Indie Beauty: Where ideas, inspiration, innovation, and investments happen in the cosmetics and personal care industry today (part 2 of 2)

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Indie Beauty: Where ideas, inspiration, innovation, and investments happen in the cosmetics and personal care industry today (part 2 of 2)

Related tags Indie beauty Indie beauty brands Entrepreneurship

The independent beauty movement is unstoppable. It’s no longer niche and it’s no longer negligible. Here Cosmetics Design examines all things indie—what’s trending, how conventional beauty is responding, and more.

Bringing something new to market is always a risk. The innovative technology behind the Youth Revealed Anti-Aging Skin Care Masks from Nannette de Gaspé Beauté (as mentioned in part 1 of this article​) for example had no precedent in beauty. It’s commonly indie beauty brands that test the market readiness of new products and concepts.


Bold indie brands are often on the leading edge (if not ahead of the curve) of what’s coming next in beauty, fragrance, and personal care. While industry giants like IFF Lucas Meyer and Johnson & Johnson are researching and slowly rolling out products that engage productively with the skin or scalp’s microbiome, brands like Mother Dirt and Gallinée​ have already taken the wonder and science of bacteria as the focus of their brands.

Just as environmentalism and corporate social responsibility have become cherished initiatives for multinational corporations, cultural and societal causes have inspired entire indie brands, like Pinch of Colour​. The brand founded by Linda Treska not only makes lip color and complexion products without water but also works closely with water conservation causes worldwide.

All natural fragrance is a trendy niche thanks to forward-thinking brands like Pour le Monde. In a Two Views piece on Cosmetics Design​ late last year that brand’s founder Wendi Berger, commented that, “in the three years since Pour le Monde launched, there has been enormous growth in the natural beauty space as more consumers question ingredients found in personal care. They scrutinize and hold companies accountable and expect transparency, efficacy, sustainably sourced ingredients and cruelty free products.”

The rise in hair and color cosmetics for non-Caucasian consumers has also been nudged forward by the indie beauty movement. “Finally, we’re seeing products and services—created by people of color—that address the beauty needs of women of color in authentic ways,” ​Jihan Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Swivel Beauty, an app that helps women of color find the right salon and stylist, told Cosmetics Design​. As the app exemplifies, digital technology makes it easier for new brands and services to reach consumers directly.

And indie seems to be where the athleisure trend got a running start. Scarcely an article goes by about active beauty in the consumer media that doesn’t mention the innovative Sweat Cosmetics brand​. And indie beauty brands led that trend in terms of simplicity (like Feather & Bone face gems​), portability (like Stowaway Cosmetics​), and practicality (like Switch Fresh​) too.


Money talks. Big beauty has adopted an entrepreneurial attitude and embraced indie beauty, with awards, through incubators, and with investments or acquisitions.

Startups are all the rage and competitions like the L’Oreal NEXT awards​ (this year’s application deadline in June 17) create a space where the latest outside-the-box tech and innovation can cross-pollinate with the experience and reach of big beauty.  

Incubators for finished goods brands like P&G’s Preneur project​ and for startup supply-side companies like Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS​, for individual entrepreneurs like Sephora Accelerate​—these all act as catalysts to advance indie and to inspire legacy brands to borrow and build on the best of what’s new.

Venture capitalists, investment firms, and bankers, all have a keen interest in indie beauty today; and it’s as much for that reason as it is for the disruptive, entrepreneurial spirit of the whole thing that indie beauty is here to stay.

Read part 1 of Indie Beauty: Where ideas, inspiration, innovation, and investments happen in the cosmetics and personal care industry today.

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