Glossier Navigates Launching a Beauty Product During a Global Pandemic

Glossier Hand Cream makes its debut with community-shot campaign imagery and donations to healthcare workers on the front lines.
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Glossier Hand Cream, $18, available here.

Glossier Hand Cream, $18, available here.

On Thursday, Glossier launches its newest, in some ways aptly timed, product: hand cream. During a period when frequent, thorough hand-washing is crucial, the drop seems particularly fortuitous. But navigating a new product launch while the world is experiencing a global pandemic poses an interesting challenge for any brand, let alone one in the beauty space.

While the formula is reportedly the result of more than two years of development, Glossier has aimed to be tactful and thoughtful as it brings it to market amidst the global health crisis surrounding Covid-19. It initially announced the pending launch of Glossier Hand Cream several weeks ago via Instagram — and at the same time, the company committed to donating the first 10,000 units available to healthcare professionals in the U.S. working on the front lines at hospitals, many of whom have been documenting skin irritation from frequent hand washing and long hours spent wearing PPE.

"One of the most frequent requests we've received during this time is for a hand cream. As it happens, our community has been asking the same thing: We've been working on Glossier Hand Cream for nearly two years, and have been so excited to bring it into the world this spring," wrote Glossier Founder and CEO Emily Weiss in an open letter on the company's website. "For the nurses and doctors who are gathering every day to care for patients, it makes sense to get Hand Cream to them first."

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The company's launch strategy for its newest drop comes with additional consideration, though. Per a release from the brand, Glossier's product development team "wanted to make a something that inspired connection in the same way they've seen Balm Dotcom does — something displayed on your desk and shared with coworkers, carried in your bag and doled out to friends, or that strikes up a conversation with a stranger on the train." But given that conversations with strangers on a train are likely not happening for now or for a long while, the brand had to pivot a bit to find other ways to incorporate this type of connection. Glossier has always touted itself as community-driven brand, and so it tapped members of said community to help shoot campaign imagery for the product while in quarantine.

"To bring Hand Cream to life [Glossier] asked people in their community who inspire them to share how they're finding comfort and taking care of themselves and others right now," reads the press release. Specifically, artist Christine Sun Kim, photographer Suzanne Saroff and photographers Tayna and Zhenya Posternak, each created unique visuals of the product which will serve as additional campaign assets for the launch. 

As for the product itself, it's one of Glossier's definite wins, if you ask me. I was able to receive a sample to test pre-launch, and it delivers on a number of levels. Like everyone, I've been obsessively washing my hands and applying hand cream lately, so I've come to appreciate formulas that A) smell nice, B) make my hands feel comforted and less raw and C) don't leave a long-lasting greasy film behind. Glossier Hand Cream checks all of those boxes. The lightweight formula packs moisturizing ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil and coconut extract, along with other soothers and protectants. But despite that, it's remarkably not the least bit greasy; about 30 seconds after massaging it into skin, the cream absorbs, leaving an almost powdery, matte (but not dry, chalky or film-like) finish in its wake. While so many formulas leave hands slippery to the point that you can't twist a doorknob or hold a pen successfully after applying, that's just not an issue with Glossier's version.

The scent is a re-mixed version of the brand's You perfume — "reimagined... so it wears closer, with an emphasis on the fresh, clean notes," — according to the press release. Seeing as that's my go-to daily fragrance, I'm decidedly a fan. And it's hard not to be drawn to the "soft-touch" packaging, with a matte, rubbery texture and precise tip that doses out thin ribbons of the formula. Squeezing the tube has an addictive, calming quality, like using a stress ball or watching brain-soothing viral videos of slime or kinetic sand. Beyond being pleasant to play with, it seems Glossier also took consumer feedback about sustainability to heart with this packaging choice, too: The bulk of the tube (the soft, squeezable body) is recyclable. Pretty much everything about this product is comforting. And comfort is important right now.

Glossier Hand Cream is available at Glossier.com for $18. The product will also be sold as part of a limited-edition "Comfort Collection" set, along with Priming Moisturizer Rich and Bubblewrap, which will retail for $65 (for savings of $14 as compared to purchasing each item separately).

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