US consumers and brands are getting serious about anti-pollution skin care

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

US consumers and brands are getting serious about anti-pollution skin care
Early this year, personal care company H2O+ Beauty partnered with research firm Morning Consult to sort out what US consumers know and look for when it comes to anti-pollution skin care. Now, upon the launch of the brand’s Aquadefense product line, Cosmetics Design checked in with Joy Chen, CEO of H2O+.

Following a rebranding in early 2016, H2O+ Beauty products have a simple, single signature ingredient: pure water. Joy Chen took over the unprofitable company in 2015; and around that same time, she announced her plans to revamp the brand, telling Crain’s, “As a CEO I have no more than three years. The thing I'm thinking about for the first year, which is right now, is how do you stabilize the business and make some strategic choices about how to transform it? And I think our growth plan has to get started in '16 and accelerate in '17.”

Last year was the brand’s most award-winning year yet, and under Chen’s leadership enjoyed a 30% gross margin lift. If Aquadefense pays off, Chen will have advanced the company even further.

Education nation

The H2O + Beauty Pollution and Skin Health 2017 Consumer Awareness Study shows that “adults are generally aware that airborne toxins speed up the signs of aging” ​but also that they “do not consider environmental pollutants to be as damaging or as harmful to the skin as they consider sun exposure to be.”

Data from the survey, which aggregates responses from over 2,000 respondents, also shows that only 33% of consumers think that protection from environmental pollutants (as distinct from the sun) is “very important”​ when they consider buying skin care, bath care, and hair care.

In light of these findings, H2O+ CEO Joy Chen tells Cosmetics Design that “consumer education is critical because of the harmful effects of airborne pollutants on our skin. While people are generally aware of the dangers of pollution, very few take action to protect themselves against it.”

Pollution solution

Anti-pollution skin care is a fairly well established category in some regions beyond the Americas. And, developing anti-pollution skin care for the US region, which has real climate and pollution variations from place to place, as well as for US consumers is not without its challenges.

Explaining how H2O+ responded to those challenges, Chen tells this publication that, “The Aquadefense line is formulated for maximum protection from airborne pollutants, yet feels light and suitable for everyday application. With a powerful combination of ingredients that block out a wide variety of chemicals, Aquadefense products are an effective shield from the most pernicious urban smog, while still being suitable for areas with lower levels of pollution.”

Considering that the company’s survey data shows that more people are cognizant of the harm pollution can do than chose skin care that limits the harm, Chen believes “part of that disconnect is because people don’t realize how easy it is to protect their skin.”

“We developed the Aquadefense line to not only deliver an effective shield against environmental stressors, but also to shed light on the easy steps consumers can take. The Aquadefense line is our first step toward expanding awareness across our entire consumer base,” ​she tells Cosmetics Design.

This article was updated on 1-March-2017 to better reflect the growth that CEO Joy Chen has achieved at H2O+ since 2015.

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