Beauty brands zero in on laundry care


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Now, it’s also in your laundry basket.

Recently, beauty brands have expanded the notion of beautification to include launching laundry detergent, with brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm, DedCool and Bath & Body Works as the most recent entrants. Since 2020, the beauty industry has increasingly looked to various parts of the domestic sphere — from candles and humidifiers to shower heads and cleaning products — as an opportunity to leverage their premium branding on an age-old category in need of a revamp. And in the wake of the recall from The Laundress, which is currently undergoing a relaunch, a vacuum was left for others to become “the nice detergent” in both form and function.  According to Expert Market Research firm, the North America laundry detergents market attained a value of nearly $12 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow 8% in 2024 compared to 2020, aided by the rising demand for laundry detergents.

“Laundry detergents are always concerning due to the number of chemicals which can be involved,” said Dr. Barbara Sturm, who launched her own detergent on May 11 for $55. The luxury brand is built around the concept of anti-inflammation, both externally with its topical products and internally with its teas and supplements. And although Dr. Sturm does not refer to her eponymous brand as “clean,” its principles are aligned with the idea of using safer ingredients and eliminating artificial fragrance, color, microplastics and aggressive preservatives from formulas.

“The average washing detergent contains dyes, fragrances and bacteria-killing chemicals that can be very harsh on the skin, causing anything from mild allergic reactions to contact dermatitis, depending on the skin’s sensitivity,” she said. “Our customers are always looking for new ways to live healthier and enhance their well-being, whether that’s through their skin-care routine, diet or lifestyle.”

In addition, there’s a subset of consumers looking for nicer laundry options, namely when it comes to scent. Traditional laundry detergents evoke the idea of freshness and cleanliness through scents like fresh linen, citruses or vaguely floral concoctions. But in the beauty world, brands with popular or quality fragrance portfolios can speak to a more sophisticated customer. Maison Francis Kurkdjian launched its own set of $45 detergents, one for dark colors and one for light colors, at the beginning of the year. That was followed by a limited-edition partnership between unisex perfume brand DedCool and prestige hair-care brand Ouai, centered on a detergent using the latter’s popular Melrose Place scent. And Bath & Body Works will debut its own line this fall.

“The goal and the objective of DedCool is to create new experiences within the world of scent,” said Carina Chaz, founder of DedCool. “Many fragrance brands create home products, and we wanted our own approach. … We want to show up for every kind of consumer. If it’s someone who doesn’t want to wear personal fragrance, they can utilize the laundry detergent.”

DedCool first expanded to laundry care in March 2020, though Chaz was unaware of just how popular detergent and household cleaning supplies would become as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown period. Later, DedCool reformulated and repackaged its detergent before relaunching it in the summer of 2021.

Ouai has been praised for its scents, despite originating in the hair-care category. The P&G-owned Ouai has previously launched its own candles and personal fragrances using its signature scents like North Bondi and Melrose Place. The partnership with DedCool involved sending the Melrose Place pure fragrance to DedCool, which then added it to its laundry detergent base. Ouai purchased an undisclosed number of units from DedCool for it to sell on, purchasing the units at cost. There was no other financial exchange between the two companies, said Chaz. The detergent cost $35.

As part of the launch promotion, DedCool had a pink pop-up truck located at Melrose Place and Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Calif., where it handed out flowers and detergent samples to people passing by. DedCool distributed over 1,000 samples. Although Chaz declined to share how many limited edition units were created, she said all units were sold out on DedCool’s DTC e-commerce site within three days and on within 10 days.

“We want to continue working with like-minded brands to elevate and tell our story, and allow these bigger brands to test into [new] products,” said Chaz.

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