It seems even skincare can't fend off inflation. $200, $300 and even $400 facial serums are far more common today than they were two or three years ago. That's because the formulations are better — the ingredients are more effective, reactive and preventative than ever — but also the vessels they come in are increasingly expensive. (What's a luxury product without an ornate bottle?)
Ursa Major co-founder Emily Doyle noticed this price shift recently, and crafted an affordable product in response: Ursa Major's Mountain Glow Golden Serum. She was looking for an intense product capable of reducing wrinkles, helping with dullness and sagging and evening her skin tone. She's a beauty entrepreneur, after all, she says.
"Of course I want to look my best, and I want to stay young, but do I really need to go buy this $400 serum?" she asked her formulator.
They confirmed her suspicion: None of them should be that expensive. So the pair set out to make an Ursa Major equivalent at half the price. By turning to natural ingredients over pricy synthetics — an approach Doyle calls "floor to the canopy," referencing the brand's forest-focused inception — they were able to reduce the price down to $84.
"We look at like the mosses and lichens; we look at mushrooms and barks, herbs and flowers; the buds, the leaves; the entire anatomy of the forest, if you will. We really try to make that show up in our products," she says. "But we also want to make sure they work, because none of that matters if they don't work...we're making sure the ingredients are efficacious and don't just sound cool."
The Mountain Glow Golden Serum has 44 different active ingredients — things like honey locust seed, moss stem cells, wild pansy, star-tipped lichen, wild indigo seed and agarikon mushroom — pulled from the forest found to effective in the fight against wrinkles, sagging, dullness and other issues caused by aging. They also deliver adaptogens and vitamins (A, C and E) while rejuvenating dry skin.
For Ursa Major, whose products typically max out at $50 or $60, this is a luxury product. $84 isn't that steep, especially compared to competitors' iterations, but Doyle wanted to be sure folks felt like they were getting their money's worth.
"I wouldn't want to be so clueless to say, 'Oh, it's only $84.' It's still $84 — that's not nothing," she says. "But it's chock full of stuff, and it has a super cool texture, in which it kind of looks like a lotion but acts like an oil."
It truly does transform on the skin. It's doled out like a lotion in servings of one to two drops, the bottle says, but it rubs on and leaves the skin glistening like an oil. In that way alone, it's unique, and it's this dichotomy that makes the formula right for such a wide audience. Even her partner, Doyle says, who is incredibly averse to regular oils, relies on Mountain Glow in the morning.
"I think that's the cool thing that we're offering here," Doyle explains. "[We're] making it if not for everyone, then more accessible for more people."