From coal mine to cosmetic aisles: i-On Skincare brings new tech to anti-aging space
The brand, i-On Skincare, currently has two “age disrupting” products, a moisturizer and an eye cream, which remove excess levels of iron in the skin brought on by menopause, which would normally lead to the production of free radicals and require antioxidant treatment.
In October, Nordstrom launched i-On for sale online, which i-On CEO Missy Godfrey said was a result of evidence the company's patented technology is effective in treating menopause-driven skin problems, both during and after the process. Godrey maintained it represents a solution to a long unsolvable cosmetic problem.
The scientist who developed the technology, Xi Huang, said his research shows as much as a 42% increase in iron in the skin post-menopause, and trying to address adverse effects of that change with antioxidants after oxidation has already occurred is a zero-sum game.
“Other people are using antioxidants to fight against oxidants,” Xi said. “That is a battle I don’t think we can win, it’s like one soldier against one soldier. We take iron away, so we stop oxidation.”
Coal component unlocked concept for new technology
Xi said his background in research of black lung disease among coal miners was the inflection point for creating i-On. In doing occupational medicine research for black lung, he discovered that a certain component of coal could make iron non-bioavailable.
Because black lung research is often political and funding was limited, he said he transitioned this knowledge to women’s health when he saw an New York University study stating women experienced significant increases of iron in their body during and after menopause.
The researcher said he was also spurred into women’s health by concerns over the safety of estrogen replacement therapy created by the Women’s Health Initiative study.
“We’ve never been able to use the ‘m-word’ before ... This is a huge market of women who are dealing with a number of health and wellness issues as part of that process,” i-On CEO Missy Godfrey.
After doing his own research to confirm iron levels increased in the skin specifically during menopause, Xi said he knew he had the expertise to solve that problem. His technology reduces iron to an exfoliation form, releases it from the iron-binding proteins in skin and removes it, as well as repairing skin and resorting its healthy appearance.
With the available products, as well as a cleanser and serum set to launch in 2022, Xi and Godfrey said their iron-eliminating technology address many of the skin issues women face during and after menopause, including dryness, wrinkles, dullness and dark spots.
The company is also developing an ingestible with the same principle, which would remove excess iron from the body and improve skin appearance from the inside-out, as well as improve other menopausal symptoms impacted by iron like stress, Xi said.
Not anti-aging, but menopause addressing technology
Other brands have also begun pursuing menopause-focused products as the process has become more openly talked about in general culture.
“We’ve never been able to use the ‘m-word’ before, nobody talked about menopause and menstruation, or lack thereof, it was really taboo,” Godfrey said. “This is a huge market of women who are dealing with a number of health and wellness issues as part of that process.”
Xi also said i-On is not “a marketing company” and is solely focused on creating products which effectively use this new technology. The company won’t create many product which tell different stories to grab consumers, but only as many as solve an iron-related menopause problem effectively.
Though she is reluctant to use the term “breakthrough,” Godfrey said i-On’s technology solves a skincare problem no one has been able to solve before, and she believes it will be the future of aging and menopause skincare.