The Small, Female-Founded Beauty Brands That We Want to Shout About


International Women’s Day is a celebration of female achievement and a day to support your fellow female in difficult times as well as the good. It’s pretty much a guarantee that cute GIFs will be exchanged amongst your friendship group—heck, you might have already sent one yourself—and social media will be rife with #IWD posts. Which is great—anything that raises awareness about what womankind brings to the world is a wonderful thing. Still, we also wanted to cut through the noise and talk about something that is close to our hearts here at Who What Wear: small, woman-owned brands. These are the lesser-known names that we love shouting about, whether it’s down to their innovative products, exciting approaches to sustainability or refreshing attitudes towards size diversity.

Female-founded beauty brands

As a beauty editor, one of the best parts of my job (aside from testing out curly-hair products or getting makeup artists to share their secrets) is the opportunity to discover new beauty brands. Today, I’m bringing some of those brands to you. Scroll below to see the independent, female-founded beauty brands any bathroom cupboard or vanity station would benefit from. 

Ericka Rodriguez founded Axiology when her own search for cruelty-free and vegan makeup proved fruitless. She created the brand to fulfil those needs and also champion a plastic-free approach to beauty. The stick products are multi-use and come packaged in recycled paper rather than plastic. The paper is sourced from a woman-run and woman-owned business in Bali that collects used paper from the island and recycles it. The products themselves are wonderful. Think no-fuss makeup that delivers dewy, balmy results in just a few seconds.

Soapsmith is responsible for some of the chicest bodycare products in beauty. Samantha Jameson founded the brand as part of her mission to help restore some of London’s lost craftsmanship. From the fresh lavender of Lavender Hill to the herbaceous grassiness of Hackney, each of the products features an iconic London-inspired scent (each one as delicious as the next), and they look really good on the bathroom shelf.

Uoma Beauty (pronounced uh-mah) is perhaps one of the most inclusive and successful beauty brands to have launched in the past decade. Founder, CEO and Creative Director Sharon Chuter spent years in the beauty industry working as an executive for some major players before launching Uoma in a bid to rewrite the rules of inclusivity. The brand’s Say What?! Foundation (available in an impressive 51 shades) and contour sticks have become major industry favourites.  

Created by influencer Nikkie de Jager (otherwise known as NikkieTutorials), Nimya is a beauty brand that aims to bash down the concept of labels and instead encourage you to embrace your true self. The small edit of products on offer by the brand delivers impressive ingredients for a comparatively affordable price. The moisturiser/primer is without a doubt the star of the show, containing glycerin for optimum hydration as well as honey and lactic acid to boost glow.  

Trinny Woodall’s namesake beauty brand has been impressing experts since its launch in 2017. The products are easy to use, seriously inclusive and perfect for every skin type. With over 20 years of experience working in the fashion and beauty industry, it’s really no surprise that Trinny’s products are so great.

Founded by Jo Malone CBE after the sale of Jo Malone London to Estée Lauder, Jo Loves is a fragrance brand entirely dedicated to Malone’s passion and love for scent. Each product, whether it be a candle, perfume or body cream, invokes a rush of joyful emotions that you won’t find elsewhere.

Dame Pat McGrath is pretty much the most influential makeup artist in the world, and her makeup line, Pat McGrath Labs, has been valued at $1.5 billion—so yes, this stuff is good. She has created some of the most iconic makeup looks in beauty (that Adele comeback Vogue cover, anyone?) using her own makeup products, so you’re guaranteed great value for money.

Shani Darden has worked on the faces of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Emily Ratajkowski and Laura Harrier, to name just a few, so it makes sense that her own skincare line is really impressive. In fact, considering it is a recent launch in the UK market, its success has been astonishing, with particular thanks to its Retinol Reform Serum. It’s pricier than others on the market, but beauty editors tout it as one of the best retinol products in existence. 

Kohl Kreatives really is a beauty brand trying to make a difference. Founded by Trishna Daswaney, its brushes are designed to be inclusive for everyone, including those with motor disabilities. The brushes have square handles (so they won’t roll off the table), are labelled in Braille and, on top of all of that, really are exceptional quality.

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