U Beauty’s New ‘Skin Co-Wash’ Is Disrupting the Cleanser Category

U Beauty’s New ‘Skin Co-Wash’ Is Disrupting the Cleanser Category

U Beauty founder Tina Craig doesn’t do anything slapdash: “You know me—I keep going with product iterations until it’s the best thing ever.” This is more than evident with her latest launch, The Mantle Skin Conditioning Wash ($78), which turns the cleanser category upside down. “This is not a cleanser—it’s so much more than the category suggests,” Craig says, noting that the new product, debuting today, has replaced her triple-cleansing routine. “Because this is such a completely different product, we actually created our own skin-care category called a ‘skin co-wash.’ We’ve been working on this for five years, and when you try it, you’re gonna go bananas.”

The goal of the oil-balm formula is to not only gently remove makeup (even waterproof mascara and lash glue), daily grime and SPF, but also support the skin’s acid mantle by maintaining ideal pH and oil levels. “The acid mantle refers to the acidity of the epidermis that you want to keep to optimize the skin’s microbiome,” says Craig’s dermatologist Dan Belkin, MD. “We want to make sure our microbiome is happy and healthy, and a lower pH is what we need for that.”

The secret sauce is Craig’s proprietary SIREN Capsule Technology, which is double patent-pending. “It mimics a healthy skin cell, and the capsule wall itself is made of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is exactly like our own skin makeup, so that’s why our skin accepts it and it doesn’t cause irritation,” she explains. “It also attracts damage-causing free radicals to it, and when the free radicals penetrate through the capsule wall, that’s when it bursts open and releases the active ingredients only on the damage.”

Dr. Belkin tells his patients to look for products that use encapsulation, which protects the active ingredients and allow them to penetrate the skin effectively and without irritation. “I’ve never seen a cleanser that does anything like this,” he says. “I think it’s a really innovative technology, and a really good adjunct to in-office treatments.”

Another major point of difference? The benefits don’t stop the second you rinse the emulsified milky formula down the drain. The brand is introducing a new FLORA-SIREN Capsule in this co-wash, which is packed with prebiotics and probiotics and interacts with the skin where there is imbalance and dehydration. “It deposits antioxidants and long-chain hyaluronic acid into the skin and feeds the skin’s microbiome,” says Caroline Sands, vice president of product development for U Beauty. “Because of the FLORA-SIREN’s chemical affinity to the skin’s composition, they will actually stick onto the skin, allowing them to stay there even after you rinse the co-wash off with water, so they can continue to provide benefits.”

Craig wants everyone to understand the importance of cleansing, but how to do it the right way. “Your skin should never ever feel squeaky-clean—that means you’re destroying your acid mantle and aging your skin,” she says, noting that she uses a muslin cloth to remove the co-wash rather than a wash cloth, which isn’t as gentle. “If you feel a sensation when you use this co-wash, you’re feeling a purposeful skin conditioner and softener. This is deep purification without stripping the skin. Your own skin’s lipids and oils are not being destroyed and eradicated by standard cleansing agents like sulfates. With this product, you feel this cushiony effect and velvety softness that’s breathable. You’re feeling your own skin optimized within the first wash.”

Personally, I love the way it makes my skin feel: soft, smooth, clean and conditioned. I treat it like a cleansing balm, massaging it in really well for a minute or so and emulsifying it with a little water along the way. But, unlike a cleansing balm that should be followed with another cleansing step, this does it all in one go. It feels like a super luxurious upgrade to what’s considered the most basic step in a skin-care routine, but one of the most important.