate, niacinamide, rose myrtle fruit extract.
To learn more about the brand, we spoke with founder Andrew Lau to discuss the genesis of Smood Beauty, the brand’s launch products, skincare rules to abide by, and more. Read our conversation below.
You previously stated that you spent a decade researching and experimenting with products and formulas. When did the idea of launching a skincare line become a possibility for you?
I really got into skincare once I started developing acne as a teen. Throughout my teen years, I would constantly test products from the drugstore and products I was prescribed by my dermatologists so I learned what did and did not work very well for my acne-prone skin. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me and finally decided to take that leap of faith to start Smood once I saved up enough money to start batch production at MOQ with my factory.
Can you share with us the inspiration behind Smood Beauty’s name?
Smood is a blend of the two words “skin” and “mood.” Our skincare philosophy is to treat your skin gently by listening to your skin’s mood. This means carefully assessing the condition of your skin and treating it accordingly. For example, if your skin is feeling inflamed and sensitive, consider taking a break from exfoliating acids or ingredients that can be too irritating such as benzoyl peroxide. People with acne often get desperate to clear their skin by using a mix of very harsh, drying products and end up with lots of irritation, which unfortunately can exacerbate acne.
The label’s inaugural products are comprised of the Calm Me Down Antioxidant Cleanser and Problem Solver Gel Cream Moisturizer—why did you decide to launch with these products?
Smood is a gender-neutral and inclusive skincare brand so our products are made for everyone to enjoy. Skincare shouldn’t be complicated but there are so many types of products out there it can be very overwhelming, especially for those who aren’t familiar with skincare. I wanted to launch with the simple essentials that everyone can use so it made sense to launch with a cleanser and a moisturizer.
If budget wasn’t a constraint, I would have ideally loved to launch with a fuller product range but as a small startup I was limited to launching with two products. In a way, it worked out better this way because I could really concentrate on making sure the formulations were perfect for both products.
Were there any particular formulations or ingredients that you loved using on your own skin which you knew you wanted to incorporate into your line?
The skincare nerd in me gets super excited when someone asks me about ingredients and formulations! Everyone has their preferences but I’ve always preferred a cleanser that produces a rich, creamy lather over one that doesn’t lather. Unfortunately, many cleansers out there that do lather a lot tend to be very drying and leave your skin feeling completely stripped and tight. Our Calm Me Down Antioxidant cleanser is non-drying and produces a luxurious lather that feels soft and moisturizing.
My combination, acne-prone skin tends to like gel moisturizers over thicker creams, but a lot of gel moisturizers feel too lightweight and disappear into the skin so quickly to the point where it feels like I didn’t apply moisturizer at all. I wanted to create a lightweight gel-cream moisturizer that felt silky and very hydrating without the heavy feeling you can get from a cream formula.
In terms of specific ingredients, I knew that I wanted to incorporate niacinamide because it is an all-star ingredient that has so many great benefits, especially for those with acne-prone skin. My skin also loves soothing ingredients like green tea, oat extract, and centella asiatica so it was essential to include them in our formulas.
The moisturizer is a lightweight cream that utilizes six forms of hyaluronic acid—how did you approach this particular formula?
The Problem Solver gel-cream moisturizer was a fun one to formulate because I really wanted a multi-tasking product that hydrates, reduces inflammation, gently promotes skin cell turnover, soothes the skin and also lightens the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Basically, an all-in-one moisturizer that addresses multiple skin concerns. We started with a gel base and included lots of great hydrating ingredients like glycerin, ceramides and different forms of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid specifically is a great humectant and using a blend of different molecular weight hyaluronic acid in our moisturizer really optimizes the hydration benefits for the skin.
As someone with sensitive and acne-prone skin, how important was it to create products that are free of fragrance and vegan?
Creating cruelty-free and vegan skincare products was a no-brainer and I think this should be a standard for all skincare brands! It simply isn’t necessary to include animal-derived ingredients as there are so many better alternatives out there that can be just as, if not more effective.
Fragrance is a very polarizing and highly disputed topic in the skincare world. Personally, my acne-prone skin is able to tolerate fragrance in skincare products very well however those with highly sensitive skin may not. Our cleanser does include a small percentage of synthetic fragrance, which was used to create an enjoyable, sensorial cleansing experience. Synthetic fragrance is often much less likely to cause skin irritation compared to other natural fragrance ingredients that come in the form of essential oils.
Also when used in a wash-off formula, the risk of any irritation is greatly reduced simply because it does not stay on the skin for very long. I made the conscious decision to make sure the moisturizer did not include any fragrance at all because it is a leave-on formula.
In the past, you’ve spoken about acne taking a toll on your self-confidence and treatments often leaving you with dry and sensitized skin. Although, what were some of the things that you tried when you were confronting those skin issues that did work?
Making sure my skin barrier was healthy by focusing on hydration really helped reduce inflammation. When my skin is feeling particularly dehydrated, I like layering up with a moisturizing essence or serum underneath my moisturizer. My skin is sensitive and does not tolerate things like glycolic acid very well, however ingredients like mandelic acid and azelaic acid work great to reduce breakouts and treat dark spots left from acne. In terms of professional treatments, micro needling has worked fairly well at reducing the appearance of my acne scars however I don’t recommend doing this if you have a lot of active breakouts and definitely only have this done by a professional!
Lastly, what is the biggest skincare rule that you abide by?
Keep your skincare routine simple. At one point I used to use around 8-10 different products on my skin thinking it would help improve my acne, but I discovered that it just caused a lot of irritation and more breakouts. Another important rule I abide by is giving your skincare products an adequate amount of time to see if it works for your skin. Most skincare products take at least a few weeks to see noticeable results. Also not introducing too many new skincare products into your routine at the same time is equally important!