New DTC toolkit   //   March 7, 2024

Brands are trying to recast household products like showerheads & humidifiers as beauty tools

Beauty and wellness routines are no longer limited to topical products like serums and moisturizers. 

But unlike outright cosmetic tools like the SolaWave skin wand or Foreo electric exfoliator, a new class of devices aims to help lay a foundation for a beauty regimen. From filtered showerheads to aroma-diffusing humidifiers, startups are tapping into the trend of turning home appliances and fixtures into beauty and wellness tools. For these companies, which include Canopy, Jolie, Hai and FilterBaby, their products fall into a cross-section of personal beauty and household products.

With many of these tools often requiring replenishment, companies in this space see an opportunity to build a loyal customer base by convincing customers to regularly refresh these products — often through subscriptions — in order to ensure the foundation of their beauty regimen stays solid. 

Rachel Hirsch, founder and managing partner of Wellness Growth Ventures, said this growing trend “reflects the growing recognition that wellness encompasses, not only physical health but also personal care and self-expression.” Wellness Growth Ventures’s portfolio includes IBS-friendly snack brand BelliWelli and electric flosser startup Flaus, among other better-for-you CPG companies. As an investor in wellness companies, Hirsch said the shift to household products being categorized under beauty is a natural progression for the category. 

In February, DTC brand Canopy launched its portable humidifier, representing the latest beauty and wellness-centric release from the brand. On its about page, Canopy says it wants to help people “unlock the full potential of your beauty and wellness routine at home.” The company aims to do this through its product lineup of humidifiers and showerheads, which the company launched last August. According to Canopy, the filtered shower attachment reduces dissolved minerals, chlorine, heavy metals and other water contaminants.

The move into the bath is already proving lucrative. According to Canopy, over 70% of its filtered showerhead customers are new to the brand.

Meanwhile, the growing humidifier collection caters to different people and rooms in the household. Canopy co-founder Justin Seidenfeld told Modern Retail the company, which launched in 2020, is in the process of building out its beauty-focused products. Emphasizing its beauty proposition is Canopy’s retail partners, which include Sephora, Bluemercury and Violet Grey. “We are very much living in that cross-section,” Seidenfeld said. “We don’t cleanly fall into the traditional beauty brand.” 

Since launch, much of Canopy’s focus has been on educating its target consumer base as to why humidifiers play an important role in health and beauty. Its social media posts frequently delve into topics like how sleeping with a humidifier can improve conditions like dry or itchy skin.

The new portable humidifier is an extension of that, Seidenfeld said, and is geared at personal out-of-the-home uses like travel or office. It can also be moved from one room to another much easier than Canopy’s standard-sized humidifiers. Another differentiated feature on the portable humidifier, Seidenfeld noted, is the ability to have the device pump humidity directly to the face — as opposed to the general area — which can damage nearby devices like laptops and phones. 

“The portable humidifier plays into why we launched Canopy in the first place, which is providing a foundation for skin health through our devices,” said Seidenfeld. The new version is also cheaper than Canopy’s bedside humidifier; the portable humidifier starts at $90, while other Canopy humidifiers range from $140 for the nursery model to $245 for the large room model.

“It’s something people have asked about since we launched the bedside,” Seidenfeld said. 

As the company grows its line of home devices, Seidenfeld said the focus will be on creating products that can be incorporated into people’s day-to-day routines. Aromatherapy is quickly becoming a growing part of the business, with Canopy collaborating with brands like Curie and By Rosie Jane on fragrance add-ons. 

Filtered showerheads, meanwhile, have become another hot trend in the beauty industry, partially thanks to startups in this space that have tried to grow brand awareness through user-generated content. When filtered showerhead startup Jolie launched in December of 2021, its customers ended up generating more than 4,000 pieces of UGC in its first year in business. This UGC consisted of customers creating Instagram Reels showing how they installed their new aesthetically pleasing showerheads, as well as people talking on TikTok about how installing a filtered showerhead benefitted their hair and skin. All of this helped further cement the showerhead’s newfound place in the beauty industry.

Now, even major companies are getting in on the trend. Last May, Kohler introduced its offshoot Sprig by Kohler, which makes botanical-infused shower kits. Water filtration for face and body washing, in general, is expanding to every part of the bathroom. Faucet device FilterBaby, which launched in 2022, claims to provide the healthiest tap water for washing up. The company claims its sink attachment is dermatologically tested, and can help prevent skin ailments like acne and eczema. 

The main goal of Hai’s smart showerhead is to create a spa-like showering experience, according to the company, while conserving 30% water. Leonard Brody, co-founder and executive chairman of Caravan, Hai’s parent company, said it’s no surprise the shower is the next frontier for the beauty and wellness category. When launching the concept, Hai aimed to create brand recognition in a category that’s often commoditized by also going beyond particle filtration. 

In Hai’s research leading up to its 2021 launch, the company found that 86% of millennials said the shower was their top self-care tool in the home. “That’s above their Pelotons or their mattress, but the vast majority of people can’t tell you the brand they stand under every day,” Brody said. At the same time, Hai wanted to create an economically-friendly product that also infuses minerals and essential oils into hair and skin. 

Now, Hai is starting to grow its retail presence to reach these people. Hai launched at Best Buy, online-only, in November 2023 and on Home Depot’s site, also in 2023. In addition to its website, the brand is also available on Amazon. 

These startups see the addressable market of the category growing as more people adopt expansive self-care routines. “The persistent growth of wellness, despite economic fluctuations, underscores its significance in the consumer landscape,” Hirsch said. The segment’s resilience also points to more people investing in resources to improve their health, even when cutting their spending on other consumer products. 

“I believe the home appliance and beauty and wellness categories will become increasingly intertwined, as more consumers seek out holistic solutions that address both their physical well-being and aesthetic preferences,” Hirsch said.