NEW YORK, United States — When Rochelle Weitzner began courting investors for her menopause-centric beauty brand two years ago, Pause Well-Aging, she was repeatedly faced with a sea of dumbfounded older men.
“I have no idea what the fuck you just said to me, but I’ll go home and ask my wife,” she recalls one of them telling her. “Trying to convince these men that it was a sexy investment opportunity was not easy."
Weitzner, formerly chief executive of Erno Lazslo, eventually sold a 50 percent stake to Grace Beauty Capital, the early-stage investment firm that also backs buzzy brands like Eloquii, Parachute Home and Rothy’s. Her brand’s first products, including a fascia stimulating tool and a hot flash cooling mist, are slated to launch on June 3.
Trying to convince these men that it was a sexy investment opportunity was not easy.
Though some investors may not have gotten the message, beauty products and treatments aimed at women experiencing perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause symptoms are becoming a big business. Brands like Vichy, Phytomones Ltd, Stratum C and B. Nourished market products specifically to women in their 50s and 60s who are experiencing often unpleasant hormonal shifts.
Procter & Gamble is even entering the ring with Pepper & Wits, a brand targeting menopausal women that they’ve been test marketing since last July. Products include estrogen-free lotions made for different parts of the body (from hands and feet to the vagina) and plant-based dietary supplements meant to ease menopausal symptoms like night sweats and low libido. They’ve also rolled out menopause-friendly products from older brands like Olay, including a moisturiser for mature, menopausal skin.
The new category is seen by many industry and dermatological experts as more than just an anti-aging rebrand. Although data on the menopausal beauty market is slim, these brands are filling a sizeable void: by 2020, more than 50 million women will be 51 or older — the average age for menopause — in the US alone, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
“This subcategory has longevity because it’s not a fad,” said Victoria Buchanan, a senior strategic researcher at The Future Laboratory in London. “It’s part of a broader movement in which skincare brands are actually bothering to understand women’s specific needs at different stages instead of just taking a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Beauty and skincare products can theoretically reduce menopausal symptoms, though expecting to eliminate them entirely is unrealistic, said Dr Ellen Marmur, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Marmur Metamorphosis Skincare, which is not geared specifically towards menopause.
During perimenopause, the phase just before menopause, for instance, hormone levels decrease which leads to hot flashes and an uptick in breakouts and flushing. Once menopause hits, skin can get very dry and loses elasticity, according to Dr Marmur, which only increases in the post-menopausal phase, making wrinkles more prominent.
Pause Well-Aging’s first three products include a fascia-stimulating tool (said to boost blood flow and minimize sagging), a “rescue mist” meant to cool skin and evaporate sweat during hot flashes and a moisturiser to boost collagen.
Pause products are in-step with other beauty trends — they’re vegan and gluten-free, avoid chemicals like parabens and phthalates and not tested on animals. But the brand is avoiding the anti-aging label.
“We will never ever talk about anti-aging,” Weitzner said. “I think it’s a phrase that needs to disappear from everyone’s vocabulary so that women can embrace aging on their own terms.”
Not all menopause-marketed products are what they seem, however, said Dr Marmur, who noted that scrubs, toners, and facial wipes should be avoided by women in this age group as they can be drying.
After going live on the brand’s website during the first week of June, Pause Well-Aging’s products will be sold on Amazon’s Indie Beauty platform. She said she’s planned out product launches and new distribution channels as far out as 2024.
In addition to selling products, Pause Well-Aging will run a blog on its website called “Connect the Dots,” where women can learn about different menopausal symptoms. Facebook and Instagram will be used to build a community around having a more open menopause-centric dialogue.
This is a crazy time, and I don’t want to minimise that, but it’s also not the end of your life!
Female consumers have been eager to see this shift in the conversation for a while now, according to research from media and advertising agency Universal McCann. A recent survey found that 61 percent of menopausal women in the UK agreed that society expects them to vanish from public life as they get older. When it comes to marketing, 74 percent of women say that ads fail to portray menopausal women with any sensitivity.
Weitzner said her approach is meant to be serious and sophisticated but also brings levity to what can be an uncomfortable phase of life.
“This is a crazy time, and I don’t want to minimise that, but it’s also not the end of your life!” she said. “The new face of menopause is not your grandmother. I turned 50, started a company and took up boxing. My life is not over!”