As a pioneer in the skincare space, Dr Natasha Cook was the first Australian dermatologist to create a cosmeceutical skincare line — one that has since become famed for its simple, authentic approach to skin.
The dr.NC range, which uses cutting-edge technology and techniques to deliver real results, is renowned for using unique, clinical strength concentrations of the best active ingredients, all of which work to give an all-over healthy and radiant complexion.
Targeting different skin concerns, be it ageing, pigmentation, acne, sensitivity, sun damage or dehydration, the range has something for everyone, whether you’re just looking to dip your toes in with the brand’s Starter Pack or ready for a completely new routine, with the brand’s Total Transformation Kit.
Below, Dr Cook shares a few learnings about her decades in the industry and why she believes it’s so fundamental to support fellow female founders.
What prompted you to take the leap of faith and turn your business idea into a reality?
“Myself! I spent time in the USA as a medical student in my academic formative years at Harvard. Back then skincare was more affordable in the US. I hustled my way through the Saks department store and naively took everything that the Lancôme sales assistant said and proceeded to spend all my hard-earned student dollars on everything she said. I’m talking eye creams, neck creams etc… I was 21!!!!! The level of extortion was palpable. I then passed excruciating exams to become a Specialist Dermatologist only to realise that the best active ingredients, in the right concentrations as declared in the scientific studies I was reading, were NOT represented in mainstream skincare. Especially in simple easy-to-use formulations that also felt good!
“The industry was confusing with an abundance of underperforming, over promising unnecessary products and with misleading claims. A marketplace cluttered with pseudo-scientific jargon and pseudo ‘experts’. I set about creating product by product from 2005 as highly effective skincare. Backed by science, that was simple, easy to use and felt good. The professor I worked under, published pioneering Australian lead research showing the amazing benefit of B3 (niacinamide) when applied to the skin. Hence B3 became used ACROSS the range in multiple products. The only range in the world to do so.
“Reintroducing this powerful ingredient in a layer upon layer approach, boosting results. Designed to work for ALL of the key skin concerns: acne congestion, dehydration, rosacea redness, pigmentation, ageing and sun damage. As most of my patients had at least 3-4 of these key issues. So the routine of 3 steps AM and 3 steps PM plus a treatment at home peel once a week had to address all of them! I have created a universal skin care for ALL skin types.”
What are three things you wish you knew when you first started your business?
“1. I wish I knew more about behavioural psychology!!! I’ve met a few fraudsters along the way. Now I know the red flags. 2. To trust my gut instincts more in the early days. Those feelings are real and mean something. 3. Confidence in my own ability and less self-doubt.”
Why is it important to support female-founded businesses?
“It’s the only way we break through the old school patriarchy and ‘glass ceiling’. We must normalise woman at the top of leadership and business. Nowadays I feel proud of what we have managed to achieve and realise how progressive and ahead of our time we were. We were selling online in 2005 with a cartoon image of myself, that these days are called a bitmoji. Pioneering was not always so well received in the beginning. I have to say it has been a very difficult journey. I started the range mid-2005, back in the day when there was little support from colleagues who saw me as avant garde and too commercial. Pre-dating the Instagram trend, wanting genuinely to make products that delivered and defied the ‘BS’ and pseudo-scientific claims of the mainstream beauty world. I copped a lot of professional jealousy and backlash. As a young woman it was hard to stick to my beliefs in an environment that was often negative and not supportive. Sometimes it was fellow female colleagues who were the most unsupportive.”
What's the one must-have product from your range right now and why?
“This is hard for me to answer as they are my babies, so they are all my heroes – probably my clients would say it’s the Concentrated Clarifier, colloquially known as the BOMB! Although our CC+SPF 30 in skin compatible tones is becoming one of our most popular products. Only took 12 years to perfect!”
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone thinking about turning their business idea into a reality?
“It’s a lot of hard work and energy. So be prepared. Do a TONNE of research. Save as much as you can to fund and finance and try to stay away from PE / funding for as long as you can. Make sure your idea firstly CAN be monetised. Secondly you have clear points of differentiation. Don’t give up your ‘day’ job too soon. I ran both (and still do) a full-time busy Dermatology skin and laser clinic whilst developing the skincare business. I am 100% self-owned and self-funded. I’ve said NO to many PE firms as I want a sustainable real business, not just a turnover deal.”