In PSFK's Beauty Debrief, we spoke to HUM Nutrition’s CEO Walter Faulstroh about helping people find their perfect beauty match

What if beauty could be ingested with a single pill? We’re not talking about health supplements in a traditional supermarket aisle, but hyper-personalized vitamins, minerals and botanicals handpicked by expert nutritionists and shipped right to your doorstep.

Welcome to the world of nutricosmetics—which is, essentially, what the word suggests—nutrition delivered in the form of cosmetics. After filling out a three-minute quiz, HUM Nutrition’s registered dietitians recommend personalized products based on your lifestyle and needs.

The questions range from what a day in your life looks like (demanding job? direct sunlight?) to your dominant moods (all over the place? stressed?) to your zip code to determine pollution levels to how you unwind (yoga? TV? cooking?). Your data is then thoroughly analyzed by a black belt nutritionist who creates a unique nutrition report tailored to you.

We spoke to HUM Nutrition’s CEO Walter Faulstroh about helping people find their perfect beauty match and why he decided to give pill-popping a beauty makeover.

PSFK: You deliver personalized vitamins to your customers, handpicked by a dietitian and shipped to their doorstep. Can you explain the process behind how the vitamins are developed, in terms of the products, software and technologies that are used?

Walter Faulstroh: The whole process starts with a consumer concern. We realized through our huge amount of proprietary data that many consumers were struggling with digestive issues that no one likes to talk about but they have all sorts of implications on how you look and feel. The gut skin axis is one example. We further analyzed the dietary and lifestyle choices in this data set of 75,000 people. If you are familiar with statistics, this allows us to predict with a 99% confidence level and 0.5% margin of error how all of our consumers are behaving. Armed with this knowledge, we briefed our chief formulator and scientist to develop the perfect digestive enzyme for our target demographic.

For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with nutricosmetics, what is it and why did you decide to get into the business?

In a nutshell, beauty through nutrition. Many people like to limit their thinking to supplements but I personally like to think of it as ‘food as cosmetics’, since everything we put inside our bodies has a direct correlation with our appearance and overall psychology. I used to struggle with breakouts and tried many topical solutions and also heavy medication such as Accutane to stop my cystic acne. While they offered temporary relief, the acne came back several times. It wasn’t until I worked with a nutritionist in London that I finally got rid of my acne once and for all. We made changes to my diet, excluded foods certain foods that were highly processed and rich in sugar, and certain fats that the body has no idea what to do with that cause inflammation. We included super rich foods into my diet such as chlorella, spirulina and probiotics. I am a huge beauty junkie and said to myself “if I don’t make the connection between skin health and foods, maybe there are others out there?”….and the idea of HUM was born.

Who is the HUM consumer? What makes them tick?

Millennial women who feel empowered by knowledge, who like to invest in their beauty future and discover brands through reviews, social media and recommendations.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced introducing nutricosmetics to the US audience?

There are three major challenges: Patience, Knowledge and Attitudes towards problem solving. For nutrition to have an impact on your skin appearance takes time. Skin cells are built from the inside out and we tend to measure and see results after 6 and 12 weeks. There is also major disconnect between the true needs of an individual and what they really can benefit from. Lastly, we tend to isolate problems instead of looking at them in a holistic way. When we break out, our reaction is to squeeze or paint over it. Why not try to understand what causes the breakout and work on that?  This is why we at HUM place such an emphasis on education, providing every consumer with access to an registered dietitian to help them navigate the space.

Shopping for beauty products is a really complicated and personal process. What’s Hum’s take on beauty and how is it hoping to shape consumers’ relationship with beauty?

For that reason we turned this process upside down and made it fun, educational and highly personalized. This is probably the reason why we are growing so fast!

The majority of dermatologists are not trained in the field of nutrition. How do you predict this new profession of “beauty nutritionists” will develop over time?

Given the high demand for knowledge we are seeing at HUM, I do believe that more and more skin care professionals will want to educate themselves about nutrition. This includes dermatologists.

What are some of the biggest shifts you’ve been seeing in the beauty industry?

We focus on ingestible beauty, which is a rapidly growing new category, so the convergence of two previously unrelated industries is obviously a major shift with implications for years to come. Data is also critical to us, since we deliver a highly personalized experience to each of our customers. Lastly, transparency and involving your consumer in your company’s next move and NPD are definitely the way forward. The days when R&D pushed product to the marketing team are over.

What are some important consumer attitudes and behaviors around beauty that you see shaping the marketplace?  

Consumers are finally—and rightfully so— making the connection between appearance and nutrition, which translates into all sorts of attitudes. Labels are scrutinized more than ever, transparency is key and food ingredients that consumers can relate to are also making their way into topicals (for example probiotics and antioxidant-rich fruit). Building a brand top down through image no longer works. In our case, we like to empower our users through knowledge and education, which we provide through a free online nutritionist, our award winning blog and social media channels.

PSFK’s Beauty Debrief reveals how brands and retailers can build better products and deliver a more personalized experience to customers. Download the full report here, or request a presentation at your office. For full access to all of PSFK’s reports, debriefs, articles and archives, become a PSFK member today.

 

What if beauty could be ingested with a single pill? We’re not talking about health supplements in a traditional supermarket aisle, but hyper-personalized vitamins, minerals and botanicals handpicked by expert nutritionists and shipped right to your doorstep.

Welcome to the world of nutricosmetics—which is, essentially, what the word suggests—nutrition delivered in the form of cosmetics. After filling out a three-minute quiz, HUM Nutrition’s registered dietitians recommend personalized products based on your lifestyle and needs.