The Allies of Skin founder opens up about his mental health journey and how his skincare company saved his life.
by Jessica Toscano May 26, 2023
After an accidental face plant to the bathroom floor led Nicolas Travis to six facial reconstructive surgeries, two infections, necrosis, permanent scarring, and years of crippling depression, the Allies of Skin founder emerged with the skincare brand that saved his life. Today, he credits his darkest moments to the success of his company, which has reached celebrity status with stellar reviews from stars like model Kaia Gerber and actress January Jones. Travis chatted with Intrigue about how helping others with their skin concerns has helped him heal during his mental health journey and what's in store for the future of the brand.
The idea for Allies of Skin came after several traumatic experiences with facial reconstruction and years of personal struggles with mental health. Why was it so important to you to create a brand that bridged the gap between the two?
Nicolas Travis: [Allies of Skin] is the only thing I want to do with my life. The silver lining for all I went through is that it gave me a sense of purpose. I want to help people feel joy in their skin. There's so much power in that, and I would like to pay it forward because [my journey] could have gone much worse.
You built your company on three products. Can you tell us what those products are and why you chose them as the beginning of your brand?
NT: The first three products were our Peptides & Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment, Molecular Saviour Probiotics Treatment Mist, and Retinal & Peptides Repair Night Cream. They are the building blocks of every skincare routine, and everyone is looking for that perfect treatment moisturizer that delivers visible results.
So, I took the most efficacious ingredients, like proven peptides and encapsulated retinaldehyde (retinal), and supercharged them with probiotics and multiple brilliant antioxidants for maximum skin benefits.
How has your company since expanded, and what is the current focus of your brand?
NT: We've seen a lot of growth in the past three years. We went from five employees in 2020 to 50 today. We have teams in Singapore, Berlin, and Bangkok. I'm proud to say that we hire 20 nationalities, and we speak a collective of 30 languages. We're sold in 30 countries and are the most widely distributed Singaporean beauty brand with retailers like Sephora ASEAN, Cult Beauty, JCPenney, Walmart, Space NK, Mecca, Galeries Lafayette, Revolve, and Niche Beauty amongst many others.
Our current focus is to develop groundbreaking formulas, introducing brilliant ingredients like epidermal growth factor (EGF) into our portfolio.
After years of low self-esteem due to facial scarring, how does it feel to hear about celebrities like model Kaia Gerber exclusively using your skincare brand?
NT: It feels surreal. It's not lost on me that someone like Kaia, who relies on her face and skin for a living, is using the products I created because I hated my face and skin. Celebrities aside, a part of me is healed when I hear our customers sharing how our products have helped them with their confidence and self-esteem.
At the start of Allies of Skin, you vowed to always find a way to make the brand and its mission a success, no matter the obstacle. In fact, you have a tattoo of your brand’s name and credit it as your reason for persevering on your hardest days. Why is the success of this brand so important to you and your mental health journey?
NT: I believe the world doesn't need another beauty brand. It needs a new one. One that celebrates imperfections and scars, and one that is a safe space for everyone. I don't view success as mere cash or more significant net worth; I view success as the ability to be of service and spread joy and love. If we can keep creating products that give people joy, we will have served our purpose.
What about mental health do you wish people better understood?
NT: Healing is not linear. You have good days and bad days. Time does heal, but only if you forgive — be it forgiving yourself or the people who have hurt you. You don't forgive for others, and forgiving someone doesn't mean that they've won; it just means that the hurt can't bring you down anymore. You forgive for yourself so you can be free of the hurt.
You can have a miracle or a grievance. You can't have both.
What does the future of Allies of Skin look like?
NT: It looks very bright. We have incredible formulations just waiting to be launched and brilliant retailers we can go deep with. I'm looking forward to introducing brilliant active ingredient complexes that have not been done before and showing the incredible results from the clinical trials that we have planned.