‘Just add water’: Swedish startup Lifelong eyes expansion with powdered personal care line
Founded in 2019, Lifelong offered a small range of waterless, powdered personal care blends packaged in compostable paper pouches, small and light enough to be delivered through consumer letterboxes. All products had to be mixed with water and left overnight to thicken, including body washes, hand soaps and shampoos, and could be stored in branded durable dispensers – currently being redesigned into full stainless-steel models. Each 40g pouch made 474ml of product when mixed with water.
Powder power – slashing transport emissions and plastic in personal care
Adam Webb, founder of Lifelong, said the goal of the brand was to offer “a premium product in hardware which people can keep and admire for a lifetime”.
“There are not many companies doing this powder-to-water formulation for shampoo or body wash specifically,” Webb told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
The durable stainless-steel containers came with a lifelong guarantee and all product refills were completely plastic-free, packaged in certified biodegradable and home compostable cellulose pouches, he said. UK design agency Popp Studio had led the visual development of the brand.
“Having spoken to all of our customers, one of the biggest benefits of our product [for them] is that because we don’t ship the water, we lower transport emissions by 94%. That’s one of the things our consumers love. We thought it would be more the no plastic packaging, but it’s also the fact that we’re actively helping the climate by not causing so much transport emissions.”
The 94% reduction in emissions, Webb said, was based on a comparison between each 40g pouch of powdered product versus a traditional bottled variant.
So, what was the brand’s expansion goal in the next few years?
Climate-friendly NPD and expansion for Lifelong in personal care
The Lifelong range was currently available via the brand’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) website and through a handful of distributors in Sweden, Northern Europe and Estonia but Webb said the goal was to expand worldwide, eventually. And whilst Lifelong was not currently heavily subscription-focused, he said this was certainly the direction the brand wanted to take as it guaranteed the biggest, long-term impact amongst consumers.
Lifelong would also continue to innovate “climate-friendly” powdered personal care products, he said, expanding its offering to include a body lotion and deodorant. And the latter – a waterless, powdered deodorant – took the brand back to the roots of why Webb first started the concept: to eliminate plastic stick deodorants.
The brand had already designed a prototype stainless-steel, refillable roll-on and would launch the concept on Kickstarter soon to get all the funding necessary to upscale manufacturing, he said.
“What we want to offer is a better consumer experience for our end consumers,” Webb said.
However, engaging with a broad set of consumers and shifting traditional personal care mindsets and routines would be a challenge, he said.
Convincing consumers one of the biggest challenges for powdered personal care
Despite the target consumer being more “climate and environmentally aware”, Webb said one of the biggest challenges the brand had faced, and would continue to face, was convincing consumers the waterless pouch option was worth it.
“We’ve had quite a few people say: ‘why would I pay €8 for a hand soap when I can pay €2.50 for one in my local supermarket?’ And that’s been a bit of a challenge to, kind of, educate consumers.”
“…That’s been a bit of a hard turn as I don’t want to overprice us with this premium shampoo and handwash; that’s not what I want to be, because the more people who buy our product, the more plastic we save. But we need to be able to make at least a small margin in order to be able to keep the company afloat.”
This mindset and price focus, however, was likely to shift as the younger generation became more important in the consumer spending pool, he said. “With social media and people understanding and holding the flame for sustainability and climate change, the younger generation are so much more aware about it and are going to make more sustainable choices.”
But for true change to happen, Webb said more brands had to join the waterless personal care movement. “We need big companies and every company doing this (…) Many more companies need to look at sustainable ways to sell product to the end consumer,” he said.
Circular beauty brainstorm – innovative packaging and formulation delivery
Interested in alternative, more sustainable ways of doing business in personal care? Want to learn more about alternative packaging formats and green formulation methods for a more circular approach?
Join CosmeticsDesign’s expert panel webinar Circular beauty - Sustainable sourcing | Green chemistry | Eco-design this week on Wednesday 14th April to hear more from Garnier, TerraCycle, Beauty Kitchen, Cradle to Cradle and The Green Chemist Consultancy on this critically important topic.