In an age in which almost any consumer product can be purchased with the press of a button, panelists at Cosmetic Executive Women’s West Coast Beauty Insider Series last Tuesday emphasized express beauty services have given renewed purpose to physical locations.
The panelists at Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel — Drybar founder Alli Webb, Blushington president Natasha Cornstein and Stuart Schultz, cofounder and president of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz – spearhead companies that are expanding their brick-and-mortar footprints. Already with 57 locations, Drybar has 12 more on tap this year; five-unit makeup studio chain Blushington is adding four stores in New York, including one on the Upper East Side by the summer; and BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz is spreading its Peel Bar concept in partnership with salons and retailers.
“What keeps women coming back is the feeling they get from it. It’s an experience that you can’t get online,” said Webb of Drybar’s blowouts. “We do have Dry-on-the-Fly where we go into women’s homes. Sometimes you need that, but women still love to come in. It’s a break for them. They can have their laptops — we always have Wi-Fi — but they get a kind of escape and look great after.”
Schultz is squeezing its peels into environments not typically dedicated to skin-care services. The brand’s Peel Bar pops up at eight Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the country, and permanent Peel Bars are in place at the Becker Salon in Greenwich, Conn., and the Flatiron District’s Butterfly Studio Salon. From April 12 to 16, peels will also be offered at Blushington in West Hollywood. In the Park Avenue office of dermatologist Neal Schultz, who is Stuart Schultz’s father, peel treatments cost $220 to $250, but similar two-minute Peel Bar services are priced at $50.
At Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Schultz explained the Peel Bar started “literally on the ground floor between La Mer and Bobbi Brown. Some people were so comfortable and excited to sit down in that seat, and other people were like, ‘What? Take my makeup off?’ One way we have gotten through that at retail is by letting them book ahead. They might not be ready the second they walk in and see you the first time, but they might say, ‘Oh, I can pop by tomorrow and, when I don’t have my makeup on then, I can go to the makeup counter, and get some Bobbi Brown put on because I love Bobbi Brown.’”
The panelists indicated the rise of digital platforms providing on-demand beauty services such as Glamsquad, StyleBee and Vênsette hasn’t taken the shine off of physical formats, and on-demand services can fruitfully accompany in-store visits. “I get sometimes you’re in a pinch – you might not have a babysitter – and it’s nice to have someone coming to your house. Dry-on-the-Fly has been with us from day one, and a year and a half ago, we built out the technology, and the app is a lot easier,” said Webb. “I think it’s something that women will always do, but I don’t think it’s as strong as coming into the shop.”
Blushington’s on-demand option Blush On The Go accounted for 8 percent of its business last year, and Cornstein anticipates it growing this year. “We had On The Go from the very beginning, but it was smaller. Because of the interest and the demand, we have devoted more time and thought to delivering it,” she said. “The experience is consistent, and I think that’s really critical. Whether you are at a station at Blushington or getting an On The Go experience in Texas, New York or California, our services are identical. They meet stringent hygiene standards, and the artist coming to your home has been trained and certified by Blushington.”
Product lines help Drybar, Blushington and BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz extend their reaches beyond their four walls and at-home services. Drybar’s products sold at Nordstrom and Sephora drive around a quarter of its sales. Discussing what inspires her to create products, Webb said, “I talk to my stylists about what they want and products they love. I have this lab of thousands of stylists that help me develop the product.” Blushington, which stocks Kevyn Aucoin, Becca, Stila, Girlactik, Julie Hewett and Jouer, is working on proprietary products. “We are not looking to exclusively carry Blushington products. Our hope is to create products that would be complementary to other lines,” said Cornstein.
BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz launched the $29 Dermstick for Pores less than a year ago and intends to enlarge its Dermstick franchise by January. “That’s [Dermstick for Pores] an amazing door knocker for us, and it’s what a lot of people come to our brand for. Then, they learn the benefits of our glycolic and transition from there,” said Schultz. Going forward, he senses an opportunity for BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz to address what he calls reds or red spots, blemishes and marks. “There is really nothing in any sustained way that treats reds in our opinion. There are prescription products that will do it in the short term,” said Schultz.
The success of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz, Blushington and Drybar products depends on the success of their services, and Schultz, Cornstein and Webb believe the future of express services is bright. Schultz said the customer at BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz’s Peel Bars is often an existing fan of facials attracted to the convenience of quick peel services that require no downtime. “I hope we are going to continue to see more and more professional services become [widely] available,” he asserted. “In the skin-care space, you see Skin Laundry, which is express laser treatments, and services are also becoming more mobile, more accessible and more on-demand. It’s about being able to get it where you want it, when you want it.”