Jessica Alba's clean line of skin care and cosmetics, Honest Beauty, is about to mark a year in business with an extension of its color range, a new brand ambassador and hair-care offerings.
"We give her clean formulations — that's the DNA of the brand — but we can't compromise performance. It's clean but it's going to work," James Park, general manager of Honest Beauty, told WWD of the brand, launched by The Honest Company last September. Every product in the line is free of aluminum, parabens, paraffins, talc, silicone, petrolatum, mineral oil or synthetic fragrances.
He emphasized that while Honest Beauty was born out of The Honest Co. and Honest Beauty founder and chief creative officer Alba's sensitive skin and longtime histories of allergic reactions to much of the skin care and makeup in the market, it's not just about delivering "clean" product. Effectiveness and a "high color pay off," both notoriously difficult to achieve without the use of many of the above ingredients, are pillars of the company, according to Park.
He said the business is set to grow "exponentially" in the next few years through two main channels: the brand's digital flagship at honestbeauty.com and Ulta Beauty, which entered 250 doors in March and will be in more than 300 doors by year's end. A pop-up shop at the Grove in Los Angeles, open from November of last year through May, was Honest Beauty's foray into physical retail.
"We don't provide specifics on financials, but in a very short time we've created a business in makeup that's exceeding or expectations," Park said.
The brand is in the process of upping its retail presence at Ulta by 20 percent and has brought celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin on board as a creative color consultant to help with product development.
The first two makeup products co-created by Martin — the Falling For You Makeup Palette, priced $35, and the Falling For You Cheek Palette, $34 — will be launched at honestbeauty.com, Ulta and ulta.com next month. An Invisible Blurring Powder, comprised of just five ingredients, launched on honestbeauty.com last week, and in July, a $34 Spotlight + Strobe Kit — the brand's effort at simplifying strobing — made its debut. Both products will be available at Ulta starting in September.
Alba, a self-professed fan of strobing — the beauty trend that's centered exclusively on highlighting facial features — told WWD her new kit "doesn't have too much shimmer," nor is it "too dense." This makes for easy blending and a "natural look" that can be paired with a bare or full face of makeup.
"It is super blendable and effortless. I recommend using the product on the high points of the face like the tops of the cheekbones and on the bridge of nose," Alba said.
In a year, the range has grown to include nearly a 100 stockkeeping units, including 15 skin care items, 75 makeup items and a selection of seven trial and travel-sized offerings. Products range in price from $15 to $34, with the majority of the collection falling within the $18 to $25 price point. Bestsellers are Magic Balm, Everything Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 and Everything Primer Luminous Base, which retail for $18, $28 and $27, respectively. Alba called Magic Balm a "multiuse" product that she wears on her lips, under her eyes, on the tops of her cheekbones to "buff out fine lines," on cuticles and even to tame flyaways.
"Manufacturing didn't have the technology it does now," Martin said of developing color cosmetics in line with Alba's "clean" mission. "Being able to go into the lab and push the color is really fun. It really challenged her labs to push what you can do with clean makeup."
Martin, who spent about a decade with Aveda, is also contracted with Dior as a celebrity makeup artist. He has worked with Alba for five years and said that when she approached him about creating the palette, the only direction she gave him was, "You do you and let me know what you're thinking."
From there, Martin said his and Alba's love of Nineties music was the "jump off," and the deep rusts, aubergines, golds and coppers that were popular during the decade became his inspiration for the eye, cheek and lip colors in the palette.
Park added that while the color palettes are the biggest push for the season, a collection of clean hair care will launch later this fall at honestbeauty.com and at Ulta that's expected to become a significant portion of the business. Sales are "balanced" between the two categories, per Park who noted that about 50 percent of the business come from skin care and the other half from makeup, with slight variations depending on channel. Ulta is slightly stronger in cosmetics while the brand's digital flagship sells a bit more skin care.
"We were born in the digital space so we invest heavily in this; not because we were born there, but because it's important for the consumer. It's not just e-commerce but social media and CRM [customer relationship management]," Park said.
For him, all three of those elements need to be "firing" for the consumer to understand the brand. Honest Beauty relies on social media communication as the core part of its marketing efforts, leveraging influencers, loyal customers and Alba's to increase awareness with all launches supported on digital and social.
Tara Simon, senior vice president of prestige merchandising at Ulta, maintained that the "brand's appeal as well as our guests' increased interest in its product proposition" drove the retailer to add Honest Beauty to 50 more of its stores through December.