From humble beginnings in Southern California, Jane Wurwand’s Dermalogica skin care line has grown into the world’s most widely used professional brand. Wurwand’s success is based on result-oriented products, an “education first” philosophy, and professional product recommendations.
Dermalogica Founder Jane Wurwand Arrives in the U.S.
In 1983, native Briton Jane Wurwand arrived in California to join her now-husband Raymond, who was attempting to sell advanced skin care equipment to an industry obsessed with pretty packaging rather than science.
Wurwand was already a licensed skin care professional in England, a country with considerably more rigorous standards for becoming a skin therapist than the U.S. Realizing that her chosen industry was neither particularly well-respected nor strict in its licensing standards, Wurwand began teaching weekly classes in skin care techniques.
Dermalogica’s Origins: International Dermal Institute
Wurwand’s weekly classes became so popular that she opened a classroom in Marina Del Rey, California, naming it The International Dermal Institute. From the start, the IDI emphasized skin care as a health concern rather than a cosmetic fix.
Wurwand was unsatisfied with the skin products available to her students, finding that they caused as many problems (like irritation and dryness) as they solved. In 1986, with the help of a chemist, Wurwand developed the first products that would become the foundation of Dermalogica skin care.
With a “no junk” approach, Wurwand shunned industry-standard filler ingredients such as mineral oil, lanolin, artificial color, synthetic fragrance, and denatured alcohol in the Dermalogica line.
Dermalogica’s First Products
The Dermalogica brand began with five products: Special Cleansing Gel, Multi-Active Toner, Active Moist, Skin Smoothing Cream and Dermal Clay Cleanser. These first Dermalogica products are still strong sellers.
From these foundational products, Wurwand has grown Dermalogica, Inc. (a privately-held company d/b/a The Dermal Group) into a multi-national phenomenon with a dedicated and expanding customer base.
Dermalogica’s Focus on Professional Skin Therapists
A key component of Dermalogica’s brand identity is the professional skin therapist. Through IDI’s continuing education, Dermalogica focuses on training its representatives in Dermalogica-specific skin care techniques and deep knowledge of the product line.
For many years, Dermalogica took the official stance that customers should only purchase their products through their professionals after receiving a consultation or analysis. “[W]e support the licensed professional skin therapist 100% by not selling on the Internet or through mass market…[D]ue to the importance of prescribing our products to meet individual skin needs, we do not sell our products online, nor do we recommend that you purchase them online.”
Times have changed, however. Dermalogica, in response to competition from product resellers on the Internet during lean economic times, has begun officially selling its products online. The website has introduced Speed Mapping (a highly-abbreviated interactive form of its in-person Face Mapping) to assist first-time customers in selecting Dermalogica products.
Dermalogica’s Expanding Empire
Dermalogica is now headquartered in Carson, 18 miles south of Los Angeles. Dermalogica ships 44 million products each year from its Southern California base.
In addition to expanding its customer base by selling product online, Dermalogica’s skin care line is distributed through 6,500 skin care shops in the United States. Globally, Dermalogica has a presence in 48 countries, including “concept stores” located in Los Angeles, New York City, London, Dubai, Auckland, Berlin, and Mumbai. Over 75,000 professional skin therapists utilize Dermalogica products worldwide.
As a privately-held company, Dermalogica is not obligated to disclose their financial information, but experts estimate their earnings at over $100 million.
The IDI and Dermalogica Education
Since its humble 1983 single-classroom debut, Wurwand’s International Dermal Institute has expanded into 40 locations worldwide. In addition to acting as a training facility for current and future skin therapists, the IDI still serves as the research-and-development facility for Dermalogica products. Products are branded with the tagline “a skin care system researched and developed by The International Dermal Instutite”.
Dermalogica also maintains an online Education Center, through which qualified employees of Dermalogica-sanctioned companies can take classes in technique and product knowledge.
Jane Wurwand has maintained the single-minded focus on quality that revolutionized the skin care industry over 25 years ago. She arrived in the U.S. during the recession of the ’80s, and the Dermalogica empire continues to grow during our current recession. English emigrant Jane Wurwand embodies the American dream.