Cover Story: The Scientific Approach with Dermatonics

Biochemist Donna Marcal chats to Anita Quade about her passion for science, skincare and launching Australian Made brand, Dermatonics.

Anita Quade: You are a Biochemist that was in Academic Research. Why the switch to creating a skincare range?

Donna Marcal: “I absolutely loved the research that I was doing throughout my PhD and Post-Doctoral Research on several areas of macrophage-mediated inflammation and how it impacted human biology. I was finding though, as passionate as I was about my research in inflammatory conditions, it doesn’t translate fast enough to outcomes in human conditions. I wanted to find a way to translate the knowledge and expertise into solutions and measurable outcomes in human diseases and conditions.”

Tell us a little bit about your research background and what you are most passionate about in science.

“My research has always focused on inflammation, more specifically macrophages. Those are white blood cells that are often compared to ‘Pacman’ as they are really good at ‘eating up’ foreign materials (a process called phagocytosis). I spent several years studying macrophages and how they degrade biomaterials (materials used in implanted medical devices).

My research then brought me to Australia where I began working on macrophages and inflammation related to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to cholesterol build up and plaque formation). Studying inflammation and molecules that play a role in inflammation is still central to what I do and an important part in our formulations with Dermatonics, as inflammation is an underlying factor in so many skin conditions.”

Dermatonics was founded by Dr Donna Marcal

The launch of Dermatonics was inspired…

“…by the search to apply our knowledge and expertise to human inflammation, wound healing, and tissue regeneration, we began to formulate unique products for the skin. We wanted to mainly use natural extracts that had evidence behind them and key synthetic active ingredients, determining their effectiveness in key skin conditions. We wanted to meet a gap in the market for highly effective products that are packed with actives (not just one ‘magic molecule’), gentle on the skin and formulated to be used by skin specialists in targeting specific skin concerns.

Needless to say, I haven’t looked back and am loving everything we are doing and the results we are achieving with our clinic partners.”

“The main things I love about what I do with Dermatonics….

  1. Interaction with our clinic owners and therapists, and
  2. Creating new products in the lab. I am very involved in our interactions with our clinic partners. I am at the head of all our clinic education, both online and in-person. Every Friday, we talk about our achievements for the week, whether it’s little steps or big goals achieved and love hearing about every single one. Another main passion is formulating in the lab. I truly enjoy researching the ingredients we are going to use and how they are going to play together in our formulas. There is nothing more rewarding than launching a new formula, that you know is a game-changing product, and hearing all the wonderful feedback and how our clinics are achieving life-changing results.”

“When a clinic comes on board with Dermatonics…

…we really do a little happy dance as we are so excited to have connected with another amazing clinic. You become part of the Dermatonics family and I love getting to know each of the clinic partners and their teams. We ensure that each new clinic partner has their training ‘bible’ (our training binder) with all the information they need on our products, ingredients, and protocols to get going with our products. Clinics also get access to us at Dermatonics where they can ask us questions, and we can help with any online or in-person training they need from myself or our team. For businesses with multiple therapists, we often come directly to you to train in your clinic. We know training in your space is much easier and we love spending time in your space, working with your team and how Dermatonics and our protocols can fit best into your business.”

Dermatonics offers a range of Australian made skincare solutions to salon owners

We make it easy to implement Dermatonics into your clinic…

….as we know that starting off in your new clinic or changing to a new brand in your clinic can be a big and sometimes daunting task. It is important that you have the right tools to address your clients’ skin concerns. Therefore we do still have a minimum opening order and we are VERY flexible in what you open with in your clinic. Our team works with you as you bring on our range, to help chose the best combination of retail products and professional protocols to start with that suits YOUR business.

For example, if you have a gap in your clinic for addressing pigmentation, we have a range of products that are specifically tailored to this. You can start small and focused and gradually expand with our range, especially if you are starting out or slowly swapping over from an existing range.”

“Dermatonics is a family….

…and we truly enjoy building a community of like-minded skin professionals. When each clinic comes on board, the whole team becomes are part of the community. They are also introduced into our Facebook Group and we get to know each clinic partner closely. We also love seeing our clinic partners interact with each other and form new bonds at our training days. We want our clinic partners to feel a sense of comfort amongst each other and to collaborate. We also support and assist our clinic partners, we share in the wins and support them when things may not be going well (goodness knows the last few years have been difficult for so many various reasons). We are here to support our clinics and help them build their business, not just sell them a product.”

“We love education at Dermatonics….

…and it is one of the core components at Dermatonics that will grow. It is imperative to us that we are transparent about our products, what they do and the ingredients that are in each product. Building confident clinics leads to business growth and most of all, builds client loyalty and retention. Education at Dermatonics includes online Mini Education sessions, Online Product Training sessions (this is really important when we onboard our clinic partners), our closed Facebook Group, and also our In-Person Training Days.”

Dermatonics’ products have been tested extensively before going to market

“Our In-Person Product Training days are a full day of fun and education…

…we typically have a morning of product and ingredient knowledge, also chatting business building tools and the Dermatonics philosophy. Then we break for lunch, [followed by a] relaxing afternoon getting hands-on with our products in purpose-built training facilities across the country. We love, during our in-person training days, when different clinic partners meet for the first time in-person, make great connections and friendships that continue to meet up outside of our training, swapping treatments and building relationships. It’s a truly rewarding experience to facilitate those connections.”

“We decided to grow Dermatonics as a clinic-exclusive brand….

…as we know that this is important and a key deciding factor in bringing a new skincare range into the clinic. With so much choice on the market, we know that clinics want a product that their clients come to them for. We know it’s also important that therapists prescribe the best skincare regime for their skin concerns and their skin goals. Our products were always developed to be in the hands of the skin therapist to address skin concerns, and therefore it only made sense to ensure that our products are exclusive to them and their businesses and not sold by us online and direct to the consumer.”

“We recently refreshed our Dermatonics brand in 2022 because…

…we wanted the look of our brand to reflect the clean and clinical nature of our product range. Our Dermatonics brand has really grown and evolved since we launched in 2016 and began with just six retail products in our range. Now we have over 25 retail products, six starter packs and a growing range of professional products. We are continually developing new products (watch this space, some wonderful new serums to be launched very soon and exciting new professional facial products!). The refresh of our brand has allowed us to unify our range and give us more direction with as we move forward. It has also helped with the visual aesthetics of our brand in-clinic.”


  • Transparency
  • Caring
  • Education
  • Building Relationships
  • Sustainability
  • Purpose Driven Products
  • Innovating
  • Supportive

You mention evidence-based ingredients in your range, tell us a bit more about this and what it means.

“Using scientific methods to formulate a product range is one thing, and we do use high scientific standards and methods in our formulations. However, it is important to us that the ingredients we use in Dermatonics have purpose, function and evidence that they will specifically benefit the skin.

We will not put an ingredient in a product solely because it is ‘on trend’ or a popular ingredient. We do our own research and background work to ensure there are specific benefits and evidence to show that our ingredients are the best for the skin and the formulas and will have the desired outcomes for the skin.”

If you already have existing product ranges and want to add on additional range…

…Dermatonics fits well into many businesses that already have existing ranges and protocols and are looking for something new or additional for their clients. Often clinics will come to us as they are looking for a specific range that will give them great results, however is also more gentle on the skin, and more natural with ingredients. We find that clinics and clients are starting to want products that really respect the skin barrier, don’t have the harsh ingredients yet can still achieve life-changing results. This is where Dermatonics will fit into your business as you search for that range that resonates with you, your clients and your business.”

Our purpose at Dermatonics….

…is to create highly innovative, results-driven skincare products and connect them with the hands of amazing forward-thinking therapists.”


  • Australian owned and made
  • Doesn’t sell online or undercut the clinic partners
  • Passionate and caring team behind the brand
  • Products that drive results
  • Dedicated Education (Product, Ingredient, Skin Knowledge)
  • Doesn’t contain harsh or unnecessary ingredients
  • Flexible opening and ongoing order options
  • A brand that is not saturated in clinics
  • A brand that is committed.


Tia Churstain – Dermal Clinician – Miss T & Co:

“I CANNOT recommend Dermatonics highly enough! I LOVE the products, brand philosophy and support this amazing company offers; clean and clinically effective skincare that works! I’ve been a stockist for over three years and have helped transform many of my clients’ skin with their in-clinic treatments and retail range!”

Megan Baston – Degree Qualified Aesthetician – My Face Place:

“To say I LOVE Dermatonics is an understatement! If there was a queen for the ‘I love Dermatonics’ support page, I would be its leader. The products are sensational, the value is extraordinary and the people behind the brand are truly in business for the right reasons. Do yourself a favour and get on board the Dermatonics train as you will not regret it! I’ve given 5 stars but really, they deserve more!”

Linda Wans – Dermal Clinician – Mediskin Australia:

“I came across Dermatonics in 2017, on my hunt for an Australian made, therapeutic and active skincare range but without the “red flag ingredients”. Donna was, and is, an amazing wealth of knowledge! Her professional background in human biochemistry and special interest and passion for inflammation and skincare shows in the power and effectiveness of this amazing Dermaceutical skincare range she and her husband created. There isn’t a Dermatonics product that I don’t like (or my patients for that matter!)

When I brought the range on and combined it with my treatments the first comments were “wow, that smells and feels amazing!” and it all grew from there. The range is simple and easy-to-use, targeting specific skin concerns with the power of nature and science and the biggest bonus: no nasties. Since I started with Donna and co., Dermatonics has ‘raised’ a few more babies like the Copper Peptide Calming Mist, Nourishing Face Oil and best of all, a sunscreen!

I really love that Dermatonics is clinic exclusive and the service and support for clinic partners is amazing. Donna has always been super approachable, helpful, creative and she really knows what she is talking about. Dermatonics is my go-to skincare range for everyone and it really helps to support, nourish, repair, correct and protect the skin. It works in great harmony with the procedures and treatments I offer and I always say a good skincare is half your treatment.”

This article first appeared in the January-February 2023 print issue of Professional Beauty.

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