A peek behind the scenes at Dermalogica

How beauty maven Jane Wurwand harnessed the success of Dermalogica to support women entrepreneurs around the world.

Dermalogica - Main Image

Photos courtesy of Dermalogica. Main Photo, Deepti Suddul.

Beauty is hard. You may think I’m kidding, but that is something I’ve learned from years spent in women’s publishing. From sunscreen to BB creams (CC and DD creams too), we’re inundated with cosmetic products and their lists of complex ingredients, along with promises to enhance beauty and prevent everything from crow’s feet to muffin tops (who coins these phrases?). Without a degree in chemistry or molecular science, it’s tricky to know which products actually work.

Enter Jane Wurwand, a U.K.-born skin therapist who recognized that women needed a better understanding of basic skin health. In 1983, she opened a small beauty school in Marina del Rey, California, called The International Dermal Institute (IDI), and invited licensed skin therapists to become skin-care educators.

At IDI, Wurwand taught the idea of “skin health, not skin indulgence.” While seeking out products to support her philosophy, she quickly identified a void in the billion-dollar beauty market, so, three years after she opened IDI, she and her husband and business partner, Ray, created Dermalogica. Her vision was to develop cruelty-free products without common irritants and harsh ingredients, and sell them only through IDI-trained therapists. Turned out, she was onto something.

Today, Dermalogica is a multi-million-dollar empire with well over 100 products represented in 80 countries. IDI has trained more than 75,000 professional skin therapists. But the real beauty of Wurwand’s success is how she has parlayed her brand into a platform to improve the lives of women and children internationally.

When Wurwand was only a toddler, her father died suddenly and her mother was left to raise four daughters alone with limited means. Now a mother of two herself, Wurwand started the Dermalogica Foundation in 1999 to help marginalized women and children attain economic security.

More recently, she launched FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) to help women start or grow their businesses through access to micro-loans. Already, FITE has funded more than 50,000 loans in 68 countries — and many of the recipients are well on their way to building their dream enterprises, like Wurwand herself did. Now that I think about it, she makes this beauty thing look pretty easy.

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