Melissa Juried Kriebel
A decade ago, Lisa Guerrera was a Long Island preteen plagued with cystic acne who found solace in the Reddit and YouTube communities that provided helpful tips on skin clearance and confidence.
The skin condition piqued Guerrera’s curiosity about how to properly treat it without over-drying her skin and avoiding scarring. Soon, her research on skincare became obsessive; she’d soak up information about sunscreen and oil cleansing like a sponge.
“It made me feel more in control when my skin was totally out of control,” Guerrera said of this newly-acquired skincare knowledge.
Guerrera worked in organic chemistry labs and completed a thesis project about chemophobia. Her campaign worked to challenge misinformation about ingredients and the vague use of marketing language like “natural beauty,” which she argued deters consumers from choosing certain products as their purchasing motivation was rooted in fear. Her passion in championing ethical marketing and the “skintellectual” consumer armed with education on product actives propelled her to start her first company. The beauty tech platform was called See Thru, and provided beauty brands such as Rosen Skincare, Holi Frog and Ghost Democracy prime opportunities to increase transparency with the posting of their product ingredient lists on their website.
The Birth of Experiment Beauty
On the heels of that success, 24 year-old Guerrera was then recruited in 2020 to serve as head of brand at teledermatology company Apostrophe. The brand’s acquisition by Hims later that year in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic proved a cue for her and Ketcham to start up their own Gen Z-centric business they would christen Experiment Beauty. Merging whimsy with forward-thinking ideals, the brand is grounded in the philosophy of clinically-backed products that are just as sustainable as they are “ridiculously fun” to use, according to Guerrera.
Guerrera says she has used the Avant Garde sheet mask nearly every day this past year and has witnessed big changes in her skin in terms of its level of resilience and hydration.
“My skin used to be really sensitive and reactionary. I deal with acne and my skin overtime became desensitized,” she said. “When I use it as makeup prep, fine lines and wrinkles are plumped out for hydrated, happy skin.”
Avant Garde can be used twice-daily or twice-weekly, depending on consumer preference, although everyday use can accelerate consistent skin hydration, Guerrera contends.
Blue Bird Partnership
“We feel very strongly that sustainability claims should be quantified and measured and made publicly available to consumers, if we’re going to make certain claims,” said Guerrera. “We feel as a company, we have an obligation to make a product that’s better for the environment and better for consumers. That’s why Avant Garde is so amazing. It really does create an opportunity for consumers to feel like they’re making an impact, and we’re quantifying that impact.”
For instance, traditional, single-use sheet masks, she learned, can contain between 10-15 milliliters of serum, which equates to roughly one-half of a standard serum bottle.
“That may sound generous, but it’s really a huge waste of product,” she said. “Think of half a serum bottle being shipped around the world for one use.”
The mask is also resistant to microbial growth and prevents 99.9% of water from evaporating off of the skin—a substantial advantage in maintain hydration. Avant Garde accounts for 93% less carbon emissions and plastic waste by 84% than its competition; that’s assuming using the mask for one year, biweekly.
“By 2025, there will be 320 million sheet masks produced every single year,” she explained. “All of those sheet masks have a shelf life of about a year or two, and all of those will end up in landfill at some point because none of them are recyclable. It’s all single-use waste being created—hundreds of millions every single year—and Avant Garde is an opportunity to essentially replace that as the industry standard.”
Teaching on TikTok
“The next generation of consumers really care about not being duped and feeling like they understand the efficacy behind their products and they want to buy products that really work,” said Guerrera. “As a chemist, helping them walk through picking a product and deciphering the label, that ultimately was super valuable to consumers.”
As for Experiment Beauty, consumers can expect new product launches from the brand in the near future.
According to Guerrera, sheet masks offer a fun entry point into skincare, especially for younger consumers.
“Once you’re into it, a lot of people realize just how wasteful it can be,” she said, referencing Avant Garde’s single-use competitors. “I think Avant Garde is more effective, environmentally-friendly and really fun. The way we are marketed is through selfies taken and posted on Instagram and making a TikTok video. The takeaway for Experiment is, we’re not just a reusable sheet mask brand. We have product launches coming focused on rigorous science, taking gold star ingredients viewed as boring and making them interesting. That is our formulation philosophy: unexpected essentials.”