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Why skincare brand Soft Services is taking aim at common body skin issues

Founded by Glossier alums, Soft Services launched in May 2021 to address an underserved area of skincare. We chat with cofounders Rebecca Zhou and Annie Kreighbaum to go inside the brand and learn more about the opportunity to target body skin.

Soft Services, founded by Glossier alums, launched in May 2021 with a mission to address body skin concerns. (Photo: Soft Services)
FOUNDER INTERVIEW

Worth $130 billion, the market for skincare products is massive. There are more than 200 skincare brands, most focused on face, in Thingtesting's directory alone.

But what about the rest of your skin? While there are brands like dissolvable body wash company PLUS or Anese, which makes a natural body scrub, it's more difficult to find brands targeting concerns that aren't part of the more mainstream skincare conversation. That includes issues like Tinea versicolor, Keratosis pilaris, and body acne, all of which are extremely common but not often directly addressed by skincare brands.

That's where Soft Services, a body skin brand launched in May 2021 by Glossier alums Annie Kreighbaum and Rebecca Zhou, comes in.

Through education around body skin concerns via its Mass Index and products formulated with active ingredients to target breakouts, unclog pores, and fight ingrown hairs, Soft Services is aiming to bring more attention to this underserved area of skincare.

Thingtesting caught up with Soft Services to learn more about how the brand came to be and what consumers should know about the body skin category.

What opening did you see in the skincare market when you were developing Soft Services?

Annie Kreighbaum: Even with all that innovation happening [in skincare] we realized the one category that wasn't being innovated on at all, other than shaving or hair removal, was body. The body category we saw was really dominated by hair removal hygiene, basic cleaning yourself, and moisturization, and all of that was fragrance-led.

If you think about it, you have a body lotion, but what are the odds that your skin has the same needs from the back of your arms to your butt, or your chest? Your skin is quite different all over. We realized that there was no brand really acknowledging that.

And that differs from choices offered in skincare?

Rebecca Zhou: Within face skincare, for us, we didn't really feel like there was a way for us to play that didn't feel like we were kind of adding to [more choices]. If I have any problem on my face, there's five to 20 products I might be able to choose for that are specifically formulated for my skin issue, but when it came to body, as Annie highlighted, it was a complete desert.

Not only for products, but also for information, and even just a conversation among friends. When's the last time you talked to your friend about your butt acne? But you probably have gone to dinner with a pimple patch on your face. And so that disconnect felt like something that we were really excited to dive into.

How familiar were consumers with the body skin category when you launched?

AK: We actually were surprised because we thought there would be more of an education hump. We first started online. Looking at the trends in conversation, people are talking about these things on – we call it the underbelly of the internet – Reddit, Amazon reviews [and] a lot of anonymous places, because these subjects are still a little bit more taboo for mainstream beauty.

We thought there would be more of a hump in education that we needed to get over, explaining to the masses what is KP (Keratosis pilaris), what is Tinea versicolor, what are these things that are not part of mainstream skincare conversations. But then we were actually really surprised shortly after launch.

I've seen the amount of people that were really familiar with KP because they were so desperate for a solution, and they've done their own research, they know what these bumps on the back of their arms are. Some people don't still, but we were surprised that the number that do was way larger than we thought.

What informed your product development in this new category?

RZ: The aim of Soft Services is to create solutions where they don't exist today. Where someone has a problem, we can clearly tell they're searching for a solution, whether it be through our research like, "Oh, someone is using a pet wipe for this fungal issue on their arm and this is a huge conversation on Reddit or TikTok." There's clearly a need and when you [do a] Google search, there's zero products that come up.

For us, developing solutions where there are none today is really important to us. That's what we've seen in the last three months since launch, as we're finding these customers who have been searching for a solution, who are so excited to finally find something that is developed specifically for the thing that they're trying to solve.

Any bigger picture trends driving the skincare category right now?

AK: A macro trend of why we're excited to exist as a brand is the American culture around the human body. I think a lot of the taboos are being broken down... We are seeing this huge trend where Americans are becoming less prude, and more open about the human body.

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