The demand for nontoxic cosmetics products is growing. The clean beauty segment was valued at $6.5 billion in 2021 and is projected to surpass $22 billion globally by 2024. So it’s no surprise that more brands are saying no to harmful ingredients. Additionally, the biggest driver behind this shift, Gen Z, appreciates a more minimalistic approach to makeup and skin care. Answering the call are these five small beauty businesses that have found unique niches.
A makeup brand that tests its products by sleeping with them on, Youthforia is a plant-based, cruelty-free brand that follows green chemistry principles. Fiona Co Chan believes that a customer’s skin should be better after using Youthforia products. She adopted the idea that makeup should be an extension of skin care from Asian makeup culture.
After years of experiencing bad reactions as a result of falling asleep while using mainstream makeup, Co Chan wanted to formulate cosmetics that not only prevented irritation but improved skin’s look and feel. She trained under a Hong Kong makeup artist while building the brand and learned about situational skin types, as well as the protective properties she could add to her formulas.
“We test all of our products by sleeping in [them] for two months,” Co Chan told CBS.
Youthforia’s claim to fame is its BYO Blush, which is the world’s first universal blush oil that changes color based on an individual’s skin pH.
Dismayed by the lack of male representation in cosmetics, Jonathan Wormser and Stephen Yaseen sought to create a more inclusive skin care-meets-makeup line, which they called Good Weird. They define good weird as “a way to describe someone or something that stands out in a good way.”
Good Weird creates feature-enhancing beauty essentials for everyone and prioritizes natural ingredients, ease of use, and functionality. Creative director Evan Mock feels the brand is breaking barriers and is excited about the community they’re building.
The company is very selective and transparent when it comes to what’s in each product. Its lineup is vegan, cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny-certified, paraben-free, and free from pore-blocking agents.
The clean beauty segment was valued at at $6.5 billion in 2021 and is projected to surpass $22 billion globally by 2024.
Araza Natural Beauty
Sister-founded clean cosmetics company Araza Natural Beauty has differentiated itself from other beauty brands by inventing the first paleo-certified makeup. A little over 10 years ago, sisters Lindsey Diamond and Jen Lindberg began investigating their beauty products amid health issues the two were experiencing at the time.
In an effort to improve their health, they started eating better but realized that what they were putting on their bodies was just as important as what they were putting in their bodies. They turned their passion into a business to share the fortifying benefits of natural cosmetics.
The owners have vowed to “never formulate our products with parabens, chemicals, unnecessary fillers, sulfates, phthalates, triclosan, artificial fragrances or colors.” Not only do Araza products contain naturally occurring minerals and ingredients, they’re also encased in recyclable packaging.
Lanae Rhoads is the owner of Duluth, Minnesota’s Mix Cosmetiques. Mix Cosmetiques features organic and often locally sourced ingredients.
What began as a journey in 2010 to heal her own skin blossomed into a brick-and-mortar shop where today Rhoads sells fully customizable products, including lipsticks, mascaras, and eye shadows. Her online store instructs customers to send her a color swatch to match or to choose from the color options she’s provided, which can be blended.
In addition to makeup, Rhoads makes gentle soaps, beard oils, and body care products. She even hosts workshops to teach folks how to formulate these items themselves. Possibly the most impressive service Rhoads offers is custom color-matching foundation makeup, which can be especially helpful for complexions with hard-to-match undertones.
“Sometimes custom makeup is completely different than what you would expect for yourself,” Rhoads said in a recent Instagram video. “I don’t think a company would even make this shade because nobody would buy it,” she said of a purple-gray liquid foundation she was creating for a client.
Rhoads offers custom orders on a walk-in or by-appointment basis. She can also adjust any one-of-a-kind mixtures at no extra cost.
We spoke with Leila Kashani Manshoory, founder of the makeup brand Alleyoop last year about the significance of sharing ideas as an entrepreneur. We’re revisiting Manshoory’s venture to highlight the mission of her company: to simplify the makeup routine and reassure consumers that less is actually more.
As a businesswoman who travels a lot, Leila found herself burdened by the 10-step beauty routine she was following. So she set out to consolidate products and make them multifunctional. One of Alleyoop’s products is the Multi-Tasker, a 4-in-1 makeup brush tool. Manshoory’s designs aim to efficiently tackle multiple problems at once.
Alleyoop is a certified B Corp due to its dedication to sustainability in its design, reduced raw material use, planet-friendly packaging, and removal of plastic waste in the ocean through a partnership with CleanHub. The brand goes a step further, exceeding both the U.S. and the European Union’s banned ingredient list by excluding over 130 additives from its products.
CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.
CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.
Join us on October 19, 2023, for America’s Top Small Business Summit: Ready, Set, Scale — a must-attend event for small businesses ready to take their companies to the next level. Spend the day with us at U.S. Chamber Headquarters in Washington, D.C. or tune in to our livestream for a small business gathering like no other.