Inside the U.K. Indie Beauty Boom


Despite gloomy predictions for high street retailers in the U.K., the beauty sector continues to blossom, with indie beauty booming.

Coming to Europe for the first time, the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE), held in London’s trendy Brick Lane, on October 24-25, 2018, was buzzing with excited visitors and exhibitors. The show drew 71 brands from 21 countries, including the U.S., Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand, as well as the U.K., spanning over 20 product categories. This was an event with a truly international feel, where I felt the overall trend was about the beauty experience. While wellness and lifestyle choices continue to be a major influence, the emotional connection between brand and consumer through its story is key.

The show worked with online retailer, Feelunique, to showcase a range of brands from the U.S.  as well as the latest selection of “clean beauty” brands, all under their banner of “Spark Beauty.”

Joel Palix, CEO of Feelunique explained, “The first-ever London-based Indie Beauty Expo Show was a great opportunity for Feelunique to identify exciting upcoming brands to launch on Feelunique next year. We also exhibited a selection of indie clean beauty brands selected in partnership with IBE and presented on Feelunique under the umbrella of Spark Beauty. There was a lot of interest for such brands that are distributed in exclusivity by Feelunique in the U.K.”

A Snapshot of Exhibiting Brands

Kiss the Moon

As the wellness trend continues, there has been a strong focus on a good night’s sleep and products that perform during the night. Coming from Richmond, in my native Yorkshire, Kiss the Moon is a natural aromatherapy range founded by Jo Foster, which aims to “tap into the power of nature’s most soothing ingredients to help you sleep beautifully and wake up looking gorgeous.”

Foster said, “Good sleep is fundamental to a successful beauty regime because it is while we sleep that the most active cell renewal happens. That’s why poor sleep so often results in poor skin. Our products not only help you to get to sleep but give your skin the nourishment it needs overnight as it repairs and regenerates.”


Staying with the influence of the moon, Balipura from Indonesia offers “crystal-infused healing mists encompassing the ancient and magical healing spirit of Bali with modern healing techniques.” These mists are available in seven variants: Let Go, Space Clearing, Grounding, Protection, 7 Chakras, Pure Love and Birthing.

Sundar Kaur, herself a healer, explained, “Every full moon, we do a Balinese blessing ceremony on the sprays to enhance their healing energies and production is also aligned with the phases of the moon.”

Pretty Athletic

Active beauty is a growing category dedicated to gym and post-workout use, as demonstrated by newly-launched British brand, Pretty Athletic. Founder, Leyla Cooper, introduced the range of “high-tech, natural skin care products for active women.” The brand’s products include Hydration Kick, a gel body moisturizer; Instant Refresh, an invigorating shower scrub; Workout Glow, a hyaluronic vitamin tonic; Recovery Boost, a cell repair serum; and Cool Down a purifying gel cleanser.


One of the pioneers of the skin microbiome trend, Gallinée founder, Marie Drago, enthused about their new Happy Bacteria set, including a new Face Vinegar which contains a prebiotic, Actibiome, that works to “calm stressed skin and prevent it from further irritations, alongside postbiotics which allow the skin’s beneficial bacteria to flourish.” Face Vinegar’s second active is Hibiscus vinegar, extracted from the hibiscus flower that is native to Central America. According to Gallinée, Face Vinegar improves skin by three distinct ways: purification, protection and proliferation.

Girl Undiscovered

Beauty today is very much about the experience and emotional connection with a brand. Devised in New Zealand by three friends—a photographer, a fashion label founder and a well-connected investor--Girl Undiscoveredfocuses on feeling. The brand’s philosophy reportedly “supports and encourages female strength.”

Vitruvian Man

Mental, as well as physical well-being, is being much talked about in the U.K. at the moment, particularly for men.  Vitruvian Man, launched in October 2018, has been created by Vivian Lau, who has a background in pharmacy and fine art. Her “light-bulb” moment came when one of her close friends was experiencing high work pressure and as a result, developed skin allergies and depression.

Man stated, “I realized from his personal experience, my friends’ and that of my own, how we feel inside intrinsically influences the way we look on the outside and becomes particularly evident in the skin.”

Products in the Vitruvian Man product range include Anti-Pollution Cleanser and Toner, along with Resurrection Moisturise with SPF 20. Three percent of all Vitruvian Man profits will be donated to charities committed to improving mental health and wellness for modern men and women.

Heritage Brands


The name, Collosol, Eau de Lait, from France, literally translates to “water of milk.” During the 1950s in Paris, actresses would reputedly visit a pharmacy located near the Champs-Elysees theatre looking for “an exceptional product that could remove makeup and eliminate fatigue after performances.” The pharmacist there created a half milk, half water formula--meant to be used on the face or in the bath--with a subtle fragrance, according to the brand.


Benamôr, from Portugal, was founded in 1925 in Lisbon around the same time as Nivea and uses attractive art deco packaging designs for its traditional range of soaps, hand and face creams.

Customization Coup

DIY products and personalization are continuing to trend, with more entrants in the market for blending your own products at home.


Newly launched in August 2018, Emulsion, uses four components (base, essential blends, fragrance and exfoliants) which it likens to a capsule skin wardrobe, from serums to shampoos, that can be customized to match the consumer’s specific needs that day to create a truly personal blend.

Cosnova Beauty

Cosnova Beauty’s brands, Essence and Catrice, for several years have epitomized fast-changing mass market product lines to cater for teenage and young women’s fashions, but now the group has expanded to include L.O.V., and the Sign tribe, an innovative new “listening beauty brand.”

Jillian Wright, co-founder, Indie Beauty Expo, was thrilled with the event. She said, “London was the fourth show that we’ve added to our geographical expansion and it’s our first in Europe. We are also going to Berlin in March. We have had quite a bit of time to plan for London, so we wanted to make sure that our launch here was going to be absolutely perfect. I think our team picked a wonderful location that was easy to get to for a lot of people--that’s half the battle--and building up the roster of brands over the period of time has been exceptional.

“If you look around the show, all of the brands definitely brought their A game. Every single one was able to have conversations with viable buyers. Early on, we exceeded our targets for press and our targets for buyers and that to me says that the industry is ready for indie beauty. They are ready to engage and have the conversations. We couldn’t be happier. London, the neighborhood, the people, have really, really welcomed us in such an incredible way. As you can tell, I am really excited about it. I can’t wait till next year!”

The next Indie Beauty Expo is set to take place in Los Angeles, CA, on January 23-24, 2019. The event will make its second European stop on March 22-23, 2019, in Berlin, Germany, just in time to catch up on the newly emerging G-Beauty trend.

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