Bringing a revolutionary acne product to the masses at an affordable price. Bonus: men use it, too.
In 2013, cosmetic surgeon David Shutter and entrepreneur Jay Tapper approached Smart with a breakthrough product idea: an acne-healing face mask for consumers that offered the same expensive LED light therapy previously only available through dermatologists, but at a $40 price point.
It was an ambitious plan: the product had to work and be cost-effective. It also needed strong IP protection and certification as a Class II medical device to provide assurance of its safety and effectiveness. Finally, the design had to feel approachable and user-friendly. Smart partnered with Shutter and Tapper on an intensive research and development project to bring good design to the masses.
The results: Not only did we meet our goals and make it through the FDA approval process with clinical efficacy tests that surprised even the most skeptical critics; it attracted investment from healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson. In an early test-market launch, the acne face mask became Walmart’s #1 beauty product in the first few weeks, proving its potential for success. J&J acquired the assets of La Lumiere in late 2015 and subsequently relaunched the mask under their flagship Neutrogena brand in 2016 receiving rave reviews. It was also an instant hit on Instagram, while Beauty Inc. awarded it the Mass Launch of 2016.
We took a treatment plan that would be unaffordable or too inconvenient for most people and brought it to mass market consumer level. That’s one of the things we’re most proud of— democratizing the product.”
Lighting the way to clearer skin.
Taking a nascent idea and turning it into a breakthrough product that’s highly effective at an affordable price point was no small feat. Smart engineers collaborated to bring the product to life and prepare it for manufacture from the ground up via rapid prototyping. For the acne mask to be successful, the team also had to navigate around aggressive efficacy requirements to get the product cleared as a Class II medical device. In initial trials, 80 percent of test subjects showed fewer breakouts in just one week of use, while almost 100 percent showed fewer breakouts at three months’ time.
Behind the mask.
Beyond cost and efficacy, the acne mask also had to overcome concerns around ease of use, comfort and safety with a product that could have easily looked like a “scary mask” to consumers. Smart carefully considered the emotional needs of users during the Customer Research and Insight phases to make sure the design was as user-friendly as it was effective. The product appeals to men as much as it does to women.