We were promised the future would be female, and these inspiring beauty entrepreneurs haven't left us disappointed. The 19 female founders we're highlighting ahead each entered the beauty space to fill an underserved need. For some, it was drawing upon personal struggles to replace irritating ingredients with sustainably sourced, nutrient-rich alternatives that soothed seriously inflamed skin. For others, it was recreating a spa-like skincare experience with an at-home ritual that delivered results. And for others, it was embracing inclusivity in all it’s beautiful forms to create seriously bold and standout products made for all.
These female founders, each with her own unique story and empowering message, are continuing to reshape the beauty industry and leave their mark with the glowing complexions, fierce pigments, and healthy hair of their obsessed consumers as the proof. From wish list-worthy splurges to treat yourself steals, these are the 18 female-founded beauty brands—and the stand out products—you can feel good about supporting.
One Love Organics
Built on the power of love, founder Suzanne LeRoux was a lawyer with a keen interest in aromatherapy, integrative herbology, cosmetic chemistry, and holistic nutrition but it was her husband who she credits as the guiding light encouraging her to bring One Love to life. Living up to its heartwarming name, her husband later joined the brand as CFO (sweet, right?). Inspired by the healing power of plants and dedication to truly clean formulation, the Georgia-based lab holds the rare ECOCERT-license that ensures the highest organic and environmentally friendly standards in the world. So yeah, this stuff is really, really clean, and good for you. To see what all the fuss is about (and instantly become the world’s best gift giver), the Detox + Glow kit includes four best-selling and most highly-rated products including Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil, Love + Charcoal Masque, Skin Savoir Multi-tasking Wonder Balm, and Skin Dew Coconut Water Cream for clear, glowing skin.
You don’t become the fastest growing hair care line at Sephora overnight, but Briogeo founder, Nancy Twine, came pretty close. After leaving her position at Goldman Sachs in 2014, Twine went on to fill a void in the clear hair space with the launch of Briogeo (“Brio” is Italian for “vibrant and full of life”, and “Geo” is Latin for “of Earth and nature”). Sticking true to its roots, the 6-free hair care line replaced sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, DEA, and synthetic color, with ethically sourced, cruelty-free ingredients that work. The texture-specific product ranges target all major hair needs including frizz, color care, curls, and scalp health, and simplify the whole product lineup into two to four products.
It’s hard to talk powerhouse women without mention of this trailblazing visionary. UOMA founder Sharon Chuter was inspired by her Nigerian heritage and the absence of product lines that cater to a diverse audience. The result? A fun, colorful, and extensive beauty collection with shades for everyone and anyone. Fun fact: she is also single-handedly responsible for bringing Revlon to Nigeria. Disrupting the marketing industry has been her stance from the start, pushing the envelope ever further than before with the launch of 51 foundation shade range available in six custom formulas and a collection of unapologetically bold and beautiful color pigments. Chuter strives to promote self-love and self-expression and her passion comes through in every rich pigment you try from the line. Our current favorite: this intensely pigmented liquid lipstick spiked with grit-free, glittery flecks that make for a perfect festive party lip.
Long before clean beauty was a buzzword, esthetician Tammy Fender was formulating custom treatments for her clients out of her Palm Beach atelier that reflected her holistic, natural beauty philosophy. Her experience in botany, aromatherapy, and medical science, combined with her commitment to healthy living, became the basis of her eponymous brand which focuses on the well-being of a person and the use of organic food-grade ingredients to meet their skincare needs. Even as the Tammy Fender brand expands, the attention to detail remains, with the purest ingredients being blended by hand in small batches to maintain efficacy, and the personal touch that has grown this brand still felt throughout . Our wish list pick this season: Tammy Fender’s newest launch, Plant Milk. Just in time to soothe winter chapped skin, this silky blend of white lily, mountain arnica, and milk thistle hydrates and calms the most delicate and sensitive skin and leaves it soft, supple, and glowing.
Ona New York
Built on a love for trave and the havoc it can wreak on your skin, Ona (which means “she” in Slavic language) was born out of a spontaneous encounter 16 years ago on a transatlantic flight from Russia to New York, when co-founders Olga Kovaleva and Oksana Sannikova met. With a joint passion for travel, skincare, and entrepreneurship, the duo came up with their own range of hydrating and pampering formulas inspired by centuries-old Russian skincare rituals. Drawing on their impeccable style, they worked with a fashion illustrator to help design the minimalist-chic packaging, which pays tribute to New York. The designs instantly pique interest, but it’s the carefully curated product line and effective formulas that keep your attention.
If you’ve ever rested your head on the wonder that is a Slip silk pillowcase, you know it’s a game-changer. If you haven’t, add this baby to the top of your holiday wish list right now. Founder Fiona Stewart was hardly the first person to think of sleeping on silk for one of its many skin and hair smoothing benefits—it’s been a longstanding beauty secret for decades. However, it was Stewart’s inability to find a suitable version in 2003 when searching for something to soothe her cystic acne while she snoozed that led to her taking matters into her own hands. First, she bought a roll of silk from the fabric store to wrap around her pillow for a more comfortable night’s rest. Next, she launched the beauty brand that’s redefined ‘beauty sleep’ and making our zzz’s a lot cozier ever since.
As the name suggests, this brand is indulgent in every way—except for the price tag. Founder Heather Reier began cooking up vegan, natural, and cruelty-free body products from her kitchen over 15 years ago, determined to develop a good-for-you product line that was playful and easy on your wallet. The result was Cake Beauty and the sweet tooth obsession became very real, with best in beauty recognitions and cult followings that inspired her expansion into hair care. The line is unapologetically adorable with playful pink packaging and product names like “Heavy Cream Body Balm” and “Soft Serve Cream Rinse” that will make you smile before you even apply the delicious formulas.
Leave it to the work of a celebrity facialist to create a line of pampering products that bring the spa experience to life at home. Emma Hardie’s eponymous skincare line was created to encourage women to treat their skin at home, turning what was once a chore into a twice-daily ritual to actually look forward to. One wash with Emma Hardie’s signature Moringa Cleansing Balm is enough to understand the obsession. The luxuriously rich balm is formulated with her signature ingredient, moringa, full of amino acids and vitamins, and saturated with conditioning grape seed and almond oils (so much so you can reapply as a skin-softening mask post-cleanse). It even comes with a plush cloth to complete the indulgent cleansing experience. But don't stop there—the whole line is full of indulgent, non-toxic products that treat your skin. Case in point: the brand's Plump & Glow Hydrating Facial Mist won a Byrdie Eco Award in 2019.
The name Kosas comes from the philosophy of the five layers of self, and stems far beyond the prettiest pigments you’ve seen to date. “Women were, and still are, my inspiration,” notes female founder Sheena Yaitanes, the LA-based artist whose expert knowledge of color brought to life this carefully crafted line combining striking shade ranges and botanical-rich formulas. It marries her seemingly unrelated skills across art, science, and beauty into a stunningly unique collection that’s as rich in color as it is in ingredients. The combination of color payoff and good-for-you formulas is something Yaitanes stands by, and each new launch offers a new delight; this mixed metal shadow trio is the proof.
Leave it to minimalist convert, founder Cheryl Yannotti Foland, to create a streamlined collection of luxurious and multi-purpose products that live up to her “less is more” mentality. After recognizing the overwhelming and excessive variety of SKUs filling the shelves, Foland worked to create a strategic lineup of natural-minded makeup products that felt delicious on your skin and looked equally as beautiful on your face and vanity.
Our pick this season: Lilah B Love Your Lips Trio. These tinted oil-based lip treatments combine all the heavy-duty conditioning benefits of a balm (thanks to hydrators like vitamin E and bilberry seed oil) with the pigment and finish of a gloss. Plus, with three ultra-flattering shades, you can keep one in your purse, one at your desk and one in your makeup bag for a shot of pretty color and conditioning whenever you need it.
This Vancouver-born brand marries functionality and sustainability and lives up to its Slavic name (meaning “organic and healthy”). Inspired by the alarming ingredient list on the back of her favorite lip balm and the witnessing the impact of natural homeopathic remedies healing her brother’s (and now business partner) acute asthma, founder Sasha Plavsic sought to create a collection of products whose formulations were as clean and beautiful as their results. One swipe of the buttery multi-use sticks is enough to recognize the difference. Swiped them on your lips or cheeks; these creamy formulas melt into your skin, adding gorgeous natural-looking color and sheen, and a dose of welcome hydration.
Dermatologist Dr. Loretta’s namesake skincare brand focuses on protecting the skin against four age-fighting factors: pollution, climate, light, and irritants. The highly potent medical-grade actives inside the refreshingly minimalist bottles and tubes work to defend skin against these environmental factors, keeping skin protected, conditioned, and glowy with each use. Any dermatologist will tell you sunscreen is essential to healthy skin, so here’s one you will actually look forward to applying (and re-applying): the pale pink formula is silky, smoothing, and absorbs in seconds, making it perfect for everyday and a solid swap for any primer.
If you’ve ever read the insanely clever and cheeky verbiage on a Go-To product, you’ll see the appeal. The founder, Zoe Foster Blake, is an Australian beauty editor whose mission was to make skincare fun and tell it like it is. She replaced all the complicated and technical language with fun and approachable chatter that people could actually understand. It's hard to choose which product to start with, but we suggest the Face Hero Face Oil, a delectable concoction of almond oil, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, and more that leaves your skin feeling soft and bouncy.
This Hawaii-born brand embodies the vibrant energy and glowing spirit of founder, Leah Klasovsky in every product (side note: It’s amazing what an “ahola” greeting via email will do for your mood). Her mission was to create a meaningful skincare line that turned skincare into a treasured ritual, rooted in her own struggles with cystic acne and interest in holistic healing. The hand-crafted products are made at a Kauai atelier and are infused with the land’s botanical scents, nectars and oils, organic actives, and silky textures. The result? Deliciosuly elegant formulas that work. Brighten your mood and complexion with this serum duo featuring two cold-pressed beauty oils that instantly brighten and even out your skin tone.
When the woman behind the glowing complexions of Isabella Rossellini, Behati Prinsloo, and Alexa Chung bottles up her favorite formulas for the masses, there’s a reason to get excited. Drawing on her health and nutrition background, every product in Kat’s namesake collection is designed with purpose and intelligently formulated for maximum-potency to deliver impressively even, dewy, healthy-looking results. Need a place to start? We suggest the Lift and Fill Form Control Marine Collagen Gel, Rose Hip Intense Recovery Eye Serum, and Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream—all will give you closer to your glass-skin goals.
Skinfix founder Amy Risley was no stranger to the beauty industry when she started her line of supremely heavy-duty hydrators. Pre-Skinfix, she spent nearly 20 years at L’Oreal, but it wasn’t until years later in Canada when she discovered the 140-year-old Skinfix healing balm that everything clicked. Skinfix healing balm—originally formulated by a British pharmacist Thomas Dixon—was made sans steroids, irritants, or synthetics; the formula was passed down through five generations. In 2012, Risley purchased the company from Dixon’s great-great-granddaughter and continues to work with dermatologists, naturopaths, and holistic chemists to formulate efficacious healing products that work. For the sensitive skin types and everyone in-between, these super-hydrating formulas will cure winter chapped skin, soothe eczema and irritation, and keep your skin super-soft all season long.