“Great skincare can be achieved by smart skincare” – Formulae Prescott Co-Founder Pauline Prescott
Driven by the need to simplify her skincare regime – and “more importantly to lighten my luggage” – Formulae Prescott Co-Founder Pauline Prescott developed a multi-tasking skincare line, which includes hero product Tri-Balm to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise the skin in one step.
The former ballerina’s products are already available through selected airport and inflight retailers, including Dufry, Aer Rianta International and Emirates (which will feature Tri-Balm from December).
Prescott shares her thoughts on the need for rigorous research and a sustainable approach in the beauty and skincare industry, and reveals the unexpected role that a simple pashmina played in Formulae Prescott’s development.
Pauline, tell us a little about your background and how your interest in skincare products developed.
I grew up in Liverpool where I was born. My mother enrolled me at a dance school when I was quite young as she wanted to strengthen my feet and legs. And, of course, every little girl loves to dance.
The school prepared budding dancers to enter the world of professional ballet through major companies such as the Bush School of Dance or the Royal Ballet School but I was more interested in the theatre. However, what I learnt about health, wellness and eating well at school stayed with me my entire life.
When I decided to pursue a life in business my parents were disappointed to say the least, but I was always fascinated by the business world, and I’ve never regretted my choices.
For me the absolute must-have travel item was, and is, a pashmina… maybe this is where my early ideas of multitasking products germinated
At dance school there was a huge emphasis on health and wellness. Like in all physical and sport environments it is part of the culture and I was immersed in it from the very beginning. Eating vitamin rich foods and being aware of putting the right things into my body for maximum gains was embedded in me from a tender age.
You moved into health insurance and constant work-associated travel. What products were ‘musts’ in your travel bag?
My move into health insurance started in the UK at Private Patients Plan as a national accounts manager. I spent several years in the City of London looking after health and wellness programmes for banks and large corporate organisations.
After a couple of years, I moved to Boston in the USA to work for Marsh McAllen, and then for AIG in New York City. They asked me to move to Hong Kong where I was the VP of Marketing for all AIG Life companies, representing the Accident and Health division and working across all AIG’s corporate entities. I was constantly travelling.
For me the absolute must-have travel item was, and is, a pashmina. I have them in every colour; just wonderful garments which can be used in so many different ways and fold away to take up very little space. They can be dressed up or down or used as a blanket on flights.
Maybe this is where my early ideas of multitasking products germinated since they are the ultimate multitasking clothing item and I think they are just lovely.
Do you recall the moment you thought about producing your own line?
During the time I worked in North America for Mercer, my sister Frances – a professional make-up artist and also a frequent traveller – and I often found ourselves lamenting how many products we had in our travel bags as well as in the bathroom cabinet at home.
We felt there must be a better way, so I set up a company to do exactly that; to streamline our skin care by creating multi-tasking, high-quality, luxury products.
Every woman I knew who worked and travelled like myself suffered with the same issues of being weighed down with products or having them leak in their luggage. I thought if I had this problem, as did my sister, our friends and colleagues, and no one was addressing it, then it was definitely time someone did something about it.
Tell us about your research-based approach to developing Formulae Prescott.
Coming from an insurance business background, research is part of my whole approach to look at the finer details. Even if I don’t have the expertise myself, I know that I need to partner with others who have that knowledge and dedication.
That turned out to be a smart approach. My understanding of the skincare ingredients now is extremely deep, and I’ve been involved with the creation of the formulations right from the start of our journey.
How did you choose your Formulae Prescott collaborators, the beauty experts and scientists? And what role did your sister Frances play in product development?
When choosing collaborators, I like to work with people who are as passionate and committed as I am, and that’s how I get to navigate through the process. My sister played a big role in the early days, and we worked closely together on what was then Frances Prescott. However, not everyone wants to stay in a young start-up company.
During COVID I spent a lot of time thinking about, exploring and discussing new products. The evolution of the brand was born out of that; I realised that innovating and creating unique and powerful formulations was what defined our company.
The concept and company is bigger than any one individual and I wanted the company name to reflect that.
How to you describe the Formulae Prescott approach to beauty care?
Our brand pillars are innovation, efficacy and conservation, which remain at the heart of everything we do. Our focus is on creating high-performance multi-tasking skincare products using botanical, food and plant extracts.
Wellness is at the heart of our formulation process and all our products are quite literally topical nutrition for the skin; we are a health and wellness company just as much as we are a skincare brand
We are defining smart skincare by creating gender neutral solutions for those wanting a premium skincare routine that is simple and effective. We are committed to reducing waste and supporting conservation; it’s the only way to go – it’s good for both our planet and the consumer.
Do you believe sustainability is an overused word?
I believe that the word sustainability today cannot be overused. With floods, droughts and hurricanes devastating countries across the world everyone needs to embrace a sustainable approach.
Currently we are taking steps to utilise forestry managed materials, as well as compostable, refillable and reusable components. We are working toward achieving Certified B Corp status, a global movement committed to making the world a better place. Not only are companies focusing more on sustainability, but consumers are also rightfully demanding it.
What is the Formulae Prescott hero product?
Tri-Balm is our hero product and we started with this as part of a deliberate strategy. Everybody has a cleansing routine which starts with a cleanser and then has other functions built around it.
I wanted a cleanser that was much more than a cleanser and set about creating the formulation that would achieve that end. The development of Tri-Balm took over 16 months and endless prototypes.
The product line-up also includes Tri-Serum, Tri-Spritz, Tri-Body and Eye & Lip.
Why makes Formulae Prescott products so suitable for travel retail?
The concept of accomplishing more with less lends itself to people travelling with luggage. We have a finite amount of space in a suitcase or carry-on bag and with Formulae Prescott products, travellers can still have a luxury experience.
Neither business travellers nor holidaymakers want to compromise and with our multi-tasking products they don’t have to.
Where are the products available in travel retail?
Travel retail is an important channel for Formulae Prescott. We started so strongly in 2019 and had key listings with Easyjet, British Airways and others. The pandemic, as for many brands and companies, put an end to that. However, I am delighted to say we have come out stronger.
We are now confirmed with Emirates for a winter listing and have also partnered with Dufry and Aer Rianta International in selected duty free stores.
Pauline Prescott believes Tri-Balm is perfect for inflight customers who are looking to travel light and simplify their skincare routine.
“We thank the team at Emirates for their support and belief in championing innovative brands that add value to assortments for the traveling customer,” she says of a recent listing with the Dubai carrier.
Emirates Retail Services Manager Gaurang Patkar comments: “We are delighted to be listing Formulae Prescott in our upcoming Winter Catalogue.
“The award-winning brand reduces waste due to their products’ multi-tasking nature, uses clean ingredients that are naturally sourced from food and botanicals-based ingredients, and provides an effective solution for our discerning passengers on the go.
“It’s an innovative brand that adds value to our inflight offering and meets our values of environmental stewardship.”
We recently presented the brand at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes and we are in line to continue confirming many more partnerships over the coming months.
Any new product and market developments?
There are currently three products in development with two due to be signed off by Christmas. The company is also developing its distribution on a much broader scale as we align on European distribution partners.
We already have a foothold in North America and have scaled-up to prepare for the Asian and Middle Eastern markets where we have received a lot of interest.
We have aggressive growth plans and see a lot of opportunities for our brand. Consumers are becoming much more aware of their footprint in the environment and megatrends align well with our company’s values. For example, the elimination of water in our products and clean ingredients which are both sustainable and ethical.
My philosophy is to never tell consumers what to buy; I simply want to allow them to make an informed decision. Such consumers are a good friend to this young brand. Wellness is at the heart of our formulation process and all our products are quite literally topical nutrition for the skin; we are a health and wellness company just as much as we are a skincare brand.
Note. Pauline Prescott and her rescue two dogs, Daisy and Digger, featured recently in our Pet-sonality Profile, in association with Tito’s Handmade Vodka.