The Honest Company, Jessica Alba’s e-commerce startup best known for its eco-friendly baby products, expanded this fall with the launch of Honest Beauty – a beauty line that continues the company’s mission to offer products with fewer harsh chemicals. Now that line of products has its own mobile shopping application, with today’s debut of Honest Beauty for iOS, an app that lets you both shop and receive makeup tips and tutorials from Alba and others.
The launch of the app comes at a time when a number of companies are vying to become the top shopping service for makeup and other beauty items, including shopping via mobile. Leading the space is Birchbox, the subscription sampling service that has inspired dozens of clones of the “Birchbox for X” variety. And more recently, YouTube star Michelle Phan attempted to translate her social media success to a subscription beauty company of her own, with the debut of ipsy.
Like Birchbox and ipsy, Honest Beauty is also offering a subscription service, but of a different nature. Instead of sample-sized products, Honest customers can bundle three full-sized products of their choice for $50 per month. However, Honest Beauty is largely a more traditional online shop where you can find items, place them in a cart and checkout.
The company says its makeup products are made without parabens, paraffins, silicones, talc, petrolatum, mineral oil and synthetic fragrances – a continuation of its “natural” promise that helps it to carve out a niche versus its competition.
Unfortunately for The Honest Company, Honest Beauty’s September launch also arrived at a time when it was revealed that the company was facing a $5 million lawsuit from a consumer who claimed Honest’s products used “unnatural” and “synthetic” ingredients, and that its sunscreen was ineffective. That news, right or wrong, could potentially damage the brand’s image in the eyes of consumers, and have them less trusting of Honest Co.’s claims.
However, the Honest Co. stresses that Honest Beauty is not a “natural line.” The line uses a lot of natural materials and has a commitment to “carefully sourced” materials, but doesn’t call itself “natural.” That footstepping could potentially help the company avoid further lawsuits like the above.
Still, despite the crowded landscape, which includes newer subscription services, shops like Sephora, as well as age-old beauty brands with online storefronts of their own, the potential for Honest Beauty is huge.
“The size of the beauty market is much larger than the other categories we are claiming today, so does it have the potential to be larger than The Honest Company? Absolutely,” Brian Lee, cofounder and chief executive officer of The Honest Company, told WWD in an interview this August. At the time, the company was said to be raising $100 million in a new round, valuing it at $1.7 billion.
As for the newly launched Honest Beauty app itself, it offers a few special touches beyond its mobile storefront. For example, shoppers can try on and share their Honest Beauty looks live using the iPhone’s camera, then share those looks with others, giving the app something of a social component. And they’ll be able to access a variety of makeup tutorials and other pro makeup tips from Jessica Alba herself, which could be a draw for the actress’s fans.
The app also offers iOS 9 search support and 3D Touch for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from Honest Beauty purchases helps to fund Girls Who Code, the company notes.