Product Goals: The Beauty and Sports Connection – BeautyMatter

From athlete endorsements to post-gym skincare, beauty and sports are two beads of the same sweat. There are the likes of Art of Sport, founded in 2018 by entrepreneurs Matthias Mernich, Brian Lee, and late star athlete Kobe Bryant, that produce personal care products specifically tailored towards athletes. Recently, a slew of brands have been taking this relationship further with sophisticated clean formulas, mental health initiatives, enticing prize draws, and digitally connected endeavors.
Men’s makeup brand War Paint teamed up with English football club Norwich City FC back in 2020 to address men’s mental health and break down stereotypes and boundaries holding back important conversations around the subject. The brand’s logo was also featured on the team’s uniforms and on billboards around their home pitch. War Paint founder Danny Gray commented, “I’m proud to be working with a club like Norwich City FC who aren’t afraid to take a stand and put men’s mental health in the spotlight…. My priority isn’t to get the players wearing make-up, I want to stimulate positive conversations about men’s mental health.” Given War Paint’s roots in mental health advocacy and makeup products for the everyday man, this partnership with a homegrown football club, especially given the immense fervor around masculine football culture in the UK, is an organic progression for both.
More recently, fitness apparel and accessories brand Gymshark waved the flag for men’s mental health with their Deload initiative, a platform that offers young people the chance to focus on their psychological and physical health. The outlet provides online content ranging from personal stories to advice from well-being professionals and medical experts. In July of this year, Gymshark took its efforts onto the streets of Shoreditch with a weeklong Deload Barber Shop pop-up. The space offered a “non-judgemental safe space” for men to open up while also having the opportunity to receive a free haircut from mental health–trained barbers. These professionals were trained by mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), who, in their own words, “Stand against feeling shit, stand up to stereotypes, and stand together to show life is always worth living.” Across the seven days, Gymshark also hosted panel talks with representatives from CALM, as well as brand-affiliated athletes and influencers, covering topics such as “Be the Mate You’d Want” and “Building Real Strength.” Bradley Cole, Head of Events at Gymshark, tells BeautyMatter, “For us, the gym is as much about mental health as it is about physical health. When we were looking into how to evolve Deload, we found that, although men often struggle to open up about their mental health, they find it easier to confide in their barbers. So, in typical Gymshark style, we made it happen, and the response was just fantastic.” 

On the female side of the business, acne-focused skincare brand Hero Cosmetics partnered with women’s basketball team New York Liberty this month on a multiyear partnership, offering sweepstakes to win courtside tickets and a Hero Gift box. Hero Cosmetics will also be the Liberty presenting sponsor for the upcoming season. “Everybody experiences breakouts, even basketball superstars, and Hero’s mission from the very beginning has been to provide functional and accessible solutions to all. We look forward to working hand in hand with the New York Liberty to empower every fan to reveal their inner hero,” states Hero Cosmetics co-founder and CEO Ju Rhyu. Liberty CEO Keia Clarke sees the partnership as an exciting opportunity to reach more female, male, and non-binary individuals. Here the partnership aims to normalize conversations around acne, using celebrated athletes to encourage everyday people in their skincare struggles.
In a meeting of giants from the two genres of beauty and sports, Nivea Men and Real Madrid have entered a digital and social partnership for all stateside games (their first US activation) over the next three years, a continuation of a global working relationship that began in 2013. This pairing will see the two collaborate on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch content, focusing on the role of Nivea skincare in team players’ lives. The personal care brand references data that shows that almost 1 in 3 US adults are soccer fans (40% of which are POC), and in the US alone there are 40 million Real Madrid devotees, demonstrating huge potential for increased brand reach. “As an inclusive brand that overindexes with multicultural consumers, we see great value in this partnership and, together, we will engage with this consumer audience through digital and social platforms, from Twitch to TikTok and more,” Tracy Feehan, Vice President of Marketing, Nivea USA, tells BeautyMatter. “It’s important for us to create authentic, credible partnerships that align with our values and resonate with our consumers. Together with Real Madrid, we tap into the excitement around soccer and help empower our consumers and fans to look and feel like a champion, as we promote healthy-looking skin on and off the field.” She sees the shared ethos and global resonance of Nivea Men and Real Madrid as the fruitful soil for a flourishing collaboration between the two. “Both have a long history, share the same values, and work together to help men look and feel like champions. We are excited to bring this partnership to life for US consumers and will continue living by our shared inspired motto—Champions of Care—in everything we do,” she proclaims. Given the vast reach of soccer fandom, with 3.5 billion soccer fans worldwide, from the young to the old, from the city slicker to the rural dweller, sports-focused brand endeavors showcase the vast potential of looking outside of the industry silo.
Bani Bahari, co-founder and CEO of OffCourt, which offers “performance personal care for active lifestyles” and has produced launches such as their most recent 3-in-1 exfoliating body soap, believes that there is still plenty of room for improvement in the active lifestyles product genre. “There are currently a few brands that touch on personal care for athletes—but none that are formulating products specifically for the everyday active person and at an accessible price point. We believe in clean yet functional products that smell great, are highly effective, yet still affordable. These products are designed to be used every day—not just on gym days or race days,” Bahari comments. The company develops “post-sweat” formulations that work with said pore secretions, both in terms of odor and the resulting dehydration of the skin, that are suitable for multiple uses throughout the day, multifunctional, and in a portable format. The fragrance of each product is also developed to be non-gendered and subtle, suitable for several applications. Think facial hydrators that don’t turn sticky or slimy when mixing with sweat, body sprays that manage odor through three different types of deodorizing agents and prebiotics, and body soaps that exfoliate as they hydrate. Brands like OffCourt aren’t just marketing to sports enthusiasts, but keeping their unique needs in mind for the product concept and development process. Furthermore, the sports product of tomorrow has an added aesthetic edge, incorporating more upscale packaging designs and campaigns into the mix.
As for prospective predictions, the number and scale of brands and collaborations are only expected to increase in tandem with the engagement platforms and possibilities in the sports world. “We anticipate the beauty and sports industries will continue to collaborate to connect with consumers in the future, and likely in new and exciting ways as the sports landscape continues to grow in the US—particularly the growing fan base of soccer and the rise of Esports,” Feehan states. Whether one is active on the field or a passive bystander, there’s a beauty brand on the horizon that will speak to them.
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