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What Beauty and Wellness Products Sell In a Pandemic?

Hint: sheet masks, CBD and vibrators.

As the beauty industry contends with the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., some companies are experiencing unprecedented spikes in sales on certain products. Essential care items and products meant to fill the void left by shuttered salon services are in high demand right now. Here, a look at what still sells in beauty and wellness, despite a global pandemic. 


Anxious consumers are stocking up on CBD. Direct-to-consumer brand Plant People has seen a 40 percent jump in sales in the past month, led by its Be Calm capsules and a tincture for sleep. Recess, the CBD-spike seltzer brand, also delivers direct-to-consumer, and last week saw its online sales double within the span of a few days. Sales at Equilibria, another direct-to-consumer brand that makes CBD pills, drops and pain relief cream specifically for women, have increased 20 percent in recent weeks. Prima’s Daily CBD soft gels are up tenfold since last week. 

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With nail salons across the country closed, nail-care items like polish remover are disappearing from store shelves. Los Angeles-based Olive & June’s Mani Kits, which sell for $50 to $80 and include tools for DIY manicures, have increased sales eightfold in recent weeks. Essie’s Expressie line of quick-dry polish with a brush specifically designed for DIY use, was launched in December and is said to be exceeding initial forecasts as of several weeks ago.


Maude’s $45 vibrator is completely sold out on its web site and available only for preorder, after experiencing a 200 percent sales jump in mid-March. The brand’s lubricants, condoms, bath salts and candles are also up. “Where else do you go [for those items] — CVS? No one wants to leave their house right now,” said Catharine Dockery, founding partner in Vice Ventures, which backs Maude.


As women stock up on essential items like tampons, Indie challengers to conventional personal-care brands are getting a boost. Rael, which makes organic and sustainable feminine care products, has seen sales at Target, where it only launched a few months ago, double and sales on Amazon triple. The sales increase is split between new and existing customers, said Yanghee Paik, founder of Rael. “I’m sure there were some customers who visited Target stores and couldn’t find their usual brand and gave us a try,” she noted. “Normally women have very strong loyalty to their favorite fem-care brand, so it takes a lot for them to switch.”


With spas and aesthetician’s offices closed for business, and many consumers cooped up at home, skin care is continuing to drive sales, specifically tools and targeted treatments. At Tata Harper, online sales are up, especially for treatment bundles designed for at-home facial, including The Med Spa and The Detox Facial, $184 and $183 respectively. Each contains three products. Augustinus Bader has seen an uptick in subscription sign-ups for refills, and said business is up 30 percent at Net-a-porter, though the British e-tailer stopped shipping to the U.S this week. Stacked Skincare by Kerry Benjamin, a skin-care brand that specializes in tools for at-home use, including microneedling, ice rollers and high-frequency devices, hasn’t seen “a huge shift yet,” but is preparing its infrastructure for more orders and to offer drop shipping services for aestheticians looking to make money from product recommendations. Skin Gym’s Gua Sha Facial Trio kit is sold out on its web site. Sales of Avène’s Soothing Sheet Mask are up 1,400 percent from last year.


Hand creams, hand washes, and without question, hand sanitizers, are in exceptionally high demand. Early data from IRI tracking the 52 weeks ending Feb. 23 showed a near 80 percent increase in hand sanitizer sales, and brands such as EO have reported sales gains upward of 1,300 percent. Megababe’s Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer launched in time for a deluge of orders, selling out through its web site and Ulta Beauty. A restock, which amassed a 10,000-person waitlist and was limited to two items per customer, quickly sold out within two-and-a-half hours. Sales of Avène’s Cicalfate hand cream are up 300 percent from last year. On L’Occitane’s e-commerce channel, sales of its Shea Butter Hand Cream have increased 50-percent year-over-year, and its hand soaps are up triple-digits.


For consumers accustomed to salon color treatments, going gray is of concern during an indefinite period of home confinement. R+Co’s root touch-up sprays are experiencing exponential growth, according to Luxury Brand Partners ceo Tev Finger. Madison Reed, which specializes in home color kits, saw online sign-ups increase six-fold last week.


Consumers are still snapping up vitamins and supplements, despite reports they will not indeed combat the coronavirus. 8Greens, which makes dietary supplements made from greens like spirulina and blue algae, said its sales are up 200 percent. Shen Beauty in Brooklyn, which is shipping online orders, is completely sold out of Livon Labs Lypo-Spheric vitamin C, and is running out of Tomen’s botanical concentrates after a prior sellout. “Any supplement or herb to keep your immune system strong is good, but most importantly, nothing is going to cure you,” noted Shen founder Jessica Richards.

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