At age 40, Lorrie King and Celeste Lee, founders of Caire Beauty, began noticing heavy undereye bags, fine lines, and decreased elasticity on their faces. After trying foundation after foundation and countless under eye products, they grew frustrated with the lack of improvement as well as the limited treatment options for people in their age demographic with similar concerns. With over 20 years of beauty experience between the two of them, including posts at Elizabeth Arden, John Freida, Coty, and Givaudan, the pair decided to do something about it in 2015 — and address the unrelenting prevalence of ageism in the industry.
“We wanted to find out what was really going on with the skin around our eyes,” says Lee to TZR. “So we interviewed doctors, scientists and did a lot of fundamental research.” With the help of Dr. Joseph Librizzi, who holds a PHD in biomedical engineering and is known for his innovation and research at Johnson & Johnson, the fledgling team quickly realized that hormone-driven skin aging was the primary problem behind these elasticity-related skin changes.
It was Dr. Librizzi’s ongoing research and technical knowledge on the mechanics of skin cell generation that made him a prime partner to join Lorrie and Celeste on their quest to create a new approach to aging associated specifically with hormone decline. Armed with the desire to change the narrative around aging and skin, the three launched Caire Beauty in January 2021, a skin care company for people over the age of 40.
Caire’s mission is a two-pronged approach: address the impact of declining hormones (also known as internal aging) through effective products, and be a part of the conversation that changes the stigma around perimenopause and menopause. The latter is particularly important in that the brand aims to help people understand that these stages of life are not diseases, but a natural and healthy transitional period that all women experience. “Prior to age 40, women think the whole idea of ageism is unreal and not a big deal,” Lee says. “The fact of the matter is, the first thing people say to you when you’re past age 40 is, ‘You look great,’ but just by saying that statement, as well-meant as it is, it’s a form of ageism because you are already comparing the person to someone who is 10 or 20 years younger.”
The brand’s website boasts a garden variety of educational content addressing the importance of exercise during menopause, the debunking of wrinkle and fine line myths, and skin care routines for mature skin to follow. “Our society not only stigmatizes aging, specifically perimenopause and menopause — we actually put women in a position where they are fearful of even admitting it's happening,” King tells TZR.
Caire’s assortment of products (serum, mask, and gua sha tool) and mission to reframe thoughts and conversations around aging ultimately caught the eye of Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition team. The non-profit startup-assistance program aims to close the opportunity and wealth gap by providing support to Black and Latinx brand founders.
Of the over 1000 contending companies, Caire Beauty was the only skin care brand selected for Black Ambition’s summer 2020 program. From there, an independent judging panel decided on a group of 100 semifinalists. “Even before we became a semi-finalist, we were all placed in groups called ‘circles’ where we met with experts from creative concept, marketing, technology, operations, finance, and legal [fields],” says King. In small groups, the companies could pose real issues in real time, and see how solutions could play out. The program also assigns you a leadership coach, pitch coach, script writer, and graphic designer to help prepare brands for investor meetings.
Later, when Caire was selected as a finalist, the founders’ small group had the opportunity to work with the senior leadership team at Chanel for two months, and also had the chance to hear directly from Pharrell. “Black Ambition started as a competition but then became a collaborator, whereby Black Ambition and Pharrell not only invest in you; they collaborate in resolving challenges, leveraging differentiators, providing access, and more,” King shares.
Since completing the program, Caire Beauty has launched with three products: Theorem Serum Boost, Triple Lift Molecule Mask, and Gua Sha Rose Quartz Facial Ritual Stone. Hyaluronic acid is the hero ingredient across the two formulas — specifically, an ultra-low weight hyaluronic acid molecule that is so minuscule it can be absorbed by the skin easier and faster. This is unique to Caire as most formulations on the market today don’t have hyaluronic acid that can pass through the dermal barrier to actually impart hydration into the skin (which mature skin in particular often lacks). Instead, they are made with sodium hyaluronate — a derivative of hyaluronic acid with a lower molecular weight. Not that this ingredient is bad (it’s actually quite stable), but it simply “sits on top of the skin, giving the skin a temporary, and fairly limited glow,” says King. But in Caire products, this tiny hyaluronic acid attracts and holds moisture in the skin and fills in the space between other skin cells, like structural collagen and elastin, to effectively plump and hydrate.
Another key ingredient that sets the brand apart from competitors is the use of Growth Factor 1 (GF-1). This biofermented proprietary peptide increases bioavailability and is what allows the hyaluronic acid to pass more easily through the dermal barrier. “The peptide has the capacity to replace estrogenic function in the skin,” says King. Translation: The peptide can signal to the skin that more collagen and hyaluronic acid is needed, two materials that are crucial for bouncy, healthy, and hydrated skin and are often depleted by menopause.
This technology coupled with Caire’s age-positive messaging are helping women feel confident and prepared to enter their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. Because no one should just look good for their age.
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