Editor's Spotlight: Indie Beauty Analysis

3 ways IBE exhibiting brands stood out from the crowd

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Amy Chung, Global Branding Manager at Serumkind in conversation with Deanna Utroske at IBE LA
Amy Chung, Global Branding Manager at Serumkind in conversation with Deanna Utroske at IBE LA

Related tags Indie beauty expo Indie beauty Branding solid personal care wellness inclusive beauty

Last week’s Indie Beauty Expo event in Los Angeles, California, attracted hundreds of influencers, buyers, press, and investors. Here’s a quick look at how select cosmetics, personal care, and wellness brands exhibiting at the event managed to capture attendees’ attention.

The Indie Beauty Media Group (IBMG) is now in its 6th year hosting a full spectrum of global events and content that serve the needs of today’s beauty entrepreneurs and brand leaders. This, of course, includes IBE but also Uplink Live events; Beauty Independent news sites; and the BeautyX Summit series, which will include a new BeautyX Entrepreneurship event in New York City later this year and now also comprises a digital content feature called X Replay, allowing summit attendees to access video and picture-in-picture presentation slides for a full year following each BeautyX Summit​.

The size and scope and caliber of each IBE event is greater than the last; and brands looking to catch the attention of buyers and media have their work cut out for them. Here is a selection of successful strategies Cosmetics Design saw at last month’s IBE LA event:

Branding matters

Creating a new beauty business in one thing. Creating an elegant, impactful, and succinct beauty brand is another proposition all together.

Seung Woo Hong founded Serumkind in November of last year.​ At IBE LA, the new skin care brand showed a collection 5 serums—each with its own natural hero ingredient (black tulip, purple cabbage, moss, sea buckthorn, and a microbe from the Antarctic). Serumkind stood out for not only its brand concept and colorful product but also with chic glass packaging and artful product display fixtures.

Haruharu also caught the attention of IBE attendees with distinctive smooth touch packaging and a new product collection called Wonder, featuring an ingredient derived from black rice​. Haruharu is, according to Brand Manager Eric Lee, at work on a new product collection with another superfood ingredient story.

And a fragrance and skin protection brand from Bondi Beach Australia called Recreation​ had captivating branding as well. Nedahl Stelio launched her brand in February 2019 and has built a portfolio of fine fragrance and coordinating body and hair oils in distinctive packaging and in a selection of knowable scents that apparently sell well online: “People can smell it [in their imagination] before they smell it,” ​says Stelio, which makes her collection a promising D2C brand.

Format forward

Other brands at the first IBE event of 2020 stood out with distinctive product formats. Both Pure Aura and Joon + Moon were showing novel solid products. And the new brand Vike Beauty made its IBE debut with a makeup removing facial mist.

The Pure Aura booth attracted attention with its Paper Cloud cleaning foam​ product. The tiny sheet-mask-shaped product dissolves in water to create a facial wash. While Joon + Moon was showing their signature Exfoliating and Cleansing Sugar Cubes.​ The body care product is much like a sugar scrub but comes in a jar or bottle of tidy solid cubes rather than as a pot or tube of liquid scrub.

Vike Beauty is the first brand created by influencers Alina and Inessa Vike.​ And theirs is the first makeup remover mist with skin care benefits—a simple, portable alternative to makeup wipes. Cosmetics Design spoke with Alina and Inessa Vike on camera during IBE LA; so, watch for that interview to go online soon.

Consumer needs

It’s tempting to think that beauty is a fully saturated market and that true innovations are few and far between. But even a brief walk through an IBE event will show otherwise. Two examples from last month’s show are the new women’s wellness brand Kegelbell and Anové, a luxury skin care startup for all skin tones.

Stephanie Schull describes her brand Kegelbell as “applied feminism.” ​But when she wants to explain the patent-pending pelvic-floor strengthening devise concisely, she calls it “the vagina gym.”​ And while that is certainly a distinctive concept; influencers and media swarmed the Kegelbell booth at IBE LA to learn about the multitude of benefits Kegelbell use can provide: reduction in bladder leakage, vaginal rejuvenation, and improved sexual health among others.   

What Evonna Kuehner has created with Anové is a much more conventional beauty brand, but one that seeks to fill an underserved need in the luxury skin care space.​ Kuehner tells Cosmetics Design that hers is “an inclusive luxury beauty brand” ​and explains that to be inclusive of consumers with any skin tone she worked for well over 5 years with a chemist to create product formulas that exclude commonly used ingredients—one's that don’t work (well) for people of color. Given the time and attention she’s put into the brand’s current portfolio of skin care products, it’s no surprise that Keuhner is already at work on a line of Anové body care.



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

Deanna will be traveling next to the Personal Care Product Council’s annual meeting; if you’ll be there too and have beauty business news to share, feel free to contact her at qrnaan.hgebfxr@jeoz.pbz

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