There is no denying the impact of social media. In 2020, the influencer economy is said to reach $10 billion in value. Influencers of all different sorts and sizes (of followings, that is) are everywhere. They're collaborating with big beauty brands and stamping their names on clothes and eyeshadow palettes galore.
A select few, however, have used their platforms to launch beauty brands that go beyond their names. These are not just collaborations, but full-fledged businesses developing products that just so happen to match the aesthetic or ideology of their founders. From an affordable take on clean beauty to the brand the original beauty influencer created (hello, Michelle Phan) to the most followed beauty brand on the 'gram (we see you, Huda), each of these influencer-founded beauty brands makes products we love, and we think you will too. Read on to discover our faves.
First came the blog, Clean Beauty Insiders, launched by Elsie Rutterford and Dominika Minarovic, in 2015, then a book, and just two years later, in 2017, Bybi Beauty was born. (the name is a portmanteau for ‘by beauty insiders’) Cleaner products are not yet the most affordable switch to make, but Bybi’s colorful, well-priced products are constantly selling out at Credo (where you can find the British brand stateside). We love the boosters—$17 small but potent oils that can be used alone or blended into your favorite moisturizer or foundation. The boosters feature buzzy ingredients like CBD and bakuchiol, but there are time-tested options too, like omega-rich strawberry and brightening buriti oil.
Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores had tried just about every product but were still in seek of quick routes to instant glow. The first launch made the girls combined mega influencing powers clear—it sold out less than three weeks after launching, and it was instantly iconic, too (at least to anyone who frequents skincare Instagram). The first three products were masks, and they recently debuted their first serum, but the very first one remains the hero. The Jet Lag Mask is an in-flight essential (and beyond)—a rich, creamy mask to combat dullness and dryness with ceramides, vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Annie Lawless' impact started long before she launched Lawless Beauty in 2017. A certified holistic health coach, yoga instructor, lifestyle blogger, she founded Suja cold-pressed juices (which later sold to Coca-Cola for a chill $90 million) after discovering a recipe that cured her celiac and eczema symptoms. She then became set on influencing her followers to make cleaner choices in life, and thus, Lawless Beauty was born. The collection includes natural cosmetics -- from full-coverage foundation to eye shadow palettes and liquid lipsticks (our fave!) -- that don't compromise on quality or pigment.
Tina Craig made a name for herself in fashion when she started Bagsnob back in 2005. Flash forward to the ‘teen years, and Craig was a full-on influencer, with the endless access to beauty products that come with the job. She’d committed to a 13 step regimen but thought there had to be a more efficient way. Enter: UBeauty, which launched at the end of 2019 with one product intended to replace most of those 13 steps. The Resurfacing Compound, which launched, and promptly sold out on Net-a-Porter boasts SIREN capsule technology, an exclusive, patent-pending molecule designed to “lure damage away from healthy skin.” With antioxidants, Vitamin C & E, and retinol, this multitasking product leaves skin smoother and more hydrated in just seven days.
Liah Yoo started her YouTube channel in 2011 and found herself quickly overwhelmed. She had access to trying any number of new skincare products, but no matter what she tried, she was still struggling with acne, and no amount of salicylic acid or promising, newly launched miracle creams was clearing it up. The idea for Krave, her skincare brand launched five years later in 2017, was based on a return to basics. The brand positions just three of its products as “must-haves,” those in its “Core Series.” Those are its cleanser, SPF, and moisturizer. The moisturizer just joined the range this past fall, the Oat So Simple Water Cream (less than 10 ingredients!) which features oats (of course) which are a well-researched skin-soothing ingredient and squalane, a skin-identical hydrating ingredient.
Everything else (a gentle glycolic acid toner, a skin barrier-protecting serum) is deemed supplementary. We especially love the direct-to-consumer site’s information which gives you everything from a product’s origin story to specific instructions for how to recycle it when it’s empty.
Michelle Phan might just have been the world's first influencer. She started blogging on Xanga (talk about a throwback) in 2003 and launched her YouTube channel is 2007. Calling it a success would be an understatement—to say the least. In 2013, Michelle launched Em Cosmetics with L'oreal, but eventually bought it back from them, and relaunched the growing brand in 2017. If you only try one thing, make it the Color Drops Serum Blush. This super pretty, super-blendable formula not only looks great but is filled with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and sacha inchi oil.
In 2010, Huda Kattan launched her blog from her apartment in Dubai. In 2013, having gained a loyal following, is where Huda, the brand's origin story begins. Huda wasn't a fan of any of the false lashes on the market and decided to cut, stack, and trim them to make her own. Unsurprisingly, her fans wanted in. Her older sister Alya lent her $6,000 and Huda Beauty was born.
Flash forward to 2020 and Huda Beauty is the most followed beauty brand on Instagram, clocking in at 40 million + followers. It’s also known for so much more than lashes, now. From full-coverage foundations to pigment-packed palettes, Huda and her brand have earned the trust of serious makeup junkies the world over. Her newly released Mercury Retrograde palette is a must, with 18 shades ranging from classics like coppers and pinks to colorful shades like cool lavender and seafoam green.
Super influencer Negin Mirsalehi has 5 million followers and counting on Instagram, a platform she has built since starting to blog in 2012. In 2015, she founded Gisou, a honey-based haircare line based on the six generations of beekeepers on her father’s side of her family. When she was younger, Negin’s mother, a hairdresser, used the many beneficial ingredients bees give us to create her own products. (For example, honey is a vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich ingredient, and propolis is a natural preservative and strengthens and protects hair from heat damage). Today, Gisou’s best-selling, delicious-smelling Honey Infused Hair Oil is based on Negin’s mother’s creation.
Makeup artist-turned-influencer @annapetrosian (1.3 million followers) had been working for ten years as a professional makeup artist, and she was discovering gaps in the market. She was looking for quality, high-efficacy cosmetics that got the job done with a single application. Plus, she was having trouble finding shades to represent the reality of her diverse range of clients' skin. Her clients would book her out months in advance knowing she was able to mix existing shades and brands to get the right looks. And so, Dose of Colors was born—a line of cruelty-free, long-lasting, and ultra high-pigment color cosmetics. The Liquid matte lip (pictured) is a fan favorite—especially in truffle and stone.
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