Veteran Beauty Executive Sonsoles Gonzalez’s New Haircare Brand Celebrates Women In Their Late 40s And Beyond
At around 45-years-old, Sonsoles Gonzalez, who’d been accustomed to thick hair, noticed her ponytail shrinking. And she shortened the time between her hair-coloring appointments to keep grays at bay. A veteran beauty industry executive with a combined nearly 30 years of experience at the conglomerates Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal, Gonzalez didn’t hear much discussion about the hair issues she was dealing with during staff meetings.
“I myself wrote so many briefs where the target consumer was women 18 to 44. When I was younger, I always joked, ‘What happens to women after 44? They disappear.’ But, when I got into my 40s, the joke wasn’t funny,” says Gonzalez, 54. “We hardly spent any money understanding women’s hair as they age. That’s what led me to think about this particular segment and try to build a brand to address that.”
Her new brand addressing the segment is Better Not Younger, which is launching with a range of 12 products priced from $24 to $46 for the scalp, hair and internal health. The products are formulated to handle strands that are fine, fragile, frizzy and chemically-treated, and a dehydrated scalp with diminished follicles. Better Not Younger’s haircare products are packed with essential oils and ceramides, and its Significant Other Hair Fortifying Supplements are loaded with biotin, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D3 to promote healthy hair growth.
Gonzalez estimates products went through 15 to 20 rounds before they met her approval. “What happens as we age is the physiology of the hair evolves. You have a lot of hormonal changes and those hormonal changes disrupt the production of natural oils that protect your hair and scalp. That’s why the hair tends to get dryer. You’re also overusing dying products, heat and styling products. That causes structural changes in the hair and inflammation of the scalp,” she explains, emphasizing, “We really wanted to make sure the products would work for this consumer to tame their flyaways, help lift their roots without a helmet look and not make their hair greasy.”
“We really wanted to make sure the products would work for this consumer to tame their flyaways, help lift their roots without a helmet look and not make their hair greasy.”
Out of the gate, Gonzalez believes Better Not Younger’s Superpower Fortifying Hair & Scalp Serum will be a hero item. She describes it as a fast-absorbing treatment with ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, centella asiatica and kelp extract to stimulate and support follicles. Another scalp product she has high hopes for is New Dawn Activated Charcoal Scalp Cleanser. The cleanser pairing charcoal with alpha hydroxy acids is intended to unclog scalp pores and has a silicone bristle applicator to assist with massaging the ingredients into the head.
Gonzalez points to Better Not Younger’s hair masks as standouts, too. Its Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque contains vitamin E, mango, macadamia, avocado, cupuaçu and murumuru butters, but she swears the rich contents don’t leave hair weighed down. A version of the mask for women with gray hairs called Silver Lining Purple Butter Masque was concocted to control brassiness and soften gray hairs.
Gonzalez teamed up with Matt Kandela and Blake Enting from the New York agency Dear Future to hone Better Not Younger’s aesthetics. At the beginning, they tested a minimalist design, but it wasn’t right. “We started talking to some women and they said, ‘I’m tired of that. Every product seems the same.’ There was a woman who said, ‘The fact that I’m old doesn’t mean I’m beige,’” recounts Gonzalez. “That really sparked something in us. We don’t want to be beige, and we certainly don’t want to be millennial.” The bottles and jars feature brush-stroke graphics in various vibrant shades, and the colorful boxes have foil stamping to reinforce the brand’s premium positioning.
“In my view, whenever brands try to address these women, they are misrepresenting them. They are using old stereotypes. You always see a woman that has short gray hair, and she might be a retired grandmother. I don’t see her and feel, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me.’”
In its verbiage and imagery, Better Not Younger focuses on accomplished, stylish women. “Women over 50 control $20 trillion of net worth. They spend two and a half times more than the average consumer. They’re on social media. They have many of the habits of millennials, yet nobody is talking to her,” says Gonzalez. “In my view, whenever brands try to address these women, they are misrepresenting them. They are using old stereotypes. You always see a woman that has short gray hair, and she might be a retired grandmother. I don’t see her and feel, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me.’”
With backing from family and friends, Gonzalez invested roughly $500,000 in Better Not Younger’s design and inventory. By the end of the year, her goal is for the brand to generate $2 million in sales. Better Not Younger is sticking to a direct-to-consumer distribution model at first. Eventually, Gonzalez envisions it expanding to beauty specialty retailers like Sephora and Ulta Beauty. In order to scale up while maintaining product quality, she will consider securing outside investment, but insists she has to find investors that grasp Better Not Younger’s customer base.
Any investors involved in Better Not Younger will be leaping at a market opportunity on the ground floor. Speaking about gen X and baby boomer beauty shoppers, Gonzalez says, “Brands are beginning to wake up. If you think about the last few years, gender equality has become a big deal, and we’re making strides, although, of course, not enough. I see age inclusivity as becoming something that’s going to start happening more and more. If you look at celebrities like Julia Roberts attending the Oscars looking so amazing, you see it’s a trend that’s starting. It’s the next frontier of inclusion.”