LONDON — Gucci Westman has always wanted to venture into skin care.
“It’s my biggest passion, but Bobbi Brown actually told me not to begin our brand with skin care. She said ‘That’s ridiculous; you’re known as a makeup artist, you have to start with makeup,’” Westman told WWD, ahead of Westman Atelier’s debut skin care product launch, Skin Activator on March 15.
The product has been five years in the making and will retail for $150 on the brand’s website and stockists including Harrods, Net-a-porter, Cult Beauty, Selfridges and Liberty.
It’s a strategic time for the clean beauty brand to dive into skin care. Westman Atelier is projected to bring in nearly $100 million in retail sales for 2023, according to industry sources.
“We’ve seen really tremendous growth since we launched and one of the most rewarding things is seeing the team grow and our capabilities. We have about 80 employees now,” said David Neville, cofounder of the brand with his wife, Gucci.
He said Westman Atelier has been outperforming with Sephora and the company’s efforts with luxury department stores and clean beauty retailers have really paid off.
Westman’s own journey of experimenting with various products on the skin care market led to contact dermatitis that progressed into rosacea — a blessing in disguise that informed the type of brand she wanted to build with Neville.
“Number one for me was always going to be hydration because I really love feeling like my skin is juicy and supple. I noticed that in the past when I would use heavy creams it would feel really hydrating from a superficial standpoint, but then my skin was dry again in two hours,” said Westman, who has enlisted the help of Korean dermatologist Dr. Raymond Park.
Park is the creator of multilamellar emulsion, a formula that mimics the skin’s natural structure, that focuses on treating and protecting the skin. That emulsion has been adapted into Westman Atelier’s Skin Activator.
“We’ve included 15 types of potent active ingredients, four of them being different molecular weighted, hyaluronic acid, which communicates with your skin and expresses their needs throughout the day. Skin can be a long-term or immediate process, which is why we chose niacinamide, prickly pear and Noni extracts. There’s also 12 additional ingredients besides the hyaluronic acid,” Westman said.
“Since I started using Skin Activator full time, I have not needed to wear foundation and this hasn’t happened to me in 15 years,” she added, explaining that it did take getting used to in the early stages.
Westman’s practice has always been about editing and doing less. Her ambitions are set on creating products that will be smart and effective, as well as adhering to the makeup application.
She was told by her lab that “nobody does this [using active ingredients] because it’s too expensive,” but she’s stood her ground and is proud of the outcome, she said.
“It doesn’t replace the foundation, but foundation is not a requirement for me every day and now my skin is so much happier and more harmonious,” she added, confessing that Neville is the “biggest hoarder of the Skin Activator.”
Skin Activator has had a nine-month setback because Westman was toying with the idea of adding fragrance to the product meant to give it a neuro psychological benefit. In the end, she didn’t, to focus on product purity.
Westman teased the launch of another product that’s still in the works that will be “unbeatable” with the Skin Activator, which is refillable.
She’s firm on not creating a “battleship of products,” and sees the Skin Activator as the gateway into expanding the brand to men, too.
“We’ve always created space for this unisex approach because a lot of our products aren’t necessarily cosmetic looking — a lot of them are made to amplify and enhance the skin and how it looks,” Westman said.
She started her career in men’s grooming in Hollywood and prioritizing the skin has “always been in the back of my mind,” she said.