Lauren Rome doesn’t come from the world of skincare, brand-building or digital marketing. She worked on Wall Street for ten years, and was always struggling with her skin due to the long hours and stress of her job, so the search for products that actually worked never ended. Eventually, overwhelmed by expensive multi-step routines and empty promises, Rome decided to conceptualize a new line of products herself, one that delivered clear, hydrated skin for both her and her partner. That’s how Romer was born. Coming into the industry as an outsider, Rome approached her new company based on what she herself was looking for in skincare products.
“My background is a total outsider to the skincare industry,” she remembered during a phone interview a few weeks ago. “I worked on Wall Street for a decade, but I always struggled with my skin so it really was a passion of mine to try and find products that work. I don’t have a background in chemistry, or digital marketing, or building a brand. So I built products that I wanted in my own life, and that I felt my partner wanted to. I started to learn about clean ingredients and the clean beauty landscape, and I felt like there was no great solution out there that was pared down for both of us, me and my husband.”
Even though skincare has recently become an ultra trendy, super luxe focus, it’s still a complete mystery for plenty of people. And for those who need it the most, proper products for keeping skin clean and hydrated aren’t necessarily luxury items, but a necessity to feel good about themselves and their face. Whether it’s the inaccessibility of price points, lack of representation, or just the confusion about which of the thousands of products to use, Lauren’s new line aims to take the guesswork out of skincare.
“I thought this inclusive idea of skincare was an important one well before it became very trendy last summer,” Rome said. “The beauty industry is full of men at the helm of these companies that make products geared toward women. But this is a solutions business, people want good skin, and they want it to be easy. They need products they can trust that are clean. It shouldn’t matter if someone is light-skinned, dark-skinned, male or female. The products should just be effective, and they should work.”
Noticing this gap in the market, Lauren decided to focus on building a brand that wasn’t beholden to a single gender — specifically, to women — and that could be passed across the bathroom counter to whoever else was sharing the sink. Romer isn’t geared toward men or women, it’s a gender neutral line designed for busy professionals who want a simple routine that works. With just three steps, cleanser, moisturizer, and a night treatment mask, picking up the full line comes in right around $100.
“We’re trying to fit into the lives of these busy professionals who just want a simple routine that works,” Romer said. “They know they can wash their face and they know what they can put on before bed to have hydrated, clean skin. It’s really nice to see the results and see the customer feedback, which proves that we were on to something, that it doesn’t need to be eleven steps. That it could be simple, and it can also be shared across partners in the bathroom.”
Like so many people in this particular timeline, Lauren found herself launching a product right as the world itself was beginning to shut down, and look drastically different. Kicking off Romer in February of 2020, she found herself quickly pivoting, as so many other business owners and entrepreneurs did after the pandemic led to a global shutdown.
“The beauty of being a small business start-up is that we could build our community digitally, and that’s what we decided to do during the pandemic,” she explained, noting that part of what built that community was Romer’s values. “Everything we’ve done from ingredient sourcing all the way to manufacturing and packaging comes from a sustainable standpoint. Every month we measure our volume of utility for carbon, water, and plastic, and for all three of those, we’re going to take out that impact that we’re putting into the environment by investing in offset initiatives. We partnered with an organization called Green Print using their Impact Collective program to invest in those projects.”
Due to their work with Green Print, Romer can proudly call themselves carbon, water, and plastic neutral, as well as cite the backstory and verify the quality of every ingredient in every product they sell. As if these elements weren’t enough of a draw for some customers, the downtime of the pandemic led even more people to seek out skincare routines as part of self-care during a strange and stressful time. People were staying home and, for some, wearing less makeup, but the desire to ramp up a skincare routine was still there.
So what are Romer’s products actually like? I spent the last few months trying them to get a feel for how their routine actually works in practice. Starting with the gel-to-foam cleanser, a day and night product, the aloe-based cleanser is extra hydrating, specifically designed with that aloe ingredient at the base (instead of water) to ensure it won’t be stripping to the skin. It includes caffeine, tea tree oil, and calendula oil, with a couple of other light botanicals for a fresh, herbaceous scent in the realm of rosemary or mint. With an easy pump applicator and a generous portion (about six and a half ounces), the cleanser is great for the face but can also be used all over, as a body wash or on the neck and chest if desired.
Step two for Romer’s regimen is the hydrating moisturizer, formulated with shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and rosemary leaf oil. A balance between natural ingredients and scientific elements like the hyaluronic acid, this step is designed less to treat the skin than just keep it hydrated. I’ve never been one to put a lot of stock in moisturizers on their own, but using this before bed definitely helped me avoid waking up with dry skin. And for those who want the extra step of the active ingredients, the final step is a treatment mask that can be used at night, or interchangeably with the moisturizer. Dubbed “Treat” it might be my favorite step in the whole regimen.
With more targeted, buzzy ingredients like niacinamide, squalane, carrot seed oil, white tea, and even a dose of CBD for its anti-inflammatory and redness-reducing elements, this mask is a game changer. I bring it with me whenever I’m traveling to help soothe my skin after days spent on public transportation or red eye flights, and it works like a charm to reduce redness and dull-looking, tired lines that travel sometimes brings on. The simplicity of the routine really stuck with me, especially while traveling, but I didn’t feel like I was giving anything up by not including the host of serums I sometimes work in. This line is great for beginners, or anyone who just wants a reset.
The future of Romer will continue to focus on these three core products, but could also expand into areas like hair care and body care, and obviously, the holy grail of formulating a daily sunscreen. “If we were to expand, the one thing I use every day on my face that I don’t have in the line is SPF,” Rome said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll get there at some point soon. Romer is meant to be in the bathroom for busy professionals, so anywhere we can touch to give people a more simplified routine, whether that’s haircare or body care, those would be two great places for us to expand into.”
Learn more about Romer here.