Many skincare brand founders let others do the talking while they focus on the making, but Nicolas Travis enjoys both. He often appears on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, sharing skincare tips and positive messages for Allies of Skin, his brand of multifunctional skincare products, and its younger sibling PSA: Purposeful Skincare by Allies.
“We are most beautiful when we love ourselves unconditionally,” he reminds followers in a video; in another, he discusses the different types of blemishes and how to treat each.
Travis’ complexion has received much praise — “immaculate”, one beauty editor whispers in awe — but the 34-year-old quickly reveals a sobering past as an acne-troubled teenager. “The market was full of empty promises,” he says of his quest for the holy grail.
The beginnings of Allies of Skin
Following a degree in biomedical and pharmaceutical science, and a Master’s in international business, Travis drafted a business plan. Then, using loans from his sister and brother, he rolled out Allies of Skin in 2016 with three products.
In 2020, he sent out PSA. Created with the same clinically efficacious approach, Travis also made it more accessible with prices capped at $69. PSA drives home the crucial message of climate change. Products feature biodegradable packaging and come in boxes printed with sustainable ink. The brand even plants a tree for every order received on its website. Since the initiative started last year, it has planted more than 50,000 trees.
While Travis had a hard time getting Allies of Skin stocked initially — “Buyers would say, ‘Oh I didn’t know Singapore had beauty brands. I’ve only heard of Singapore Airlines and your chilli crab’.” — the going was relatively smoother for PSA. Available at Sephora and luxury cosmetics e-tailer Niche Beauty, it is also the first Singaporean brand to launch in Walmart across the US.
All this builds on the word-of-mouth generated by Allies of Skin among international media, influencers and celebrities. Among its fans is Kaia Gerber, who shared in an interview: “Everything I use is Allies of Skin; I don’t use anything else”.
Making waves as a Singaporean beauty brand
Travis describes it as “a big win, especially for a Singaporean beauty brand”. “It was not paid,” he continues, “and she spoke about us organically because I’d created a routine for her to help with her breakouts.”
Getting Allies of Skin off the ground taught him valuable lessons. “I don’t know what I don’t know, and I learn by doing and failing. We cannot be afraid to make mistakes; we fail fast and recover faster.” One more thing, you don’t need 10 products to achieve success. He explains: “If you have resources for just one product, focus on making that your best product. Your customers can feel the intention you put into your product when you pay attention to quality.”
In August, Travis packed his bags for Berlin, where he opened a new European headquarters. “As we expand our presence we need to be closer to the action and bridge the time zones between us and our retailers,” Travis says. His 41-strong team in Berlin comprises 21 nationalities and speaks 18 languages. In Europe, Allies of Skin and PSA are now stocked in Harrods, Galeries Lafayette, Zalando, Cult Beauty, Asos and Boots.
“I formulate based on the skin as a living organ. It needs nutrients to thrive and produce collagen. There is where we focus our attention. The texture and feel of our formulas are designed to be luxurious and fast absorbing. We feed the skin with what it needs and get out of its way.”Nicolas Travis, Founder, Allies of Skin
Feeding the skin what it needs
The two brands exemplify Travis’ belief that healthy skin should be a birthright for everyone. All formulas contain blends of clinically proven active ingredients, which are enhanced with a delivery system to boost efficacy.
He says: “I formulate based on the skin as a living organ. It needs nutrients to thrive and produce collagen. There is where we focus our attention. The texture and feel of our formulas are designed to be luxurious and fast absorbing. We feed the skin with what it needs and get out of its way.”
Products across both brands can be used together to achieve different skin goals. For acne, Travis recommends Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial and PSA GOALS Multi Acids & Probiotics Perfecting Serum. His own skincare regime, meanwhile, includes staples such as PSA Reset Cleanser, Allies of Skin 35% Vitamin C+ Perfecting Serum, and Allies of Skin Peptides & Omegas Firming Eye Cream.
“I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learnt along the way and I would not be the person I am today without them. I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” says Travis.