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Kelly Preston Readies Natural Beauty Brand, Breathe Organics

“I'm here to educate a new consumer — someone who knows about organic, and knows enough that they are looking for it."

If Millennials can count Jessica Alba as the clean beauty guru of a generation, and Gen Xers have Gwyneth Paltrow, Baby Boomers can now look to Kelly Preston.

The 55-year-old actress, who has a long history of publicly championing the benefits of living an organic lifestyle, is coming out with her own organic beauty brand called Breathe.

Set to launch direct-to-consumer sometime in December or January, Breathe for now consists of four antiaging skin-care products: a day serum, $137; day crème, $121; night serum, $149; and night crème, $133.

It’s a fortuitous time for a celebrity to launch a skin-care line, especially as makeup sales slow in the U.S. —  category growth was flat in the second quarter of 2018, according to NPD, while skin care grew 12 percent. While 2016 and 2017 saw makeup sales soar — and lines like Kylie Cosmetics and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty burst onto the scene, more famous faces are turning to skin care this year. Paris Hilton’s ProD.N.A. line launched direct-to-consumer this summer.

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Breathe is fully funded by Preston herself, but she’s in talks with investors and doesn’t intend to stop at skin care. Ultimately, she plans to build Breathe into a full-fledged organic lifestyle brand in the vein of Honest Beauty or Goop, encompassing makeup, hair care and products for men, baby and home.

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Preston’s starting with skin care, she says, because she believes her products result in a visible difference — she says she uses them herself and attributes her virtually lineless complexion to a strict Breathe regimen, forgoing Botox, fillers, plastic surgery and “anything synthetic.”

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I eat 70 percent organic and I [use organic products] — it’s clean living,” Preston said of her skin in an interview with WWD. “I’ll be 56 in October and people have asked me for years what I do to my skin.”

Now, she’s hoping consumers who have overlooked organic products in the past will buy into her regimen.

“I’m trying to educate a new consumer — somebody who has heard about organic and knows enough that they are looking for organic products,” said Preston. “The thought has been, ‘Oh, it doesn’t work as well as a chemical or synthetic counterpart,’ and I’m here to say that it does.”

This isn’t Preston’s first foray into the beauty space — from 2005 to 2007, she was a Neutrogena ambassador, starring in television spots for the brand’s antiaging skin-care products. “Years ago, I was willing to use anything that worked — whatever made my skin look more beautiful,” said Preston. “I’ve become more conscious of what I put on my skin and what is absorbing into my body.”

Her involvement with Breathe is deeply personal — Preston and husband John Travolta have spoken out for years against chemicals found in the environment, food and household products, which she believes contributed to their now deceased son Jett’s autism and childhood Kawasaki disease.

“For the last 20 years, I’ve been speaking out against chemicals and their effects on the environment, how we can protect ourselves and our children and live around and amongst them,” said Preston in an interview with WWD. “What you put on your skin and body is just as important as what you breathe and ingest.”

Breathe is a venture Preston has been thinking about for a long time — 10 years, to be exact. The line took a years to develop, said Preston, because she was painstakingly critical about ingredient sourcing and efficacy.

“I wanted products that worked as well, if not better, than conventional products that might contain chemicals or fillers and synthetic ingredients,” said Preston. “I’ve never found anything on the market that worked as well as the luxury brands that was organic.”

The Breathe skincare range.
The Breathe skin-care range. George Chinsee/WWD

The products are Natrue-certified, made with organic ingredients harvested from a farm in Italy, where the products are also formulated. “The aloe is hand-picked and hand-carried. It’s not mass-produced,” said Preston. The Breathe formulations consist of entirely naturally derived ingredients, such as resveratrol, argan oil, wheat germ oil, hibiscus seed proteins, pomegranate extract and tobacco, which acts as a skin conditioner and collagen synthesizer.

For now, the product lineup — just four stockkeeping units — is tight, and that’s on purpose, according to Preston. “I’m not a five-step person — it just doesn’t happen.”

An early adapter to clean eating and clean beauty, Preston has witnessed a “complete paradigm shift” in the last few years, as a broader consumer demand in the U.S. for natural and “clean” products increasingly catches up with the lifestyle she’s been touting for over 20 years.

“People are much more aware of organic versus chemical,” said Preston. “I don’t think there’s that much on the market yet for [antiaging skin care].

The customer she’s looking to hit with Breathe is wide-ranging — the products are inherently antiaging due to their active ingredients, but she’s designed them to work on all skin types. “It’s probably late 20s to 57 and above,” said Preston of her target consumer. “I’ve given the products to my daughter who is 18. These products are like food for your skin. I’ve always said that if you can catch your skin early, you can prevent so much damage.”

While Breathe is launching direct-to-consumer on its own Web site, Preston plans to expand to retail eventually, though she wants to build brand awareness first. She has her next lineup of products on the brain as well, including masks and body care. “I have several things in the pipeline, but I’m open to what people want — I want to listen to our consumers and see if they have ideas,” said Preston.

She plans to do this via her personal Instagram account, which she made public just three months ago, in preparation for the Breathe launch. Thus far, she’s racked up nearly 100,000 followers.

“I was on Instagram [before], but I had [only] my friends and I had 60 followers. I kept it private,” said Preston. “I was really bad — I posted every three months. Now I’m going to treat it as a line of communication with people.”