A Q&A with Droplette's CTO
Rathi Srinivas, Droplette's Co-Founder and CTO, tells all about the brand's first three formulas, how she choose ingredients, why Droplette delivery is different, and her #1 capsule pick for a desert island...plus a sneak peek of what's next for Droplette.
Rathi Srinivas, PhD, the co-founder and CTO of Droplette, answered some burning questions about Droplette’s technology & the formulations, and how to integrate them into your skincare routine.
What is unique about the Droplette device? Why is this different than a regular cream or serum topical?
Our core technology is engineered with unique components configured in a way to make delivery of formulations significantly more effective than other products on the markets. First, you pop a capsule into the device (just like you would a nespresso pod or a KCup). The capsule is filled with a liquid formulation and when it enters the device, the formula gets turned into a mist using a component called the piezoelectric transducer.
Our secret sauce is the pump system that this mist then passes through: it enhances the delivery of the formulation with the bulk airflow concentrating the ingredients inside each droplet of the formulation, propelling it faster towards the skin, and reducing droplet size by about 50 times as the mist splashed on the skin surface. Compared to a regular aerosol product, the Droplette mist is 50-2000 times smaller by the time it hits the skin and much more powerful - depending on what type of spray you’re comparing it to. (Read more about this - outlink to the How Droplette Works post!)
What are the properties of each formulation?
There are 3 different formulations right now, although we’re always working on more: We named them after their primary ingredient; 10% Collagen, 0.15% Retinol, and 8% Glycolic. The 10% Collagen formulation has a cocktail of peptides as well as collagen. The peptides included are all fragments from proteins that are involved in skin turnover and maintaining skin elasticity. This is the gateway Droplette formula and is suitable for all skin types - I love it to hydrate and refresh my skin.
The 0.15% Retinol formulation also features Arbutin. Arbutin is a safe and effective ingredient that targets dark spots along with the retinol by inhibiting melanin synthesis. Many products out there use an ingredient called hydroquinone - but this has a lot of bad side effects on the skin and is even associated with cancer. Arbutin is actually a naturally occurring derivative of hydroquinone - it’s much safer and gentler but can produce the same results with less concerns about hyperpigmentation. Also, although retinol can be drying or irritating to some people, by using Droplette we also get more water into the skin (a process called ultrahydration) than a topical ever could. By pairing retinol with our technology, we're able to reduce the drying/sensitization aspects that retinol would have on its own.
The glycolic formulation features 3 major ingredients: an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)-glycolic acid 8%, beta-hydroxy acid (BHA)- salicylic acid, and a polyhydroxy acid ( PHA) gluconolactone - this one is a milder acid that works well with the previously mentioned acids. 8% was a happy medium for us which is safe for daily use (believe it or not, some OTC products go up to even 30% AHAs and can really damage the skin). We can get the same efficacy and no harmful side effects by using an 8% concentration. We’ve also evened the formulation out by including some peptides, niacinamide, and aloe extract.
Each formulation has some other ingredients that are integral to their use? What are they?
The collagen formula also has a type of Vitamin C called sodium ascorbic phosphate, which is still water soluble but much more stable in an aqueous environment. Vitamin C is definitely notorious for degrading over time. Droplette’s formulations are sealed inside opaque capsules though - and our formula doesn’t suffer the same exposure to oxygen that a bottle of serum otherwise would. The Vitamin C in our formulas adds a brightening effect that the user can see both initially and long term. The 8% glycolic formulation also features Niacinamide - which is anti-inflammatory and can help with blemishes and scarring.
We use rose oil in both our collagen and retinol formulations (read more about rose oil). Why Rose oil over other essential oils that also provide skin benefits? We were seeking something anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and soothing. At one point, we actually had a box with every possible essential oil that we could use and we did a lot of consumer testing with them. People love the scent of rose and coupled with its benefits, it really enhances those formulations. We’ve even had some consumers tell us that the formulas with rose oil help with their blemishes or acne! Most people don’t like extraneous synthetic fragrances in their cosmetics (myself included) - but since this is a functional ingredient and it’s fairly mild, most people resonated well with it. Fun fact: On a trip to Morocco, I actually got to visit a rose oil distillery where they harvest and extract the oil and it was an incredible process to see and learn from.
How does each formulation fit into a skincare routine?
The collagen formula is a “great use any time of the day” - you can even use it twice a day. It gives the skin a nice hydrating boost, immediately plumps the skin, and can reduce the appearance of wrinkles over time. It’s our mildest formula and pairs well with the other formulations. One word of caution is that if you were to use the glycolic at the same time of day as the collagen, you want one to absorb fully before applying the other. The Vitamin C in the collagen and the glycolic acid can neutralize each other if they’re in the same formula. You can definitely use one after another as long as they do not mix together though.
The retinol/arbutin formulation is effective in addressing signs of aging (such as wrinkles, fine lines) and dark spots in a more soothing way than the average retinol formulations for the reasons we talked about above. This is really a night-time formulation as it makes your skin sensitive to the sun and should be used along with a sunscreen. The glycolic formulation is perfect for resurfacing and blemish treatment. It exfoliates in a more soothing and gentle way that makes it perfect for every day use, especially if you love a fresh-faced, revitalized glow.
When setting up your routine, Collagen can go with either the Retinol or Glycolic Acid formulations, and in consumers that have used these combinations before, results have been stellar. Retinol & Glycolic are both more intensive formulations though, and only users who know that their skin can tolerate stronger formulas should use both daily. If you aren’t sure, we recommend working up to it slowly by starting only once every 2-3 days till your skin can handle it daily.
What is unique about these specific cocktails of ingredients compared to other products on the market
In addition to the unique delivery of the formulations, each features soothing ingredients that compliment the function of the other ingredients. For the collagen and retinol, its the rose oil and for the glycolic, it’s the extra peptides. The additional hydration from delivering more water along with actives also makes the delivery really unique, painless, and effective at the same time.
If you had to pick one formulation to bring with you on a deserted island, which would you choose?
Hands down, I would choose the glycolic. It is the one I use the most at home and I can immediately tell the difference in the texture and softness of my skin the next day. One thing to note is that even though it does have the other ingredients to help soothe the skin, the glycolic should still be used with something hydrating - I think it pairs really well with the 10% collagen.
What is next for Droplette? Any new formulations in the works that we can look forward to?
We're super excited about two new classes of formulations. The first is peptides and proteins that can help stimulate cell growth. It's actually kind of coming full circle for us, because prior to Droplette, my co-founder and I worked on peptide therapeutics and we'd love to see real, efficacious biologics in skincare. The second formulations are ones that are for sort of subclinical skin concerns- for example niacinamide, vitamin D and some other common topicals have been shown in clinical studies to really help dry skin, mild eczema and rosacea. We're really excited to formulate those in clean, simple serums that pair beautifully with our existing products to treat ultra-dry, irritated and inflamed skin.