On Wednesday, aesthetics biotech company Revance debuted a new hyaluronic acid filler called RHA Collection, which will attempt to leverage the clean beauty narrative.
The RHA Collection features four different hyaluronic acid fillers, with each one meant for a different depth of injection, and designed for specific treatments or areas of the face. At present, only RHA II, III and IV are available. (RHA I is still undergoing FDA approval.) Revance claims the RHA Collection is formulated in a way that preserves the original molecular structure of hyaluronic acid, which means it can more closely resemble the hyaluronic acid that exists in the body and provide more natural aesthetic results. Revance’s marketing will highlight that the products are designed for specific areas of the face and specific purposes, and that the way they’re manufactured is a form of “clean beauty” because it forgoes unnecessary additives.
“The consumer[-facing] narrative will be about beauty being dynamic, and that this is the first and only FDA approved filler to be approved for dynamic facial wrinkles and folds We’ll talk about how it’s designed specifically for this type of dynamic movement and [accomplished] through clean beauty. Consumers need something simple, and this is the first designer filler created [as a] clean beauty product,” said Dustin Sjuts, Revance chief commercial officer. “
The rollout of the RHA Collection began with distributing to and educating 100 medical providers across the U.S. starting in August (until the end of 2020), before rolling out consumer activations and messaging. Sjuts said that heavier consumer outreach via advertising and marketing will occur in 2021.
Vanessa Coppola, founder and nurse practitioner at New Jersey-based Bare Aesthetic medspa, described the RHA Collection as a “smart and well-curated” line that eliminates the guesswork for providers.
“I definitely see from my patients a desire for high-performance, clean and safe products. And there is a linkage between what I consider to be clean beauty and clean science,” she said. “Clean science takes clean beauty one step further. It comes down to the laboratory and the engineering process of making a biosynthetic without the addition of accessory proteins, which are preservatives.”
The appropriation of the clean beauty narrative to describe the RHA Collection shows how clean beauty has ballooned beyond its origins of health and safety. It has now come to pass as a way to describe how pure a product’s main ingredients are, or as a way to describe that a product has fewer preservatives, filler ingredients or fewer alterations from its original state. The malleability of the terminology demonstrates not only how powerful the phrase “clean beauty” is in the beauty industry, but also what happens with the runaway train of marketing when terms are not clearly defined. Notably, retailers like Sephora, Target, Follain and The Detox Market have had to step in to create more cohesive standards of what counts as clean beauty, but even they cannot form a consensus. For example, when Sephora launched its Clean at Sephora label, it determined mineral oil as not clean, but polyethylene glycols or PEGs are. Credo, meanwhile, lists them both as no-no ingredients.
One such aesthetic injectable product that leverages this type of natural formulation concept already exists, though it has not quite latched onto the clean beauty conversation the way the RHA Collection is: A neuromodulator (also known as a neurotoxin) from Merz called Xeomin debuted in the U.S. in July 2018 and is used to inhibit muscle movement. It is billed as a “naked injectable” because it is “the only clinically proven anti-wrinkle injection uniquely purified to remove unnecessary proteins,” according to its website. What is key is that the removal of the proteins is not related to safety, so much as that it makes the body less likely to build antibodies which would degrade the product’s efficacy.
“[Revance’s approach] is not so much about safety, but it does fit with the attempt to remove all the extraneous active or inactive ingredients, or unnatural ingredients, to approximate what’s more naturally occurring in the body,” said Dr. Jeremy Brauer, an NYC-based dermatologist.