Before Joy Chen stepped into the CEO role, skincare company H2O+ was lost in a veritable sea of beauty products. Once known for its color-popping shower gels, the almost 30-year-old company that once was earning $100 million in sales found itself with falling revenue and a fading brand presence.
“The industry just didn’t hear from H2O+ and the brand kind of lost its relevance,” Chen says. “Beauty is one of those categories where you do have to be top of the line.”
So in early 2015, Chen left her post as CEO of the natural-care company Yes To in order to bring H2O+ back into the forefront of beauty—starting with the closure of all H2O+ brick-and-mortar stores and a strategy shift from manufacturing to innovation. The reimagined company, H2O+ Beauty, officially launched Monday with a brand-new minimalist website and product line. Instead of being sold through its own stores, H2O+ Beauty products will be available online and through retailers like Ulta.
The new products are more than just redesigned labels (though they brought in graphic artist Ayaka Ito to create a design that spoke to the rejuvenating power of water). Chen says the company looked to other industries when creating products like the deodorant-inspired Elements On The Move Cleansing Stick ($28), a moisturizing solid that rolls onto the face and foam. The solid form means no leaks or spills or getting stopped by TSA.
In celebration of the relaunch, H2O+ Beauty is offering skincare trial kits at $15, which include three deluxe minis with a $15 voucher if the customer chooses to upgrade to a full size in their next purchase.
I tried several of these new products and particularly loved the Waterbright Illuminating Serum($56), a cleansing gel that left my face feeling soft and refreshed, with no discernible residue after rinsing. Talking to Chen, that’s exactly the experience she wants customers to have. H2O+ Beauty signals a return to the brand’s roots with new formulas made without parabens, mineral oils, or phthalates. “That same simple yet effective approach is what we needed to go back to,” Chen says. “Modernize these products and put in the right advances in technology based on water.”