When reviewing the beauty landscape, there are increasingly fewer companies that are built as family businesses. Today, the market skews heavily toward building a company and selling it at a faster-than-ever clip. Though deal flow continues to be hot, NuFace’s founders Carol Cole and her daughters, Tera Peterson and Kim Morales, are focused on building their brand while keeping themselves at the helm for as long as possible.
“My mom, my sister and I started NuFace back in 2005. My mom’s been an esthetician since the 1980s. After business school, I decided to go to esthetician school. We created our first device out of our family home in Leucadia, which is a little beach community of Encinitas [outside] San Diego,” said Peterson on the latest episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast.
Since founding the brand 17 years ago, NuFace has sold over 4 million devices. Peterson added that NuFace is up 24% in sell-through for 2022. The device category is typically a difficult market to create ongoing value, but NuFace has also avoided the fate of competitors, which saw initial buzz and interaction with their brands but never saw the repeat purchase.
“The innovation is key; that’s where typical devices fail,” she said. “They go, ‘OK, I’m gonna do X and then I’m going to launch this completely non-related other device.” Like, what are you? Are you cleansing? Are you microdermabrasion? It really confuses people, and that’s where other devices have really struggled. They don’t stay true to themselves.”
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
“We’re doing something that skin care alone can’t do. The thing with Clarisonic was that their biggest competition was someone’s hands. You can wash your face with your hands or a washcloth. … For NuFace, unless you’re gonna do facial exercise, which, let’s be honest, I know I’m not going to do, it’s a tech [where] we’re going beyond. There are really few alternatives to lift, tone and contour the facial muscles. [That’s] why clients have loved NuFace for 17 years. It delivers instant results, so you could literally lift half your face, and you’re going to see your eyebrows lifted, your cheekbones are more contoured and sculpted, and your jaw lines are more lifted and contoured. You didn’t have to go to your esthetician; you can do that at home. Now, especially in this age where we’re all busy — we’re all running a million miles a minute — we can’t go to our esthetician as frequently as we want. … Now you have an esthetician at your fingertips where you can be in bed relaxing, watching TV and lifting your face.”
The case for skin-care products
“We are deep-seated in microcurrent. That’s where we come from. That’s where our education is. That’s what we know. With microcurrent, there are ingredients that are compatible with microcurrent, and then there are ingredients that are not compatible with microcurrent. And so we always educate in our user manual to use an oil-free cleanser before you use your NuFace, because you don’t want any makeup [or] any debris; you don’t want SPF or oil [to] block the microcurrent. … So the question we would get from our clients is, ‘Which cleanser am I supposed to use?’ ‘Can I use this cleanser?’ It would be too hard to go and test every single cleanser to see if it had oil or it blocked the current. … [Our products] will always be tied back to prepping your skin for NuFace. The last thing we want to do is compete with all of these skin-care brands; there are so many amazing skin-care products out there. … I always educate my clients to go to the specialist. If you get an SPF, I’m obsessed with Supergoop. I’m obsessed with IS Clinical. I’m obsessed with Elta MD. Go to where the specialists are. Don’t be someone that wants to be everything.”