Many of us place a particular emphasis on our facial skincare routine, meticulously layering on serums and moisturizers in the morning and night. However, we often forget to extend that same care to our skin below the neck. Iota, a nutritional body care brand—this, according to the brand, means they focus on the skin’s pH, microbiome, et al—aims to bring greater awareness to comprehensive skin health.
"Just like sleep, eating right, and exercise, [skin health is] essential for whole-body health, and more studies are finding its link to bigger issues like autoimmune disease and heart health," says co-founder Monique Meneses.
As someone who has perfected their facial skincare routine (or, at least, I'd like to think so), I've started to turn my attention toward developing a thoughtful bodycare routine. Needless to say, Iota's launch came right on time. Ahead, learn more about how this brand aims to improve the skin's microbiome.
Meneses is no stranger to the beauty industry, previously working as a beauty editor and consultant for brands including Gisou, Peach & Lily, and Cover FX. So, it was no surprise her first entrepreneurial endeavor centered around Meneses' love of beauty and obsession with skin health.
Meneses and her husband, Ray Kim, worked to bring Iota to life during the pandemic, quitting their jobs to focus on the business full-time. Like many people, the global health crisis encouraged the duo to think about what mattered most and deepened their attentiveness to their health.
"We spent years perfecting our formulations with our lab team and lead scientific advisor and cosmetic chemist, Kelly Dobos," Meneses explains. "After countless all-nighters, we launched Iota in September 2022. Our philosophy is 'big things can be achieved through patience, persistence, and dedication to doing the small things right.'"
Our skin is naturally acidic, hovering at a pH of approximately 5. This is noteworthy because the "good" microorganisms on your skin prefer a more acidic environment. If your pH is disrupted too dramatically or frequently, it can create an environment for unwanted microbes to thrive. That's why Iota formulations are crafted at a microbiome-friendly pH of 5-5.5. All of the products are packed with an array of microbiome-balancing prebiotics and postbiotics, multivitamins, and essential actives. "I grew up with very sensitive skin, so it was important to develop formulations that were gentle and nourished the skin on our body," Meneses says.
The brand's lineup of products includes a body wash and serum. The Supervitamin Body Wash ($23) took 72 iterations to perfect and comes in three scents. Mandarin Rind + Cedar Atlas—packed with vitamins A, B3, B9, C, E, and F—aids in keeping your skin hydrated, supporting collagen production, and boosting the radiance of your skin. Lemongrass + Eucalyptus Leaf contains vitamins (B12, C, E, and K), as well as amino acids and magnesium. This wash helps even your skin tone and smooth pores. The fragrance-free version is loaded with vitamins (A, C, and E), provitamin D, and omegas 3 and 6, which help protect the skin barrier and provide your skin with intense hydration.
The Superplant Body Serum with Niacinamide ($39) is made for daily use, either as a standalone or followed by your moisturizer of choice. The lightweight, fragrance-free formula contains vitamins (B3, B12, C, E, and K), along with, provitamin D and peptides to give the skin extra hydration and glow.
Meneses says Iota's overall mission is to spread awareness about skin health. "There is still a lot to learn about the skin microbiome and more research to be done, but we plan to incorporate any new key learnings about the skin microbiome into our formulations where possible and expand our portfolio of microbiome-focused bodycare to support your skin health," she says.
In addition to its education efforts, Iota is focused on its sustainability initiatives. Its formulas are produced in the United States according to Certified B Corp and Green-e Climate Certified standards. On the packaging front, Iota uses bioresin materials (from sugarcane and corn) and recyclable plastic. They also support Project Neela Sapana in Chennai, India, a first-of-its-kind project that entails the recovery and processing of single-use plastic waste such as multi-laminate plastic. "We recognize we can always do more, and we have additional plans for 2023," Meneses shares.
I'm not one to experiment with bodycare products, but I was excited to get my hands on the Supervitamin Body Wash and Superplant Body Serum. If you own the classic, Lululemon "Like Nothing" leggings, this body wash is the bodycare equivalent. I used the Mandarin Rind + Cedar Atlas version, and the formula is so smooth and gentle on the skin. It is shocking how hydrated my skin felt once I got out of the shower.
I have always had dry skin, so I always use rich lotions and moisturizers post-shower. By mid-day, I usually have to reapply lotion on my hands, arms, and around my ankles. However, my daily rehydration sessions have been reduced since I started using the serum with my lotion. I love that it's fragrance-free, so it doesn't interfere with any lotion or perfume I am wearing on my skin. Overall, I think I am in good hands with Iota. If you've been trying to find bodycare products that work for your skin, I believe this brand might be your final stop.