welcome to SKINCARMA!

These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 

You can change your skin’s destiny.™

Several of the products in the KPS smart skin care line-up.

Several of the products in the KPS smart skin care line-up.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking with the founding scientist of the new science-based skincare brand, KPS Essentials. Skin care isn’t rocket science, but co-founder Ron Webb just happens to be one. For real. He’s actually a rocket scientist! I love scientists of all kinds — and I love talking about skin care with scientists — particularly those who know how ingredients work in the skin. I could have spoken with Ron for hours, but alas our conversation lasted only about 90 minutes. Things got really deep in that time. In fact, so much so that we talked about how deeply certain molecules are able to penetrate the skin barrier, if at all. Hyaluronic Acid, pretty deep. Peptides? Not so much.

He and his founding partner, Natalie Novak-Bauss, emailed me the most amazing interactive graphic on the comparative sizes of things, molecules — from a coffee bean on one end of the scale to a carbon atom at the other. You can access it for yourself here. A skin cell falls about a third of the way between the two. I’ve been staring at it, studying it, absorbing it ever since. Molecules are funny things. Much like a square peg doesn’t fit in a round hole, a coffee bean cannot penetrate the skin barrier. It’s completely absurd. But, a lot of what we apply topically to our skin can’t penetrate much further than the aforementioned coffee bean.

Long before my informal schooling by a rocket scientist on skin barrier penetration, I’d been aware that thinner, water-based serums and treatments obviously penetrate the skin more deeply than thicker, oil-based treatments — which need to remain closer to the skin surface, where they’re most beneficial. That’s why I always remind people who are confused by the order of product application to follow this simple rule: apply water-based serums (thinnest to thickest) first, followed by oil-based serums (again, thinnest to thickest).

Enough of the Skincare 101 lesson.

What about the very credible skin care that Ron and Natalie have created? KPS Essentials is Kind. Pure. Smart. And it’s got my admiration. But it’s also gotten me thinking about what makes skin care itself smart. Each of KPS’s products is indeed smart. Not in the way that, say, Clinique markets an entire sub-brand around the idea of “Smart.” Look, I love Clinique. I think they do an incredible job with product formulation that’s, for the most part, pro-skin health. But what exactly is so “smart” about the Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum?

What makes a product “smart”?

What makes a product “smart”?

I’m a copywriter and I know it’s just a word. And though it implies something to the consumer, there’s really nothing all that smart about it. Clinique Smart serum contains a slew of about 87,000 plant-based antioxidants, replenishing extracts, moisturizing oils and humectants. I’m barely exaggerating as I estimate there are actually only 140 ingredients in the formula! Hey, it’s a solid formula, but is it smart? And what about Smart Water?! Come on. I don’t drink two entire bottles of Smart Water a day because I think it’s doing anything more than hydrating my body. It’s no different than the apparent dumb water everyone else is drinking. Truth is, I just love the shape and feel of the bottle. Again, it’s nothing more than a marketing term; and, ahem, the slight genius of a fellow copywriter.

The KPS formulas are smart because they’re really well-formulated and they make sense for the skin — from the perspective of a scientist, not of a marketer.

“What do you get when you cross a foodie, master gardener, organic farmer and certified oncology aesthetician with a rocket scientist that thrives on finding the root causes to problems using unconventional thinking?


- KPS Essentials


Renu Face Cream

What makes a good moisturizer? It’s gotta be packed with nourishing and replenishing non-fragrant plant oils and devoid of the wonderfully smelling fragrant oils that can irritate the skin — like lavender and peppermint oils. So, what’s going on with the KPS Essentials Renū Face Cream? Well, it’s loaded with the kinds of plant oils skin loves because they’re compatible with the skin, and thus recognized by it. In fact, the next four ingredients after deionized water are Argan Nut Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Coconut Oil, and Jojoba Seed Oil. All of these amazing oils give the Renū Face Cream its buttery rich color and texture. The formula is actually 95.5% organic, too. Anything more than that and a formula becomes unstable and needs to be refrigerated. I don’t like to store my skin care in the refrigerator. But I do like and appreciate how well-formulated this cream is. KPS claims its proprietary “DermaNū Technology works with your skin's natural ability to moisturize and hydrate, add volume and collagen while fighting signs of aging.” I don’t know how that would pan out exactly; I just know a great formula when I see one. It’s thick, rich and comforting. And, while it looks beautiful in the jar, I appreciate that KPS also offers it in an airless pump to keep its most sensitive ingredients fresh and effective longer.

The antioxidant-powered KPS eye serum.

The antioxidant-powered KPS eye serum.

Antioxidant Eye Repair Serum

My longtime eye area fave — the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50.

My longtime eye area fave — the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50.

The eye area is comprised of the most delicate skin anywhere on your face. That’s why I’m a proponent of not only a well-formulated moisturizer around your eyes, but the use of a sunscreen in the eye area each morning. Honestly, there’s no compelling reason to use a separate moisturizer around your eyes. If it’s good enough for the rest of your face, it’s good enough for your eye area. Skin is skin. Unless you have a particular concern for dark circles and puffiness, the only concern should be finding an SPF treatment for the eye area that won’t migrate into the eyes themselves. Ouch! As I’ve shared previously, my favorite SPF eye cream is a longtime fave — the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50. It has a slight tint to it to conceal dark circles, and its light, paste-like consistency means it stays put.

That said, I can appreciate a well-formulated eye treatment and know most people are conditioned to want a dedicated eye cream. (Those marketers are always at it!) The KPS Essentials Antioxidant Eye Repair Serum contains a host of antioxidants and antioxidant-rich extracts including Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Camellia Sinesis Leaf Extract (Green Tea Extract). Because it’s super lightweight — somewhat like a thick, opaque serum — it’s very easily absorbed by the skin. It’s also 96.4% organic and made with natural, organic, and food-grade ingredients like pomegranate, rosehip, coconut and argan oils — as well as plant-derived hyaluronic acid. 

I can’t stop studying this chat. I swear, I’m fascinated by the size of various molecules and organisms!

I can’t stop studying this chat. I swear, I’m fascinated by the size of various molecules and organisms!


Renu C+ Serum

Nearly every day of the week, I get a DM or comment on a post asking for recommendations for a Vitamin C serum. Guess what? Here’s one right here! The KPS Renu C+ Serum contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate — a particularly stable form of Vitamin C that’s similar in molecular structure to the most potent, purest form of Vitamin C — L-ascorbic acid. Unlike pure Vitamin C, though, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is fat soluble. The 96.5% organic, lightweight Renu C+ Serum is formulated with the brand’s DermaNŪ Technology to boost hydration levels in the skin. KPS says that DermaNŪ “restructures your skin's hydration barrier to protect against water loss” and “stimulates your natural production of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) and Chondroitin Sulfate for moisture reserves in your skin.” In addition, Renu C+ Serum contains several skin-replenishing, non-fragrant plant oils including pomegranate, walnut, avocado, coconut, argan and jojoba oils. Formulating with Vitamin C effectively is tricky. And may very well be just short of rocket science. KPS nailed it. I could do any entire blog on Vitamin C and my product suggestions — and very well may in the near future. Until then, check out the KPS Renu C+ Serum.

A rocket scientist got me thinking about what makes a skincare formula smart. And an oncology aesthetician got me thinking about what gives a brand a soul.

A rocket scientist got me thinking about what makes a skincare formula smart. And an oncology aesthetician got me thinking about what gives a brand a soul.

One of the things I appreciate and look for in brands is their authenticity and the depth of their soul. Like people, brands can and do have depth — or they don’t. (Yup, just like people!) They can be nuanced, thought-provoking and, yes, even soulful. My first copywriting job actually wasn’t in skin care. It was with a firm that created two groundbreaking fundraising events, one of which was the original Avon breast cancer walks. That’s where I honed my experience writing with emotion. I had no choice. The words I was crafting had profound meaning and influence, informed by causes that mattered in the lives of the people I was reaching with every single keystroke — people affected by breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.

When I discovered that KPS — whose first letter, remember, stands for “kind” — supports the charitable organization Hello Gorgeous, I knew it was a brand I could wholeheartedly get behind. The mission of Hello Gorgeous is in “restoring the beauty that cancer steals” by providing complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to women battling cancers. 

“My passion for helping cancer patients and a reason I became a certified oncology aesthetician was to honor my grandmother's breast cancer battle. A portion of every product you buy goes toward supporting the non-profit, Hello Gorgeous - Restoring the beauty that cancer steals. Thank you for helping us fulfill our desires.”

- Natalie Novak-Bauss, Co-founder, KPS Essentials

KPS donates a portion of every product sale toward providing product for the Hello Gorgeous program. I have seen firsthand the power makeup and skin care can have to the emotional well-being of women battling cancer. It’s a simple, yet beautiful thing. And it reminds us all how interconnected we are. KPS invites customers to make a donation to Hello Gorgeous through their website. I just did, and I invite you to do the same here.


📺 Watch my video review of KPS Essentials and their science-based skin care on my YouTube channel here. (Oh, and please subscribe!) 🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️



I’m honored to collaborate with KPS on a giveaway of my three fave KPS products, featured on this Skincarma blog.


🖤Follow the IG accounts of @skincarma + @kpsessentials

🖤Like the KPS post on the Skincarma IG page (Tuesday, 1/15).

🖤Comment + @ Mention 2 friends in your comment. 

🖤Giveaway dates: 01/15/19-01/18/19

🖤International entries welcome!


The Ingredient List of the KPS Renu Face Cream:

Deionized Water, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Nut Oil, *Botanically Infused Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed) Oil, Steric Acid, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside (Plant Based Emulsifier), Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Palmitoyl Isolucene (Plant Based Amino Acid for Collagen Growth), Co Enzyme Q10, *Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCI (Plant Based Preservative), *Proprietary Blend of Essential Oils. *Organic Ingredients.

The Ingredient List of the KPS Antioxidant Eye Repair Serum:

Deionized Water, *Punica Pranatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, *Rose Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Steric Acid, Ascorbyl Polmitate (Vitamin C), Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Palmitoyl Isolucene, *Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Co Enzyme Q10, *Camellia Sinesis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Xylitylgucoside, Anhydroxylitl, Xylitol, C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCI, *Proprietary Blend of Essential Oils. *Organic Ingredients.

The Ingredient List of the KPS Renu C+ Serum:

Deionized Water, *Punica Pranatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, *Juglans Regia (Walnut) Oil, *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed) Oil, Steric Acid, (Vitamin C) Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Hyaluronic Acid, Co-Enzyme Q10, *Tocopherol (Vitamin E), *Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), *Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera), Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitl, Xylitol, C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate HCl, *Proprietary Blend of Essential Oils. *Organic Ingredients.