Next in our Rule Breaker series is Dr. Sejal Patel, Founder, and CEO of Plantkos.
Plantkos is a Phytomedicinal skincare brand for melanated skin that launched last year. Created with the understanding that your skin is more than meets the eye, Plantkos formulas address layer upon delicate layer with proprietary and clinically tested* Phytomedicinal Complexes that target the top three skin concerns of people with melanated skin —inflammation, dehydration, and hyperpigmentation — at once.
Read on to know more about Plantkos and Sejal’s journey.
1. What was your inspiration behind this business?
About almost 10 years ago our daughter was diagnosed with a skin condition called pigmentary mosaicism where the pigment of the skin gets uneven. Her skin had become very dry because of this condition. And as the lighter area of her skin doesn’t have much pigment to produce, whenever she goes out in the sun, the lighter areas stay the same, while darker areas get darker.
Being a mother I was very concerned for her and wanted to do something to help her. So as a pharmacist, I began to monitor what I was putting on her body. I started reading the ingredients in her skincare products. That’s where researching the ingredients started.
Fast forward, about 6-7 years ago, I, too, started facing skin problems. My skin became dry and flaky and started breaking out. I looked at the ingredients of the products that I was using. And as a pharmacist, I figured that the ingredients of these products were so that they could target only one skin problem at a time, and because of that, they would worsen the other problems. For example, the products I was using for acne would make my skin so dry that it would feel itchy and if I applied a moisturizer to it, my skin would start breaking out again. So I started researching products that would address these problems without any side effects. That’s how the entire line of Plantkos started.
2. Many celebrities and influencers are releasing their skincare and make-up lines almost every month. How is your skincare line different from theirs?
The good thing is that now there are many options available in the market in terms of skincare and people can choose them depending on their skin’s needs. However, what differentiates Plantkos from other brands is that I have done extensive research on the problems that I am trying to solve. Every product from our line addresses three problems: hyperpigmentation, dehydrated skin, and irritated skin. To be able to do that I had to combine the ingredients in a way that they were synergistic with each other. It took me 3 years to come up with formulations that were acceptable to me. I also combined Ayurveda with western science based on clinical studies. So it is a science-based, science-first formulation put together by a pharmacist. And on top of that, every single product is clinically tested in a way that we may be one of the first Indie brands to do it. All the products are tested on human skin that is grown in the lab. The test results are available in terms of 10 minutes, 6 hours, and 24 hours after applying our products.
3. Korean skincare has a 10 steps routine. Some people suggest 3 or 4 steps; as the CEO of a skincare brand, how many steps would you suggest?
For me it’s not necessarily about steps, it is more about meeting your skin’s needs. My mom always taught me not to mess with my skin and do only what is necessary. So for Plantkos, we have 5 products and each one of them serves a purpose. There is a cleanser to clean your skin, then we have an essence instead of toner because our skin needs replenishment after cleansing. The third product is a serum to get your skin back to its natural pH. Then comes a moisturizer for your skin followed by an SPF for the daytime.
So it’s a 4 to 5 step routine. But again, you should look at what your skin needs. If you put on heavy makeup, you may need a double to cleanse, but if you don’t have any makeup on, I don’t think a double cleanse is necessary.
4. People these days are going on a “skincare diet.” It is a relatively new concept. What is your take on it?
If you don’t overindulge in products, you don’t need a skincare diet. Listen to what your skin needs and pay attention to what products you are using because sometimes people may put on a Vitamin C serum and follow it with a hyaluronic acid serum. But if you look closely at the ingredients list, a good vitamin C serum has hyaluronic acid in it.
So my take on it is doing what you can stick to.
5. What challenges did you face at the start of your business?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was/is, brand awareness. I am not an influencer nor a celebrity with thousands of followers to launch to.
Also, being a novice in the beauty industry, there are many lessons to learn, like how to navigate this industry and who to connect with. But I was fortunate to have found a talented team of advisors and consultants that truly help me navigate the waters of the beauty industry.
6. What is the story behind the name ‘Plantkos’?
All of our products are vegan-friendly. . Plants are a key source of a lot of medicines, whether Ayurvedic or western, we use, And I wanted to recognize and highlight this. In Sanskrit, the word Kosha means skin and layers. I combined Plant and a short form of kosha (kos) to create Plantkos – plant-based products for your skin that go deeper into your skin layers.