EXCLUSIVE: Olaplex Takes Bond Technology Below the Hairline

Olaplex is taking its proprietary bond-building technology in a new direction.

It is launching Lash Bond Building Serum, the brand’s first product outside of traditional hair care treatments, stylers and cleansing products. It retails for $68 and will be available on Friday at Sephora and Ulta Beauty, as well as the brand’s own website.

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Although it’s an inflection point for Olaplex, brand executives say it wasn’t a far leap from their existing products.

“Our original patented technology was patented for hair, skin and nails,” said Charlotte Watson, the brand’s chief marketing officer. “We have a very edited and curated portfolio, we wouldn’t launch something without careful consideration. Exploring other avenues in hair, like lashes, was the first foray for us in thinking about new category alignments.”

The brand is leaning into the clinical claims around the product’s efficacy. “We actually benchmarked ourselves against the number-one prescription lash product, and we did just as well,” said JuE Wong, chief executive officer of Olaplex.

“We are launching this across all of our partnerships at the same time,” Watson continued, “Olaplex, Sephora and Ulta. It will be available in the professional channel as well.”

In 2022, the company’s professional channel grew 16 percent to $300.5 million in sales. At that time, the brand anticipated a 41 percent sales decline in the first quarter, with a boost to come in the second half of 2023 thanks to new products and expanded distribution.

The brand aims to message around Lash Bond’s claims as part of its marketing strategy.

“We’re engaging a broad range of influencers across medical, dermatologists and makeup artists where relevant,” Watson said, adding it’s also the first time Olaplex has shot content inside its labs. “We will go hard and heavy with the claims, but knowing that Olaplex is so much founded in its technology, we wanted to make sure we broke that down and the consumer understood how the existing technology combined with the new innovation.”

Olaplex experienced a rapid rise after its launch in 2014, but has estimated overall sales will decline year-over-year by 15 percent in 2023. The company faces macroeconomic pressures, a lawsuit from consumers alleging its products have damaged their hair and media attention around product safety.

“We see this as an opportunity to reassert our authority in hair health and in science and innovation. This is an opportunity for us to reach new audiences. Although Olaplex has an incredibly high awareness, we’re only eight years old, and we’re still developing new partners,” Watson added, of the launch.

Lash serums are also among the most requested products from the brand’s loyalists, Wong said. “The number-one reason people come to Olaplex is because of trust. The one thing they asked for outside of hair products was a lash problem, so they make the association that we can play in that space,” she said.

The formula is free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, gluten, silicone and prosthaglandin, and is vegan and ophthalmologist tested for safety.

The formula combines three different types of ingredients, including a peptide blend, bond-building technology and conventional ingredients like hyaluronic acid and biotin meant to condition skin and lashes. From a scientific point of view, creating products with clinical support was difficult without prostaglandins, which lengthen the growth phases of eyelash follicles, but can come with various side effects, such as eye irritation. “This project started many years ago,” said Lavinia Popescu, Olaplex’s chief scientist.

Developing the blend of peptides alone took five years, Popescu said, adding that each class of ingredients counteracted the different causes of lash loss, such as makeup removal and follicle irritation. “We are one of the first companies in the industry to target these different mechanisms,” Popescu said.

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