Kansoskin is a new local skincare brand co-founded by the sibling duo, Joanne and Abel Ang. Abel personally suffers from chronic eczema and topical steroid withdrawal. As such, he understands first-hand the anxiety, stress and frustration that comes with having compromised skin.
Joanne is a certified skincare formulator from an accredited cosmetic science school in the UK. Holding a Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation and an Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science, she and Abel founded Kansoskin on the belief that everyone deserves healthy skin. They also hope that Kansoskin will inspire everyone to feel good and be comfortable in their own skin, and to create a world where everyone is treated equally, regardless of the state of their skin. This is what they call “skinclusivity”. We speak to the siblings to find out more about the brand and their stories.
Q: Abel, could you tell us more about your diagnosis with eczema and how it has affected your life so far?
Abel (A): I had low self-esteem and could no longer do many activities such as going to the beach. I had difficulty falling asleep due to the intense itch, which made waking up in the morning difficult as well.
Q: We understand that due to the side effects of steroid creams, you developed a syndrome called red skin syndrome (RSS). What are some of the challenges faced due to this?
A: Intense itching, body weeping and it was hard to regulate my body temperature (could get overheated or cold easily) and nerve pain. I had to keep vacuuming the house due to the sheer amount of skin flaking too.
Q: How did you cope with all the various challenges and what did you find helped you cope better? Any advice for those suffering from similar skin conditions?
A: Reading theology and incorporating a good, balanced diet as well as regular exercise helped. Besides having a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, my advice is to try to control your stress levels. It is also helpful to find out your food allergies (e.g. fragrances, nickel, etc.) as those can trigger your skin.
Q: How did both of you come up with the idea to start Kansoskin?
A: My sister has always been interested in skincare and we decided to create a socially conscious skincare brand to help people with compromised skin conditions feel good about themselves while helping them find relief for their skin.
Q: How did the name Kansoskin come about?
Joanne (J): Inspired by the Japanese Zen philosophy, kanso means “simplicity”. We believe that clarity and honesty come from being simple. This is why we stripped away all the non-essentials, leaving only what truly matters. The delta symbol (in our logo) represents change. We believe that the simplest skincare routine can lead to positive skin changes and we hope to inspire self-love and acceptance by changing the perception of compromised skin conditions. In essence, Kansoskin represents “changes that simply matter”.
Q: Could you share with us a little bit about the journey that led up to the founding of Kansoskin?
J: The 4 biggest challenges that we faced were:
- The lack of business acumen; the learning curve in starting a new business was especially steep for both of us
- We are fully self-funded, which means that we have to boot-strap in many ways. However, one of the key areas we do not compromise on is product development and choice of raw materials. The beauty industry is already very cluttered. We wanted to make sure we are not putting unnecessary products out there. This is why we take a very mindful approach when we create a new product.
- Fearmongering in the beauty industry. Many skincare marketing tactics tap on people’s fear and insecurities to get more sales. Claims such as ‘natural equals better or safer’ is simply not true, and we refuse to be a part of this even though we know that fear sells.
- Having to put ourselves out there. Even though it is a way out of our comfort zones, we decided to let the world in our stories so that people can understand why we do what we do. We also hope to inspire people with skin conditions to accept and embrace themselves regardless of the state of their skin.
Q: What were some of the joys you faced founding Kansoskin?
J: Witnessing the birth of our first product, Simply Better Barrier™ (SBB) – a hydrating relief moisturiser! We’ve always wanted Kansoskin to be a feel-good skincare brand – not only how it feels on the skin, but also how our brand makes one feels. Thus, it truly brings us joy when we receive positive reviews from our customers that SBB provides relief for their skin and that it complements their skin really well. We’re also very happy when people with skin conditions feel seen, heard and accepted for who they are.
Q: What are your hopes for Kansoskin in the future?
J: My hope is to create more skincare formulations that respect the skin’s health and to break away from societal norms of projecting unrealistic beauty ideals. We will continue to create more awareness around various skin conditions to inspire self-acceptance, regardless of the appearance of one’s skin. I also hope that we will be able to contribute to various causes that we believe in.
Q: What changes do you hope to see in Singapore’s society when it comes to inclusivity and acceptance?
A: I hope that Singaporeans will be more aware of the dangers of the overuse of topical steroids and be more accepting of people with skin conditions.
J: I hope that everyone is given equal opportunities in life, regardless of the state of their skin. We want to integrate people with compromised skin into our social circle, leaving no one behind.
Singapore, being a first-world country, should not be a place where people with compromised skin continue to be bullied, ostracised or be unfairly treated. I hope that everyone can be treated kindly and with the respect that they deserve, with or without skin conditions.
Q: What would you like to see come out from this “skinclusivity” movement?
J: “Skinclusivity” is a hybrid of the words “skin” and “inclusivity”, to mean the acceptance of people of different types of skin conditions (such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, etc). Similar to body positivity, we believe that everyone is equal, regardless of the appearance of our skin.
Most skin conditions are not contagious and there is no need to treat those with skin conditions any differently. People fear what they don’t understand and I hope that with what we do, people are more aware of the different skin conditions and learn to embrace the differences. This way, we can hopefully end the social stigma surrounding these skin conditions. As such, I hope to inspire self-love and acceptance through this movement.
For more information about Kansoskin and to purchase their Simply Better Barrier™, please visit them at kansoskin.com.