Innovative sheet mask works with electricity
They are affordable and effective for skin care and kind of fun to use. Some have quirky designs as a kind of bonus.
Jang Myoung-hoon, CEO and founder of BioSensor Laboratories, a bio-related start-up established in 2013, thought the humble sheet mask had even greater potential if given a premium upgrade.
“I thought ‘cheap but tolerable in quality’ was not enough,” said Jang in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily at the start-up’s headquarters inside Seoul National University in southern Seoul.
“I wanted to target a premium customer base with high-quality products even if that necessitated a higher price tag.”
BioSensor Laboratories’ flagship product is the Franz sheet mask using the company’s patented Tissue X technology, which triggers micro electricity through the mask to better deliver biomolecules like vitamins and hyaluronic acid to the skin. The sheet mask is equipped with its own micro-sized battery that generate green energy using the principles used in a salinity gradient power plant.
“Energy occurs when fresh water and salty sea water meet. Using this principle, we put multiple layers on each side of the sheet mask to produce one-time bursts of energy,” Jang explained. “It is green and effective.”
BioSensor Laboratories presented its core technology at the American Academy of Dermatology early this year and participated in an exhibition held by the academy in New York in July. The company obtained letters of intent for sales of $400,000 from local dermatology clinics.
Last month, it participated in a beauty fair in Tokyo where it got letters of intent for sales of 20 million yen ($176,000) from five local companies.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
Q. How did you decide to start a company that connects aesthetics with science?
A. The company wasn’t focused on aesthetics when it first came about. Collaborating with two professors from the chemistry and medical engineering departments at Seoul National University, our initial research focused on technology for bio sensor devices such as products to test blood sugar levels. The research gradually shifted, following the demands of the market. Now we use only about 20 percent on our initial project. We are also collaborating with a dermatologist from Samsung Hospital. It was a natural flow. Unlike other ventures that make products first and release them in the market, we reacted flexibly to market demand.
What was it the market wanted?
The market wanted products that are not “fairly good” but ones that are extremely innovative from startups like ourselves. Investors wanted products that have the potential to advance into big markets. By big markets, I don’t mean a market that’s worth 1 trillion won ($900 million) to 2 trillion won where a successful company is able to take profit up to about 100 billion won. I am talking about a market that’s worth tens of trillions of won where a successful company can make profits of up to hundreds of billion won. I meet customers from Japan and the United States and five out of 10 people I meet are highly impressed at the Reverse Electrodialysis technology that enables micro electricity within the sheet mask.
How does the company’s flagship Franz mask work?
It works based on two core technologies. One is the green ion cell technology that generates green energy through the aforementioned Reverse Electrodialysis technology. Another is this fabric that with the electricity triggered from the two sides, delivers biomaterial into the inner skin effectively. Currently, the pattern that delivers the electricity is evenly spread throughout the fabric, but we can alter the pattern depending on consumers’ skin concern such as making the pattern denser near eyes or jawlines to relieve wrinkles there. We’ve done six years of research on it to make a commercial product and have three patented technologies. We have applied for 25 more.
How does the market perceive the product?
It is currently sold in the United States, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand and Korea. In the United States and Japan, we retail it through premium aesthetics and dermatology clinics. In the United States, we are seeing a positive response because it is not invasive like some treatments done by clinics. Dermatological care has a strong effect but can result in an unnatural look. You have to wait a couple of days or even months to have either certain injections or skin care settle down and have a positive effect on the skin.
Based on the market data, we found that only 30 percent of those who went through those procedures were satisfied with the results. And it can be expensive. We say that you can enjoy similar effects with just 40,000 won in the comfort of your home. I know for a fact that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his family have enjoyed the product and ordered more.
What are the future plans for BioSensor Laboratories?
We are currently doing a lot of research in developing cures for skin cancer or toenail fungus. We are thinking about establishing a company in the United States to better collaborate with local doctors. The study would continue to be on something related to skin.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [email@example.com]