Bolt Beauty Offers A Range Of Encapsulated Skincare Designed For Women’s Busy Lives

For new brand Bolt Beauty, good things come in small packages.

More specifically, its on-the-go skincare comes in colorful single-dose biodegradable capsules the size of blueberries made from sustainable seaweed and cornstarch. After popping the tops off the capsules, Bolt Beauty customers squeeze out cleanser Filthy Clean, moisturizer Mad About Moisture, retinol treatment Vitamin A Game and blemish fighter Glow Don’t Shine to address their daily skincare needs. Once they’re done, they can dissolve the capsules in water—the pods disappear in nine minutes in boiling water—place them in their plants as fertilizer or toss them into the compost bin.

“The way that women are living their lives is quite different from how skincare companies have traditionally designed their products. While heavy glass products are beautiful and look nice in the store, they’re impractical for women’s lives,” says Bolt Beauty founder Lisa Sexton. “I’m putting the woman first and how she uses something versus a product that looks and feels good, but doesn’t work for a busy life.”

Bolt Beauty
Bolt Beauty’s encapsulated skincare range includes cleanser Filthy Clean, moisturizer Mad About Moisture, retinol treatment Vitamin A Game and blemish fighter Glow Don’t Shine.

The idea for Bolt Beauty occurred to Sexton following a three-and-a-half-week trip across Asia she took over a holiday break from December 2018 to January 2019 to celebrate her 30th birthday. A longtime beauty lover, Sexton, a lawyer by trade, had difficulty cramming her skincare bottles and jars into the luggage she was toting with her on the trip. She ended up decanting them into dinky containers, but figured there had to be a better alternative for travel. When she returned home, Sexton set out to search for that better alternative and ran across encapsulated skincare.

Sheathed skincare has been done before. Famously, Elizabeth Arden injects its Advanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum into capsules, and Eve Lom, Rodan+Fields, Meaningful Beauty, Lumene and Elemis have capsule products, too. However, a full beauty regimen relying on capsule skincare hasn’t been done by a brand before. Bolt Beauty was created to provide three-step routines for morning and night. To complete the morning and night routines, Sexton mentions only six capsules are required.

“While heavy glass products are beautiful and look nice in the store, they’re impractical for women’s lives.”

Key ingredients in Bolt Beauty’s gentle, fragrance-free cleanser are margosa, ginger root and turmeric root extracts, and bisabolol. With a .15% concentration of retinol, Sexton describes the brand’s treatment product as an “entry-level” retinol. She expects Bolt Beauty’s moisturizer or mattifier to be its bestseller. The moisturizer features hyaluronic acid in two molecular weights, dongbaek oil, vitamin E, bisabolol and ginger root extract. The mattifier has chamomile, panthenol, and clary sage, peppermint, rosemary and pumpkin seed oils. In a four-week dermatological study of the mattifier, about 21% of participants aged 13 to 35 detected a reduction in oil on the surface of their skin, 41% saw decreased blackheads and microcysts, and 58% reported fewer pimples.

The planet was front of mind when Sexton developed Bolt Beauty’s products. Harvested in countries including Tanzania, Philippines and Indonesia, the seaweed in its capsules, carrageenan, replenishes quickly and acts as a carbon sink that combats climate change. The capsules are housed in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) jars holding 100 capsules each that are intended to last indefinitely. Although they’re not available yet, Bolt Beauty will offer refills in a compostable bag. The brand also offsets its carbon impacts through Gold Standard carbon credits.

Bolt Beauty founder Lisa Sexton
Bolt Beauty founder Lisa Sexton

“I’m trying to embed sustainability into the heart of the brand. I don’t think sustainability should be a selling point. It should be a norm in how people do business,” says Sexton. “We have made sure we are sustainable across every part of the supply chain.”

London-based Bolt Beauty prices its products from 35 to 50 pounds or roughly $41 to $58 at the current exchange rate. A travel stackable with six cleanser capsules, six moisturizer capsules, three mattifier capsules and three treatment capsules is 18 pounds or $21, and an empty stackable is 2.50 pounds or $3. Sexton says Elizabeth Arden’s price per capsule is 1 pound to 1.40 pounds or $1.16 to $1.63. Bolt Beauty’s price per capsule is 35 pence or 41 cents. “I really wanted the skincare to be less than the cost of your cup of coffee, which is surprisingly easy to exceed with high-end serums,” explains Sexton. “My customer is in her mid-20s. We all know how much it costs to start out in this world in your mid-20s. They shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for skincare.”

“I don’t think sustainability should be a selling point. It should be a norm in how people do business.”

In the prestige skincare segment, Bolt Beauty’s relative affordability limits its retail reach because, to maintain it, Sexton says the brand is operating with margins that would make it “lose money on every product” if it were to enter retail. As a result, she’s rebuffed retailers in the United Kingdom that have wooed the brand. However, Sexton says she would consider experimenting with the right retailer. At the moment, Bolt Beauty is concentrating on a direct-to-consumer model. It’s turning to the press, and influencers in the fitness, travel and beauty categories to spread the word. The brand’s target audience is urban-dwelling consumers, and London is its primary target market at the outset. Major coastal cities in the United States will be subsequent target markets.

Sexton declined to disclose the investment she poured into self-funded Bolt Beauty to get it off the ground and, even before the coronavirus pandemic led to a lockdown in Britain, she wasn’t specifying an early revenue goal for the brand. Sexton says she’s interested in slow, steady growth, and she suggests positive feedback is a crucial indicator for her. She’s going to vet the feedback to determine future directions for Bolt Beauty’s assortment. Sunscreen, lip oil and lip treatment products are possibilities. Sexton emphasizes Bolt Beauty’s products will always enhance convenience for women with schedules packed with professional responsibilities, family and friends.

Bolt BeautyTory Smith
Sustainability is crucial to Bolt Beauty. Its capsules are made from sustainable seaweed, and it offsets its carbon output through Gold Standard carbon credits.

Bolt Beauty branded physical retail is an element of her future plans. “It would be an informative, interesting experience,” she says. “The difficulty of being a brand that puts sustainability at the heart of what you do is you are talking about really difficult topics. What does carbon neutral or do carbon credits really mean? How does seaweed help the climate? I really want to make these topics simple so people can understand and get on board with them.”