Discover the Cult Favorites From the Women Driving the Clean Beauty Revolution
Women use up to 15 personal-care products every day. We apply lipstick to lift our moods. Mascara to brighten our eyes. Lotions to soften our skin. It's not all harmless self-care and self-expression, though. Many of these beauty products contain controversial ingredients like phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and preservatives, which have been linked to health issues like allergies, cancer, or reproductive harm. In response, women have started a clean beauty revolution. This new billion-dollar industry of safer makeup, skin care, and hair care is driving female entrepreneur business opportunities and creating healthier cosmetics we all want to use.
"I can't think of any other industry where 90 percent of the leadership comes from women."
Dawn Dobras is the CEO of Credo Beauty, a leading clean beauty retailer that maintains strict ingredient standards and only carries nontoxic products. According to Dobras, Credo stocks more than 115 of the top clean skincare and makeup brands, and more than 90 percent of these companies were founded by women and/or have a female CEO. "I can't think of any other industry where 90 percent of the leadership comes from women — certainly not in fashion, apparel, art, technology, venture capital, or general business," she said. Leading natural brands like Juice Beauty, RMS, and Tata Harper all have women at the helm. Credo fits in with the trend, too. Working mothers make up the company's entire executive team, and the HQ office in San Francisco is all-female. "We care about making sure that our customers have nontoxic and safe options, because we are those customers and they are our friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters," Dobras said.
Safer, Better Products
"Women are more vulnerable to breast cancer and other illnesses that may be triggered by exposure to harmful chemicals."
Lawmakers in Washington DC have failed to update laws regulating personal-care products since 1938. While the EU bans more than 1,300 potentially harmful ingredients, the US outlaws just 30. It can't be a coincidence that women make up less than 20 percent of Congress, which has the power to improve standards. Today, many conventional personal-care products contain ingredients that have been shown to disrupt the body's normal hormone functions. Activists note that women bear most of the risk because their bodies go through sensitive periods of change, including menstrual cycles, and can be more susceptible to cancers caused by toxins. This isn't to say the quality of the product suffers: "The ingredients that our brands use are clean, yes, but also incredibly effective," Dobras said. Because the women creating the products are also using them, consumers can get better payoff.
Meet the Founders
To learn more about the state of the clean beauty industry and what we can expect next, I spoke to eight female founders who are driving innovation with their brands. Ahead, they explain what role women play and share the products they're most proud of. Get ready to discover some cult favorites.