The genie is out of the bottle.
Singer-songwriter-actress Christina Aguilera is joining sexual wellness brand Playground as a cofounder and chief brand adviser as it enters into official launch mode.
The brand offers FDA-approved, water-based, skin care-infused lubricants, $25, in four different variations, including Love Sesh, an unscented version; After Hours, a musk and oudwood essence version; Mini Escape, a coconut and sandalwood essence version, and Date Night, a champagne and vanilla essence version. Prior to Tuesday, the brand, also cofounded by beauty veterans Catherine Magee and Sandy Vukovic, has been in a soft launch phase.
Bringing on a public figure like Aguilera wasn’t the initial intention for the brand. However, upon being introduced by mutual acquaintances, Magee and Vukovic felt that bringing the star on was a no-brainer.
“Everyone who knows Christina knows she’s very passionate about being bold about your sexuality, over many years where that takes a lot of confidence to do. It really was out of an organic conversation,” said Magee, also the brand’s chief executive officer. “We didn’t want to do this just to have someone like her. It had to be real, had to be authentic, and it is very purposely why she’s a cofounder with a real role in the business.”
Joining the team was just as organic for Aguilera, who has been outspoken about sex and sexual wellness in her music, public appearances and interviews.
“Sexual awareness and empowering yourself and women to feel comfortable and safe about talking about their bodies has always been such a key factor for me in what I do, even embracing that in my music and making it an open conversation throughout my career,” Aguilera said.
However, Aguilera and the Playground team are aware of the onslaught of celebrity backed and founded beauty and wellness brands over the last year — including Brad Pitt’s Le Domaine, John Legend’s Loved01 and Serena Williams’ Will Perform. While some celebs have faced backlash, Aguilera is supportive of other players in the space and feels her authenticity will speak to consumers.
“It’s beautiful that everyone is finding things that they’re passionate about or can believe in, but I think authenticity speaks to the point where this is something that’s just been a part of my career in general. It’s something I’ve always spoken about,” she said.
While sexual and intimate wellness has become more prominent, entering major retailers like Sephora and Ulta Beauty, Aguilera and Magee agree that there is more work to be done to destigmatize the category.
“I wanted to embrace this chapter of my life, fully coming together with a female-owned company. Honestly, everything about Playground resonates with me and pushing these conversations forward, now more than ever, I think it’s important,” Aguilera told WWD. “We all talk about our beauty routines and taking care of our faces, but, I mean, there’s nothing more important than what’s below the waist. It’s the epicenter of every woman.”
Aguilera also noted that as a mother, it is especially important to her to promote open conversations and safe products.
“I wish I could say that there is no more taboo associated in this space, but it’s actually changing. With Christina’s voice and the brand that we’re trying to build, we hope to change it even further,” Magee said.
The brand, which is marketed toward the “wellness-minded woman,” according to Magee, intentionally chose to start with water-based lubricants, which have grown nearly 5 percent year-over-year in search, according to data from Spate.
“We started with lubricants because first of all, both men and women benefit in the bedroom by using lubricant, and we wanted to help tell that story to remove that shame,” Magee told WWD. “But also there’s been little to no innovation in that area of the sexual wellness category at all.”
As the category has been dominated by heritage brands, Playground chose to emphasize the multitasking benefits as a key differentiator. The product not only provides lubrication but hydrating and soothing benefits. It’s formulated with an adaptogen complex blend of fermented bamboo extract, ashwagandha, horny goat weed and black cohosh, which the brand claims will improve the user’s arousal.
Although lubricants are currently at the center of the brand, Magee said Playground is planning to innovate further in the category.
“We think of ourselves as creating best in-class, sexual wellness body products that address pleasure and health. That is more than lubricants,” she said. “No one’s the authority on female sexual wellness today when it comes to body products for pleasure and health, and that’s where we want to be.”
The brand did not share expected projections, but industry sources estimate Playground will amass $5 million in sales this year.
For Aguilera, her work with Playground is all about creating meaningful conversations through products and content, ultimately making sexual wellness a part of everyone’s routines.
“Who doesn’t want a better sex life?” the star asked.