Since Harry's first began selling its affordable yet high-quality razors five years ago, one of the most frequently asked questions the company has gotten is when it will start making products for women. The answer? Today. Harry's first off-shoot, a female-focused body hair-care brand called Flamingo launched Tuesday morning with a selection of razors, waxing kits, shave gels and body lotions.
Flamingo, which appropriately gets its name from the one-leg-up shaving pose women use in the shower, is spearheaded by Allie Melnick and Brittania Boey, two longtime (female) Harry’s employees. "Brittania and I were part of the team that launched Harry’s," says Melnick, who serves as the new brand's general manager. "After using and loving the product ourselves, we began to notice that many female customers did, too. Since that launch in 2013, more than a million women have used Harry’s razors. While we loved having so many loyal female customers, we knew we could create a better product for them. We used expertise and resources we developed through Harry’s to create a suite of products designed specifically for the ways women were using them — like on their legs, arms, toes and bikini lines."
Launching a sister brand took a lot more than turning a Harry’s razor millennial pink (though it does come in Instagram-friendly lavender, mint and coral). "We knew we had a big opportunity to make a body care brand for women, but wanted to be as thoughtful as we could be," says Boey, Flamingo's senior vice president of research and development and design. "That meant spending years interviewing women about their routines, testing and iterating products, and designing a range of options and solutions we're really proud of. Our razors, for example, have the same blade technology as Harry's — with five German-engineered blades — but are ergonomically designed for all the unique areas that women shave, with rounded edges, a weighted handle and extra grip."
Flamingo is the latest addition to a small but growing number of body hair-care brands aimed at women — and finding a market for their wares. Billie, a fellow direct-to-consumer razor company, launched almost a year ago and resonated so much with its female audience that it met its 12-month business goals in just four-and-half months, and has been so popular that it's completely sold out of its handles and cartridges multiple times. "It's really been an explosive first year," says Billie Co-Founder Georgina Gooley. "We grew much more quickly than we ever thought we would."
Billie's goal from the outset was to level the shaving playing field for women. "We couldn't figure out why women were being underserved in the shaving category," says Gooley. "It didn't make sense because just as many women were shaving as men and just as frequently, but all of the companies being founded were for men, to give them a better or more affordable or more convenient shave experience." Part of Gooley's mission has been addressing the inequality of pricing of women's shaving products. "We actually found that razors were one of the worst offenders of the pink tax," she says. "I personally was using men's razors prior to founding Billie because I was so offended by the concept that women were paying more for personal care products than men."
A Billie starter kit, which comes with a razor handle, two five-blade cartridges and magnetic holder, is $9, the same as the cost of four replacement blade cartridges. That pricing is similar to that of both Flamingo and Harry's. The Flamingo Shave set, which includes a handle, two five-blade cartridges, a shower hook, travel bag and travel sizes of the brand's shave gel and body lotion, is $16. A set of four replacement blade cartridges is $9 for both the men's and women's versions.
One of the biggest differences between Billie and Flamingo, though, is that the latter also offers at-home waxing kits. "With Flamingo, we wanted to give people a range of options to support the ways they choose to remove hair (from our razor to our soft-gel wax strips)," says Boey. "We also designed the experience from end-to-end, from exfoliating body lotion to keep skin smooth, and post-wax cloths and calming serum. We know the process can sometimes be complicated, so we also feature a step-by-step wax guide (with pictures) with each kit and on our site."
Another company that has made a name for itself by being female-first is Fur. Although it's not in the hair removal business, it is in body hair-care space. The two-year-old brand loved by Emma Watson offers a range of chic scrubs, oils, creams and concentrates designed to soften pubic hair, soothe skin and prevent ingrown hairs, whether you choose to shave, wax, laser or go au naturale. "Fur is about a more inclusive definition of beauty, whether you think the bush is back or skin is in," says co-founder Laura Schubert.
The idea that women should be able to do whatever they want with their body hair is something Fur, Billie and Flamingo have in common. A quick glance through each of their Instagram accounts backs this up; they all showcase women both with and without body hair, which has traditionally been unheard of in marketing for such products.
For Billie, a willingness to show body hair on women in its ads and marketing material has been cited as a major key to its success. "When we started out, we went back to when women first started shaving in the United States, and we looked for when that first piece of communication went out that said, 'You have hair there, but you shouldn't,'" says Gooley. "It dates back to about 1915, and from then until 2017, when we launched, we looked at how women had been spoken to by these razor brands, and the one thing we didn't see was body hair." That's when Billie decided to launch #ProjectBodyHair, a celebration of female body hair with the goal of making the internet a "fuzzier" place. "We wanted to acknowledge that body hair exists, which sounds very simple, but it hadn't been done in 100 years," Gooley says.
Even though Gooley says she never expected #ProjectBodyHair to take off the way it has, she has always hoped that Billie could be a leader and start to affect change in the industry. "The category had been stagnant for over a century, and just a few months after #ProjectBodyHair launched, were seeing some of the biggest players in this category actually show body hair."
While Fur's Schubert still thinks that at, the end of the day, hair-removal brands like Billie and Flamingo are taking a pro-body-hair position as a way to sell razors, she's encouraged by their messaging that body hair isn't shameful. "It's great to see that the industry is responding to the fact that women want more choices in their routines," she says. "When we first launched, plenty of people told us that no one wanted products for pubic hair or options beyond removal. They even told us that women didn't even have pubic hair anymore. Two years later, it's been cool to watch other brands follow in our footsteps. We've always known that being more inclusive and body positive was the only way we wanted to succeed as a company."
And Schubert sees the increasing discussion and visibility around body hair as a win. "We have always strived to help open up the dialogue beyond hair removal, like how to soften the hair and skin, how to get rid of ingrowns, and how to treat pubic hair with the same respect as the hair on our heads," she says. "Hopefully other brands pushing the same messaging will help take that conversation to the next level, and ease some of the unnecessary stigma around body hair."
Regardless of the products each brand is shilling, honing in on body hair inclusivity seems to be paying off across the board for these female-focused brands. Hélène Heath, the senior editor of Instagram marketing firm Dash Hudson has noticed an uptick in chatter around women's body hair on social media.
"It's definitely something that's been slowly but surely entering the mainstream conversation," she says. "The topic of women's body hair has been a societal taboo in Western culture for as long as anyone can remember, and with all the barriers being broken down lately — mostly as backlash against our heavily patriarchal political climate — it's no surprise that the time is feeling right for women to steer the hair narrative in a direction that isn't being controlled by the stereotypical status quo."