The Business of Beauty Haul of Fame: Perfume Wants to Be Your Therapist



Welcome back to Haul of Fame, the weekly beauty roundup of new products.

Included in today’s issue: CoverGirl, Dr. Dennis Gross, Elf Cosmetics, Fablerune, Her Juice Bar, Huda Beauty, J.Hannah, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Morphe, Ortega, Peace Out, Philip B., Sofie Pavitt Face, and Vacation.

But first…

If you’re shopping for a fragrance right now, your inbox is probably getting weird. Mine is crammed with gooey promises from perfume brands like “a scent that creates a magical place that provokes rich emotions.” Another label claims its perfume is “a collection of emotions … built to boost your chosen mood and architect your dream day.” My favourite this week? A scented body wash that “opens every part of your soul, giving both reprieve, ritual and optimism.”

“I hate that sh*t!” exclaimed David Seth Moltz, the co-founder of D.S. & Durga. I’ve asked him why fragrances have become the cosmetic equivalent of TikTok therapy videos—superficially healing but ultimately empty. “I believe the way perfume makers talk about perfume is one of the biggest problems of our industry,” he said. “Yes, all art forms can tell a story. But this idea that the right perfume can replace your therapist? It can’t. It shouldn’t. And if you need to promise some deep psychiatric healing instead of an incredibly well-made product and an exciting scent experience, it means your perfume just isn’t very good.”

D.S. & Durga obviously thinks their perfume is very good. The label with an estimated $40 million in yearly sales was acquired by Manazita Capital in January; the firm also owns Diptyque. On June 8, the “no bullsh*t” perfume label created by Moltz and his wife, Kavi, releases a new scent, Let’s Dive, in collaboration with CETI, the marine science project that aims to “translate” the language of whales. (Moltz said “it smells like salt and seaweed, along with synthetic musk and ambergris,” a traditional perfume ingredient once harvested from sperm whale hunts.)

Moltz notes that he prefers to “let someone discover your scent, like music — you can’t tell someone an album is good. They just have to hear it.” That means his brand prioritises IRL experiences like in-store perfume master classes, hotel placement, and a two-year-old partnership with American Airlines that brings D.S. & Durga to a captive (and seat-belted) travel audience. The brand is also exploring subscription services that would give shoppers access to limited-edition formulas and test-runs. 75 percent of current sales come from offline, “and the people who are buying online — a lot of them, we know, have already smelled the product.”

Moltz is also playing with video storytelling through “Perfume Quest,” an experimental reality show where someone shares an emotional moment with Durga, and then he tries to recreate it through scent. “It shows the depth of what goes into perfume-making, and it talks about the emotional side of it without overstepping. We acknowledge that scent is extremely meaningful. Like art, it can be moving. But it needs to exist in the context of the rest of your life.” Perfume Quest is currently self-produced, but Moltz is exploring potential partners, along with high-profile talent.

I can’t help but ask which of D.S. & Durga’s fragrances has been the most surprisingly successful. Moltz said he was especially excited by Pistachio, which launched in February 2022. “I think it’s because we didn’t give it a ton of text,” he noted. “We were like, ‘Hey, it’s pistachio!’ That’s it. And everybody got it. They were psyched.”

Skincare

Remember when I said, “Guys, brand smoothies are the new celebrity smoothies”…? Well, Vacation is proving it with a coconut soft serve version that frankly sounds amazing. Maybe a Magic Kingdom Dole Whip collab is next. (@DisneyStyle, do not miss this.)

Dr. Dennis Gross rolled out a new Vitamin C Lactic Creamy Cleansing Oil on May 28. It claims to clear makeup and SPF in one rinse — a summer necessity — and appeared first at Sephora.

Megababe’s new Blade Bar debuted on May 29. It’s a solid shaving cream (just add water) with shea butter, and considerably smaller environmental impact than an aerosol can. The formula’s really impressive!

Peace Out brought back its extremely cute rainbow zit stickers for Pride Month, which began on June 1. A portion of sales go to the Trevor Project.

On June 4, Sofie Pavitt Face introduced its Reset Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Mask. It has Kaolin Clay, Panthenol, Niaciamide and Glycolic Acid. I’ve been using clay-based masks like these as spot treatments for shoulder and chest breakouts after beach days or long runs. They really deliver.

Last month, we said that skincare-to-sex-care is a serious growth move. This month, more proof: Her Juice Bar is launching Honey Dew Drop Intimate Wash, a sensitive-skin cleanser “for the vulva and beyond.” Does that make it sound like our reproductive organs are blasting off into space? Indeed—though perhaps if we abstain from voting in November, we’ll be forcefully separated from our bodies sooner than we realise. Get registered.

Thu Brulé premiered its new Free Spirit Correct & Protect sunscreen on June 3. It promises to “boost antioxidant activity by as much as 200%” and costs $95.

Cosmetics

On May 31, Maybelline’s new ambassador, DJ and music producer Peggy Gou, made her debut on TikTok, Instagram and several smartly-placed outlets like Nylon. Gou is 32, and her first imagery shows the Berlin resident wearing glossy mauve lips and a flash of adult braces. It’s a neat campaign, and Maybelline was smart to harness Gou, who cultivates a vibe of being cool but also actually fun. The brand also released its new Firework Mascara on June 3 starring another current face, Emily Ratajkowski, who is also a master of the cool/fun combo.

L’Oréal Paris announced its Infallible 3-Second Setting Mist on June 1. The formula is waterproof and sweatproof, and claims to last up to 36 hours. The brand is also launching Infallible 24-Hour Brow Lamination with the tagline, “Skip your salon appointment.” This seems like a new must-have, but also, wait … 36 hour makeup hold? 24 hour brow hold? According to L’Oréal’s own skincare experts, aren’t we supposed to wash our makeup off every night?

On June 1, J. Hannah introduced a new nail tint called Milk Glace, which is shiny, cloudy, and almost bright white. The same shade appears to be on Hannah’s new billboard in Silverlake, Los Angeles, featuring pedicured toes and three little words: Send Feet Pics. Dead.

CoverGirl’s new Eye Enhancer 3D mascara has been spreading steadily across retail markets for the past week. On May 31, I finally saw it in Walmart! It comes in black and dark brown, which vampire-pale girls like me really appreciate.

E.l.f. Cosmetics introduced 36 (!) shades of Soft Glam Satin Foundation on June 3. It’s $8 per tube, and claims a medium, satin-y finish that’s stronger than a face tint, but more breathable than full coverage.

I was so excited about Ortega’s new glow balm—as seen on Lana del Rey at the Met Gala—that I didn’t realise celebrity makeup artist Etienne Ortega had postponed her launch by a few weeks. It is now actually on shelves, and very pretty.

Milk Makeup extended its Kush line with a High Roll Mascara + Brow Tint out June 5. Both are tubing formulas, which is especially interesting for a brow situation, because of the potential added thickness. Waxy or wonderful? Stay tuned.

Also on June 5, Natasha Denona drops her Golden Collection, including a shadow palette, face palette and gloss designed for desert island vibes.

Huda Beauty’s Blush Filter imagery has already gone viral on social media, because: Huda Beauty. On June 7, consumers can actually buy it in five buildable shades.

Morphe’s Dripglass Glazed Gloss unveiled five new colours on June 2, all of them infused with shimmer.

Haircare

Philip B.’s new Gentle Conditioner drops June 8. It’s fragrance-free and has old-school ingredients like jojoba oil and shea butter. I’ve gotten obsessed with the brand’s mint Peppermint Avocado Conditioner because a tiny squirt goes a long way, even with coarse hair like mine. It’s a nice value to have in a $40+ product, and a good hint as to why the brand continues to sell through in stores, even without massive TikTok clout.

Fragrance

Fablerune’s new Hinoki and Wild Fig scent debuted on June 4. It comes as a candle, perfume oil, body wash and body lotion, and — like many fragrances lately — its descriptors hint more at a ritualistic pagan orgy than a cosmetic:

“The earthy sun warmed green leaves evoke memories that seem to come from the edge of your memory … Feminine and sensual, the moment of childhood shifting into the complex metamorphosis of maturity where the sky shifts to a dark canopy of rich and ancient hinoki trees, a spiritual hideaway where meadows dance in the darkness of moss and soil with komorebi, cold cypress bark brings the circular smell of earthly spice and meditative amber.”

Yep. But I swear, it actually does smell lovely.



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