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On International Women’s Day, we thank the important women in our lives and maybe donate to causes that fight for equality and justice worldwide. And while those are both amazing ways to honor the day, we can also shop brands founded and operated by women both this month and year-round. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed beauty addict or you just love a great mascara and moisturizer, your beauty cabinet can be a place to celebrate female entrepreneurism.
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There are plenty of inspiring and innovative brands to choose from, considering the estimated 153 million women-owned companies operating globally, according to the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship. Supporting women-run companies is as important as ever in 2022, which is why we rounded up 12-brands for you to support during Women’s History Month in March (and beyond) that’ll solve your beauty woes and enhance your routine.
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1. Ctzn Cosmetics
Before developing Ctzn, sisters Aleena, Aleezeh, and Naseeha had to mix various lip colors together to create the perfect nude shade to match their lips. This dynamic trio wanted to ensure all shades of skin had a place at the beauty counter and their inclusive line aims to fill in the gap of brown skin tones, offering the right tint for all citizens (hence the name).
Today, the brand’s genderless, diverse, and vegan collection carries a wide range of 25 nude lip duos—a dual-ended product that features both a lipstick and a gloss. The site also offers a color-matching quiz to help you choose the perfect nude for your skin tone.
Andrea Lisbona was destined to become an entrepreneur, as she came from a Portuguese family of innovators. Before hand sanitizer became a coveted necessity (ahem, as it did in 2020), Lisbona saw an opportunity to reinvent this disinfectant because traditional ones often have an unpleasant and pungent odor, remove moisture from hands, and, well, aren’t exactly Instagrammable.
She founded Touchland in 2015 and officially launched it in 2018, becoming the first hand sanitizer brand to go beyond its purpose (i.e. to kill germs) and look like a fashion accessory. The hygiene product found its stardom on social media and received praise from many celebrities, including Kesha, Tyra Banks, and Kris Jenner. It features a vegan formula that includes aloe vera and essential oils to moisturize your skin. Try one of Touchland’s many scents, including watermelon, forest berry, and lavender.
3. Naturally Drenched
After growing one of the top texture salons in the United States, Jamila Powell became increasingly aware of the lack of Black representation in the beauty space, particularly when it comes to hair products. She wanted to make a difference and offer more solutions that celebrate texture with a high quality and eco-friendly formula. In 2020, she created her company, Naturally Drenched, a vegan hair care line that’s catered to what Powell calls “curlfriends.”
If climate change is a cause you care about, you’ll appreciate the amount of research Powell conducted to ensure Naturally Drenched has zero-waste packaging, which led her to using an aluminum bottle for her best-selling Rebalance Pre-Conditioner Treatment. It claims to be recyclable, but also reusable. To give even more, you can purchase a spray top or reusable pump, and all of the proceeds go to Charity: Water.
4. Peach & Lily
Like 15% to 20% of children globally, Alicia Yoon battled severe eczema while growing up in Korea. When she attended esthetician school, she finally found effective measures to manage her flare-ups and symptoms through Korean beauty technology. Her experience and deep research into skincare ingredients and techniques in both Korea and the United States motivated her to create Peach & Lily in 2012.
You could argue Yoon’s brand introduced K-beauty to America, as it has the largest retail platform of Korean beauty brands and is rigorous with its curation. While Peach & Lily sells more than just its own product line, which launched in 2018, Yoon’s team is highly critical of every product it promotes. Peach & Lily’s products all aim to improve skin quality and condition. If you try one thing from the brand, let it be the best-selling Glass Skin Refining Serum that claims to make your skin brighter and smoother. It generated a 25,000-person waitlist with more than 2,000 five-star reviews in 2018 and today, the brand says one unit is sold every three minutes.
5. Three Ships Beauty
Beauty connoisseurs want to know more than what’s the trendiest, most effective product to fit their needs—they also want to know what ingredients they’re putting on their face, hair, nails, and bodies. For those who have converted to vegan products only, you may have the same questions chemical engineer Laura Burget asked herself in 2017: Why are “clean” skincare products so expensive?
Teaming together with business school graduate and friend Connie Lo, this Canadian duo took the $4,000 CAD they had in their bank accounts to create their own formulas in Lo’s apartment kitchen. And thus, Three Ships was born, offering plant-derived, PETA-certified cruelty-free products, all under $40. Some of their best-sellers include the Purify Aloe + Amino Cleanser that claims to cleanse the skin without stripping it of moisture and the Radiance Grape Stem Cell + Squalane Day Cream, which hydrates the skin and protects it with vitamin C.
All founders have a reason for taking that entrepreneur leap of faith, but for a trio of Minneapolis-based working mothers, Lindsay Holden, Britta Chatterjee, and Shannon Kearney, the motivation came in two-fold. One: They were tired of having clutter-filled, messy shower shelves with shampoos for “him” and conditioners for “her.” They wondered, “Why not ‘for everyone?’” And two: They desired to find a career that offered flexibility with work and parenting duties. During nap time, they developed Odele, which launched in January 2020.
The brand name was inspired by the Norweigian phrase “å dele,” which means “to share,” and multi-purpose is at the heart of their vegan products. Their haircare line is meant to be shopped by hair type and/or benefit, not by sex, race, or age. Thus, you and your kiddo could share a Smoothing Shampoo. With everything under $12, you can forgive your toddler if he or she squeezes the last drop of your Leave-in Conditioner.
Naomi Furgiuele led scientific teams and product development for many global pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer brands for nearly two decades. Throughout her career, she had the opportunity to meet and speak with women worldwide, learning about their routines, health, and families. These experiences inspired her to create her own “clean” (vegan, gluten-free, and not tested on animals) skincare line, Nuria, in 2018.
Her products are designed to meet women in whatever life stage they’re going through—from acne to aging—and address how hormones, stress, and environmental conditions impact our skin. Some of the brand’s best-sellers include the Defend Triple Action Eye Cream that claims to brighten dark circles and the Defend Skin Shielding Essence that aims to strengthen your skin barrier. You can feel even better when you shop, knowing that a portion of all sales is donated to further the education of girls globally.
8. Savor Beauty
Right before going on stage as a professional concert pianist in New York City, Angela Jia Kim applied a lotion. She was horrified when she broke out in hives during her performance. She investigated a better solution by researching organic ingredients and eventually founded her Korean beauty-inspired skincare line, Savor Beauty, in 2017 in her kitchen. She debuted the products at Bryant Park’s annual holiday line, and they became an instant hit.
Today, Savor remains locally-produced in Hudson Valley, and the brand has three award-winning Savor Spas in New York. She calls the products “sexy green” because they contain surprising ingredients, like champagne in a cleanser or truffle in a face cream.
9. Sigma Beauty
Simone Xavier moved to the United States from Brazil, where she earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and became a veterinarian. As she chatted with friends and family in her home country, she noticed they often requested beauty products and tools that weren’t available in the Brazilian market. Curious, she looked into the industry and found an opportunity to produce makeup brushes that were high-quality and budget-mindful.
She founded Sigma Beauty in 2009, and yes, the brand sells to Brazil—and almost everywhere else. What sets these tools apart from others is their innovative and patented design. In fact, the company has 60 patents and counting. Its best-selling F80 Flat Kabuki Brush is an iconic foundation applicator that creates an airbrush-like finish on the skin.
For many years, Diana Larkin was known for her wax salon in Los Angeles, straightforwardly named “Wax”. It was frequented by a plethora of celebrities, from Rihanna and Nicole Kidman to Emily Blunt. However, her customers started asking for recommendations on what they could do at home for when they needed a touch-up between appointments. Over the course of two years, she developed her company, MyHare, putting her 14 years of esthetician expertise into the formula.
Though it only launched in October 2020 with two product offerings, the Strip Down Wax Strips and Lip Service (a bikini line wax) to fight those pesky bumps, she’s filled a much-needed niche during the pandemic.
For many women, tampons, pads, and other menstrual products are just something they pick up during an errand run without much thought. But three innovators, Yanghee Paik, Binna Won, and Aness An, were curious about what they were putting in or subjecting their bodies to each month during their cycles. Considering menstrual products are something half of the population uses and buys for about 40 years of their lives, the trio figured they should better understand what goes into the production process. What they discovered were harmful ingredients and chemicals that could have a lasting impact on feminine health. So, they sought to raise the bar in terms of female personal care product standards and founded their company, Rael, in 2017.
The product line is designed by women for women, and they take a holistic approach by offering clean feminist care that supports females through all stages of their cycle. They have organic cotton tampons with plant-based applicators, heating patches for menstrual cramps, and many other goodies you never knew you needed for that time of the month.
In 2009, Lynette Lovelace found herself at a crossroads in her personal and professional life. Her child was going through a health challenge, and as a restauranter and boutique owner, she was struggling to find balance. She turned to aromatherapy for calm and comfort and realized how significantly those “tiny” investments in self-care could improve her mood. Inspired, she took a sharp right turn and decided to go into the wellness space by founding Lifetherapy.
To begin, she offered luxury bath and body products in various scents and formulas, but as it has grown, her company now includes loungewear, candles, and more. As a popular indie brand, it combines mind, body, and soul into one experience and is designed to encourage women and men alike to slow down, disconnect, and find grounding. In fact, they even have a bubble bath called “Grounded,” and another called “Inspired,” if that’s more your style. Take your pick and channel your mood.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.