What happens when you put a dermatologist, a pharmaceutical marketing director and a doctor-turned-business consultant together? You get the Rapid Itch Relief Moisturiser for sensitive skin sufferers, produced under the brand Suu Balm.
The company behind Suu Balm, Good Pharma, is co-founded by Mr Jason Humphries and Dr John O’Shea, who had been looking for a business opportunity to develop a product that could make a difference.
"We knew the world didn’t need another moisturiser… there are thousands already," says Dr O'Shea, "Yet when you talk to people with skin issues, you quickly realise that they still have significant unmet needs, which vary according to their condition so why not try to produce products that address these unmet needs?"
The co-founders were introduced to Dr Tey Hong Liang, a senior dermatologist with the National Skin Centre, who had formulated a unique product to address itch and moisturising effectiveness for his patients. It was launched in March 2015, and has rapidly become a hero product because it helps provide relief, in minutes, for the itch caused by eczema and other dry, sensitive skin conditions.
Dr O’Shea, 43, shares, “Many products are good at managing the underlying inflammation of eczema, but not so good with managing the symptoms – and that’s the itch that drives people crazy. Dr Tey wanted to fill this unmet need so he experimented to find a way to stop the itch immediately.”
The answer was surprisingly simple – menthol. “It triggers the receptor that senses cold,” explains Dr O’Shea. “The nervous system is, in a sense, limited and can only focus on one thing at a time, so this menthol trigger replaces the itch with a cooling sensation.”
While relieving itch, the product also has long-term effects of strengthening the skin barrier by using skin-identical ceramides, other non-occlusive moisturisers, and the right cream pH (acidity level).
“The other problem with this skin condition is that many people are not moisturising enough,” says Mr Humphries, 51. “For itch relief, sufferers would be using the cream on their skin about five or six times a day, and Dr Tey says this will also help keep their skin moisturised.”
Not resting on their laurels
In the six years since its launch, the Suu Balm line has expanded to include body washes, a scalp spray, a facial care series and a children’s range. But more than merely adding new products, the Good Pharma team is driven by a belief in the Japanese concept of Kai Zen.
“It means we constantly improve the product,” says Dr O’Shea, comparing it to the new models of mobile phones being released into the market regularly, each one boasting upgraded technology. “But we sell it at the same price.”
A case in point is the 2021 version of the Rapid Itch Relief Moisturiser, which has an improved formula that is preservative-free, while containing five types of skin-identical ceramides and filaggrin breakdown products to help strengthen the skin barrier.
“When Dr Tey chooses the ingredients, he doesn’t do it with regard to the cost,” says Mr Humphries. “It might mean a smaller margin for us but it also means our customers get the best we can offer.”
The company has had a growth of more than 100 per cent per year, and has moved more than 1 million products in the few years of the brand’s existence. But for Good Pharma, it is more about helping people.
“I met a man who told me that he hadn’t been able to sleep well for years because of his itchy skin,” Mr Humphries shares, explaining why he believes they’ve been successful in creating a meaningful product. “And that since using Suu Balm, he has been able to get two more hours of sleep a night, and he now gets on better with his wife. That’s the impact our products have had on people’s lives.”
Suu Balm products are available at Guardian, Watsons & Unity as well as online on Suu Balm official stores on Shopee, Qoo10, Lazada and www.suubalm.com.
Enjoy 15 per cent off Suu Balm Rapid Itch Relief Moisturiser and Suu Balm Kids Dual Rapid Itch Relieving Restoring Ceramide Moisturiser at www.suubalm.com from now till April 16. Enter "ST15" upon check out to enjoy the offer along with free local shipping. While stocks last. Not applicable for promotional bundles.