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How Do We Make Beauty Products So Good — For Only $3?
Shannon Vestal Robson
By Shannon Vestal Robson
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Brandless is proud and excited to expand our beauty product category this month, not just because we can offer so many more beauty essentials and tools for only $3, but because we were able to bring a higher standard to these products — they’re all ‘clean,’ that is, free of questionable ingredients — in fact, we have banned 400+ ingredients from our personal care products. The clean beauty movement has made us all sit up and think about the products we’ve been using for years, and this movement is important to Brandless.

To give you some background on Brandless’s role in the clean beauty movement, I talked to our director of merchandising, Jessica Glendenning. “What really matters in the world of beauty is what’s not in your product. So we went to work and said, ‘what are the ingredients that we need to make sure are on this list?’” The current list, which includes parabens, phthalates, and sulfates, was a research-heavy undertaking, according to Jess, but it’s “what we feel like is best in class and one of the most comprehensive lists in terms of what’s not in there.”

For those of us who have already made the switch to clean beauty, one theme has emerged: it’s not cheap. Despite the fact that what makes a beauty product clean is a distinct lack of ingredients, we’re paying more as consumers. It’s a similar barrier that many people feel toward eating organic: it’s expensive; a luxury for those who can afford it — even though we all deserve access to safe and better products.

As in other categories, the markup on beauty products is sky-high — and it doesn’t have to be. But if beauty products don’t have to cost as much as brands charge for them, then why are people willing to pay for them? “Because they think they have to,” Jess told me. “It’s like they’ve been trained that they have to pay more. Truly, they don’t know until they find us that they don’t.”

In the same way Brandless has made eating organic accessible, we’re doing the same for beauty products. All of our products are formulated without sulfates, without parabens, without artificial dyes and fragrances, and (drumroll please) this assortment still only costs $3 each.

So how are we able to deliver the kind of beauty product that has just begun to disrupt the industry — and is priced much higher by other brands?

Though we’re talking about our clean beauty line, Jess’s explanation sums up Brandless’s basic formula for being able to provide better products for $3: “Because our approach is one in which we work directly with the manufacturer, and sell directly to the consumer, we take out a ton of the inefficiencies.”

How we do that specifically for beauty products is about our merchant team making very deliberate choices with the components of the products. “If you think about our facial moisturizer — how many facial moisturizers do you buy that then come in a beautiful box? Well, that box is  20, 30, 40, 50 cents, depending on the makeup of that. That’s something that doesn’t sound like a ton, but when you can take all of those little things and funnel that back into having the best possible product, it makes a huge impact, and it’s a big piece of why we can be at $3 for such a great product.”

People looking for clean beauty products — or just personal care products that are the best quality they can find — should know that they don’t have to worry that a lower price tag means it won’t work as well: “We haven’t sacrificed efficacy and performance by taking these out,” Jess said.  “Instead of spending money elsewhere, we put it into the product. We don’t have the most expensive bottles and tubes and components for our beauty products, because we want to put that cost into what the customer is using. For us, it’s all about quality and ingredients first.”

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