The Estée Lauder Cos. recently announced an investment in Deciem, a fast-growing, multi-brand beauty company. Beauty Insider took a close look into the strategic opportunities offered by this disruptive upstart, which goes by a very abnormal nickname.

When Fabrizio Freda, Chief Executive officer of The Estée Lauder Cos., announced its investment in Deciem earlier this month, he called the Toronto-based company “a powerful engine of innovation and growth.” This was no understatement.

Since 2013, Deciem, the self-described ‘abnormal beauty company’, has been a veritable powerhouse of innovation, churning out brands and products at an unstoppable rate, many of which already have a cult following.

Deciem has launched 10 skin care brands and more than 150 products spanning a range of benefits and price points, from under $10 to more than $200, appealing to skin care newbies and luxury skin care aficionados alike. The company reached sales exceeding $110 million at retail in its first three years, and has grown from one to 17 markets in 17 months. It also sold one of its brands in its second year of existence, and has a retail presence in more than 12,000 stores worldwide. Today, Deciem employs nearly 300 people.

Deciem, which describes itself as “an umbrella of brands focused on advanced functional beauty,” has flouted conventional wisdom of launching one brand and nurturing it to maturity. The name Deciem comes from ‘decima,’ Latin for 10 in a sequence. When founder and CEO Brandon Truaxe started out, he was cautioned against doing 10 things at once, so in true counterintuitive mode, he did just that, launching 10 brands in quick succession.

This anti-establishment beauty company, which has positioned itself as an outsider in the industry, has cultivated a disruptive mindset from the beginning, emphasizing transparency about margins and pricing strategy. Deciem is an ingredient-driven company, and it has consistently communicated that it doesn’t overcharge for ingredients. The Ordinary, Deciem’s cult brand, has such low price points—most are under $10; the most expensive is $17.80—that they almost defy credibility.

The Ordinary’s bestselling Vitamin C Suspension 23%, which looks to brighten skin and reverse signs of aging, costs $5.80. The product consistently sells out.

With Brandon’s background in computer science (he is a self-professed computer geek), it is no surprise that Deciem gravitates towards data and science rather than hope-in-a-jar marketing. Products are given names straight out of a chemistry textbook, such as NIOD’s Copper Amino Isolate Serum 5% (or CAIS, which targets skin aging), and The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (a high-strength peeling product).

Deciem’s vertically integrated structure enables everything to be done in-house, including a laboratory, manufacturing, creative, distribution, sales and marketing – and quickly too. Products are born and shipped to retail in a few short months, making it a turbo-charged brand incubator.

Deciem’s speed, combined with its low price points (that does away with the belief that cost and product potency are linked), is changing the way premium skin care goes to market. In just four years, this independent but rapidly growing beauty company has given today’s informed skin care consumer a range of no-frills products that deliver results at eminently affordable prices. Perhaps that is the biggest disruptor of all.


NIOD – NIOD (Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science) is a high-performance skin care line, described as a professional range to complement dermatological and surgical options in beauty. The brand features Deciem’s highest price-points.

Hylamide – Daily skin care treatments that target specific skin issues, Hylamide includes concentrated serums and skin-perfecting formulations with mid-range price-points.

Chemistry Brand – Positioned as pro-repair skin care for hands, Hand Chemistry is a bestseller.

The Ordinary – Skin care that promotes high-concentration active ingredients at incredibly low prices, The Ordinary has rapidly achieved cult status.

Stemm – A range of daily care and treatments to support the health of follicles, scalp and, in turn, hair, Stemm combines nutrients such as black fulvic acid, burdock root, clove and amino acids with highly-advanced forms of high-strength caffeine, creatine, high-stability sulphur and plant peptide isolates.

Fountain – Ingestible dietary supplements and elixirs featuring ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, Fountain is a beauty supplement brand.

HIF – HIF (Hair Is Fabric) is a line that likens hair care to dry cleaning delicate fabrics. ‘Professional cleaning for hair.’

White Rx – With a focus on skin brightening, White Rx does not use does not use any harmful technologies such as hydroquinone and mercuric salts in formulas.

AB Crew – Positioned as tools for fitness, AB Crew is Deciem’s personal care brand for men.

Inhibitif – Designed to minimize the look of unwanted hair regrowth, Inhibitif products aim to make shaving and waxing a task needed less often.

Grow Gorgeous – Hair care aimed at increasing hair density and growth, Growth Gorgeous was recently sold to the Hut Group, a UK-based online retail company.