The Science Behind Sleep With ‘This Works’ CEO, Dr Anna Persaud
This Works, under Dr. Persaud’s guidance, has pioneered a unique approach that places sleep at the forefront of beauty routines. While the connection between restful slumber and radiant skin might not have been widely recognized at the time, her understanding of epigenetics and detoxification mechanisms prompted This Works to trademark the expression ‘with sleep comes beauty.’ This bold step paved the way for a new category within the beauty industry, one that acknowledges the profound influence of sleep on skin health. As consumers became increasingly aware of this link, sleep became a vital component of beauty regimens.
Dr. Persaud, with your background in biochemistry, you bring a unique perspective to product development and testing in the beauty and wellness industry. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to combine science with skincare?
From a young age, I have been obsessed with skincare and was using all kinds of products but couldn’t understand why beauty companies were not trying to protect skin from UV and free radicals. My PhD was in the field of parasite biochemistry during which time I studied detoxification mechanisms and oxidative stress in parasites. I took this understanding and inspiration into the pharmaceutical industry, and I worked in medical writing and specializing in acne and dermatitis. The opportunity to work in the beauty industry came through a chance meeting with a fellow chemist who at that time was the Marketing Director at Dior – I never looked back.
This Works has played a pivotal role in reshaping the narrative around sleep and its impact on our well-being. Could you share the inspiration behind connecting sleep with beauty and overall health, especially during a time when the importance of sleep might not have been as widely recognized as it is today?
Due to my knowledge and understanding of epigenetics, This Works recognised that good skin wasn’t only about what you put on your skin but also about your sleep and lifestyle. Although at the time, people didn’t link their skin health with their sleep health, we knew sleep was an important step in any beauty routine. We went on to trademark the expression ‘with sleep comes beauty’, which is now the name of one of our popular Christmas gift sets.
The emphasis on sleep created a new category within the beauty hall. As consumers began to be aware of the connection between good sleep and good skin, sleep became an additional to beauty routines. I’ve always believed that skin health and wellbeing isn’t only about the products we use, but about being aware of the things that help our sleep and wellbeing. It is our role as a beauty and wellness brand to explain the effects of our lifestyle choices and provide access to science-backed tools and information that guide consumers in the choices they make to improve their wellbeing.
The acquisition of This Works by Canopy Growth in 2019 was a significant milestone. How has this partnership influenced the direction and innovation of both companies, particularly in the skincare and topical products?
This Works and Canopy Growth share a deep understanding of the essential role of sleep for overall wellbeing, emphasizing the need for innovative products catering to this key consumer concern. Research conducted by Canopy Growth into CBD topical formulations aligned with This Works’ interest in this active ingredient. Over the past 4 years, This Works has worked of a number of CBD skincare products which, when measured in a clinical setting, showed positive skin benefits. These have broadened the areas of interest for This Works, including muscle recovery, pain management, and intimacy.
Rigorous testing is a hallmark of This Works. Could you walk us through the testing procedures and standards that your products go through to ensure they live up to the brand’s promise of “This Works”?
Every product we intend to bring to market goes through a rigorous testing process, in which it must pass a pilot study, which assesses the efficacy of the product against key claims. Only once the product has passed this stage does it move onto panel testing. With over 3000 people in the panel database, this diverse group of users assess the product for efficacy, experience, and ultimately whether the product meets our ‘This Works’ threshold. We then perform clinical assessment (in most cases), which can take several forms. The first of which is a neuroscience route, which leads to the development of neuroscience-backed protocols to understand the effect of the product on the central peripheral nervous system. The second is a clinical assessment, which reviews the impact of the product on the skin. It is this rigorous process that has built This Works as a trusted brand throughout our community and has earned over 185 beauty awards.
Deep Sleep pillow spray has become an iconic product for This Works, selling over 9 million units worldwide. What do you think makes it so universally beloved, and how does it contribute to better sleep and overall well-being?
Deep sleep pillow spray is universally recognised as a pioneering product and market leader because This Works has invested in 6 large-scale user studies, alongside clinical studies and neuroscience investigations. This commitment to understanding what the product does and how it works on different populations, including younger demographics, menopausal women, and those with a reliance on using technology before bed, has given the product its powerful reputation and instilled a level of trust as a result of its reliability. In addition, we also share tips and facts on how sleep hygiene and our behaviours can affect out sleep. Moreover, the combination of education and product that has been tested and proven to work is what has led to the success of this product.
As a successful leader in the beauty and wellness industry, you’ve also had a diverse career, including your tenure with LVMH group as Marketing Director, Parfums Christian Dior. How has your previous experience influenced your approach to This Works and Canopy Growth?
My career history has been an unpredictable journey at times. As a scientist working in research, I didn’t expect to be running a global wellness brand, however looking back, it is clear that my passion for science has played an instrumental role in shaping my professional path, as well as the direction of This Works as a brand over the past 14 years.
During my tenure at Dior, I learned invaluable lessons about consumer behavior and creativity, skills that have proved crucial in driving the evolution of This Works. Despite the complexities of working with big multinational brands like Dior and Canopy Growth, my early experiences as a PhD student instilled in me an unyielding drive to pursue my passions, no matter how daunting the challenge.
Balancing a career, personal interests, as well as being a mother of three(?) can be quite demanding. Could you share any tips or practices that help you maintain balance and well-being in your own life?
As a business leader, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, I find myself constantly juggling a myriad of responsibilities. Each day presents its own unique set of challenges, and I’ve come to realize that finding balance in this ever-fluid situation is no easy feat.
Fortunately, over time I’ve developed a repertoire of tools that help me navigate this complex landscape. These tools are backed by science and include practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathwork. By regularly engaging in these techniques, I’ve learned to manage stress more effectively, stay present in the moment, and remain focused on what matters most.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also crucial for overall health and wellbeing. It helps improve mood, cognitive function, and memory. Therefore, prioritizing quality sleep is a non-negotiable part of my daily routine.
All of these tools and practices combined have allowed me to achieve a more balanced and fulfilling life, one where I’m able to meet the demands of my professional and personal responsibilities without sacrificing my well-being.
The beauty and wellness industry is continuously evolving. What emerging trends or developments do you foresee in the intersection of science, sleep, and skincare?
Overnight skincare – Sleep and tiredness is ranked globally by women as the #1 lifestyle factor that impacts their skin. Coupled with WGSN’s tracking of a rise in social media interest in overnight beauty there is a clear opportunity for brands to convert interest into benefit-driven skincare.
Preventative ageing – Studies have shown that the age women are beginning to care about anti-ageing skincare is getting younger and younger. In a 2012 study conducted by NPD group, fewer than 20% of US women between 18 and 24 years old considered anti-aging skin care to be important. By 2018, another study by beauty consumer analysts The Benchmarking Company found that more than 50% of 18- to 24-year-old women said they wanted to add wrinkle-defying products into their routine.
Skinvestors – Next-gen, science-first beauty consumer who sees skin care as an investment. “Skinvestors are informed, investigative and favour science-first derma and skin tech brands backed by evidence. So, the marketing of (anti-ageing) products have shifted to focus on science and proof.”
Premium bodycare, skinification – treating the rest of your body with the same attention that goes into your skincare routine. Whether that be the skin of your scalp, your locks or the skin on the rest of your body, skinification is a way to become more mindful about why you are using certain products.
Could you highlight any exciting projects or innovations in the pipeline for This Works that our readers can look forward to?
As a leading neurocosmetic brand, This Works is dedicated to research and innovation in the field of neuroscience-backed beauty products. The next steps in our body care and sleep product pipeline continue to leverage this insight to create innovative solutions that promote both beauty and wellness.
What advice would you give to aspiring women in technology and science, particularly those looking to make an impact in the beauty and wellness sector?
Being a good robust scientist is key, but you must also remember not to spend too much time in the lab! A critical skill is being able to apply your scientific knowledge to product development and consumer insights. So, whilst you embrace the science, also start building your relationships, knowledge, and opportunities in other directions that take you closer to the consumer, in order to get your scientific insights and experience in the world most effectively.
Finally, what is the secret to the best night sleep?
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being. However, in today’s fast-paced and stressful world, many people struggle to fall and stay asleep. There are several things we can do to remedy this. The first of which is managing your light exposure. Light is essential for humans; it adjusts the circadian rhythm and impacts many physiological and behavioral activities such as sleep, mood, neuro-endocrine function, and cognition. Increased daytime light improves alertness, mood, performance, and sleep, and decreased light exposure in the evening and at night can promote sleep. Viewing daylight in the afternoon has also been shown to help improve sleep quality. The different solar angle of light in the afternoon helps to trigger the timed release of melatonin to prepare for sleep and can also protect from the negative effects on your circadian rhythm of viewing blue light.
The second tip to a better night’s sleep is temperature control. The relationship between temperature and sleep has been studied extensively in the scientific community. It is well-established that a cooler temperature is conducive to better sleep, while warmer temperatures can interfere with sleep quality and quantity. In order to get to sleep, and stay asleep, our internal body temperature must drop by 1-3 degrees. So, try to keep your room cool before bedtime.
Finally, I would recommend our deep sleep pillow spray. Scientifically formulated and proven to work for those who can’t switch off, and struggle to fall asleep. Our best-selling sleep spray contains our award-winning Deep Sleep functional fragrance of Lavender, Camomile and Vetivert to help reduce sleep anxiety and improve sleep quality. Having a relaxing bath or shower, switching off devices an hour before bed and spritzing your pillow, sheets and pyjamas with deep sleep pillow spray is a simple yet effective routine to help you get the peaceful night’s rest you need.
How we sleep after using the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray…