Decoding NIOD: My Interview with the DECIEM Lab

In 2020, it’s likely that if you have skin, you know about The Ordinary.  This skincare brand launched in 2016 (yes, just 4 years ago) with the ethos of radical transparency and accessible prices has transformed the way that many approach caring for their skin.  DECIEM, the company behind The Ordinary was created around the idea of doing 10 things at once and having the ultimate goal of creating 10 brands.  The Ordinary’s sister brand, NIOD (Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science) remains somewhat of a hidden gem among skincare enthusiast.  In contrast to its sibling, NIOD’s formulas are quite complex, using unique technologies to target common and often stubborn skin concerns.  I fell in love with this brand during the past year due to the elegance of its formulations and overall approach to skincare.

What follows is an interview I was lucky enough to conduct with the lab behind NIOD and the rest of DECIEM’s brands.  It is being published in conjunction with a giveaway event I am running on my Instagram page where  you can win a complete NIOD regimen.  Please note that links in this article may generate affiliate commission that helps keep this blog going!

Sanskrit Saponins - 90ml

Sanskrit Saponins

This product is one of my favorite cleanser finds of 2020.  It’s described as a deep cleanser to be used every other day at most.  What surprised me was how gentle it was on my skin.  I never feel “stripped” after using it.

Dr. Angelo Landriscina:  This product is unlike most other cleansers or cleansing balms on the market. What advantages does the use of plant saponins offer over traditional surfactants found in other cleansers?

DECIEM Lab: Sanskrit Saponins is an intense cleansing balm formulated with highly-concentrated and unrefined Ayurvedic plant surfactants. These plant saponins target all forms of build-up, visible signs of congestion and facial impurities. Plant saponins are able to clean the skin’s surface without peeling the skin, and cleanse pores of sebum buildup. This removal of the skin’s natural oils allows for the complete cleansing of the skin and encourages the skin’s natural recycling of its own oils. These plant saponins do this without removing the oils too aggressively which would result in excessively drying out the skin leading to overproduction of oils. Within our formulation we have also included the amino acid Arginine to neutralize the pH of the formulation making it more isotonic, which will help minimize the likelihood of one experiencing a stinging sensation to the eyes. Modern day or “traditional” surfactants used in cleansers focus more on removing oil and surface level dirt, they largely leave the pores unclean of bacteria, dirt, and oils. The modern surfactants that do target deep cleaning often times are overly harsh and interact tightly with the skin’s bonds leaving skin raw and exposes the lower layers of skin to environmental factors that may accelerate the visible signs of aging. Plant saponins are a happy medium in which they provide intense cleansing and encourage the skin’s natural oil recycling process without leaving the skin in a vulnerable and damaged state. Also, a lot of traditional facial cleansers are foaming and their perceived cleansing ability is attributed to their level of foaming, whereas our formula steers away from this convention as our product is non-foaming but still offers superior facial cleansing.

Flavanone Mud - 100ml

Flavanone Mud

This mask scared me at first.  The idea of multiple “phases” working together on the skin and the tingling sensation it causes had me thinking that it wouldn’t agree with my sensitive skin.  However, I found that this mask was effective at minimizing the appearance of my pores without causing irritation.

AL: The formulation of this product is complex compared to a lot of other masks we’re used to seeing. Could you give me an overview of how the three “phases” work together?

DL: The Flavanone Mud mask is made up of a purifying phase, a protective phase, and a responsive phase. The purifying phase is the phase that is most closely aligned with masques as they are known today, it works to solubilize and remove surface level impurities like pollutants, excess sebum buildup, and cosmetic buildup while respecting and supporting the skin’s surface barrier integrity. The second phase is protective, it offers an innovative approach to decongestion using technologies that target the removal of small particles that help protect the skin from the various effects of urban pollution. The protective phase also contains technologies that target the appearance of uneven skin tone, by targeting the potential damaging effects of free-radicals that may result in the appearance of dark spots, and technologies that work to soothe the skin of signs of sensitivity. These technologies within the protective phase work to offer a physical shield against external buildup to battle congestion. Finally, the third phase, called the responsive phase aims to offer support against environmental congestion factors. This phase combines the ingredients that work to trigger topical visible detoxification through the deep cleansing ability of a highly purified flavanone and the slow increase of a natural acid, through a precursor, which provides a support in the repair of the skin without disrupting the dermal pH or density. The combination of these three phases work together to provide a topical purification process that allows for a form of sustained visible radiance that is not “fabricated” through short-term inflammation or peeling. Our Flavanone Mud mask is very unique in comparison to the standard masks one would see currently on the shelves today. Typical masks quite often tend to be patchy and because of that a thick layer of product must be applied to get even coverage, this means a lot of the product used is not actually in direct contact with the skin. FM is unique and different in this aspect as well; one can use a small amount of product and our formulation allows for an even and thin spread across the entire surface of the face. Many standard formulations use volatile solvents, such as silicones or alcohols to dry the formulation upon application, which can oftentimes be overly drying, our formulation naturally and automatically dries without the inclusion of such volatiles.

Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist (SDSM2) - 240ml

Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist

Many of us are familiar with the concept of using antioxidants to boost our sun protection strategies during the day (think vitamin C).  This mist has become a cult favorite for harnessing the power of enzymes to do the work of scavenging free radicals.  The spray format makes it easy to apply to face, neck and chest with ease.

AL: This product offers a high concentration of superoxide dismutase. Can you give us an overview of how it’s stabilized in the product? What is the advantage of using superoxide dismutase over other antioxidants?

DL: The enzyme used within the Superoxide Dismutase Mist is a Yeast-Derived Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) which is one of the most fast acting and stable naturally occurring enzymes. It is a biotechnologically derived enzyme from a natural yeast strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.​ When it comes to the first line of defense against environmental stressors, there are a collection of naturally occurring antioxidants that come into action to neutralize the damaging potential of these stressors. Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is the most powerful endogenous antioxidant enzyme of that first line of defense. It facilitates the breakdown of the superoxide radical into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. In addition to that, SOD also works in synergy alongside Catalase and Glutathione Peroxidase to respectively dismutase superoxide radical, breakdown hydrogen peroxides and hydroperoxides to harmless molecules (H2O2/alcohol and O2).

Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex MMHC2 - 30ml

Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex 2

The greatest hyaluronic acid serum of all time.  FULL STOP.  If you’ve been following me for a while you know how much I love this product.  Why?  The formula harnesses the power of HA not just for hydration but also to provide visible plumping of the skin.  Whenever I wear this I feel like a plump, dewy cherub.

AL: This is one of my favorite products of all time. It’s widely known that the use of multiple weights of hyaluronic acid is ideal for providing a plumping effect. How did the lab land on the 15 different types of HA in this product? How do they work together?

DL: MMHC2 contains 15 various hyaluronic compounds, these are not all direct forms of hyaluronic acids, but a combination of HA pre-cursors, Hyaluronic support complexes, and HA mimetics. Direct forms of Hyaluronic Acid offer pro-repair support beyond basic water hydration, which helps improve the elastic appearance of the skin. Hyaluronic pre-cursors work to support and enhance the synthesis of Hyaluronic Acid and various other cellular components within the skin to aid in the maintenance of hydration and the skin’s structural integrity resulting in the reduction in appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. HA Support Complexes aid in the prevention of HA degradation to support the protection of Hyaluronic Acid through their involvement in the process of decreasing the breakdown of HA by certain enzymes. Resulting in the optimization of Hyaluronic Acid levels and function. Hyaluronic Acid mimetics are compounds that behave very similarly to that of HA and share similar mechanisms of moisturization. Since they follow slightly different mechanisms these are great in combination with HA to increase moisturization of the skin by encouraging the skin’s surface to attract atmospheric water more readily and through the ability to bind water. All 15 of these various HA complexes also differ in molecular weights ranging from very low to high molecular weights, this variation in molecular weight allows for multi-depth hydration within the skin that allows for longer lasting visible results. This combination allows for various approaches in topical hyaluronic supplementation, which work together to offer hydration, improve the appearance of plumpness, elasticity, and overall healthy-looking skin.

Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 - 30ml

Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1

While there are a lot of peptide-containing products on the market, not all are created equal.  The makeup of the peptides used is important in determining the efficacy of the product.  DECIEM are pioneers in the use of copper peptides.

 AL: There are a lot of peptide-containing products on the market. Can you speak to the benefits of the specific peptide profile in this product?

DL: CAIS2 supplies 2% pure GHK peptide separate from copper ions, upon mixing with 1% Copper Tripeptide-1 GHK-Cu is formed as 1% of the GHK peptide branches with the free copper ions, leaving 1% free form GHK. On its own, GHK serves the role of an antioxidant. When combined with Copper (Cu) to form copper tripeptide-1 (GHK-Cu), the resulting peptide complex carries anti-aging benefits. Both GHK and GHK-Cu are found in nature and originally isolated from human plasma. As one ages the level of these peptides continues to drop past the late teenage years. The natural role of these peptides within the body include a wide variety of skin health functions, including supporting the production of key skin cellular components that work to maintain the structural integrity of the skin and supporting cellular processes that contribute to the immune function of the skin. The superior 2% concentration of GHK and GHK-Cu in CAIS2 aims to target visible signs of skin aging, including textural irregularities, uneven tone, visibly enlarged pores and a general lack of healthy radiance normally present in younger skin. In short, the skin will look healthier with continued visible improvements with continued use.

Modulating Glucosides - 30ml

Modulating Glucosides

Much of the emphasis in skincare over the last year has been placed on maintain a functioning skin barrier.  No doubt this emphasis has come about as a response to our obsession with “actives” such as retinoids and hydroxy acids that may compromise barrier function.  Modulating Glucosides has become a new favorite of mine as part of a wider strategy to encourage proper skin functioning above all else.

AL: This formula is STACKED. Much more so than other calming products. How did this formula come together, and how does this product fit into a routine with popular “actives?”

DL: This formulation was created with the aim to provide barrier support and to aid in building the skins tolerance over time via barrier building support. Impaired barrier function has been proposed as a possible explanation for sensitive skin in some individuals. The theory is that since there is lowered function of this barrier allows for the penetration of various other-wise harmless stimuli and elicits a sensitivity response. Our goal was to provide a product that worked to reduce redness related to irritation and to help soothe the skin from burning sensations and itchiness. MG contains various technologies including Bio-Active Glucosides, they are a complex for dermal balance which act through various pathways to quickly soothe skin reactions stimulated by pro-irritant mediators. This technology also works to counteract uneven skin tones caused by sensitivity and/or irritation while aiding in the support of dermal endogenous components. This product is quite versatile and can easily be added into an existing routine, with that in mind the use of products containing resurfacing agents may exacerbate the issue of sensitivity and are better to be removed or to reduce the use of these products within one’s routine. This product works amazing in combination with products that work to provide support in the maintenance of a healthy skin barrier, products like this would contain hydrating agents like NMF, Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides, Hydrating Oils, ​etc.​ These hydrating agents help temporarily fill gaps within the skin barrier preventing the penetration of stimuli that may create an enhanced response.

Fractionated Eye-Contour Concentrate - 15ml

Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate

If I had a dime for every time someone asked for my advice on “fixing” undereye circles… I’d have a lot of dimes.  Part of the reason they’re so hard to alleviate is that they can have multiple causes.  FECC takes aim at many of them.

AL: Undereye circles are a huge concern of many of my patients and followers. I feel like I’m constantly talking about how there can be several different causes including thinning of the dermis, resorption of subcutaneous structures and even pigment deposition. Can you tell us how this product is designed to address the various causes of undereye circles?

DL: We wanted to introduce a formulation that covers a whole spectrum of issues when it comes to common concerns regarding the eye area. Under-eye circles are caused by a variety of different contributing factors including uneven pigmentation, the loss of volume in the under-eye area, thinning of the dermis, loss of the skin’s structural integrity as one ages, ​etc.​ This formulation includes a wide variety of technologies that support the synthesis of key structural components within the skin and aid in the reduction of the expression of various compounds that accelerate the breakdown of those components, to help facilitate the appearance of youthful, healthy looking skin around the eye contour. FECC uses 28 complex approaches to fight against visible signs of aging of the eye area that can be categorized into 5 key groups of technologies. The main technologies involved include, HA and Collagen Technologies, Expression Technologies, Uneven Pigmentation Technologies, Fluid Retention Technologies, and Regeneration Technologies. The HA and Collagen Technologies work to reduce the appearance of the loss of volume and fine lines and wrinkles around the eye through the support and enhancement of key structural components within the skin. Expression Technologies work to reduce the appearance of expression lines through the targeting of specific cellular components within the skin. The Uneven Pigmentation Technologies work together to reduce the appearance of dark circles by working to help repair the balance of cellular components responsible for creating pigmentation issues, and through the support of oxyradical fighting. Fluid Retention Technologies work in combination to aid in the reduction in the appearance of under-eye puffiness. Lastly, Regeneration Technologies provides resurfacing without any irritation that is usually associated with low-pH acids and other forms of peeling. The various technologies within our formulation work in combination to address the wide variety of issues regarding the eye contour that contribute to the appearance of under eye circles.

Hydration Vaccine - 100ml

Hydration Vaccine

The best hydrating products work with the skins own mechanisms to prevent trans epidermal water loss.  NIOD’s Hydration Vaccine does just that.

AL: Most moisturizing or hydrating products take the simple approach of adding humectants and sealing them in with occlusives. What makes Hydration Vaccine different?

DL: When we talk about skin hydration, it’s very important to acknowledge the components responsible for ensuring skin integrity and hydration: the presence of natural hygroscopic agents within the corneocytes (collectively referred to as natural moisturizing factors, or NMF) and the intercellular lipids that are arranged to form a barrier to minimize trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). Hydration Vaccine pays homage to the skin’s natural hydrating capabilities, it is an advanced formula that respects the skin’s own barrier to water loss and works to help reduce this moisture loss through the support and supplementation of the skin’s barrier allowing for long-term effectiveness. Whereas, standard moisturizers merely offer ingredients that work as band-aids to skin dryness. There are many key ingredients in this formulation that contribute to its novel approach in hydration. Fungi Composite Organisms are a novel bio-technology approach to building “water reservoirs” while supplementing the NMF and forming a barrier to prevent its loss, these organisms have been observed to reverse visible loss of firmness, due to low moisture content, by rebuilding water density. We have also included polysaccharide filaments, that provide instant tightening to minimize trans epidermal water loss, aiding in the maintenance of the skin’s hydration. Within the formulation we have also included a breathable water-dispersible silicone, upon application there is a separation of the water from the silicone which will provide an instant light and refreshing feel to the skin, a sensorial aspect that is quite unique compared to simple moisturizers. The combination of these advanced ingredients all work in combination creating a product that addresses the full spectrum of anti-aging and hydration needs of the skin.

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