Beauty scale

Ulta Beauty invests in precision skincare brand Revea

After launching in April 2021 with a single storefront in San Francisco, precision skincare brand Revea plans to take the brand national with a skincare app.

Chaz Giles, Founder and CEO of Revea, refers to “precision skincare” as going beyond traditional personalized or personalized beauty. Revea announced Thursday that it has raised a second seed fund, this time for $6 million, led by Alpha Edison with participation from Ulta Beauty and existing investor WaldenCast Ventures, among others. With this capital, Revea will launch an app in 2022, enabling Revea to bring its personalized precision skincare to people nationwide. The app is currently in beta, while an existing dot-com site serves as a place for product and brand information, as well as consumer dashboards for tracking skin health. It is not purchasable.

Revea has a storefront in San Francisco stocked with dermatological devices that the company says measure skin hydration levels, sebum production and elasticity, among other factors. Based on these results, Revea formulates up to two personalized serums and a moisturizer for each client. In-person appointments and the three products cost $75 and $375, respectively. Traditionally, personalized or personalized beauty products have been guided by questionnaires asking users questions about their skin type, concerns, and skin tone. Revea previously raised $3.5 million in seed funding in March 2021.

“Ulta Beauty’s investment in Revea underscores our continued commitment to digital innovation. Retail and beauty spaces continue to evolve and consumers [now] move between digital and physical spaces more than ever – seamlessly and expecting personalized experiences,” said Prama Bhatt, Chief Digital Officer at Ulta Beauty. “Revea is advancing the precision skincare space and we are excited to champion the company as its new technology disrupts and pushes the space even further.”

This isn’t the first AI-driven company Ulta Beauty has invested in. In June 2021, it invested in AI retail technology company Adeptmind. Separately, he pledged to invest financially in more entrepreneurs of color by allocating $5 million to New Voices, a venture capital fund with that investment philosophy.

Giles said the Revea app will use hyperspectral imaging allowing the company to see below the epidermal layer of the skin to “get to the root cause” of a skin issue or concern. After receiving this information through an app user’s smartphone camera, Revea will use its artificial intelligence modeling to develop a unique skin profile and determine the right product formulas. Hyperspectral imaging collects hundreds of images at different wavelengths. It is essential for analyzing skin and hair characteristics, detecting blood flow in the face, and deciphering the melanin and hemoglobin content of a person’s skin.

“With hyperspectral imaging and AI, we can create a precision skincare experience that hasn’t been possible in the past,” Giles said. “In the past, all personalization was based on [steps] like asking the consumer what he seems to think of his skin or what he feels. This was helpful, but it still doesn’t fully get to the root cause [of an issue].”

Hyperspectral imaging and other advanced forms of imaging technology are a nascent but potentially integral part of scaling personalized skincare. In August 2021, Oddity, the parent company of beauty brand Il Makiage and Spoiled Child, acquired Israeli tech company Voyage81, which specializes in hyperspectral imaging. Although brands like Neutrogena, Olay, and Dermalogica have offered AI-based skin scans via apps and online for years, sometimes they involved clunky attachments (in the case of Neutrogena) or just simplistic and disparate.

The app will be the brand’s primary sales channel, Giles said. So far, Revea has only marketed and communicated in support of its San Francisco store. But consumers’ willingness to download and use apps is uncertain. Data from app analytics firm Data.ai (formerly App Annie) in 2020 revealed that mobile users had 93 apps on their phones, at the end of 2019, compared to 85 apps at the end of 2015. They also now use about 41 apps per month, up from 35 in 2015. Yet mobile app consultancy Heady found in a February 2021 survey of smartphone users in the United States that 78% of people would refuse to complete a transaction if they had to download an application in order to do so.

According to Giles, precision skincare can help people take control of their skin health and also reach out to underserved customers, like people of color. People of different ethnicities and with mixed skin have unique skin concerns, such as higher sebum production, compared to Caucasian skin, and different sun protection needs, as traditional formulas can leave a residue.