If you asked 16 million women what they wanted out of their eye creams and face washes, then used all of this information to create your very own skincare collection, it might look something like Versed, a non-toxic line that is dropping at all 1400 Target stores and online on May 19. Every single product in the 19-item collection costs under $20.
The new brand comes from Clique Brands, the company behind women’s lifestyle blog Who What Wear, which recently spun off a fashion label also sold at Target. Last year, Clique announced it would begin incubating new startups through a holding company called Offspring, and Versed is the first fruit of this effort.
“With the Who What Wear fashion line, we wanted to bring high-trend items typically only accessible to women in big cities, and make them available to women across the country,” says Katherine Power, CEO of both Clique Brands and Versed. “I saw the same opportunity when it came to skincare.”
While Versed is now a standalone company that owns its own supply chain, it relies on the information gathered from Who What Wear’s community of 16 million monthly users. Versed also did a smaller study tapping into 8,000 members of the community who participated in focus groups and population studies. Versed has used these insights to identify new opportunities in the crowded beauty market.
So what did the data tell them? For one thing, that women were more dissatisfied with their skincare options than with beauty, according to Melanie Bender, GM of Versed. And when it came to skincare, consumers are looking for products that were affordable, non-toxic, and that effectively addressed their most anxiety-inducing skincare issues like wrinkles, under-eye circles, and blemishes.
Power says the company spent a lot of time developing a supply chain that would allow them to sell effective, non-toxic products at under $20 a pop. She points out that many brands try to stand out on the beauty aisle by creating dramatic packaging, but all of this comes at an additional cost. “We focused on using high-quality ingredients and we saved money in other ways, like using off-the-shelf packaging instead of designing our own,” Power says. “We also control our entire supply chain, which also allows us to be lean.”
Despite using simple no-nonsense containers, the Versed products have a chic, minimal design, with bottles and tubes that come in muted pink, green, blue, orange, and yellow. It’s packaging that is reminiscent of Glossier’s, which is also minimalistic, but only comes in a shade of millennial pink.
As the Versed team studied the data, they found that women’s top skincare concerns tended to be relatively consistent. Many worried about dark circles under their eyes, which is why Versed has a whole suite of eye products including one formulated to brighten under the eyes, another that targets fine lines, and another that energizes puffy eyes. (Each of these is $17.99.) Some Versed products help even skin tone, including an overnight glycolic acid facial peel ($19.99), a tea tree oil complexion solution ($12.99), and a willow bark extract clarifying serum ($19.99). There are also everyday cleansing balms and gels, along with moisturizers in the mix.
Importantly, Versed recognized that women are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in their skincare products. With this line, Versed does not use 1,300 toxins and questionable ingredients that the EU has banned from personal care products. (The United States does not regulate the beauty and skincare industries, so those ingredients occur in many products sold in this country.) Versed also took into account other customer preferences, including making sure products are free of artificial fragrances, silicones, parabens, and sulfates.
Over the last few years, there’s been an explosion of non-toxic beauty brands on the market. At the higher end, there are brands like Tata Harper and May Lindstrom, and there are also premium brands like Beautycounter, Drunk Elephant, and Seed Phytonutrients. But it’s hard to find clean brands at drugstore prices. Large brands like Neutrogena and Herbal Essences have recently dropped a few non-toxic products in their lines. But with Versed, customers can choose from a full range of clean products at affordable prices.
“If you have the right access or discretionary income, you have so many new options when it comes to clean, effective skincare,” says Bender. “But if you’re among the 60% of women who buy their beauty products from the drugstore, those aisles haven’t changed much over the last few decades. We wanted to change that.”