October 6, 2022
Gone are the days when a trip to the dermatologist’s office was the only way to achieve a smooth, radiant complexion. As clinical-grade ingredients have become more readily available OTC, it’s given consumers the tools they need to enhance their skin right at home in their bathrooms. While this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon (we first reported on it back in 2021), there’s one brand that’s been buzzing on social media of late for its formulas’ abilities to mimic the effects of lasers, peels, and even injections.

Ourself, which launched earlier this year, was built by a trio of entrepreneurs who are passionate about building new market opportunities that challenge the status quo. With collective backgrounds in biotech and pharma, the team set out to create an efficacious, at-home solution to clinical procedures that proves you don’t have to go to a professional’s office to see real results.

“Until now, there have been two extremes when it comes to undoing or preventing signs of aging: Topical skincare products that make bold claims but don’t deliver visible results, or cosmetic treatments that are costly, require downtime, and can lead to unnatural looking results,” says Lauren Otsuki, one of the brand’s cofounders. “Ourself is defining a completely new category called ‘subtopical skin care’ that bridges the gap between these two extremes and gives consumers the ability to achieve controllable, clinical-level results from their own homes.”

‘Subtopical skin care’ refers to a delivery system that targets the layers of the skin that active ingredients need to penetrate in order to reach peak efficacy, explains Otsuki. The brand’s team of biochemists, doctors, and engineers found a way to create their own next-gen peptides, which they’ve called “intides,” that are optimized for potency and designed to work in the layers of skin where they’ll deliver the best results. “For the first time, peptides with a molecular weight of well over 1,000 can be delivered through the barrier of the skin to target the specific layers where they can produce their desired effects,” she says. By leveraging biotechnology to provide non-invasive, easy-to-self-administer, at-home alternatives to cosmetic procedures like lasers and needles, the brand believes it can disrupt the dermatology industry.

“What is interesting about this product line are the delivery systems used to increase product penetration,” says Michelle Henry, MD, a Harvard-trained board-certified dermatologist. “Penetration is often the major limitation in skincare but with effective penetration, this product line seems to be well suited to be efficacious.” She notes that while she’s skeptical that Ourself’s products will ever truly take the place of dermatology treatments, they may allow consumers to be less reliant on them or even start them later in life.

Though the products aren’t exactly cheap (prices range from $45 for a lip conditioner to $525 for the four-product brightening set), they’re still more cost-effective than treating yourself to regular pro-grade treatments. Keep scrolling to shop the standouts for yourself.

The peel

Skin-resurfacing treatments, like peels and lasers, have historically been difficult to replicate at home. That’s because certain concentrations of active ingredients are only available to skin pros, and ablative lasers (understandably) need to be administered by someone who knows what they’re doing. What’s more, many of these procedures may cause hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones because they trigger an inflammatory response that leads to an overproduction of melanin, which means they aren’t as inclusive as they should be.

“Ourself’s peels are formulated with the ideal concentration of active ingredients that generate clinical level results in reducing hyperpigmentation without triggering any additional inflammatory responses in melanated skin that could cause damage or increased hyperpigmentation,” explains Vimla Black-Gupta, one of the brand’s co-founders.“The Brightening Peel is formulated with a powerful 34 percent concentration of glycolic acid, whose benefits are amplified by a unique blend of carefully selected active ingredients well known for balancing skin tone and brightening skin.” The formula includes tranexamic acid, phytic acid, and vitamin C (all of which are known for their gentle brightening and skin-tone evening benefits), and is devoid of irritating ingredients like retinoids, hydroquinone, and aggressive actives.

The product comes with everything you need to safely conduct a peel at home (including gloves, gauze, and instructions), and you should expect your skin to feel a bit tingly immediately after you apply. Results can be seen after about a week, but in the interim you may see visible darkening, flaking, or peeling before noticing improved skin texture, smaller pores, and less-visible fine lines.

The dark spot corrector

The “intides” that Otsuki mentioned are in full force in this formula, which is designed to take the place of hyperpigmentation-evening lasers without some of the issues mentioned above. It delivers them to the deepest layers of the skin in order to halt the overproduction of new melanin, effectively stopping discoloration in its tracks.

“Ourself’s Dark Spot Peel and Brightening Peel are potent yet safe enough to use at home, are clinically proven and formulated to work for all skin tones while having little to no downtime,” says Black Gupta.

It’s made with a power-packed concentration of skin-brightening antioxidants—namely, vitamin C, niacinamide, and 4-Butylresorcinol—which work double-time to even the appearance of existing discoloration while also protecting against the free-radical damage that could cause future dark spots.

The lip plumper

Designed as an alternative option to injectable lip plumper, Ourself’s version of ‘Lip Filler’ claims to instantly enhance lips with a combination of hyaluronic acid and a vitamin B3-derived lip color enhancer.

Because one of the main causes of age-related lip thinning is a loss of hyaluronic acid, the ingredient is central to most plumping formulas. Traditionally, injectible fillers have used a form of hyaluronic acid that’s too large to penetrate through the skin (which is why it needs to be inserted with a needle), and topical formulas with smaller molecules have never been able to deliver the same level of results. According to Ourself’s team, the brand’s subtopical tech has given them a way to work around these limitations.

“Ourself’s Lip Filler makes it possible, for the first time ever, to deliver different sizes of hyaluronic acid molecules to the epidermal and dermal layers of the lips for results without injections, thanks to the patent-pending multiphasic vesicle delivery technology,” says Otsuki. She adds that while injections will add volume to lips, they won’t replenish the skin itself, whereas Ourself’s topical formula is able to deliver hyaluronic acid to the deepest layers of the lips to make them look brighter and more supple. According to clinical trials conducted by the brand, 100 percent of users saw naturally fuller and rosier lips in three weeks.

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