The way French women get their skin looking so good could be thanks to the supplements they take — which Americans can now take, too.
French brand Aime, a skin-care company offering supplements that are said to help soothe skin woes from the inside out, launched in the U.S. in January with a website for American shoppers.
The 5-year-old brand was founded by Mathilde Lacombe and Francois Morrier, who also co-founded Joliebox, the French beauty box subscription company acquired by now-defunct Birchbox. In Aime’s first year, it did more than $3 million in sales with just three products. Lacombe and Morrier relied on social media for marketing, specifically the large Instagram following Lacombe amassed as a beauty blogger — she currently has 145,000 followers. Customers’ positive product reviews on Aime’s website also “kept the brand growing for two years, without having to [pay for] any marketing,” said Lacombe. Now, the founders’ goal is to reach $10 million in revenue by the end of this year, and they hope American consumers will help get them there.
Lacombe and Morrier are starting by building a community in the U.S. In February, Aime teamed up with NYC-based facial company Glowbar to celebrate its U.S. launch. At four of Glowbar’s six locations for four weekends in February, anyone could pop in to try a complimentary latté infused with Aime’s flavored collagen powders and receive a 20%-off promo code to use on Aime’s U.S. website. Lacombe said she received “amazing feedback” from Glowbar customers — Aime had two team members on-scene to engage with them. “Glowbar even had customers calling in to see if they could buy the products,” according to Glowbar founder Rachel Liverman, said Lacombe. Both brands promoted the partnership through Instagram and CRM tools, and they gave away a total of almost 800 lattés.
Aime already had a small pool of American customers before its expansion. The company previously offered shipping to the U.S., but it was pricey, as the products were coming from France. Aime has since procured a warehouse in New Jersey and offers shipping within the U.S. for $6. However, the products are still made in France. “We decided to keep the production in France because no [U.S.] manufacturer could match our request for the formulas,” said Lacombe.
Ahead of the U.S. site launch, Aime sent surveys to its American customers to “get a better sense of what products in the brand they were loving, what they were expecting of us if we were to launch in the U.S. and what they felt was missing on the market,” said Lacombe. “We know customers [in different regions] are different, so we didn’t want to go into the U.S. and do everything as we do in France — that’s not going to work.”
Aime sent everyone who responded to the survey a bottle of supplements of their choosing. “It was a nice way for us to test logistics to see if the website was working,” Lacombe said.
Aime won’t be tapping big influencers for sponsored content. Instead, Lacombe wants to encourage customers to share their experiences on their own accord, as they’ve done in France. “I want to engage with people who like the supplements and take them for at least three months to see results,” she said. Aside from gifting supplements to some of its customers, Aime plans to launch an affiliate program in the U.S., which Lacombe said is working well in France. “Since we don’t pay them [to promote the products], being able to make a bit of money through affiliation is going to help [keep them incentivized].”
Lacombe had the idea to create skin-healing supplements after struggling with severe rosacea and learning an inflamed gut was to blame. “The gut and the skin are linked, and no dermatologist I saw ever made that connection,” she said. With the help of certain probiotic strains, nutrients and a few lifestyle changes, Lacombe treated the inflammation and her rosacea disappeared. “That’s when I became aware of the opportunity to [inform] people that when you have acne, eczema and rosacea, it’s not just the surface that needs to be addressed. It’s also something inside.” Lacombe now uses before-and-after pictures of her rosacea as ads for Aime. Customers have been happy to follow suit and share their results, which can be found on the brand’s website.
While Americans have shown great interest in flavored collagen powders, Lacombe predicts that Aime’s pill supplements, which are best-sellers in France, will also be the biggest hits in the U.S. Those include French Glow for rosacea and dry skin, Pure Glow for breakouts, and Balance & Glow for skin woes due to hormonal fluctuations. “They’re all probiotic-based, but rely on different strains based on the effect we want. And we’ve added some minerals, vitamins and ingredients like curcuma to help target each skin issue,” said Lacombe. “The [supplements] drive more than 50% of our revenue; they’re our core products and the reason people go to our brand.”
According to a 2022 report by Douglas Insights, the global beauty supplements market is expected to grow over 12% annually from 2020-2030. Lacombe recognized that it’s a saturated space in the U.S., but said she sees a hole that Aime can fill. “There are a lot of wellness supplements, but none that are presented as a skin-care brand the way Aime is.”
Beauty supplements in the U.S. currently focus on giving skin a “glow,” like GoopGlow’s Morning Skin Superpowder; boosting collagen production, like Agent Nateur’s Holi(mane); protecting skin from oxidative stress, like Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Skin Recovery; and helping users get a good night’s sleep, aka beauty sleep, like Hum’s Beauty Zzzz. Similar to Aime, 14-year-old brand The Beauty Chef has a lineup of supplements made with probiotics, but they come in powder and liquid forms and address broader skin concerns.
Ulta Beauty has noted the increase in consumer demand for beauty supplements in recent years, and in response, it’s continued to grow and evolve its offerings. “We’ve seen the connection between beauty and holistic wellness strengthen among beauty enthusiasts — and, more specifically, Gen Z,” said Penny Coy, vp of merchandising, skincare, suncare, fragrance and bath at Ulta Beauty. “In the spirit of always meeting our guests where they are, we debuted the Wellness Shop in 2021, featuring a dedicated curation of ingestibles and supplements that promote beauty from within.” One type of supplement consumers are gravitating toward most is those offering gut support, like probiotics, according to Coy.
In France, Aime has secured retail space in Sephora and some French drugstores. Lacombe and Morrier are exploring the right retail partners for the brand in the U.S., but aren’t in a rush. Lacombe said they’re concentrating on encouraging customers to share results and spread the word, and finding the right brand to partner with to introduce the brand to L.A. — the wellness (and alternative latté) epicenter.