New Brand Day+West Resets Skincare For Sensitive Skin With Eco-Conscious And Elegant Products

For two decades, Gabrielle Braden handled national security matters for the United States government, but the human body’s security force—skin—has never been far from her mind, and it couldn’t be. Finding products that suited her highly sensitive skin, not to mention her refined taste, has been a lifelong challenge for Braden.

“It always frustrated me that my options were confined to sterile, clinical or bland formulations that belonged in a medicine cabinet and not on a dressing table,” she says. “I craved gentle, but effective products that were free of added fragrance, irritating essential oils, unhealthy chemicals, but replete with clean powerhouse ingredients that hydrate and fortify the skin barrier, and botanicals and actives packed with antioxidants in balanced doses to mitigate the potential for reactivity.”

Braden continues, “Equally as important, I wanted to create an elevated experience of self-care that I couldn’t find in the sensitive skincare space that infused glamour, poetry and art into the product experience as well as started a conversation beyond skin deep about the intersections of health and beauty.”

At her new brand Day+West, Braden, the daughter of a television show producer who wrote her master’s thesis at Georgetown University on the rise of the cosmetics industry and its implications for archetypal American femininity, is out to not only begin a new conversation about the intersection of beauty and health, she’s out to change the conversation for people with sensitive skin to make them focal points rather than outliers.

Gabrielle Braden, founder of Day+West

In fact, they’re not outliers at all. In a 2019 National Institutes of Health study cited by Braden, 60% to 70% of American women and 50% to 60% of American men report having some degree of sensitive skin. At Day+West, Braden says, “Our brand sits in the unique position of focusing on sensitive, reactive skin—or skin that needs a reset—in the clean beauty space.”

Day+West’s two debut products, $28 face mist Strong Whisper and $66 face oil Quiet Force, are formulated for sensitive, reactive skin. A forthcoming third product, $72 face and neck cream Gentle Armor, is, too. Day+West’s impending $155 The Secret Weapon Kit will house Gentle Armor, Quiet Force and Strong Whisper.

“Our brand sits in the unique position of focusing on sensitive, reactive skin—or skin that needs a reset—in the clean beauty space.”

The products contain what the brand calls its phyto resilience blend featuring strawberry, blueberry, calendula and prickly pear to brighten and calm the appearance of sensitive, reactive skin. Along with the blend, established ingredient dynamos like squalane, hyaluronic acid, niacinimide and bakuchiol are featured in Day+West’s formulas, which adhere to retailer Credo’s clean beauty standards.

“Our products are ideally suited for women who want a simple, elevated routine with multifunctional and harmonious products that are especially kind to sensitive skin,” says Braden. “Customers, especially people 30-plus concerned with proactively addressing signs of aging, protecting the skin barrier and who gravitate toward veritably clean formulas made with organic and natural ingredients will be attracted to our brand.”

Sensitive skin brand Day+West has launched with two products: $28 face mist Strong Whisper and $66 face oil Quiet Force. A third product, $72 face and neck cream Gentle Armor, will soon join its assortment along with $155 The Secret Weapon Kit housing the three products.

Day+West is the first brand to participate in SkinSAFE’s Developed program. SkinSAFE is a platform co-developed with the Mayo Clinic that’s home to an extensive skincare ingredient database. By leveraging clinical data, human insights and artificial intelligence technology, SkinSAFE sifts through millions of products to guide consumers toward allergen-free formulas uniquely suited to their needs.

SkinSAFE was critical in validating that Day+West’s products are optimally designed for sensitive skin. Braden, an avid user of the SkinSAFE app, applauds SkinSAFE’s steadfast assistance. She says, “Their guidance was instrumental, from the initial stages to the product launch. Their profound wealth of research and knowledge was invaluable during the new product formulation process. I wholeheartedly recommend SkinSAFE to any brand embarking on the journey of developing new products.”

“We wanted to prove that planet-friendly, recyclable packaging could also be enchanting and deserve to be prominently displayed on a nightstand, desk, vanity or countertop.”

For product formulation and packaging, Day+West also paid attention to ethical sourcing and sustainability. “In the case of our sunflower oil, I was very insistent that it not come from either Ukraine or Russia given the conflict there. So, it was sourced to South America. Our prickly pear is sourced to an organic farm just south of La Paz, Bolivia that has a lot of other wonderful sustainable initiatives as part of its own internal workings,” says Braden. “And where possible, we were able to source organic cold-pressed ingredients, Ecocert and COSMOS ingredients. That was really fundamental to me to make sure that supply chain issues were not a thing and that our ingredients were sourced as carefully as possible.”

Day+West’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)-compliant American manufacturer harnesses solar power and is pursuing carbon-neutral certification. The brand’s jars are constructed from 90% post-consumer recycled glass, its boxes are shaped from materials deemed by the Forest Stewardship Council to be from responsibly managed forests, and it’s teamed up with the recycling initiative Pact to recycle its packaging. Day+West supports the nonprofit 1% for the Planet and is committing 5% of The Secret Weapon Kit’s sales to the organization Mental Health America.

Day+West turned to the agency SMAKK for its design. The brand’s eco-friendly packaging features original poetic phrases, references to paintings by Paul Cézanne and a jewel-toned color palette.

Day+West tapped SMAKK, an agency that’s counted The Honey Pot Company, Cleo+Coco, Stamba, RiseWell, Canopy and The Lip Bar as clients, for its design. The brand’s boxes and jars incorporate original poetic phrases, references to paintings by Paul Cézanne and a jewel-toned color palette. Braden says, “We wanted to prove that planet-friendly, recyclable packaging could also be enchanting and deserve to be prominently displayed on a nightstand, desk, vanity or countertop.”

It took an amount in the six-figure range to get Day+West off the ground. The brand has been financed by Braden’s savings and a business loan. For this year, Braden’s goal is for it to reach $400,000 in sales. At the outset, Day+West is in direct-to-consumer distribution, but Braden is interested in placing its products at retailers the likes of Credo, The Detox Market, Nordstrom, Bluemercury, Ulta Beauty and Sephora. Asked about why retailers should pick up Day+West, Braden responds, “In the sensitive skincare space, there [are] very few competitors, especially with the sumptuous aesthetic of Day+West.”

The brand is strategizing to lift awareness early on through digital advertising, influencer partnerships, organic social media, word of mouth, search engine optimization and public relations. From its site, the message it’s spreading is, “We believe that on the other side of sensitivity, lies strength—and in order to achieve one, we must experience the other. We create gentle, but effective formulations for the most sensitive of skins; a safe space let down your armor and experience beauty wherever you go.” Day+West is named for the actresses Doris Day and Mae West to, per its site, explore “what it means to be both the ingenue and the vixen, balancing the softness and strength of both Doris Day and Mae West.”

In the next year, Braden plans to grow Day+West’s assortment. “I would like to add a couple of core products…We didn’t launch with a cleanser, and mainly that’s because I am still formulating it, and it probably will take me forever because I want to get it right,” says Braden. “I would love to see [Day+West] as part of an arsenal of skincare that is used by a lot of people and that people enjoy, and I would love to continue to make mindful, planet-friendly and intentional choices and to hopefully be considered at some point a leader in that community.”