No shade to celebrity beauty lines, but although founder Paul Baek has roots in the K-pop industry, it would be remiss to place Matter of Fact skincare within that same category. Thanks to a combination of the potent formulas, clinically backed results, and the educational yet approachable copy, the brand stands in a category of its own.
“Matter of Fact is a reflection of my journey and experience with skincare, which can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating with so many options and conflicting messages on the market,” Baek says. “We wanted to take an evidence-based approach and make messages simple, which are a few of the tools that people can use to make better decisions about their skincare purchases.” In that regard, the Matter of Fact moniker itself takes on a double meaning—every claim the brand makes is based in fact and delivered in a straightforward yet relatable way.
During his time in the K-pop world, Baek achieved some pretty major success (with four major singles that charted, thank you very much), but it was the industry’s fixation on external appearance that piqued his interest in skincare. With science and effective formulations as his guiding light, he decided not to renew the contract with his record label after a five-year tenure, enrolled in Harvard University (for his undergrad) and Wharton Business School (for his MBA), and upon completion, began aggressively working on the Matter of Fact lineup. “I think it’s hard to convey what an experience like that has on your view of body image, self-image, and self-care—the pressure is intense, and it definitely drove me to dive into learning about the science of skincare,” he says. “As a beauty company, one thing we need to be cognizant of is that the line that separates healthy self-care from destructive self-obsession is very, very thin, and when possible, we should steer people towards the former rather than the latter. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve experienced both.” It was a turning point not unlike one you’d see in a movie plot, wherein the main character revolutionizes the beauty industry by the time the credits roll, and at this rate, Baek is well on his way to doing exactly that. Matter of Fact launched with two products in their catalog—the Ascorbic Acid 2.0 Brightening Serum and the Minimalist Hydrating Cream—to resounding success.
Matter of Fact
Founded: In 2018 by Paul Baek, a Harvard and Wharton Business School graduate with history in the entertainment industry.
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
Pricing: $20 to $36 for trial sizes and $50 to $92 for full-sized bottles.
Best known for: A warm, realistic approach to skincare, paired with fact-based claims and efficacious results.
Most popular product: Ascorbic Acid 2.0 Brightening Serum
Fun fact: In the two years before Matter of Fact's launch, Baek was in the lab developing the formulas and cutting-edge technology firsthand.
Consumer transparency is at the heart of everything for Baek, who firmly believes that, when given the right tools, people can apply their newfound knowledge to skincare purchases across the board—even if they’re not shopping Matter of Fact. “I just thought, does it have to be so burdensome for the skincare user to try and figure out whether a purchase they make is going to be worth it? It’s their best educated guess, so how can we make that process less painful?” he says. “No one product is going to work for every single person on the face of the planet, but we can make that process easier and more informed by giving them access to data and information that will help them make their decision.”
A quick look at the brand’s product pages and social platforms (where users are encouraged to submit their skincare questions) will show clear, clinically backed claims alongside photos of visible, realistic results, but with a side of heart and compassion. Skincare, after all, can only pull so many heroics, and while effective formulas can be transformative, Baek is clear in his communications that certain concerns are better addressed outside the realm of products. “We got a question from one of our wonderful users about her under eye area, and we have to be very clear that while it might be an issue your dermatologist can address, we’re all our own worst critics and we shouldn’t judge ourselves based on bad lighting,” he says. “I was really heartened to see her say, ‘You’re right, I am my own worst critic, thank you for highlighting that.’ I think that sort of compassionate but informative approach is what all of us can benefit from, not just in skincare, but in every area of our lives.”
With two cult favorites already, the brand has avid fans increasingly curious as to what they can expect next, and while Baek hinted at more formulas in the treatment and serum area, we’re confident that the next launch will join the existing products in being thorough, well thought out, and fully backed by every clinical study possible. Because to Baek, it’s more than just flashy marketing that will reel in the user, or lofty promises that may or may not come true—it’s a matter of fact.
Keep reading to find out more about the brand’s inaugural hero products.
Ascorbic Acid 20 Brightening C Serum
In developing the technology for Matter of Fact's vitamin C serum, Baek wanted to ensure that the often-fragile ingredient was stable, had an effective 20% concentration, but also was pleasant to use and didn’t pill or have a gritty texture under sunscreen or makeup. “I’m proud to say that our technology is the only technology on the market that hits all three buckets—it’s definitely the showstopper of the range, and developing the technology was part serendipity with a lot of tinkering, work, and time,” he says. One pump of the potent elixir spreads evenly over skin, and the formula absorbs on contact, allowing that high concentration to go to work immediately.
Minimalist Hydrating Cream
Baek refers to this hydrating emulsion as the dark horse of the two products, as he often finds that after people are introduced to the vitamin C serum, they end up falling in love with the Minimalist Hydrating Cream as well thanks to the featherweight texture paired with the rich moisture it delivers. “I think some consumers are used to moisturizers that promise the sun and the moon and the stars, and our cream is very much in friction with that if you read through the copy,” he says. “People find that once they use the moisturizer, it’s so much more than what they expected it to be given the name and description of the product.”