To say that Kinship knows its customer would be an understatement. The affordable clean beauty brand prides itself on staying hyper-connected with its consumers, and founders Alison Haljun and Christin Powell are more than willing to listen—no matter what the feedback entails.
"It’s so important to us as founders to get lots of feedback from our audience on how they like the product and how it’s working," Powell tells Byrdie of the brand’s development process. "We'll go back five times and iterate on it if they don't like it."
Case in point: Kinship’s first eye cream—the Brightwave Energizing + Brightening Eye Cream ($32), which is finally available today—was highly requested by the brand’s loyal Gen Z following. In honor of the new launch, we sat down with Haljun and Powell to get all the exclusive details on the much-anticipated product.
Kinship Brightwave Energizing + Brightening Eye Cream
Best for: Eyes
Product Claims: Vegan and cruelty-free. Dermatologist tested.
Key Ingredients: Red algae, chaga mushroom, and vitamin C ester
Why We Love It: This hydrating eye cream offers an immediate blurring effect, as well as long-term anti-aging benefits.
If you had to guess which beauty products Gen Z was shopping for online, you probably wouldn’t have landed on eye cream. However, the brand’s DMs and search results told a different story. The founders noticed that eye cream was one of the top searches on Kinship’s website, and loyal fans were continually messaging them about the product.
However, unlike many eye cream customers, the Kinship audience wasn’t looking to manage fine lines or wrinkles, but instead was searching for a solution for tired, puffy eyes and dark circles. Like the rest of us, Gen Z has been getting less sleep the past year, in addition to spending more time on Zoom calls and in front of screens.
"They need something that is basically an energy drink for your eyes," says Powell. To meet their customer’s needs, the founders set out to reinvent the "sleepy" eye category and create a clean, affordable, and effective product. They wanted something that would hydrate the skin while reducing the look of dark circles and puffiness, which led them on a search for a unique combination of ingredients.
One of the key ingredients in the eye cream is red algae with taurine, an amino acid protein that helps to energize and wake up tired eyes. It’s also an ingredient in Red Bull energy drinks. "It has that immediate effect of blurring and the long-term effect of strengthening collagen so you're helping to prevent signs of aging," explains Powell.
The formula also includes sea buckthorn oil, which gives the product a color-correcting peach color that reduces the blue tones under the eye. "You're getting an immediate sort of concealer look by just putting on eye cream,” says Powell, noting that the product can be applied both under and on top of your concealer.
Also in the eye cream is vitamin C ester, which Powell says is great for the skin's barrier and helps to deliver a boost of radiance. Chaga mushroom, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can minimize puffiness, rounds out the formula. According to Powell, the adaptogen also helps the skin adapt to stress, whether it’s from exposure to screens or a lack of sleep.
The formula itself is a bit thicker than you’d expect for an eye cream or even a moisturizer, which Haljun says was an intentional choice. “Typically when brands come out with an eye product for a younger generation, it's something really lightweight like a gel,” she explains on why they decided to go with a cream rather than something lighter. "We want it to be performance-based, and we want it to really work."
The almost pudding-like texture is a result of all of the oils packed into the formula. In addition to being hydrating, Powell explains that the oils help with vitamin absorption to make the product’s ingredients more effective. To apply, gently tap it onto your under-eye and around the eye area following the orbital bone. A pea-sized amount is enough for both eyes, and you can reapply it throughout the day to refresh as well as nightly.
I really like the texture of this eye cream. It absorbs quickly, but you can still feel a layer sitting on your skin and sealing in moisture. I didn't even realize my under-eye area was so dry before using it. Despite the thickness of the cream, it doesn't feel heavy and it still works well with my concealer.
You also still get that cooling effect that usually comes with gel and water-based eye creams, which feels great on puffy eyes. Plus, you only need to use the smallest amount to get the most out of the product, so I'm looking forward to working my way through this bottle.