Entrepreneur and esthetician extraordinaire Lil Cobb is launching a revolution from the same Buckhead block where she and her childhood friends once road their bikes. She’s got a small army of doctors on her side and a band of loyal clients spreading her message, but the secret behind her successful revolt is a simple one. At Cobb’s Buckhead medical spa, Seraphim Skin Care, the staff vehemently tells the truth about healthy skin.
“Atlanta is my home and I take great pride in that,” Cobb says. “Seraphim has a reputation to live up to, so if I go out of business telling the truth about skincare then so be it.”
Cobb isn’t shy about sharing her belief that no amount of moisturizer, cleanser, toner or sunscreen will ever change a person’s skin. She’s also outspoken about her life’s mission to communicate to the masses what creates healthy skin, which might be why Cobb says clients she hasn’t seen in years still call to inquire about skincare trends.
“So many women are on the search for the next big thing,” Cobb says. “It’s frustrating to watch women go from place to place looking. What’s better than something that with a 40-year history?”
Cobb is referring to Tretinoin, commonly known as Retin-A and one of the active ingredients in Seraphim’s signature Rx Peel and Bleach Cream. Tretinoin has long been available through dermatologists, but Cobb’s industrious spirit allowed her to see an ingenious packaging opportunity in the making.
For years licensed suppliers had ordered Tretinoin and a bleaching agent called Hydroquinone separately then mixed the two prior to application, but a pre-mixed version had not been produced. Cobb called a chemist to ask if the two could be combined, and a brand was born.
“People don’t have to spend tons of money,” Cobb says. “All anybody really needs is Tretinoin, the Vic Cloth and the 2-minute massage. I don’t like harsh chemicals. Peel the bark off a tree and underneath is beautiful wood. It’s the same with skin.”
Cobb says damaged skin should be sloughed off slowly, cautiously and constantly. To that end, she created her patent-pending Seraphim Technique, applying the chemical benefits of the relatively mild Tretinoin in a new way and following it up with a manual exfoliant to reduce the sometime-associated redness.
“Dispense a quarter-size to the top of your hand,” Cobb says. “Start with your forehead and outer cheeks then sweep it inward, so you’re introducing the product to the more sensitive areas last.”
Cobb recommends allowing the cream to penetrate before going to bed and completing the process in the morning, using the Vic Cloth – a wash cloth originally reputed for its healing properties as World War II bandages – without soap to manually exfoliate the skin.
Cobb’s brand has exploded and Seraphim’s inaugural product currently is sold in 20 locations across the country, including Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but Atlantans have the advantage of receiving Cobb’s personal touch.
“We treat people like they’re coming into our home,” Cobb says. “We’ve grown smart because we want to take care of our existing clients.”
“Her line is hands on,” says board certified plastic surgeon James W. Davis, Jr. “It takes a little more commitment but many patients with fine line wrinkles and sun damage get dramatic results.”
Davis says although Cobb’s cream won’t prevent skin cancer, it can reverse sun damage in certain patients. A feat no department store product can claim.
“The cosmetic counter sells cosmetics.” Davis says. “Those products hide things but aren’t causing any long-term change. Lil’s line fills a niche and is a good product.”
Although Cobb always has loved skin care and is a licensed esthetician as well as a make-up artist, Seraphim may never have come to fruition were it not for a personal crisis as her children grew to adulthood.
“My breakdown was really a breakthrough,” Cobb says. “I figured out that all of my problems weren’t someone else’s, they were mine and it was then that I realized the difference between the ego and the soul.”
Cobb says she knew she could never again do a job that fed only the ego and that her calling had to come from someplace deep.
Watchful as his wife endured her private trauma, Cobb’s husband leant the spa its name. Theologically, Seraphim are high-ranking angels described by Isaiah when he beheld the ‘invisible realities’ of Yahweh’s court – apropos for someone who had only just found a new personal reality of her own.
“Personally, I’d like to teach people how to use Tretinoin and that they don’t have to spend tons of money to have beautiful, healthy skin,” Cobb says.
Still Cobb says a person may well leave Seraphim with nothing more than education and that’s okay with her.
“I always ask when was the last time someone complimented a client on their skin,” Cobb says. “Women are generous with their compliments, so if people aren’t zeroing in on their skin it doesn’t look good.”