If an aristocratic lifestyle guru and former model were to create a skin-care line with a veteran luxury beauty executive, what would it look like?
The answer is Unexpected Beauty, a brand created by India Hicks and Catherine Walsh that marries a simple, natural skin-care approach with high-tech innovations. The five-piece line launches today on Hick’s e-commerce site and via her network of direct sales ambassadors.
“I had been asked for years, ‘Why not do a beauty line?’ since I had bath and body collections with HSN and Crabtree & Evelyn and I did a beauty book. But I never took beauty seriously. It wasn’t my thing,” said Hicks, the model who parlayed her fashion experience into a home entertaining and lifestyle brand that is now available to all through IndiaHicks.com, a California-based e-commerce portal she launched in 2015.
“I was always a tomboy. I didn’t do facials or care what brand I used, but I realized I was about to be 50 and I had lived 25 years in the tropical sun of the Bahamas and suddenly I thought it was time to get serious,” she said.
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When she finally went shopping for products, she found the choices confusing. She didn’t have time for 10-step K-beauty routines but wanted a handful of products with natural, effective ingredients.
“I had a built-in platform of women who look to us for lifestyle inspiration, and we were all having the same conversation,” said Hicks. “No one was going to take me alone, seriously, so I knew I needed to have some strong voices by me.”
Enter Walsh. “Catherine really appealed to me because she is utterly beautiful and because she has worked in the industry long enough to have a vast vault to draw from.”
“Clearly there’s a lot of trends in the market, like K-beauty, but I believe that not everyone has the time or money or commitment to handle that,” said Walsh, who did a category analysis for Hicks and likens the current skin-care landscape as such: “On the left-hand side you have your Tesla and on the right-hand side you have your bicycle, and in the middle is the hybrid. That’s where we are playing.”
Walsh borrowed from the high-tech, high-performance playbook as well as the healthy body/healthy mind/healthy skin genre, where natural and organic ingredients rule.
“From a conceptual standpoint, we are in between high-maintenance and low-maintenance, with the goal being to simplify, clarify and ultimately demystify skin care,” said Walsh.
Unexpected Beauty delivers the most essential products for women around age 40: Five multitasking, for-all-skin-types products made with responsibly sourced organic and natural plant-based ingredients with the latest high-tech additives. All are micro-batched and handmade on the West Coast.
There is the Indispensable Cleanser ($36 for 5 oz.); Uber Mist ($34 for 5 oz.); Perfecting Polish + Mask ($58 for 3.5 oz.); Supreme Cream ($70 for 1.7 oz.); and Lovely Balm ($14 for .53 oz). There’s also the Go Bag, packed with a week’s supply of four travel-size products and a full-size Lovely Balm. It is priced at $32 until April 30, after which it will retail for $45.
Essential was the ability to do double duty — Supreme Cream is a serum and moisturizer in one, while Perfecting Polish is an exfoliator as well as a mask.
“The idea of having to come from a doctor or surgeon heritage to start a skin-care line is over. Sarah Chapman or Sunday Riley showed that a woman could do it herself, and India felt more comfortable in that space,” said Walsh of the brand positioning.
“The hope is to capture this non-Instagram-ready audience. Not everyone cares about looking perfect on Instagram. I call it the non-Kardashian look,” she said.
That’s not to say that Hicks isn’t comfortable putting her face on the Internet; she serves as her own model for all of her lifestyle products. So she asked model Helena Christensen, now a photographer, to shoot her image for the line.
“She understands a 50-year-old, she’s been behind the scenes,” said Hicks. “But all I can say is just try it.”