One of the biggest trends in the beauty industry in the last couple of years is independent beauty (so called indie beauty), or the idea that a beauty company can be owned and operated outside of the global corporate structure of the handful of mainstream companies. While there is nothing wrong with corporate beauty companies, independent beauty companies are able to address direct and specific needs of beauty consumers while uplifting what are often small business owners around the world.
What makes a beauty company independent?
Different beauty industry experts will say varying things when asked this question, and the truth is that there really isn’t any set of requirements that a beauty brand must fulfill in order to be considered an independent beauty brand. The term means different things to different people, but overall it denotes a kind of separation from corporate ownership, and the ability for the founding member of the company to make decisions on behalf of the entire brand. For this reason, independent beauty brands are usually smaller labels and will often specialize in one or two products rather than trying to create entire lines of beauty and personal care products that range from makeup to body care. In interviews with several founders for Cosmetic Design, many independent beauty brand owners emphasized the importance of passion in the products that their companies make, as well as logistical details like ownership, in defining what makes a beauty brand independent.
Defining what makes a top independent beauty brand
Consumers that seek out independent beauty brands are often looking for something specific that an independent beauty brand might also offer. Some brands focus on sustainability—offering things like zero waste packaging and supply chain guarantees, while others are simply owned and operated by Black creators. Determining which independent beauty brands are the top independent beauty brands should look at a variety of factors to be inclusive of the many reasons a consumer might seek out independent beauty brands in the first place. That being said, here is our list:
Top independent beauty brands: Sustainability
Susanne Kaufmann - As one of the premiere sustainable beauty companies in Europe, Susanne Kaufmann prides itself on a holistic approach to beauty, using natural products and ingredients that are as good for the body as they are for the environment. The company, which is independently owned and operated. The line focuses on treatment quality products, and uses organic ingredients to preserve its ethos of natural beauty. Kaufmann, who started the line to go along with the spa, which also approaches rest and relaxation from a holistic perspective to focus on natural wellness.
Biossance - This is one of the most popular independent beauty companies in the United States. Biossance was created in 2003 in Berkeley using biotechnology as a clean and sustainable approach to skincare and cosmetics. Today the company is still operated independently, and makes a small handful of skincare products that range from organic skin oils to facial products and moisturizers.
Davines - Davines is an independent beauty brand that focuses on creating sustainable hair products. The company’s line ranges from shampoo and conditioner to specialized hair products for different hair types. The Italian company is a B Corp, meaning it’s earned a high ranking based on a variety of things like its commitment to ethical operations and addressing climate change through its business practice.
Top independent beauty brands: Black owned
Beauty Bakerie - Beauty Bakerie launched its brand back when foundation and makeup shade ranges were not often inclusive of darker skin tones. The company was founded by the same Black woman that still runs it today, and she credits her success in the beauty industry to her young daughter who pushes her to do her best every day. Today, the brand is sold in major retailers throughout the United States, and is one of the premiere beauty companies known for its inclusive shade range.
Briogeo - Founded on similar ethos as Beauty Bakerie in the sense that, up until just recently, there were very few products on the market that were specially formulated for Black bodies, Briogeo has quickly become one of the most popular hair care companies with products on the market today. The company was founded by a Black woman that wanted to see more products created for natural hair, and is available today in some of the biggest beauty retailers around the world.
Organic Bath Co. - Organic Bath Co. is both committed to sustainability and owned and operated by Black entrepreneurs. The company is dedicated to using natural and organic ingredients in its products, and sources its ingredients from carefully selected suppliers throughout its supply chain from around the globe. The company uses ingredients that not only help the environment, but help the communities that source them—whether its argan oil from Morocco, or shea butter from Ghana.
Juvia’s Place - Juvia’s Place began as a small, independently owned and operated cosmetics company that made high-pigment cosmetics that were specifically curated and formulated for Black skin tones. The company, which places inspiration for all of its packaging on African, Asian, and Middle-Eastern beauty, aims to boost inclusivity in the beauty industry by uplifting people of color through their rich history. Today, the brand is available in major retailers like Ulta Beauty, and is one of the most popular independently owned makeup brands in the United States.
Top independent beauty brands: Vegan
Dose of Colors - Another high pigment makeup company, Dose of Colors is an independently owned beauty brand that focuses on creating high quality, mostly vegan cosmetics that are affordable and widely available. The company frequently collaborates with influential figures in the beauty industry, from popular social media personalities to companies like Disney in its highly successful Mickey Mouse collection. The brand was founded and is still owned and operated today by Anna Petrosian.
Herbivore Botanicals - Most of Herbivore Botanicals’ products are vegan and use natural ingredients. The company emphasizes the importance of earth-based cosmetics and beauty products to help its consumers connect with the earth through the products that they use. The brand was founded in 2011 by a Seattle-based couple, and today stays true to its beginnings as an independently owned business.
Skyn Iceland - Skyn Iceland was created with the idea that skincare products should remove stress as well as treat what it can do to your body directly. The company uses icelandic ingredients to connect people to their bodies. Iceland is known for its rugged and extreme natural environment, as well as its cultural commitment to clean, natural food and products. The company’s products are vegan, and it was independently founded (and still operates today) with the idea that natural, healthy products should be accessible.
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