2019 Indie Beauty News Highlights

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (Fayethequeen)
© Getty Images \ (Fayethequeen)

Related tags Indie beauty IBMG Icmad Innovation

As we look ahead to 2020, let’s not forget the stellar year that 2019 has been for the independent beauty movement. Here Cosmetics Design reviews 10 top 2019 news items about all things indie.

Independent cosmetics, personal care, fragrance, and wellness brands are now undeniably of great interest to the beauty industry. In fact, the indie beauty business at large is expected to be an $850bn+ industry unto itself by 2027 (according to recent data published by Uplink Live​).

To get a sense of what indie beauty brand leaders are doing right, Cosmetics Design has complied a list of the outstanding 2019 news items from our site that feature indie brands or the movement more broadly. In no particular order, here are the 2019 Indie Beauty News Highlights:

1. The Atolla Skin Health System went live in 2019
The new personalized skin care brand, named after a jelly fish,​ made a big splash in a year when Living Coral was the Pantone color and marine beauty was a trend to watch​.

In August of this year, the tech-driven beauty venture led by Meghan Maupin and Sid Salvi launched to the market. Learn all about the machine learning and big data behind this new skin care venture here on Cosmetics Design.

2. A new brand called OWA made powdered shampoo popular
The beauty startup Kailey Bradt founded launched its first 2 SKUs in June this year: Moondust Hair Wash and an unscented version of Moondust Hair Wash.

OWA is an acronym for Out-of-this-World Amazing. And the brand has big plans to live up to that moniker with a full collection of water-activated hair care and styling products in the pipeline. Find out more about all things OWA in this article, based on a pre-launch Cosmetics Design’s interview with Bradt.

3. Cheekbone Beauty brought attention to the importance of indigenous visibility and business acumen
In late September 2019, the color cosmetics brand founded by Jen Harper accepted a $350k investment from Raven Indigenous Capital. Harper has already leveraged the deal itself and the monies to gain valuable brand awareness and to make the inclusive beauty conversation more genuinely inclusive.

As Carol Anne Hilton, CEO of the economic advisory known as the Indigenomics Institute, told the press this fall, “Cheeckbone Beauty is a real time demonstration of Indigenomics in action! Combining purpose, meaning and Indigenous resilience—this company is going places.” Find out more about the makeup brand that is Cheekbone Beauty here on Cosmetics Design.

4. Courtney Adeleye set change in motion, launching the Generational Advantage Fund
Investment firms and beauty makers alike have been keeping a close watch on a vibrant hair care brand called The Mane Choice for years. This year, Courtney Adeleye, founder and CEO of The Mane Choice, accepted a deal with MAV that will allow the band to grow even larger. 

As part of the deal with MAV, Adeleye launched a $30m fund to help women access financial literacy and build generational wealth. Learn more about the Generational Advantage Fund here on Cosmetics Design.

5. Drunk Elephant, Dr Jart+, Kylie Cosmetics, and Olaplex were all acquired in 2019
While the world waits and watches for the indie beauty bubble to burst, business continues as usual. And these 4 deals don’t exactly account for a full year’s worth of M&A activity, but they certainly all caused a stir.  

In October, Shiseido made a sizeable investment in the clean beauty space with the acquisition of Drunk Elephant​. And just last month—in fact—all in the same week, The Estée Lauder Companies got into K Beauty, buying Dr Jart+; Coty bought controlling stake of Kylie Cosmetics; and the global private equity firm Advent International acquired the Olaplex business. Find out what all these deals mean for both indie and industry in this video conversation between Kayla Villena, Senior Analyst of Beauty and Fashion at Euromonitor International and Cosmetics Design Editor Deanna Utroske.

6. in-cosmetics global welcomed beauty entrepreneurs with Indie Trail feature in Paris
As Cosmetics Design predicted​, 2019 truly was the year of Indie Integration. At what is arguably the world’s largest and most significant ingredient and technology tradeshow in the beauty industry, there was this year for the first time a dedicated map that independent brands could use to find suppliers willing to work with them. The Indie Trail feature was small but significant. Hear from some of the supplies on the first Indie Trail in this Cosmetics Design video.

7. The IBMG events went exclusively B2B with the launch of Uplink Live and a new IBE format
The Indie Beauty Media Group has been a guiding force in the current independent beauty movement for 5 years now. And this year, IBMG shut down the consumer discovery and shopping portion of its popular Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) events and added a new supplier side tradeshow.

Uplink Live made its debut in August 2019 and ran concurrent with IBE NY. The tradeshow was small but featured quality vendors offering an array of services and supplies to indie beauty brands, including creative services from Base Beauty Creative Agency, beauty packaging solutions from Aptar, and ingredients from Gattefossé​.  

8. ICMAD rebranded awards program as the Indie Beauty Innovators Awards
The Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) has long served non-corporate ingredient makers, manufacturing ventures, brand holders, and other indie allies and supporters. This year, the organization renamed their CITY awards to better align with the contemporary independent beauty movement.

The name change highlights the momentum and authority of the current indie beauty movement as well as ICMADs commitment to beauty entrepreneurs no matter what sort of business they lead.

9. A new event called Unfiltered Experience helped indie brands connect with influencers
Daniela Ciocan launched a new sort tradeshow this July in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event, which will travel around the US, includes educational programing, brand exhibits, art partnerships, and influencer interactions. It’s a place where founders and online marketing professionals can get to know one another’s work in real time.

Influencer marketing works best when it the personality and the brand share the same values and have an audience interest in common. Unfiltered Experience is a dynamic new space where curiosity, connection, and commerce take place. At this year’s show, Cosmetics Design met with the founders of Dabble & Dollop​, Heraux Skincare​, Dr Lili Fan Probiotic Skincare​, Smarty Pits​, and many more.

10. Cosmetics Design launched a new video series about indie beauty
Ok, so this one is not exactly headline news.
But it certainly is worth noting here that in October, Cosmetics Design launched a new video interview series called Indie Beauty Up Close.

The new series is filmed in the retail shops, spas, offices, and labs where cosmetics and personal care entrepreneurs work; and it seeks to open a window into the needs and experiences of today’s indie beauty leaders and innovators.

Cosmetics Design Editor Deanna Utroske has, to-date, spoken with Janet Schriever of Code of Harmony in her Long Beach, California lab / spa; with  Christy Hall of Mikel Kristi in Tucson, Arizona​ in her aesthetic skincare clinic; with Amy Carra of Universal Beauty Products and Delight Beauty in Chicago, Illinois​, not far from her office; and with Lynette Lovelace of Lifetherapy, in Elmhurst, Illinois​, at a shop where her fragrance and body care brand is sold.

If you lead or know of a brand that should be included in the Indie Beauty Up Close video series in 2020 (or if you have feedback about the new series), please email Deanna Utroske in the New Year at deanna.utroske@wrbm.com. (And be sure to include ‘Indie Beauty Up Close’ in the subject line.)



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

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