When Serena Williams got injured at the French Open a few years ago, the care team tried to put a pain-relief cream on her, but she was resistant. "She told me, 'These are products I probably should use, but then I'd have to admit to myself that I'm over the hill,'" says Eric Ryan, who's co-founded a number of brands in the wellness space including Method, Olly, and Welly. In the wake of that conversation, he and Williams realized that there was an opportunity to create a new category of products that make pain-relief feel like a natural part of self-care. So they teamed up with a third co-founder, seasoned consumer-packaged goods executive Hank Mercier, to create Will Perform—a brand that focuses on "performance care," starting with muscle-soothing, skin-supporting creams, and sprays.
"We're here to really reinvent this topical pain space... [because] what we recognized is [existing] brands really weren't addressing a key part of the category—it skews more female and younger than what they give it credit for," says Ryan. "What we wanted to do is not just create a new line of pain relief. We really wanted to create a new category that we call 'performance care.' So we're starting in muscle recovery, but our aspiration is to really build a brand that goes across how you care for your body."
Will Perform was created for the everyday athlete, says Ryan. The packaging is designed with a wide loop handle on the lid so you can hang it off your gym bag and infuse it into your daily self-care ritual. Alexia Lundberg, PhD, the brand's chief product officer, says what makes Will Perform different from its predecessors is that it's effective while also being nice to use.
"Efficacy is critical in this category, but it's often been at the expense of experience. And so we want to bring in elements of beauty, whether that's the fragrance or the feel on your skin, to really make these products that appeal to your senses," she says. She explains that the brand created its elegant product formulations by "pulling from both Eastern and Western medicine to create complementary actives that focus on holistic wellness."
Right now, the line is split into two categories: instant pain relief and daily care. The Will Cool Cooling Pain Relief Roll-On ($13), Will Relieve Pain Relief Roll-On ($13), and Will Relieve Pain Relief Spray ($13) provide that in-the-moment relief. The Will Soothe Daily Muscle Soothing Lotion ($16) and Will Rest Nightly Muscle Recovery Lotion ($13) are meant to be used daily to make your recovery routine proactive instead of just reactive.
"We're really trying to bring the idea to consumers that you can have a recovery regimen similar to the way you have a beauty regimen or a nutrition regimen," says Lundberg. "Recovery is not thought about in this way at all right now. And this is really kind of the mindset shift we're trying to bring to consumers."
Shop the full Will Perform line here
The Relieve line uses lidocaine, an ingredient that prevents pain by blocking the signals at the nerve endings in the skin. This cream blends lidocaine with a botanical blend that includes arnica to numb pain. Lundberg says formulators also added fragrance and focused on “good skin feel” while creating the product. It applies with roller balls so you can put it directly where you need it without any mess.
Cool is a “very different experience than the Relive experience,” says Lundberg. “It does numb pain, all about pain relief, but it’s a menthol and camphor-based product, so it provides a cooling sensation. It’s got the roller balls that kind of amplify that cooling sensation, and it also has a fragrance to it because of the menthol and camphor.”
“Soothe is a body lotion designed to be used after a shower, when blood is flowing,” says Lundberg. “You can massage the lotion onto your skin, into your muscles, and help soothe your muscles after a workout.” Plus it includes vitamin E and ceramides, working to strengthen the skin barrier so it can better retain hydration.
“Rest is our nighttime product,” says Lundberg. “Sleep is critical to recovery, it’s literally the time when your muscles are resting. So we use lavender and geranium, well-known for their aromatherapy benefits for calming anxiety, and creating a sense of calm to help people fall asleep. And then we included magnesium and vitamin D to help nourish while you sleep.”
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