“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus—particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
That responsibility is obvious to most consumers. What’s also become obvious during the pandemic is that prolonged contact between skin and fabric leads to “maskne;” i.e., acne and skin irritation caused by wearing a mask. Also known as acne mechanica, the skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of facial personal protective equipment has always affected medical professionals; now, the pandemic has brought the affliction home to consumers. But one entrepreneur says he has a solution to the maskne problem.
Nufabrx CEO Jordan Schindler suffered from acne all through college. A dermatologist recommended that he wash his pillowcase 2-3 times a week.
“Knowing that was never going to happen, it’s what got me thinking about if you could turn that negative experience into a positive,” Schindler recalled. “Why can’t you deliver a benefit from a garment or fabric that contacts your skin all day every day; and thus, Nufabrx was born.”
According to Schindler, clothing and fabrics are the most intimate human interface. They contact your skin all day, every day, so why can’t clothing and fabric serve as a platform for delivery, he reasoned?
“Instead of needing to take an action of applying creams, using transdermal patches or taking pills multiple times per day, what if you could just get dressed in the morning?”
That idea led to the creation of the company in 2011, and after years of research and development, Nufabrx developed a patented platform technology that enables the embedding of active ingredients and medications into fabrics. The first product was the Nufabrx Pillowcase, a bamboo pillowcase embedded with tea tree oil and lavender that release while the user sleeps. More recently, Nufabrx created Theramask, a patented, washable mask that includes CuTec copper to reduce facial contamination.
Now, the company has rolled out the Solscia Shea Butter Face Mask, which began shipping on September 1. The mask is intended to keep users safe and skin smooth. The Nufabrx technology infuses shea butter into each individual yarn fiber to ensure proper coverage. The company maintains that its Soliscia Shea Butter Face Mask revives and rejuvenates dry skin while remaining machine washable and comfortable to wear.
“It was developed in tandem by our team of PhD MIT chemists, combined with senior textile engineering experts,” said Schindler, who insisted that this pandemic has fundamentally changed consumer behavior.
“Masks are something that most of us never needed to wear before. There is literally a new word, maskne, to describe the negative skin conditions associated from doing so. Soliscia was created to counter that negative into a positive,” he noted. “It couples the same protection of our regular Theramask, with the added skin moisturizing benefit of shea butter. No behavior change required.”
The shea butter mask is designed to release a controlled amount of shea butter every hour the user wears the mask. In that way, the user get a similar dose through the lifespan of the garment. The all-day skin contact from a mask (or garment) enables controlled delivery to the entire face—similar to a transdermal patch. It provides a constant benefit all day long. Depending on the number of times the mask is washed, the skin-caring benefits of Soliscia last for more than a month.
“There’s no need to keep reapplying a cream, or risk taking off your mask in the middle of the day. A wash is synonymous with just a regular hour of wear,” explained Schindler, who described the mask as another tool in the consumer’s skin care routine, and a very simple one.
“This will not replace the need for your everyday products but rather help by giving you that extra boost of moisturizer when you have to wear a face mask,” he said.
According to Schindler, consumer response to the mask has been “mind-blowing.”
“Love them or hate them, masks are a part of our daily loves now. So are skin care products and beauty masks. Why not combine the two?”
Yes, masks are everywhere—for now. But what happens to the brand, and the company, when the pandemic ends and masks no longer make up a critical part of consumers’ wardrobes?
“I certainly think there will be a much higher percentage of people wearing masks, especially in the medical aesthetic industries at the very least,” he noted. “It’s hard to imagine that six months ago you would get a beauty treatment, massage or cosmetic procedure and often times the clinician didn’t wear a mask. Crazy!”
Furthermore, Schindler points out that Soliscia is just one of many products in the “HealthWear” product category that Nufabrx offers.
“We have a line of pain relief infused products nationwide in the pharmacy section at Walmart, and we have three other OTC ingredient infused products coming out in the coming months—think maternity wear and infused yoga pants,” he said.
Yoga pants and maternity wear? If Nufabrx can help new moms find some inner peace, Schindler and his team will certainly have another winning idea up their sleeves.