For those who grew up with acne — or still struggle with it — you can probably quote the TV commercials for products promising clear skin word for word, or backtrack your walk up and down the skincare aisle on a mission to find a cleanser that would banish your pimples for good. Jamika Martin, founder of indie beauty brand ROSEN Skincare, is setting out to change this experience. "Our biggest competition and the people I want to disrupt the most are definitely those in the traditional acne care space," Martin tells TZR over the phone. "As someone who has dealt with difficult skin, been on Accutane twice, did all the work [to fight and prevent] breakouts, only to come back 10 to 12 years later to the exact same acne care aisle — that's something I'm hoping to innovate."
Martin's foray into skincare started when she was studying business economics at UCLA. During her junior year, she would formulate products like toners and masks in between her lectures. At the time, Martin was into very clean and minimal skincare routines. "A lot of the acne care products that were on the market didn’t fit what I personally wanted to use," she tells TZR when asked about how and why she started crafting her own formulas. With the knowledge she accumulated from her kitchen science experiments and entrepreneurship classes, she took the leap and launched ROSEN upon graduating in 2017.
"As far as mass acne care goes, our goal is to just bring in all these very millennial elements to skincare," Martin says. This includes ushering transparent processes and clean ingredients into the acne care aisle. She says there are some key players touching on acne care, but only thinking about it in a limited way like offering only pimple patches or one-off products as opposed to a full routine and focus like mass acne care brands. "Our difference from mass acne care is our approach, branding, messaging, formulas and community sourcing," Martin says. "We reach customers through socials, influencers and real skin testimonials, as opposed to a faceless clinical trial or traditional marketing. She says ROSEN also offers cleaner, more thoughtful formulas than other legacy brands in the acne care space. "As far as aging, eczema, or dry and sensitive skin are concerned, those aren't areas we really focus on."
Unlike brands that offer a few products in the line that "work pretty well for breakouts", Martin strives to create her brand as a one-stop-shop. "We provided that full end to end [everything you need in a skincare regimen] routine that’s focused on acne-prone customers, and even as we continue to grow, our focus will always be on acne." To deliver consumers with a full routine, ROSEN offers two brackets — the Fade Routine and the Clear Routine.
Martin says ROSEN's Clear Routine is catered to those who are actively breaking out and have much larger bumps. The brand has ingredient profiles specifically for each routine. "On the clear side, where people are dealing with more serious breakouts, we like to bring in ingredients like zinc oxide, Fuller’s earth clay, and niacinamide." For a starter kit, its offerings in the Clear Routine Mid, $55, consist of the Earth Cleanser, Gold Tides Toner, Moonlight Moisturizer, and Tingling Mud Mask. And if you're seeking a larger product range, consider the Clear Routine Max, $70, which adds on the Paloma Serum, Earth Mask, and Break-Out Spot Treatment.
However, most of ROSEN's customers fall into its Fade Routine, which targets those who are experiencing little bumps and minimal scarring. The hero ingredients in the routine includes fruit powders, kojic acid, and hyaluronic acid, which Martin notes are all great for less intense scarring and bumps. In the Fade Routine Min, $55, bundle is the Super Smoothie Cleanser, Tropics Toner, Tropics Moisturizer, and Charcoal Mask. If you break out a little more often, you can upgrade to the Fade Routine Max, $70, which adds on the Bright Citrus Serum, Enzyme Scrub, and Break-Out Spot Treatment. If you aren't exactly sure which category you fall into, the brand has a quiz you can take to find out.
"We have generally always seen our products being paired together by customers," Martin notes. "They would purchase only one or two SKUs at a time where we didn't have full routines to choose from, but as we developed our line and product pairing messaging, we saw our community follow along!" Now that the routines are offered, Martin says she's seeing anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of orders placed being routines. "This is so exciting for us because it just shows how many of our customers are really new to this skincare space and just trying to figure out what works for them," she says. ROSEN's community largely consists of consumers trying to learn more about skincare and curate a regimen, and Martin is seeing them learn a lot of aspects of a step-by-step routine from her brand. She says it's rare for a customer to do a one-off order. But if you aren't ready to commit to the full routines, opt for one of its best-sellers, which include the Earth Cleanser, Bright Citrus Serum, and Rose Water Face Dew.
Customer feedback is vital for ROSEN. The brand takes every comment, good or bad, into consideration. "We are always taking feedback and combining it with our formulating experience to tweak formulas and remove ingredients that overwhelmingly customers don't like," Martin says. Recently, the brand removed grapefruit oil from its Bright Citrus Serum. "We took it out completely from the process because it wasn't doing much for the customers and they didn't care for it."
When Martin initially started crafting the products for her label, she wasn't very familiar with many natural preservatives, so she opted for alcohol. "I had a lot of people telling us they didn't like it so we removed alcohol from every product we could and swapped it out with a clean preservative," she explains. This feedback is communicated through Instagram where the brand sometimes does a call-to-action via the questions feature. ROSEN also sends products to skincare influencers, which Martin says is great feedback from a formula perspective.
Martin explains that, in general, customers see results in six to eight weeks. "The skin cycle is typically about four weeks, so we see people seeing results in that time frame, but we always say six to eight weeks," she notes. "And that's a great time period to judge if something really is working for your skin or not." Positive feedback sparks joy for Martin, as she recalls times when she would look in the mirror and cry from seeing her breakouts. "When we get messages like 'you literally changed my confidence,' it's always amazing."
Below, shop both the Fade Routine and Clear Routine, as well as the brand's bestselling products.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.