In a world increasingly more intrigued by clean, botanical formulas, natural beauty brands are on the rise. While new brands are debuting each and every day, some are just not getting recognized despite rallying for the cause years ago. Case in point: Hanalei Island-Powered Beauty. The Hawaiian-based beauty brand launched in 2015 and has been gaining traction here this year. Whether it’s thanks to the brand’s top-quality ingredients or TikTok's latest obsession with coconut girl aesthetics, we’re glad the tropical-influenced brand is on our radar—and think you will be glad, too.
- Founded: Alice and Viraphanh Kim, 2015
- Based In: Honolulu
- Pricing: $$
- Best Known For: Providing efficacious skincare products formulated with authentic and natural Hawaiian botanicals and values
- Most Popular Product: Lip Treatment, Sugar Lip Scrub, Kukui Body Lotion
- Fun Fact: Hanalei was inspired by Alice and Viraphanh's love story. “We always say, ‘First we fell in love, then we fell in love with Hawaii,’ because Hanalei was founded out of love while we were falling in love,” Alice tells Byrdie. “My husband, Viraphanh, spent his teen years in Hawaii, then traveled the world and was drawn back. When he took me to Hanalei Bay in Kauai for the first time, I knew immediately why he felt this way. It quickly became the inspiration behind Hanalei, which has grown, with love and hard work, far beyond what Vira and I dreamt of that day. While we were not born in Hawaii, it is now our home and the place where we created and continue to raise Hanalei.”
- Other Brands You’ll Love: John Masters Organic, Mahalo Skincare, Kopari
Hanalei Island-Powered Beauty was founded after the success of Alice and Viraphanh’s first beauty company, Elizabeth Mott. “With Hanalei, our goal was to create a line of skincare products that combined authentic and local Hawaiian botanicals with an emphasis on true Hawaiian values and a deep connection to nature,” Alice shares.
With headquarters based in Hawaii, the brand prides itself on using locally sourced Hawaiian botanicals as star ingredients. “Inspired by Hawaii’s diverse ecosystem and culture, we quickly made it our goal to share the power of Hawaiian botanicals with people all over the world through straightforward and restorative skincare,” Alice says.
One such botanical is kukui nut oil, which has been gaining traction in the skincare industry. “We recently developed what we call ‘Aloha Nui Complex,’ which is our proprietary blend of locally sourced ingredients, Hawaiian kukui nut oil, Hawaiian coffee berry, and Hawaiian spirulina,” Kim says. “This unique blend of natural botanicals is proven to restore a glow-y healthy complexion, which is why we incorporated it into our newest skincare trio (Aloe E Hawaiian Face Cleanser, Makai Marine Hawaiian Face Moisturizer, and Kona Peptide Hawaiian Eye Cream) that launched in June of 2021.”
While the brand is Hawaiian-inspired, the Kims hope that its influence extends stateside and beyond. “Most of our customers are fans of the appeal of escaping to Hawaii,” Alice says. “The Hawaiian islands are a beautiful destination with so many uniquely powerful botanicals, like our star ingredient, kukui nut oil. Since Hawaii is a beautiful melting pot of people and cultures, we strive to develop products with every skin type and texture in mind.”
Since Hanalei is one of few Hawaii-based beauty brands, it’s not up against major competition in that market. However, in the skincare market at large, Hanalei is considered to be small and niche, which has made it soar a bit under the radar in the grand scheme of things. But, if we know anything to be true, it’s that sometimes the less-hyped brands are the ones that actually have so much to offer.
With that in mind, read on for our favorite Hanalei products.
Hanalei Kukui Oil Lip Treatment
Sold in seven shades (including clear), Hanalei's Kukui Oil Lip Treatment is a fan-favorite for its hydrating, pout restoring nature. What I enjoyed most about the product is that it's thick and creamy, not sticky or greasy—a feat that many lip treatments and balms fail to accomplish. Plus, with tinted options, it offers the ability to treat your lips while dolling them up. Just keep in mind that the tinted selection often sells out, so you'll want to act fast if you see them in stock.
Hanalei Sugar Lip Scrub
Here we have another Hanalei bestseller. The five-star lip product is designed to gently slough away dead skin cells to reveal smooth, juicy lips underneath. As with any exfoliation, you don't want to overdo it. With that in mind, it's best to use the scrub a few times a week, unless you have super-chapped lips, in which case it's fine to use daily to clear that up. Thanks to its gentle and hydrating nature—it's made with jojoba oil, shea butter, and kukui nut oil—so it won't overdry your pout.
Hanalei Kukui Body Lotion
Kukui nut oil is known to deeply hydrate skin and provide antioxidant protection, so this kukui nut oil–infused body lotion is a godsend for dry skin. It's thick and rich but never greasy, and the scent is very mild, unlike many other Hawaiian-inspired body lotions on the market. That said, I was personally surprised that it didn't have a bit more of a scent. It's very neutral in that way. Still, it's great for treating dry elbows and knees and preventing cracked skin from neck to toe.
Hanalei Kona Peptide Hawaiian Eye Cream
My favorite of all the Hanalei products that I tried has to be this eye cream. The rich-yet-lightweight cream blends easily into the skin and makes the under-eye area look immediately dewy and plumped, in a wide-awake way. Plus, it has the most island-y scent—though not so fragrant that it would interfere with sensitive eyes. No wonder it has a five-star rating on average.
Hanalei Makai Marine Hawaiian Face Moisturizer
This best-selling daily moisturizer can be used morning and night to hydrate and firm skin. It's ultralightweight, given it's a gel-ream formula, so it may be best for oily and combination skin types. When used, I found that it immediately sunk into my skin to deliver a dewy, moisturized appearance. And since it has more of a neutral marine scent, you won't have to worry about it being overpowering for your nose (or your skin).
Hanalei Aloe E™ Hawaiian Face Cleanser
Made with soothing and hydrating aloe vera, repairing and moisturizing kukui nut oil, and energizing coffee extract, this gel cleanser not only rids the skin of built-up dirt and bacteria, it replaces it with hydration and an invigorated appearance, too. The biggest thing to keep in mind with this cleanser is that a little goes a long way and no matter how much you use, you shouldn't expect more than a light lather (it doesn't offer loads of suds the way some other facial cleansers on the market do).
Hanalei Papaya Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
Powder face cleansers are becoming more and more popular. Whereas Tatcha was among the first brands to offer the innovative formula, Hanalei is one of the latest to hop on the trend. And let's be clear: Its formula is applause-worthy. The powder—which can be emulsified with water on its own or mixed with the brand's (or any) other cleanser, is formulated with papaya enzyme, which is known to brighten and exfoliate the skin, revealing a more radiant complexion in mere moments. In that way, it's a great addition to just about any skincare routine, as it can transform any cleanser you already own into an exfoliating powerhouse. Just remember to always fully close the lid, because if water seeps into the spout, it can mix with the powder and dry into a clay-like substance that's difficult to remove while in the shower. (Take it from someone who made that mistake.)
P.S. You can fully avoid the chance of clogging the spout by opting for the travel set, which includes 14 individual packets of powder.
Hanalei Sugar Body Scrub
Like the brand's Sugar Lip Scrub, Hanalei's Sugar Body Scrub is a fan favorite for its gentle exfoliating abilities and light scent. As wonderful as the sunflower-seed-oil-based scrub feels, however, it's important not to use it each and every day, as over-exfoliating your skin can cause it to become sensitive, as well as trigger it to produce more oil. That said, if you decide to add this top-rated product to your cart, make it a weekly treat, not a daily indulgence.
Hanalei Island Aloe Gel
I recently got very sunburned on a boat outing, despite using ample sunscreen and reapplying every two hours—such is the reality of being a pale redhead outdoors for eight hours in the sun. Thankfully, I was able to come home to this little jar of green goodness. It's cooling and hydrating and left my skin looking dewy and feeling refreshed. Best of all, it's designed for face and body use, so I could use it on my sun-kissed cheeks and my scorched chest and shins (ouch!). The only downside is that it is a small jar, but a little goes a long way—it's no wonder that so many shoppers are such big fans of this little jar.
Hanalei Charcoal Powder Face Cleanser
Last but not least: Charcoal Powder Face Cleanser. Like the papaya powder, this formula can be used on its own with water or mixed with any cleanser to create a gentle exfoliating emulsion. The biggest difference is whereas papaya powder brightens skin, charcoal powder absorbs impurities, detoxifies the skin, and aids in oil balance. As such, it's fantastic for oily and combo skin types.