Bushbalm Normalizes Bikini-line Skincare

In 2016 David Gaylord was a Shopify employee looking for a side hustle. Then he came up with a funky idea: skincare lotions for hair removal along bikini lines. The business name was funkier: Bushbalm.

Fast forward to 2023, and Bushbalm is booming, selling lotions and trimmers directly to thousands of consumers and wholesale to Ulta Beauty and 3,000 waxing salons. It spends a whopping $200,000 per month on Facebook ads.

In our recent conversation, I asked Gaylord about sales channels, marketing, and, yes, the name. The entire audio of our discussion is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us what you do.

David Gaylord: I’m the co-founder and CEO of Bushbalm. We focus on bikini line skincare — below-the-belt products for ingrown hairs for razor burn. We also have a trimmer for down there. Our primary business is skincare, whether oils, exfoliants, or serums. We have a hydrogel mask called The Vajacial, which is quite popular.

We launched in 2016. Before, I worked in my family business in Canada selling hardwood flooring. When I was in university, my dad wanted to try ecommerce. I thought it was ridiculous. But I did what he said and looked at platforms such as BigCommerce and Magento. We chose Shopify because it was Canadian.

Four years later, I graduated from university and got a job at Shopify. From there, my partners and I started Bushbalm as a funky idea. It took us four years to gain traction. We didn’t quit our jobs until 2021. We were entirely bootstrapped and remain that way today.

During the four years, we spent very little on marketing. We did an Etsy show, which was good for talking to folks and learning what they wanted to say about us. When we spoke about “pubic oil,” they said, “That’s disgusting.” We tried “bush oil,” and they didn’t like that either. We got more into skincare and asked questions like, “Do you get waxed? You probably have irritation.” And they’d say, “Yeah, totally.” So that’s where we focused the business. In 2020 and 2021, we pushed hard on Facebook ads. In the last two years, we’ve leaned away from that. But we still spend at least $200,000 on Facebook monthly.

Bandholz: Do you get much friction with the name of Bushbalm?

Gaylord: We interviewed someone for a job here who said, “I think you guys should change the name. And we were like, “You’re not hired.” A lot of folks we talk to appreciate that we’re blunt. The brand is kind of in your face with our TikTok channel. Sometimes, one in a hundred people will say, “That’s gross.” The other 99% say, “Why is it gross? Everybody has these concerns.” The name’s pretty powerful long-term.

Bandholz: You’re exploring brick and mortar, setting up your own salons.

Gaylord: We’re about 50% direct-to-consumer, and then 25% is wholesale from selling to about 3,000 waxing salons. We’re also in Ulta Beauty, the giant retailer, and Amazon.

We’re looking to double down in our own physical-store waxing salons. We’re not here to build 100 salons and be a huge chain. In a studio, we’ll learn more about the products and how people use them. We’ve been more eager on the content side. We don’t do much on YouTube. We do a lot of TikTok and Instagram, but having an in-store space is something we’re trying to figure out.

We have an excellent path to long-term wholesale growth. Ulta Beauty was the first domino to fall. They’re awesome. What’s good about Ulta is the shave section we’re in, which is basically the same style as CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart. Five years ago, the taboo was so strong that no one would be around us because of the name. Now everyone’s like, yeah, that’s cool, you guys are funky. I think Manscaped, for male hygiene, paved the way for the taboo to go away.

Bandholz: Walk us through your content production.

Gaylord: We have a few folks on our team who connect with waxing salons and film content, or we’ll pay the salons for a photo and video shoot. Usually, 80% of the stuff doesn’t work, but 20% is excellent. We’re looking to scale. The need for content nowadays is insane. It’s the hardest part of Facebook ads.

We hired a part-time in-house aesthetician, a skincare pro. That has been a tremendous addition. She helps us with content. Otherwise, a lot of it’s sourced from content producers. The best thing we’ve done is ask photographers to subsidize photo shoots. They get photos, and we get photos. Everything works out. Obtaining videos that way is hard, but it works for photography.

We’ll buy content from folks. Communication style, personality, and entertainment are so important. It’s more intriguing to follow along a person’s journey instead of, for instance, the art of doing a leg wax. That type of video might be interesting, but building a character or persona to grow a brand does better.

The iOS and Facebook privacy changes were an easy hurdle for us. We’ve got 3,000 wholesale accounts, with one salesperson and one account manager. It’s a super-efficient lead and very automated. Folks are eager to find something that works. There are no distributors for it either — it’s very niche. The U.S. has 10 times more waxing and nail salons than Starbucks stores. I think it’s 330,000 salons, which is mind-blowing.

Direct-to-consumer was about 95% of the business three years ago; now it’s 50%. So we’re growing way more on this professional channel. And Ulta is doing well.

Bandholz: Do you worry about advertising attribution and tracking?

Gaylord: On the wholesale side, it’s hard because when we advertise on Facebook for our Ulta business, we don’t get sales data for a week — every Monday at 8:00 a.m. So we could run Facebook ads on a new launch at Ulta without knowing if they’re working.

Bandholz: Where can people support you?

Gaylord: Our website is We’re on Amazon and Ulta. I’m on LinkedIn.

Eric Bandholz
Eric Bandholz
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