On the eve of the brand’s three-year anniversary, Topicals is tackling its next skin concern: acne scarring.
Launching direct-to-consumer and at Sephora for $34, the brand’s new Sealed Active Scar Primer incorporates encapsulated retinol, onion bulb extract and a silicone base, aiming to not only fill acne scars and pores before makeup application but also to improve skin texture over time.
“We get a lot of questions for things that are in the makeup sphere, so this being a hybrid makeup and skin care product kind of addresses some of the desire within the community,” said Olamide Oluwe, who cofounded Topicals in 2020 alongside Claudia Teng.
Since then the brand — which purports to be the fastest growing skin care brand at Sephora — has soared through the ranks of the skin care realm for its inclusive formulas and cult favorite Faded Serum, which addresses hyperpigmentation. Last fall the brand closed on a $10 million series A led by Cavu Consumer Partners.
“We like to innovate in categories where people feel like it’s off-limits or impossible to get a better product,” Oluwe said. “Doctors, dermatologists, lasers and chemical peels — they are the gold standard; we just want to offer an alternative for people who can’t access those.”
While Oluwe did not specify sales expectations for the launch, industry sources estimate Sealed could do upward of $5 million in retail sales during its first year on the market.
“We don’t want to promise [consumers] the world: Medical prescription-type products still have more strength in terms of ingredient percentages than we can have over-the-counter. But we want to offer people something as an in-between,” Oluwe said.
In line with the brand’s ethos of blending product and culture, Oluwe tapped Nigerian womenswear designer Tia Adeola to direct the campaign for Sealed.
“I didn’t want to tell a beauty story, I wanted to tell a story that was more adjacent to fashion,” Oluwe said. “Obviously quality plays a factor, but really it’s the storytelling that makes people purchase or feel tied to a brand, and I wanted to use that in our community building for Topicals.”
Oluwe hinted international expansion is on the menu for Topicals, though she did not specify which markets the brand is eyeing. (Last year, Topicals entered all Sephora Canada doors, and began shipping to the U.K.).
Funds from last year’s series A, though, have helped decrease the incidence of product sell-outs. “We want to stay in stock — that was one of the major reasons why the capital was super important for us,” said Oluwe, noting that in terms of upcoming product innovation, the brand is focused solely on skin care for the foreseeable future.
“We’ve seen what Shea Moisture did for hair care, we’ve seen what Fenty Beauty did for makeup; to see a brand like Topicals come onto the market and not only deliver results for people, but also change and transform the way people feel about their skin — I’m proud of that.”