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Mike Einziger, the lead guitarist of the ’90s rock band Incubus, and his wife, science teacher-turned-rock violinist Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger, did not intend to start a beauty brand.
Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger organically came upon her hero ingredient, a yeast-derived compound called Malassezin, after being diagnosed with a harmless skin condition. The diagnosis led her to question whether something that “most people would view as a negative” could be harnessed to address common skin concerns — namely, hyperpigmentation and the common desire people have to lighten darkened patches of skin.
That was over six years ago — that’s how long it’s taken the couple to build a team, complete extensive testing, develop a formula and bring it to testing. Plus, they fundraised to the tune of $6.2 million dollars, with key investors including The Female Founders Fund, Nyx founder Toni Ko and Paul Mitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria.
On May 9, the brand finally launched, with one product — Molecular Hero Serum — offered for sale on its e-commerce site.
Below are excerpts from the latest Pop Edition of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, featuring Einziger and Simpson-Einziger discussing the development of Mother Science. Their comments have been lightly edited for clarity.
On an accidental epiphany
Simpson-Einziger: “I noticed that I had a patch of skin on my back that was lighter than the rest of my skin. I talked to my dermatologist about it, and I found out that it was a very harmless condition called tinea versicolor. It’s just an overgrowth of something in your commensal microbiome, and it always resolves to normal. If you go out in the sun, you can burn the areas all around it, but you can’t burn the area that’s affected. To me, that was so interesting — our bodies are infinitely fascinating. The fact that there was something that was brightening my skin and also protecting it from damage, I leaned into that as a silver lining rather than looking at it as an annoyance. There was a counterintuitive epiphany: This condition that most people view as a negative thing, I saw it as holding a secret. And that’s when Mike came in really handy — because I thought I was marrying a rock star, but I was really marrying a research scientist nerd. So, we just started researching the condition. And we started to form a hypothesis that what we were seeing on my back was actually from a metabolite called Malassezin. And by metabolite, we mean a molecule that’s produced in your microbiome. So it’s not anything that’s alive. It’s literally just a novel molecule. We knew that we could potentially harvest [this molecule] as an ingredient.”
On being unlikely scientific discoverers
Einziger: “[When meeting with scientists] we were fully prepared for them to say, ‘Oh, that’s cute. The musicians think they’ve got a good idea. … At every stage, we were waiting for somebody to say, ‘Oh, this doesn’t work,’ or ‘Someone else figured this out already,’ or ‘Here’s why you’re wrong,’ or whatever. But that kept not happening. The opposite kept happening. And the experts we were consulting became more and more specialized. They kept, sort of, being astonished — like, ‘Wow, this is interesting,’ and ‘How the hell did you guys figure this out?’ We know that it sounds ridiculous to the outside world. We’re well aware of that. But, we’ve been at this for [nearly] eight years, when you include all the ideating; it’s been a long time that we’ve been working on this. We decided that the highest and best use of the technology that we had developed, which we were able to patent and protect all over the world, was to create a consumer product. So that’s why we created the Molecular Hero Serum. That’s why we decided to build Mother Science into a brand.”
On the serum’s results
Simpson-Einziger: “Our instinct that this was something special was validated over a very long time with science. From our clinical trials, we saw amazing things. Beyond just skin brightening, we saw texture improving, and we saw fine lines and wrinkles disappearing. It was just this global anti-aging. It’s actually 10 times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin C. [People] want to see results, and we deliver results in two weeks with smoother skin and better skin texture. In four weeks, you’re going to start seeing dark spots receding. And lines and wrinkles are going to start gradually fading, with the most dramatic results happening after eight weeks.”