Take what you know about beauty devices and forget it. Opulus Beauty Labs, and its about-to-launch appliance (yes, appliance) is a truly novel concept, something that can be a rarity in the saturated beauty space. There’s a lot to know about Opulus, but perhaps the thing you should know first is who’s behind it — and that is Dr. Robb Akridge (known in the industry as Dr. Robb). Though you might not know Dr. Robb by name, you likely know one of his first creations — a little cleansing brush called the Clarisonic. Now, he’s introducing his next act, which he started working on in 2019.
Opulus is debuting with a two-part system — the Opulus Activator (aka the aforementioned appliance) and the Opoule Treatments (aka little pods). The activator transforms the Opoules into a single-use dose of skin care. The appliance can be likened to a skin care blender of sorts, as it takes the ingredients encapsulated in each Opoule and blends them up, creating freshly activated product and delivering it at absolute peak potency.
“In the beauty industry, the term ‘cosmetic device’ is typically attributed to a tool that is applied to the skin to provide a treatment, whether it is LED light, sonic cleansing, or other energy,” Dr. Robb notes via email to TZR. “Our Activator is very different than something that you use on the face.” He felt it warranted a new classification in beauty, and adds that “this is the first beauty appliance that performs as a personal lab — to freshly activate, blend, and heat our cosmetic products in a very specific manner to give you luxurious, potent skin care.”
Because the actual formulas are designed to serve almost as a full beauty routine in a single step, the Opoules also touch on the current trend of ‘skinimalism,’ — a return to simpler routines. The Opoules provide freedom from worrying about accidentally using incompatible ingredients. Each (totally plastic-free) Opoule is essentially a pod (they’ve been likened to Keurig cups) with a hard ‘coat’ and a soft interior ‘core.’ Together, this system protects active ingredients from air and light.
So, you might be wondering, what are the actual products made by the Opulus Activator? The brand is starting with the beauty industry’s most revered ingredient, retinol (though in a press meeting, it did hint that the appliance will eventually create more than just formulas for the face). The retinol Opoules will come in three strengths, allowing you to start low and gradually increase as your skin adjusts, also referred to by dermatologists as retinization. (It should be noted that this gradual progression to increasing the strength of one’s retinol is a method also often recommended by dermatologists.) The R1 offering contains 0.025% retinol (aka pure vitamin A) which will be best for you if you are totally new to retinol or have very sensitive skin. R2 contains 0.05%, which, the brand says in a release should be chosen if “you are using a retinol of 0.05% or higher, or if you’ve completed Regimen 1.” Finally and R3 contains 1% — which Opulus recommends “only after completing Regimen 2.”
Said regimens also include many more actives designed to prevent some of retinol’s less- desirable side effects (i.e. dryness, peeling, purging etc.). These Opoules also include tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (aka THD ascorbate, an oil-soluble stable vitamin C form), buzzy retinol alternative, bakuchiol, and ceramide 3, which helps replenish moisture and skin barrier function.
To further support the skin as it adjusts to retinol, the “Retinol + Ramp Up Night Cream Regimens,” as the monthly Opoule sets are called, alternate the use of retinol with another, non-retinol formula — the RHR Overnight Mask Opoule Treatment. This is a rich, hydrating cocktail containing 2% soothing allantoin, hyaluronic acid, and skin renewing, firming peptides. Essentially, when you order an Opulus appliance, you will choose the strength of retinol you’d like to start with, and you can increase to a higher percentage the next month, or not — it’s your choice.
Dermatologist Dr. Josh Zeichner weighed in on the device in an email to TZR, saying that “anhydrous formulas (aka waterless) are advantageous because they allow for stability that you can't otherwise achieve.” Still, he notes, “it is unclear whether the system and the actives will be any more effective than traditional skin care products, including anhydrous ones, but the ingredients lists contain the right types of actives to both treat and protect the skin.” He also emphasizes the importance of sanitizing these kinds of tools regularly per the company’s instructions.
Unsurprisingly, the Opulus does not come cheap — for $495, you’ll get the appliance and a month’s supply of Opoules. (The first 500 customers will be able to buy the set for $395 on April 19). Monthly supplies will then be available in sets ranging in size and price — 14 to 28 Opoule Treatments, from $85 — $200.
If nearly $500 is too much for you, Zeichner notes that even retinols available at your local drugstore are extremely efficacious these days. But if you want to splurge on the latest in skin care tech, or want to really invest in using skin care’s most beloved ingredient in a cutting edge way, try the Opulus.
The Opulus Starter System will be available to order on opulusbeautylabs.com.
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