Australia is a hotbed of skin-health awareness and skin care innovation, especially when it comes to sun protection. Driven in part by harsh climate conditions, the country has a history of advanced skin care science — and Ultraceuticals has been leading the professional channel “down under” for more than two decades.
Founded in 1998 by Dr. Geoffrey Heber, an aesthetic pioneer who opened one of Australia’s first non-surgical cosmetic clinics, Ultraceuticals offers 40 SKUs with patented delivery systems and clinically-proven results to back product claims. All products are developed and formulated by Dr. Heber and the brand’s team of chemists in the brand’s in-house laboratory.
The comprehensive range includes targeted skin care solutions for a full spectrum of skin concerns as well as sun and antioxidant protection that support the brand’s professional facial treatments. As a point of differentiation, all clinic-based Ultraceuticals treatments utilize the brand’s UltraSonophoresis infusion technology, a low-frequency ultrasound that has been shown to increase ingredient penetration.
Ultraceuticals CEO Andrew Dingle joined the company three years ago as CFO before stepping into the top role in September 2022. He says of his short term goals, “My initial focus was to improve operations by developing all the processes and procedures that would accelerate growth while keeping the customer at the center of everything we do.”
A key part of expanding the Ultraceuticals global footprint was expansion into the US In fact, the brand quietly entered the US market in early 2020, however the pandemic required putting plans on hold. According to Andrew, that “gap time” was spent onboarding distributors, setting up a U.S. warehouse, refreshing the brand and bringing on key hires — namely Bob Hobé as Senior Vice President of International Business Development. “We had done all of this hard work, and in February 2022 we were ready to move forward with Ultraceuticals’ first U.S. press launch,” which took place at the Spa at the Fairmont Hotel in Los Angeles.
In addition to its recent debut in the US and an imminent UK launch, the Australian-based brand is also distributed in New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Russia — and Andrew has a deep understanding of the nuances that shape each of these markets.
When asked about how the U.S. market differs, he shares, “In Australia, the businesses are typically smaller and owner-operated. I also grew up with the ‘Slip-Slop-Slap’ sunscreen campaign that has been a driver of Australian culture for the past 50 years. That also represents a big difference as compared to what goes on in the U.S.” Andrew also adds that Australia is way ahead in terms of sunscreen filters, and FDA regulations prohibit the sale of certain Ultraceuticals products. This required the brand to migrate to an FDA-approved facility before launching in the U.S. ”One of the things about moving into different territories is regulatory compliance, so you have to invest to be able to sell in those markets.”
To help overcome the challenges associated with global expansion, Ultraceuticals focuses on building relationships with professional partners through face-to-face education, which Andrew says is critical to brand success. “People need to be taught how to use our brand and how to use our products.”
In terms of growing a brand that sees a very high percentage of customer acquisition through professionals, Andrew says, “My strategy for the business is to continue to open new doors. Clinic ‘real estate’ is key to driving brand awareness.”
By year-end, Ultraceuticals will roll out a robust digital strategy that aims to provide consumers with skin care education and product knowledge while bridging the gap between skincare professionals and clients. “We know that potential and existing customers engage through digital. Advertising on social media platforms and working with ambassadors and influencers are definitely part of this strategy,” Andrew shares.
Beyond its US distribution at top professional spas and salons in 44 states, Ultraceuticals recently joined forces with Equinox to bring the brand into all of the high-end gym’s skin care locations — and the roll-out took less than six months. Andrew adds, “Partnering with Equinox benefits Ultraceuticals’ in terms of brand awareness. This is a huge opportunity for us.”
Ashley Hudson, Director of Operations for Equinox, was originally introduced to Ultraceuticals by an Australian team member who had recently moved to New York City. “I took a look at the line and it was quite comprehensive. We want science-backed, proven-effective products that have third-party testing,” she shares.
As of June, Ultraceuticals launched in 60 Equinox spas in the US and UK, with one more opening slated for August and one in October. According to Ashley, “Ultraceuticals will serve as the backbone for our Renew and Refresh facials, and be used to start and finish Hydrafacial treatments. We’ve worked closely with the brand to create exclusive protocols, and have immersed the Equinox team in extensive science and technique training.” The full line will be sold in all US and UK skin care locations as well.
Ultraceuticals’ increased US presence also happens to coincide with the brand’s 25th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, Ultraceuticals will be hosting a three-day “Beyond Business” conference in Sydney. This global get-together will include distributors from five countries, as well as international marketing, sales, education, and R&D. The agenda includes sharing key market strategies, unveiling product innovations, revealing the brand’s new positioning and enhancing attendees’ knowledge with skin education.
Moving forward in the US, Andrew says Ultraceuticals plans to launch two new retail and two new professional products each year. “We’re not a new company, we’ve been around for 25 years. I think the most important thing is partnering with like-minded clinics that are looking for an education-focused, professional-channel focused brand.”