Editor’s Spotlight

Beauty Innovation Showdown: Indie Brands and Ingredient Makers

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty Innovation Showdown: Indie Brands and Ingredient Makers
Independent cosmetics and personal care brands are widely known as innovators. While, ingredient suppliers and specialty chemical companies have long partnered with big beauty makers on new technologies, benefits testing, and formulations. Now, as indie becomes increasingly acclimated into the mainstream business of beauty, the source of new ideas, innovations, and line extensions can be harder to pin down.

Indie brands and conventional ingredient makers are teaming up like never before. In fact, specialty chemical companies are boasting about their role in the development and launch of new brands. Just recently, AminoGenesis Skin Care Products announced plans to launch new products with an exclusive BASF peptide; and ingredient supplier Hain Celestial is behind the recent Fountain of Truth launch.

Indie and industry are now effectively credentialing themselves by promoting these sorts of partnerships.  

Educated entrepreneurs

There’s a lot of talk about the educated beauty consumer. She and he know more about the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care items than they would have in years past. And this consumer is more interested in the entire business behind the brand than ever before.

Beauty brand founders are wiser than ever now, too. More industry veterans are founding and working for indie brands, accomplished formulators like Danuta Dudek of Cotarde and Mirela Mitan of the Mitani Group (mmxv infinitude), for instance; as well as brand marketing experts like Heather Fink of The Sexiest Beauty; and many, many others.

And thanks to events and media support from ventures like IBE, The Beauty & Money Summit, PBE, BeautyX, and Founder Made founders and brand leaders from all backgrounds are swiftly gathering the information and building the networks needed to get their new brands up to speed.

Today’s founders are less shy of the industry at large, too. In fact, Cosmetics Design ran into several indie brand leaders at in-cosmetics North America​ this week, including Eha Urbsalu of Viking Beauty and Dexter Cheston of xterdexterde.

Welcoming indie

Suppliers, once perhaps skeptical of indie beauty, have been are lowering their MOQs (minimum order quantities) and putting together packages and programs to better serve smaller brands. And this interest in indie is steadily increasing.

Ingredient maker DSM tasked its sales team with reaching out to indie in 2017, as Cosmetics Design reported​. Then VP of personal care in North America Parand Salmassinia acknowledged, “Indie beauty is shaping the future of the industry.” ​And she told this publication that at DSM there are daily discussions about indie.

Much more recently at the BeautyX Summit in New York City, the packaging company Aptar launched a collection called the Indie Boutique. In this video interview with Cosmetics Design​, marketing strategist Jamiee Given emphasized the current truth that “there is a need for more indie-friendly programs.”

Complicating matters

But indie isn’t a phenomenon solely on the brand side. Startup ingredient suppliers such as Palette Naturals (specializing in transparent, natural fragrance), Geltor (in biotech proteins), and Brazilian Kimberlite Clay (in unique clays) are just a few of the new ingredient makers serving both indie cosmetics and personal care brands and conventional multinational brands too.

So indeed, as indie becomes increasingly acclimated into the mainstream business of beauty, the source of new ideas, innovations, and line extensions—and the title of innovator itself—may be up for grabs.



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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