Say hello to Jupiter.
Look out Head & Shoulders–there’s a new brand on the block. Meet Robbie Salter, Co-CEO, Co-Founder of the hottest new scalp-health brand on the market.
Tell us a bit about Jupiter.
We really are re-inventors of a tired category. We’re a science-backed company that marries beauty and efficacy. Jupiter has a focus on the general scalp discomfort category and scalp health, and the reason we do so is we believe we need to go back to our roots as an industry and as consumers. My Co-Founders, Ross Goodhart and Alexa Adler, and I are constantly thinking about what causes discomfort like dandruff and flaking and irritation and inflammation of the scalp. We want to be known as the go-to brand for scalp health.
Our whole hypothesis when we started this business is that you don’t have to settle for a product you don’t want to use to get the outcome you want. Our point is we believe that a beautiful experience and scalp health can work together. We want to be the brand that entirely reimagines what is a currently stigmatized space, blending beauty and science-backed solutions that work. Great hair starts at the scalp. Nobody was really talking about this until Jupiter came on the scene.
Exactly when did Jupiter come on the scene, and what was its inspiration?
We launched in May of 2020, which was probably the worst time to launch a business in 100 years. For context, just prior, I was a senior leader at a well-known media/entertainment consulting firm that had just been sold. Shortly after the sale, I had a ton of anxiety about what I was going to do next and, in a specific episode at my office one day, started scratching my scalp pretty intensely. It was then I noticed dandruff on my desk. I started looking for dandruff and scalp-friendly shampoos and learned that Head & Shoulders is the number-one selling shampoo brand in the world and Nizoral was the top-selling on Amazon, but I didn’t know why. I did some more research, and discovered that 50 to 75 percent of people globally have scalp issues, and 20 percent have chronic scalp issues. Yet there had been little to no innovation in the space.
I’m putting all these pieces together and realizing this is clearly a David and Goliath story. Fast forward, I end up meeting my partner, Ross Goodhart, a former private equity guy who was at the time running an Amazon store. As it turned out he was looking at the issue at the same time because he also had dandruff.
While we both had conviction that something fresh in the category was needed, we weren’t sure if we were the only ones who felt this way. So we ended up launching a fake brand online, and spent about $10k of our own money driving traffic to a landing page we had built to see who else might be our target customer–it turned out that it was actually women who were looking for a truly color-safe solution that would eliminate greasiness, dry scalp, and itching without stripping their hair or modifying their route.
So, we decided to raise a little money and move forward; this was 2018. It took us about 18 months to formulate. It was incredibly complicated to do an OTC shampoo and a serum because of the active ingredients–it needed to be both luxurious and effective, powerful yet gentle, plus dermatologist- and stylist-loved. Today, both the shampoo and serum products focus on dandruff, while our three other award-winning products are more general scalp-health related. If you can believe it, we’re nearing our 100,000 customer mark with only a team of five people.
“We believe we’re building a household brand people can trust, love and use well-before or after they have an issue.”
Although I don’t have scalp issues, my hair loved your Purifying Mask. It really nourished it and left it feeling super-soft. Even my stylist commented on how my hair felt and wanted to know what I was using. Why is it so good?
Because of science, again. The mask itself doesn’t contain an active ingredient, but what it does contain are ingredients like biotin, argan oil, and volcanic ash. All of which have their own ameliorative properties and are supported by scientific trials. The little secret of our category is that despite using ingredients that are historically known as medicated in two out of our five products—one of the dirty little secrets is that they’re just great products. They’re formulated specifically to create balance on your scalp’s microbiome. Dandruff and itching and irritation are often the result of an imbalanced microbiome—overproduction of oil, fungus—what a dandruff shampoo or a serum can do is create balance. At Jupiter our focus is on the source. If we can give you a healthier stronger more moisturized follicle, then those issues hopefully won’t be an issue anymore.
We view ourselves as a pro-active or a prophylactic brand, good for when you have issues or getting ahead of when you may have issues. We don’t want to be looked at as problem-solution brand but as a problem-prevention brand.
How clean are your products?
We use the cleanest ingredients according to EWG standards. They’re as clean as they can possibly get while maintaining their efficacy. Ingredients like zinc pyrithione are synthetic, and as such, receive a “3” on the EWG scale. We have done everything we can to meet even the most discerning of judges approval. Our belief is that the sense of clean should be more of a philosophy than a specific set of rules; as you know, there isn’t a single source of truth. If we need to include an ingredient that makes it meaningfully more effective and there are no cleaner alternatives, then we owe it to ourselves and our customers to include that ingredient.
You shared with me that five percent of your proceeds go to mental health causes. Would you elaborate on that?
The reason we do that is because as founders, we have experienced what it’s like to have scalp issues and dandruff. That’s not to suggest we were bullied when we were kids, but we were certainly picked on for issues like dandruff and flaking and itching, and separate from that we know women feel most confident when they’re having a great hair day. To clarify, our thesis is, if we’re being a part of the movement to make people feel great about themselves and in some cases are alleviating physical discomfort, then they can focus on what makes life beautiful and wonderful. We want you to feel as good about what’s in your head as what’s on your head.
Here’s an example: We have a customer whose husband passed away about seven years ago, and since then she has had horrible stress-related dandruff and couldn’t find anything to help. She wrote to us and told us she’d found Jupiter and her issues are gone—this gave her renewed confidence and peace. When you read something like that you’re like ‘Oh wow, I guess we’re not just selling awesome dandruff shampoo.’
How can our readers find you?
We’re carried direct onsite, through Amazon, at Bergdorf Goodman (we sold out of our shampoo onsite and in-store in 72 hours), as well as a number of A-list celebrity dermatologists, barbershops, and salons through the greater NYC area.
Where do you think haircare stands today in the beauty realm?
It’s going through an evolution. For a long time, haircare was simply just that–and now we’re introducing the role of the scalp into the conversation, and for good reason–just ask any dermatologist. We’re starting to go back to our roots and say that science matters, and that for a long time we’d been sort of led astray by a number of brands that were giving us things we really didn’t need–and I think consumers are taking notice.
You’re seeing brands like ours say ‘Let’s hit reset and go back to what we know works by making stuff that works.’ We find excitement in the steak not the sizzle–while that might not make us the most popular or the fastest-growing, we believe we’re building a household brand people can trust, love, and use well-before or after they have an issue. Said differently, we believe high-quality products made for the modern consumer eventually win out over the alternative.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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