In the beauty business, the future is definitely female. Women-founded and women-run beauty brands are slaying the game, and we should be celebrating them for Women’s History Month and every month. Just think of these names: Kat Von D, Pat McGrath, Deborah Lippman, Josie Maran, Huda Beauty, Iman Cosmetics, Kate Somerville—their eponymous beauty brands are some of the biggest names in the industry.
But there are loads of iconic and up-and-coming brands that you may not know are founded by women. We’re here to introduce you to the badass entrepreneurs behind the brand name.
Currently, men are still making the big money in the beauty industry— L'Oreal, Revlon, Estée Lauder, OPI Nail Polish, and MAC Cosmetics are all run by men—so let’s band together to support and celebrate the women who are changing the game.
1. The Lip Bar
Founder and CEO: Melissa Butler
Melissa Butler launched The Lip Bar in 2012 because she was tired of the stereotypes perpetuated by the beauty industry. She wanted to create vegan and cruelty-free products that are absent of harsh chemicals—but are also affordable so you don’t have to be wealthy to rock a pop of color on your lips. Even more important: Butler focuses on diversity in her imagery, so all women know that these products are for them.
“Simply put, I think every woman deserves to be represented. So I do this not for the love of makeup, but for the love of women who are unapologetically themselves and the women working up the courage to be,” Butler says on her website. We love it!
Try this: The Lip Bar Lipstick in Whiskey Sour, $12
We also love The Lip Bar’s killer lip products themselves. The packaging is stunning, there are so many fun colors, and reminder: they’re vegan and cruelty-free so you can feel good using them.
I’m a redhead and I get nervous with big red lipstick colors that can wash me out, but I’m obsessed with the Whiskey Sour shade—a bold yet subtle coppery red.
Not only is the shade fantastic, the lipstick formula is made with shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and Vitamin E, so it’s actually hydrating as you wear it.
2. OUAI Haircare
Founder: Jen Atkin
Hairstylist to the stars Jen Atkin launched OUAI in 2016 to bring luxury-feeling hair products to the masses. And because she works with celebs—ahem, Chrissy Teigen, Bella and Gigi Hadid, the Jenner-Kardashian sisters, to name a couple—she wanted to make those products quick to use for busy lifestyles.
As Atkin says on the OUAI website, she’s here to listen to all of us about our haircare problems (and the brand has proven that).
“I get it. I’m a confused, over-stimulated consumer myself. Throughout my career, I’ve used every hair product on the market. I’ve spent years working around the globe talking to clients about haircare, listening to my followers and ManeAddicts.com readers. With a major lack of cool and curated products in the marketplace, I’ve struggled to find a haircare brand that my friends or I could relate to,” she says about her desire to create OUAI.
Try it: OUAI Wave Spray, $26
Wanna get those beachy, “I woke up like this” waves like your favorite It girls? Jen Atkin uses the Wave Spray, a weightless mist that gives you those effortlessly chic tousled tresses. Atkin herself says to spray it on damp or even dry hair to “activate natural waves, enhance texture, boost body, and give hair memory.”
This stuff is crazy good. It doesn’t give that “crunch” that some hair products can give—especially products that claim beachy waves. It just amplifies the natural movement of your hair. You can spritz it just on your roots for a little volume boost, too.
As a bonus, the Wave Spray is paraben-free and it’s not tested on animals.
3. Beauty Bakerie
Founder and CEO: Cashmere Nicole
Cashmere Nicole started the super sweet Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics in 2011 after beating breast cancer and really starting to focus on her health and the ingredients she was putting in and on her body. As a result, the beauty products from Beauty Bakerie are high-quality, cruelty-free, and designed to empower the women and men who use them.
The brand’s motto, “better not bitter,” is about all the life obstacles Nicole persevered through and which made her a better person, not a bitter person.
Everything in the Beauty Bakerie brand looks fresh-from-the-oven hot and sweet. We’re hooked on the packaging, but the inside is the real ooey-gooey goodness we crave.
Try it: Do It For The Graham Palette, $38
There are loads of tried and true beauty products we could pick, but we are obsessed with one of Beauty Bakerie’s new launches, the Do It For The Graham Palette. First of all, that name! Cue the *heart eyes* emoji. Second, the palette has colors that truly pop in matte and metallic finishes. Third, of course it’s cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, gluten-free. And finally, this is an exclusive palette and the first to be made in Korea for all us K-Beauty fans!
4. Drunk Elephant
Founder: Tiffany Masterson
Drunk Elephant is having a serious moment right now—thanks to founder Tiffany Masterson and her focus on what she calls “clean clinical” skincare.
“Through trial and error, I determined that there were six ingredients, all marketing, that I felt were disruptive to the health of the skin and today I call them the ‘suspicious 6’ (essential oils, fragrance/dyes, silicones, SLS, chemical sunscreens and drying alcohols),” Masterson told Allure about creating Drunk Elephant in 2014. “I formulated my products without them and I think this is what sets my line apart… I literally couldn’t find one single brand that didn’t use at least one or more of them.”
The consumer-first, entrepreneurial Masterson definitely seems to have found a formula that works, with devoted fans making Drunk Elephant one of the fastest growing skincare brands at Sephora.
Try it: T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, $80
Consider this mask a spa facial at home. It’s a fan favorite product at Sephora, and frankly, across the beauty blogosphere. The Drunk Elephant website says the face mask is an AHA/BHA “facial” that resurfaces to reveal greater clarity, improved skin texture and tone and a more youthful radiance. And in an independent consumer testing panel, a massive 95 percent of women found that their skin appeared “revived,” and 94 percent said their skin was deeply cleansed and resurfaced. It’s hard to argue with those numbers!
5. Reina Rebelde
Founder: Regina Merson
Founder Regina Merson created Reina Rebelde—literally Rebel Queen—as an ode to Latina beauty and a celebration of her Mexican heritage. Once an Ivy League-educate corporate lawyer, she took her passion for makeup and created her brand in 2016.
“Reina Rebelde was born out of something I share with you — a passion for makeup and extreme pride for my cultural identity as a Latina,” Merson says on the beauty brand’s website. “Growing up in Mexico, my makeup obsession started with the telenovela ‘Rosa Salvaje’ and sitting at my mother’s feet watching her beauty rituals as she would get ready to go out for the night with her girlfriends. I’ve been addicted to makeup ever since.”
“Years of makeup hoarding later, my collection is equal parts wild and unpredictable, bold and impractical, feminine and luxurious, sexy and severe — in many ways perfectly reflective of my complicated identity as a Mexican woman embracing an amazing American existence,” she adds.
And that fierce feminine energy is definitely on full display in her eye-catching makeup products.
Try it: Reina Rebelde Bold Color Lipstick in “Brava,” $16
One of Regina Merson’s favorite products is also a fan-favorite: the Bold Color Lipstick in “Brava.” It’s described as “An award-winning, classic bold red that is equal parts Reina and Rebelde. Unbelievably polished, yet so defiant.” Merson told Elle that she and her team at Reina Rebelde worked on this lipstick for a long time to get it right, and it definitely paid off. The highly pigmented, creamy formula is just what you need on a hot night out with your girls.
6. First Aid Beauty
Founder and CEO: Lilli Gordon
First Aid Beauty—a.k.a. FAB—is all about maximum results with minimum irritation. Founder and CEO Lilli Gordon deals with sensitive skin herself, so she is super careful about the ingredients that go into FAB’s products—we’re talking no artificial colorants or fragrances, parabens, alcohol, lanolin, propylene glycol, phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, or sulfate. (Whew!)
The brand is intended to soothe all different skin concerns, from eczema to oily skin, wrinkles to dark spots.
Gordon says on her website that she launched First Aid Beauty in 2009 because of her own struggles finding products for her skin type.
“Like many of you, I have sensitive skin and like many of you, I couldn’t find skincare products that were effective, made with safe, soothing ingredients and looked and felt great. With a background in beauty, I was determined to create a collection of products that I would be happy to use on myself and share with my family,” she writes.
Try it: Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, $30
This head-to-toe moisturizer is so safe for sensitive skin it’s even safe to use on babies. (Oh, and your skin will be baby soft afterward.) Formulated with colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and more, it’s specifically created to calm and repair dry, parched skin, so it’s basically perfect for post-winter skincare. And nearly anyone can use it as it’s soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, allergy-tested, and vegan. Gordon and the rest of the FAB team is not kidding around about sensitive skin.
Of course these six brands barely break the surface of excellent women-run beauty brands, so investigate which of your faves are created, run, and built by women to show your support!