Created in Sweden by Filip Sedic in 2013, FOREO is among today's beauty-tech industry leaders. Foreo Chief Operating Officer Hrvoje Sarac talks to Formes de Luxe about the brand's approach to skincare, R&D and AI, and shares his vision of the future of beauty.
The brand is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. How would you sum up the past decade?
Hrvoje Sarac: It's like the liftoff of a space rocket. We have been moving full speed ahead for 10 years and have managed to go where no one has been before. Our innovation is as disruptive as the steam engine was to the industrial revolution.
Why did you turn to the world of beauty?
HS: Our founder Filip Sedic (photo below) stumbled upon the opportunity to improve an archaic gadget that was particularly “hard” on his wife’s skin. We can say we ventured into the world of beauty out of love. Afterwards we realized the untapped potential in one of the few industries that had been reluctant to include technology as its main driver.
You've established yourself as a standard in the world of beauty tech. How do you explain this success?
HS: We can sum up our success in a simple statement: Our products deliver quick and visible results. We can look into many other aspects of our company and brand but the key to success has been the quality and functionality of our products.
You've also developed a skincare line to go along with your tools. What are the reasons behind this? And what are its specific features?
HS: We have known for a long time that our devices have been paired with traditional skincare products; this is not just understandable but necessary as the skin comprises many layers which all need to be treated according to their specific needs. Topical cosmetics (traditional skincare) do not penetrate beyond the top layers of the skin whereas our devices stimulate the deeper layers so that the treatment goes further. Using traditional skincare without treating the deeper layers of the skin is like building a pretty house without a strong foundation. We decided quite some time ago that we wanted to create complementary topical products to our devices but the process of research and selecting the ingredients for our formulations took several years. We are now able to test the results of all those years of effort.
Where do you source your ingredients?
HS: Our ingredients list contains rare products such as red algae and Lingzhi mushrooms which make the sourcing process cumbersome as we try to have formulations that are up to 99% natural. We make a a lot of effort to ensure there is traceability of the ingredients to achieve a sustainable supply chain.
Filip Sedic, FOREO's founder ©FOREO
What is your vision of beauty and beauty tech?
HS: The definition of beauty is being challenged everyday but we believe that “healthy” is a key part of any definition; as such, we believe that our devices have a lasting role when it comes to maintaining healthy skin. Beauty tech as a concept is just starting and I believe adoption is in the initial stages. We expect an interesting future ahead as devices become a household staple just like the toothbrush.
What progress still needs to be made?
HS: Awareness is still lacking. Cosmetics companies have long made the consumer believe that topical cosmetics are enough to treat, among other issues, the signs of aging and this is inaccurate and deceptive. We are on a mission to re-educate consumers to understand that treating such issues goes much deeper than just the top layer of one's skin.
Do you use AI to develop new products, especially new skincare formulations?
HS: Just as our cosmetics are of natural origin, their formulas are 100% human-made. We are experimenting with AI in several areas, and we expect it to play a much bigger role in future innovation.
Foreo says that its tool stays clean thanks to a specific "lotus effect" pattern of microscopic bristles that don't allow dirt or impurities to transfer to the skin. ©FOREO
How is your R&D team organized and what is your R&D budget?
HS: Most of our R&D is decentralized as we partner with research centers across the globe, and monitor opportunities where we can bring theory into reality to deliver a valuable solution to an existing problem. We don't have defined budgets as we believe that would constrain the mindset of research, and hinder development.
Sustainable development is at the heart of the industry. How are you addressing this issue?
HS: Modern business seems to be fueled by planned obsolescence, which is one of the most harmful practices for our environment. FOREO devices are designed and built to last for decades without needing to be replaced. I believe actions speak louder than words, and while many brands campaign sustainability with their messaging we have been taking action since day one.
What are the next steps in your development?
HS: We have launched more than ten products this year and the innovation pipeline keeps growing. As I said, we are on a mission to re-educate the beauty consumer and help them achieve long-lasting results. This first 10 years are only the tip of the iceberg as we continue to reshape the business of beauty.
FOREO in figures
- 3 FOREO devices were sold every minute globally in 2021
- Q2 2023 saw 13% year-on-year comparable sales growth and +18.6% year-on-year total revenue increase in the same period
- FOREO sold its 25th million LUNA device in 2023
- The company predicts that by 2025 its microcurrent facial training device BEAR will be its best-selling product, growing by 175% per year (year-to-date), and will soon cover all 176 markets where FOREO is sold