It’s the end of December, and naturally, we’re thinking about the last 12 months. Kim Kardashian dated (and sadly ditched) Pete Davidson. RIP Kete. Tom Cruise broke the box office dry spell. We’ve come to realize Julia Fox is a gem and is owed an apology. Don’t Worry Darling’s apparent drama outshined the movie itself. Taylor Swift got Ticketmaster investigated by Congress. Countless products sold out due to their virality on TikTok.
For the beauty industry, one thing became clear: We were ready to have some much-needed fun again. Sans masks and stay-at-home orders, people were exercising their freedom to wear bright lips and foundation without the fear of smears. This list includes brands with massive influence and a few other similarities: People bought their products because they felt they would enjoy using them—from “funner flare ups” to tiny, self-adhesive rhinestones that even a makeup novice could apply; messaging around launches was light and positive, and innovation was at the forefront.
Here are nine brands that positively impacted the beauty world in 2022.
Founders: Marta Freedman, Joyce de Lemos, Charlotte Palermino
It would be difficult to compile this list without Dieux, the brainchild of co-founders Charlotte Palermino, Joyce de Lemos, and Marta Freedman. This triad has tapped into what consumers want to cultivate a community of fans built on nuance, data-based marketing, and getting involved in social causes. Palermino, whose resume includes launching Cosmopolitan's Snapchat presence to three million visits per day to working in-house at Snap. Inc. knows a thing or two about social content, which has helped get eyes on the brand in an organic way. "We continue to spend little on advertising and focus on creating educational content, which always outperforms any ad spend," says Palermino.
With de Lemos, who helped develop Skinceuticals' cult favorite Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 at L'Oréal prior to Dieux, as well as branding expert, creative director, and L.A.'s premiere gifting suite founder Marta Freedman, Dieux offers a "skincare ritual" for those who want efficacious products that utilize evidence vs. cherry-picked studies that typically used to scare consumers into buying. (And it's all pretty enough to display on your vanity, too.) The brand portfolio includes the Forever Eye Masks, Deliverance serum, Instant Angel face cream, and the newly launched Auracle eye gel; each product shares a breakdown of the costs associated with making the product, so the consumer is aware of what they're paying for.
Wins for the brand:
- Three times growth in sales year-over-year with only one product launch per year
- Instant Angel, the brand’s moisturizer, is getting an upgraded jumbo size due to its best-selling status
- Dieux collaborated with Bluebird, a software platform that helps brands produce sustainability stories, to create metrics to benchmark the brand against themselves to continue to lower their carbon footprints and emissions. They provide transparency reports on packaging on each product page
- Dieux is one of the first brands to launch a 100% recycled aluminum canister
Founder: Danessa Myricks
Skincare has been rising since 2017. Of course, the category took center stage once people were couped up at home and masked up. Still, as we approach almost three years since the world shut down, people are ready to get back into the makeup game. Color cosmetics has had some worthy launches this year, but Danessa Myricks is indisputably the queen of the category. She's gone Tiktok viral several times, from the Infinite Chrome Flakes to the Lightwork Transcendence palette—the beauty community can't get enough of this artist brand.
2022, however, has been the year that truly put Myricks on the map, thanks to her launching complexion products. Often called "your makeup artist's favorite makeup brand," Myricks launched three coverage offerings under the Yummy Skin umbrella, including the Blurring Balm Powder, which serves as a foundation and skincare hybrid, balancing oil throughout the day while maintaining a soft-focus finish.
Myricks herself says the balm changed the course of the brand forever. "The success of Blurring Balm Powder still brings me to tears," she says. "As a brand, we pride ourselves on developing through the lens of disruptive innovation. We created something that didn't exist in the beauty space, a true one-and-done, multitasking complexion product that, through its complex, innovative ingredient story, intelligently designs a balanced, natural complexion for every skin type."
Wins for the brand:
- The Yummy Skin Collection launched in 2022 with a traditional foundation, serum, and viral balm powder. It is the brand's #1 collection and has introduced countless new customers to Danessa Myricks Beauty, with Blurring Balm Powder being their top-selling SKU
- 2022 alone has brought over 200% growth to the business
- Recipient of countless beauty awards, including a 2022 Byrdie award for best Multi-Use Makeup Product
Founder: Donni Davy
The impact Donni Davy has had on the makeup industry is undeniable. The Emmy award-winner (twice over) developed television makeup—typically meant to be seen and quickly forgotten to not detract from the story—into an entire community of fans.
Casual viewers of the show, makeup fiends, and artists alike have all tried their hand at “Euphoria makeup”: glitter tears, tiny rhinestones, bare skin with bright liner. Season one put these looks on the map, and if you thought season two would jump the shark, think again. Millions of netizens couldn’t get enough of what Davy used for the sophomore season, from custom press-on nails, and the foundations used for skin-like finishes, to how she developed individual face charts for the intricate, elevated looks on the show.
One surprise Davy had up her sleeve was that her own brand, Half Magic, helped execute many of the looks—and wouldn’t launch until five months after the debut of season two. Half Magic embodies whimsy and innovation with ease and comfort. Magic Brownie, a rosy brown shade, applies like a pillow to the lips and transforms depending on your skin tone, reading more pink on some and true chocolate on others.
Face Gems are Davy’s answer to at-home rhinestone application: they’re self-adhesive. (The brand sells curved tweezers for effortless application as well.) The viral Wing Magician Tool, which helps create the simplest curly flicks to intense, long wings that could cut a bitch, sold out less than seven weeks after the brand launch.
Wins for the Brand
- $21.8M earned media value (exposure gained on third-party sites and social media) year-to-date; $21.6M since May, when the brand launched
- Launched the industry's first-ever compostable makeup compact made with PaperFoam
- Magic Flik Liquid Eyeliner is the first of its kind calligraphy eyeliner pen that has a wide flat edge and a rounded edge which allows for effortless everyday application and can be used to make different lines and shapes
Founder: Liah Yoo
Perhaps brand founders themselves were most impressed by KraveBeauty and the Waste Me Not campaign. Many consumers think of packaging when it comes to waste in the industry, but KraveBeauty's founder Liah Yoo, went deeper to expose what else brands are up against. "Consumers often only see the tangible waste of beauty products: the packaging we hold, throw out, or attempt to recycle," Yoo told Byrdie. "Beauty has a waste problem, and it's beyond packaging. People were passionate about spreading the message when we peeled back the curtain and showed our tracked waste. This opened a new conversation from a consumer perspective and with other industry players to not hide our waste under the rug."
As noted, Yoo revealed in an Instagram video that the brand had created $1.5 million in waste due to botching a batch of their best-selling Matcha Cleanser. They rejected 1,200 gallons of it because it didn't meet their standards. Instead of throwing it out, they reworked the formula to create a new category for Krave and a limited edition launch: the Matcha Hemp Body Wash.
The Waste Me Not campaign turned Krave's trash into treasure for consumers, offering the body wash in plastic pouches, which required less material than their traditional containers, less water, and less energy to manufacture. KraveBeauty sold it for $8, which covered the costs associated with making it, including compliance, safety testing, packaging, freight, and fulfillment.
The digital campaign saw Yoo interviewing other brand founders and CEOs to expose the hidden waste rampant in the industry and what can be done about it. That discussion translated into an IRL experience in New York. Beauty connoisseurs and Krave fans could shop the limited-edition products at a pop-up in New York in early November, along with pilot samples of new products and leftovers of others, setting a much-needed new standard for the industry.
Wins for the brand:
- KraveBeauty launched Makeup Re-Wind, their first product to incorporate upcycled ingredients (sustainably sourced, upcycled grapeseed oil from the wine industry)
- Press Reset Ventures, KraveBeauty's $1M venture studio, was launched. It aims to reset the conventional VC model that promotes hyper-consumerism and not-so-conscious capitalism
- The brand sold 1,200+ gallons of Matcha Hemp Body Wash that would've gone to waste otherwise
Founder: Hailey Bieber
If 2022 was anything, it was the year of the celebrity-founded brand. But in a sea of A-listers pumping out moisturizers and face washes, a celebrity brand rarely creates the same splash it did a few years ago. Rhode has. Founder Hailey Bieber played her cards strategically when she began posting her skincare and makeup routine on Tiktok—brands sold out of products she featured, like Make Up For Ever’s Artist Color Pencil in Anywhere Caffeine. Ask any beauty editor, and their inbox is full of “Hailey Bieber’s favorite (insert product here)” pitches. There’s a reason why influencers and websites discuss her: she gets clicks.
Rhode launched in June 2022 with three skin-focused products, or as the brand messages them, “one of everything good”: a serum, a face cream, and a lip treatment. This is another departure from other celebrity-helmed brands; in the last year, many have launched with at least five SKUs and continued to build up their product offering.
Rhode has maintained their intentional three-product collection, only opting to launch a limited-edition flavor of the lip treatment in November to celebrate Bieber’s 26th birthday. The brand has taken an active stance on initiatives like voting in the midterm elections, human rights issues through the Rhode Futures Foundation, and sustainability.
The brand recently hired CEO Melanie Bender, who built Versed, helmed the CodeRed4Climate initiative and has a background in environmental design, so it can be assumed Rhode is looking to further this conversation. The brand has sold out of inventory in as little as eight minutes and has people like Kim Kardashian setting their alarms to get product. Needless to say, many agree this celebrity-driven brand made sense for Bieber and was executed well.
Wins for the brand:
- The brand’s award-winning Peptide Lip Treatment sold out five times in six months and has had a waitlist of 314,000
- Bieber was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2022
- During its last restock, the Peptide Glazing Fluid sold 36 units per second
Switching up the list is founder Julie Schott, who has co-created four innovative brands since leaving her post as Beauty Director at Elle, including acne-positive brand Starface. Schott is also at the helm of Plus, the body care company that offers palm-sized squares of body wash in dissolvable sachets made of wood pulp, and Julie, a revamp of the Plan B morning-after pill that appears less taboo and more youthful.
Schott herself has become a brand, making a significant impact on the industry in the last few years due to her innovation in the above categories. Instead of a concealer that makes a pimple appear non-existent, she created a sticker that draws attention to the breakout in the cutest way possible while capitalizing on the hydrocolloid pimple patch trend. Willow Smith is seen wearing Starface in a recent episode of Red Table Talk, and Hayley Williams recently sang the brand’s praises.
Plus marries sustainability with some much-needed amusement: The environmental discussion is heavy and depressing, often filled with confusing jargon and instructions. Plus body wash takes the guesswork out of packaging by making it disappear before your eyes with the help of some water.
And for anyone who hasn’t made a trek to get Plan B, it’s filled with embarrassment and shame; you’re often forced to interact with someone to get it. Julie, however, isn’t hidden behind a counter, can be ordered online, and doesn’t look clinical, either. It’s bright and cheery despite the experience being anxiety-driven. Wouldn’t you rather say, I’m going to pick up Julie than I have to get Plan B?
This month, Schott launched another brand: Futurewise, which focuses on the art of slugging—putting an occlusive layer on top of your routine to lock in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss.
Wins for the brand:
- Starface has sold over 77M original yellow Hydro-Stars globally across all markets, and retail platforms since its launch, or 49 hydro-stars sold every minute in the last three years
- With the brand’s permanent collection of Rainbow Stars in partnership with The Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ+ youth and The Black-Led Movement Fund, Starface has raised $209K+ to date for these long-term partnerships to ensure they are actively taking part to uplift and protect Black and LGBTQ+ lives, and the intersection of these communities
- In November 2022, Plus was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of the year
Founder: Susan Yara
Naturium, helmed by content creator and founder of Mixed Makeup Susan Yara, celebrates its third anniversary this year. Yara has spent her tenure on Youtube dissecting people's skincare routines and offering advice based on her years as a beauty editor; she parlayed this expertise into a brand that will end 2022 with over $50 million in retail sales.
You'd have to scroll for hours to find an influencer who isn't obsessed with the brand—it's a staple on platforms like Instagram and Tiktok for its prestige formulas at an affordable price point. Like Yara's content, Naturium puts out educational posts, like their ingredient library, which examines what you can find in their formulas. Along with education, the brand is careful not to follow trends.
For example, they recently launched Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50, a chemical sunscreen in a sea of mineral sunscreen launches. "We also took the extra steps to ensure it gives SPF 50 protection against UVB rays and received the highest PA++++ rating to show how much it protects against UVA rays," says Yara. "The PA rating step isn't required in the United States, but we knew it was important to our skincare-savvy customers."
Wins for the brand:
- Naturium expanded to the UK and Ireland with an exclusive launch at Space NK in October
- The brand launched its first sunscreen, Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50, which sold out in 5 days and accumulated a 20,000+ waitlist
- Naturium has grown +60% since 2021 and launched a new category this year: body care. The Glow Getter Multi-Oil Hydrating Body Wash has sold more than 45,000 units on Naturium.com
Founder: Olamide Olowe
With Topicals, there's plenty to be impressed by: The dedication to mental health advocacy, its focus on destigmatizing skin conditions, and products that are both refreshing and effective (and may smell funny at times—something the brand leans into). Its founder, Olamide Olowe, is a serial entrepreneur and the youngest Black woman to raise $1 million in funding.
Online, Topicals engages with its community through fireside chats with experts in the field and launches solution-focused products, like the Faded serum, which targets hyperpigmentation and dark spots for melanated skin. Topicals opted to duplicate this serum's success into a mist you can apply from head to toe. After entering Sephora in 2020, the brand has been named the fastest-growing skincare brand at the retailer, touting 3x revenue growth in 2021.
Wins for the brand:
- Topicals secured $10M in funding from Cavu Partners this year
- The brand has generated $100K for various mental health organizations
- This year, Topicals sold one product every minute at Sephora
Founder: Amy Liu
Tower 28 makes its second appearance on this annual list. While we considered avoiding repeats from 2021, it would be remiss not to include the Southern California-based brand when discussing impact. When this writer polled her Instagram followers and asked fellow beauty editors to consult their teams, Tower 28 was one of the names consistently mentioned when discussing influence. Responses included that the brand wasn't "too flashy, have effective products and diverse models." Others noted the rollout for the brand's first mascara, Make Waves, was "fun and interactive," with samples of the mascara seeded through influencers' communities like makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes.
Founder Amy Liu opted to take her team to Italy for a strategic planning session and reaching company milestones instead of spending the budget on a lavish influencer trip, which impressed both fans and the community. Overall, Tower28 continues to develop products that stay true to its niche of catering to sensitive skin, from a sunscreen that won't irritate the skin to a mascara that lifts and volumizes without upsetting your eyes.
Wins for the brand:
- Tower 28's MakeWaves Mascara is the #1 mascara on Sephora.com
- Tower 28 just wrapped up its third year of Clean Beauty Summer School (a collective effort by founders and leaders in the beauty industry to support the growth of majority BIPOC-owned small clean beauty businesses) and graduated 30 WOC founders
- To date, the brand has sold over 1 million of its iconic ShineOn Lip Jellies
- 1 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray is sold every 3 minutes