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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Skincare fit for a prince

Descendent of Russian monarchy follows in his father's footsteps in developing a Swiss skincare line
The Sunday Times - March 28, 2014
By: STACEY CHIA
| More
Skincare fit for a prince Prince Massalsky, who was born in Sweden, set up Skincode, which is a more affordable alternative to his father’s Swiss Line brand. -- PHOTO: SKINCODE

The founder of Swiss skincare brand Skincode is a prince, but his title is not something he wants to dwell on.

During the 45-minute interview with Urban, Prince Niclas Massalsky summed up his family's dynastic heritage in all of three minutes and spent the rest of the time discussing his 16-year-old anti-ageing brand.

The 47-year-old is a descendent of Rurik the Viking, who founded the first modern Russian monarchy in the ninth century.

The Massalskys used to rule the town of Mossalsk and surrounding territories in Central Russia more than 1,000 years ago. Sons and daughters of the Massalsky family were given the title Prince or Princess - which Prince Massalsky assures is nothing more than just a title today.

Like many teenagers growing up, he held summer jobs. When his father was an executive at American cosmetics company Revlon in the 1970s and 1980s, he helped out in the brand's warehouse in Sweden and in the marketing department in New York City to earn extra allowance.

Prince Massalsky, who was born in Sweden, says that his father influenced him to enter the beauty industry.

His father, Prince Michael Massalsky, left Revlon to become president of Swiss brand La Prairie in 1988 and in 1989, started his own anti-ageing skincare brand Swiss Line.

The younger Prince Massalsky joined Swiss Line in 1995, after working in advertising, marketing and insurance sales.

"My dad was in the beauty industry since I was 10 and remained there ever since. When the opportunity came to join the family business, I didn't have to think twice," says Prince Massalsky, who is married with three children.

After working for his father for three years, he decided to set up his own skincare line, Skincode, which he says is a more affordable alternative to Swiss Line.

Other Swiss anti-ageing brands available then were La Prairie and Valmont, which were just as expensive as Swiss Line.

"People came to us and asked for a Swiss made anti-ageing range that was not so expensive," says Prince Massalsky.

"The Swiss flag has always been a seal of quality and trust and you could charge a little extra," he says.

Prices of products from Swiss Line, which are not available in Singapore, are about three times higher than Skincode. Skincode products range from $46 to $228 and are available at Guardian.

SWISS SEAL OF QUALITY

To create something more affordable and different from what existed in the market, he spent time at a burns unit in a Swiss hospital where he learnt about CM-Glucan, a medical ingredient used to treat burn patients and babies with eczema.

He then worked with dermatologists to find ways to make CM-Glucan the main ingredient in his products. While CM-Glucan is used in other skincare brands, he says they do not use it the way Skincode does.

For example, the brand's bestseller, the 24 hour Cell Energizer Cream ($88), contains 2 per cent of CM-Glucan.

"CM-Glucan, in combination with other key ingredients and no irritants, gives you healthy skin. Only when you have healthy skin can you have beautiful skin," he says.

The brand has a total of 35 products, divided into two lines.

The Skincode Essentials line is for a daily maintenance regimen and contains CM-Glucan. Products in this range start from $46 for the Gentle Eye & Lip Make-up Remover Gel to $104 for the Daily Defence and Recovery Cream.

The other line is Skincode Exclusive, which is said to provide immediate results in minimising wrinkles. It is more expensive, with products ranging from $62 for the Cellular Cleansing Milk to $228 for the Cellular Power Concentrate serum. Skincode Exclusive was launched in 2002.

The key ingredient in Skincode Exclusive is the Active Cellular Regenerating Complex, which was created by the company to fight against ageing at the cellular level.

HONESTY IN PRODUCT CLAIMS

Like many skincare brands, Skincode is free of preservatives, artificial fragrances, animal derivatives and artificial colours.

The brand is carried by 12 Guardian outlets, including at Takashimaya Shopping Centre and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Prince Massalsky says stocking the products in a pharmacy was a natural fit for the brand which considers itself a dermatology skincare brand.

As the brand is fairly new to the Singapore market, he was unable to provide sales figures. Customers here range from their late 20s to 60s.

Aside from Singapore, Skincode is sold in 41 other countries including Switzerland, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, France and Italy.

Currently, Asia and the Middle East account for about 70 per cent of its sales. The brand has grown by about 14 per cent every year between 2007 to last year.

The company introduces no more than three new products a year and Prince Massalsky does not see that changing any time soon. He says the company is more focused on taking time to create "highly effective products rather than simply following market trends".

"Our sales do not depend on new launches - our sales depend on the people who come back and buy the products that they've been using for the last few years," he says.

One lesson that he says that he has picked up from his beauty industry veteran father: "In terms of product claims, never exaggerate or lie about what you can do, because sooner or later, you will be caught."

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