An Interview with Jasmina Aganovic, Founder and CEO of Arcaea
founder and CEO, Arcaea
Please tell our readers more about your company Arcaea.
Arcaea is a biology-first beauty company. We are working with biology-centric technologies that have emerged and matured over the last few decades and pointing them at beauty to create new solutions, product experiences and categories. These technologies include biotechnology, fermentation, the skin microbiome, protein engineering and DNA sequencing. Our business model is to sell ingredients to brand developers and product formulators. In some cases, we may launch product lines of our own.
Your motto is ‘Beauty Revolution through Biology’. Do you think this change will dominate the beauty industry for good?
We prefer to talk about biology as a new tool that enables new creative opportunities. For example, if we look at how industrial chemistry has driven this industry to a $500B size, we can see how effective this single tool has been. At this size, we are of course learning about its limitations in some areas, and simultaneously consumer values and expectations are changing. This is where we believe biology can be powerful – both as a new tool that can start a new wave of innovation and growth in beauty, and also meet emerging and future values of consumers.
You recently launched a new pre-biotic blend for deodorants. Can you tell us more about your research and study?
Deodorants are a $25B market and the underlying science the industry has relied on is focused on blocking sweat, killing everything, or masking smell.
Through biology - we now understand that only a specific subset of microbes is responsible for producing those smells we don’t like, which is why not everyone smells the same or has the same experience with deodorants. We wanted to develop an active ingredient that doesn’t mask or kill, but instead naturally shifts our microbiome in a direction that does not smell.
The outcome is an ingredient called ScentARC which will start to replace the active ingredients in many of the deodorants on the market today.
This is exciting because our approach can create natural deodorants that actually work and thinking big - creates the possibility to choose how you want to smell that day.
How did the microbiome research influence the development of ScentARC?
Our work included isolating microbes from the underarm, studying their metabolism, understanding which ones produce unfavorable odors and which do not. From there we performed high throughput nutrient screens to understand how they responded to different nutrients. Then we loaded this data into a bioinformatics model to create predictive blends that would specifically shift the microbial ecosystem into a direction without smell. These are all tools that did not exist when the first deodorants were created.
Do you have any other products you are planning to launch or have developed already based on your principles?
Definitely! We view biology as a new creative tool that will touch every product category and that we have not yet even been able to imagine the full extent of its possibilities.
We are pursuing work in fragrance, sun care, as well as haircare. In case more detail is useful, I provide an example below.
Let’s take sun care: This category is critical for protecting consumers against skin cancer and photoaging, however, there is a lot of controversy at the moment, both from safety and the aesthetics of these products (such as the undesirable white cast). Through biology we can start to look elsewhere in nature for better ways to protect ourselves from the sun that are ethical and sustainable. At Arcaea we have been inspired by marine life - fish don’t get sunburned. We’ve been able to identify and recreate the molecules that do just that. This is exciting because it means safer sun care you love to use without the white cast, but on a more serious note, better compliance which can positively impact skin health.