Luxury skincare brand Noble Panacea has a strong foundation in science as the creation of Nobel Laureate and chemist, Sir Fraser Stoddart. Launched in 2019, the brand’s products are powered by technology invented by Sir Fraser that offers proven ingredient integrity and efficacy with every use. Belinda Craigie speaks with Noble Panacea CEO Celine Talabaza to find out more about the science behind the brand, why sustainability presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the industry, and why actor Jodie Comer joined as brand ambassador.
What is your experience in the beauty industry?
I have always worked in beauty. I understood at quite a young age, the possibility of creating disruptive formulas and catering them to different needs globally, with the aim of making people feel good about themselves no matter what beauty meant to them in their own countries. It was an obvious choice for me, as it balances my love for science and my passion for art and visual aesthetics.
I have been working in the beauty industry for the past 15 years, mostly in brand development and strategy crafting within multinational corporations such as L’Oréal, LVMH, and Unilever. I led global, regional, and local brand portfolios across international markets in Paris, Madrid, New York City, Singapore and, most recently, Zurich.
How did you come to be the CEO of Noble Panacea?
It was rather unexpected. After a wonderful encounter with Sir Fraser, I was enabled in ways that were very refreshing and empowering. I spent a lot of time understanding the Organic Super Molecular Vessel (OSMV™) technology. Deep-diving into its unique and ground-breaking properties was mind-blowing.
After leading extensive market research and exploring formulation calibrations, I started recruiting a stellar team at Noble Panacea. Lots of hard work and commitment were involved. In October 2019, we launched the brand in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a once-in-a-lifetime, curated gathering of the most eclectic guests including Sir Fraser Stoddart, 2016 Nobel Laureate, and his friends and colleagues; incredibly talented journalists; as well as diverse, accomplished women who are thought leaders in their fields ranging from philanthropy, art, architecture, photography and beyond.
Was there anything in particular about Noble Panacea that excited and intrigued you to join the brand?
The most exciting aspect, for me, was to be able to co-create with Sir Fraser, knowing he was personally involved in the project. Every second spent under his mentorship offers food for thought, it is incomparable.
The possibility of creating – from scratch – a brand, a mission, a message around an existing technology (and not the other way around) sounded like a project with solid scientific fundamentals, transparency and authenticity, which is also very differentiating.
With the brand being so strongly informed by science, how do you ensure the benefits of the products are clearly communicated to your customers?
Science, chemistry, and the OSMV are at the core of everything we do. Education is also where we come from; Sir Fraser Stoddart is a Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University in Chicago and has mentored more than 500 PhD students during his career.
We spend a lot of time creating educational content about the technology, its production process, the ingredients we use, the ingredients we chose not to use, the reason why we opted for an octagonal white box free of plastic and recyclable daily doses.
We also partnered with a wonderful team of professionals including the best dermatologist in New York City, the best facialist in Los Angeles and extremely talented make-up artists around the world who can echo our message in a technical and relevant way for our clients.
Can you briefly explain how Noble Panacea’s OSMV technology, which I understand originated from Sir Fraser Stoddart’s Nobel Prize-awarded research, works to ensure an efficacious product?
Today, the industry usually focuses on quality or type of ingredient but the work for an efficient skincare solution does not stop here. We should all look at how to get these ingredients to perform as they are intended. The reality is that when a cream is applied to the skin, the majority of its intended ingredient action fades or is muted after a short while.
The Organic Super Molecular Vessel is a safe, green, very precise encapsulation system. Each OSMV isolates and houses each active ingredient, preserving its potency while precisely controlling its release into the skin. Isolating ingredients within their own vessel also prevents interaction with other ingredients that could potentially compromise an ingredient’s efficacy.
The OSMVs travel through the skin layer, each vessel is programmed to deliver the active ingredient for absorption at the optimal moment. They coordinate sequential action by administering targeted treatment that triggers the continuous regenerative capacity of the skin, ensuring the ultimate efficacy.
In studies, we found that ingredients housed in OSMV exhibited a controlled release, remaining within the therapeutic window with improved ingredient activity and long-lasting formula efficacy by more than tenfold, compared to ingredients without OSMV.
OSMV is proven to control when an individual ingredient is released. Noble Panacea products work continuously throughout the day for optimal efficacy and results. Ingredients with OSMV showed an improved penetration and superior absorption of more than 200 per cent, compared to ingredients on their own.
Perhaps one of the more discernible differences in the Noble Panacea line is its single-dose packaging – what was the motivation for that?
The OSMV, so safe and so complex at the same time, is, for the time being, sensitive to air and light. For this reason, our formulas are packaged in Active Daily Doses, preventing the technology and the ingredients from oxidation, degradation, instability, and bacterial contamination.
The Active Daily Dose was the only way to ensure that the natural integrity, purity, and efficacy of our products are maximally protected from creation in our laboratory to your beauty ritual at home. And, in addition, they are 100 per cent recyclable through a partnership with Terracycle.
In what ways has the consumer demand for sustainable beauty informed the development of the products and packaging?
Sustainability, the health of our planet, is one very important topic for Sir Fraser. His career was always dedicated to green chemistry. Even in product formulation, we use green and biodegradable processes via extraction technology that is respectful of the environment, as well as reusing and re-purifying water in our OSMV production.
As individuals building a new brand, we had to propose a sustainable alternative for the industry. We hold social and environmental responsibility in the highest regard, every step of the way. Our carefully crafted formulas are packaged and shipped in eco-friendly, renewable, recyclable, and certified sustainable materials. Our minimalist, iconic white clamshell is plastic-free, made from starch and still stands as the desired design object.
Despite the complexity that implies, we still made a choice to provide the most sustainable packaging options because there is a true intention to make things right. Our Active Daily Doses are designed to create 15 times less plastic waste versus a jar or a pump bottle and, in addition, are all recyclable thanks to Terracycle.
All the papers we use are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified, made from responsibly sourced wood fibre. In January, we launched our Refills, which allows our clients to keep the box and only refill the doses.
Noble Panacea will always look to improve efforts towards building a responsible beauty journey. Sustainability has no compromise; although we are a new player, we hope we will trigger new behaviour in the industry. Our clients demand transparency and traceability, and rightly so.
How did your brand partnership with actor Jodie Comer arise?
I was looking for somebody who would be able to embody our values in a modern way: a smart, elegant woman with an understated luxury understanding. Jodie is a contemporary, genuine inspiration who embodies the Noble Panacea woman.
There is the right balance and intention in her, comprising the true meaning of authentic beauty. She is so radiant, talented, brilliant, and so humble at the same time. We are thrilled to work with such a dynamic talent, as we both continue to grow and disrupt the beauty industry. She has dedicated herself to her craft in the same way our founder, Sir Fraser Stoddart, has to his, with tremendous success and even more promise for the future.
What do you see as the beauty industry’s biggest challenge?
Of course, it is sustainability: how to change consumer mindsets when purchasing beauty products; how to shift giant, established chains of production to, most likely, expensive sustainable supply chains, which is very challenging for well-established companies; how to lead design management with product end-of-life sustainable considerations as the key focus; and how to promote transparency and traceability, from the selection of ingredients to chains of production, to where the empty packaging will be treated.
Another challenge is the current misconception of luxury. In my view, luxury should be synonymous with three important characteristics we tend to forget:
– Quality: real results, no harmful ingredients. Noble Panacea is the only skincare brand founded by a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.
– Craft: how many people can create your product? The savoir-faire of our scientists working directly with Sir Fraser is completely unique; the OSMV is so sophisticated and complex. Noble Panacea is the only skincare brand able to propose this type of formulation sophistication today.
– Sustainability: choosing the best option for the environment is still the most expensive option, due to supply. Hopefully, this will change.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Bet on your strengths, identify them, deep-dive, master and excel in them. But this is not enough as your strengths might become irrelevant with time, so keep growing incremental knowledge and understanding, never hesitate to ask for help, surround yourself with excellence, keep asking questions, maintain curiosity throughout everything, with everyone.
What’s next for Noble Panacea?
Our team of scientists are relentlessly manipulating molecules and are focusing on the immense possibilities of the OSMV technology and its impact on the chronobiology of the skin. It is as promising as it is exciting.
Something I am personally most proud of is Noble Panacea’s long-standing partnership with GirlUp, which is a global leadership development initiative that is part of the United Nations Foundation, positioning girls to be the leaders of tomorrow. The partnership came about organically, as our founder, Sir Fraser, holds mentorship and education close to his heart.
Most recently, we launched the first-ever STEM Scholarship offered as part of The Girl Up Scholarship Fund. Its purpose is to mitigate the financial burdens of post-secondary education. Members of the Girl Up community globally have applied for scholarships to facilitate their pursuit of education in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math and the results will be announced in July during the Girl Up Leadership Summit.