Inside a gallery of Greek and Roman sculpture at the Getty Center, Randi Christiansen is eyeing the marble flesh of Aphrodite as she bends down to unfasten her sandal before a soak. “Bathing and the rituals around the body—they’ve been here since the beginning,” says the fifteen-year Estée Lauder Companies alum. Nick Axelrod, who co-founded the cult beauty site Into the Gloss, is sizing up the spear-thrower Doryphoros. “This is how everyone is trying to look at CrossFit,” he jokes. The Italians called the athlete’s asymmetrical pose contrapposto; Drake has dubbed it “hitting them angles.”
Christiansen and Axelrod, now business partners, have spent the past year thinking intensely about bodies—especially why we don’t apply the same obsessive label-reading that usually attends our facial skin-care routines to the products we apply below the neck. Nécessaire, the duo’s five-piece unisex line launching this month, is the fruit of all their brainstorming. “No one is thinking about body care holistically,” notes Axelrod. “Why is it split into five aisles at CVS?”
The foundation for Nécessaire traces back to when Christiansen and Axelrod met in Los Angeles and realized—as former New Yorkers are wont to do—that they had both started being better to their bodies. It was difficult, however, to find products that were clean, efficacious, and sumptuous to use. “We started to wonder,” recalls Christiansen, “What would it look like to treat our body the way we treat our face?”
The answer arrives via their fragrance-free lotion, a top-to-toe formula rooted in oils (marula, cacay, meadowfoam) that are nourishing yet fast-absorbing. The antioxidant niacinamide helps repair barrier function and fosters a healthy glow, while a pair of active peptides works on toning and firming the skin. A luscious body wash, which uses gentle plant-derived surfactants in place of the harsher chemicals that usually provide froth, comes unscented or laced with either eucalyptus or sandalwood. “I’ll be blunt,” says Christiansen of the last variety, which provides a husky aroma that envelops like an aromatic cocoon: “It’s sexual.”
Speaking of sex, Nécessaire wants to bring that out of the drugstore abyss as well, aligning it with the body, where it belongs. Water-based and FDA-approved, the brand’s take on personal lubricant—simply called The Sex Gel—incorporates organic aloe for slip that’s not sticky. In keeping with the whole range, it’s designed and marketed for everyone. Rarer still, it comes in an elegant pump-top bottle that can sit in plain sight on a nightstand, instead of hiding inside it. With a coolly understated logo conceived by Brian Roettinger, the album designer for Jay-Z’s 4:44 and Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail, the products are meant to be “furniture for your bathroom—and bedroom,” says Axelrod. As for what you do with them in your private chambers? Let’s just call it good, clean fun.