Since its launch in New York City in 2015, the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) expanded to Los Angeles and Dallas and has now landed in London.
The show, which connects indie brands with potential buyers, press, consumers and investors, was held at the Old Truman Brewery in the heart of London’s East End.
More than 900 people attended, split between a consumer day and a trade-only day, with more than 70 brands exhibiting from all across Europe and as far afield as South Africa, New Zealand, Thailand and Bali.
Here is our list of the Top 10 (and a half) innovations, brand stories and designs seen from the U.K. perspective.
Further reading: Charting Indie Beauty's Future
1. Nail Polish Removal Cream (Germany)
The stand out product of the show, and IBE co-founder Jillian Wright’s personal top pick, was German company Sign’s newly launched Nailfix & Chill, claiming to be the world’s first nail polish removal cream.
Housed in a screamingly red tattoo-inspired metal tube, the acetone-free cream uses macadamia, almond, argan and vitamin E to condition and has a barely detectable fresh scent. Hand baggage-friendly, the cream is a mess-free marvel.
2. Handmade Heritage (Portugal)
Something just a little older is Benamôr. Founded in Lisbon in 1925, Benamôr still hand-produces its natural-based range of exquisitely packaged face and body creams and soaps. Its first and hero product is Créme de Rosto, miracle face cream, still in its original formulation.
Benamôr’s “heritage reinvented” brand provides a welcome antidote to some of the fake heritage private label brands we’ve seen in U.S. drugstores of late.
3. Minimalist Customization (Spain)
At the other end of the design spectrum is Alex Carro, a Barcelona-located, herb and essential oil-based minimalist beauty brand set up by Brit Alex, who was inspired to set up her brand after her husband kept stealing her beauty products.
Described as “beauty simplified,” the range consists of just five mixable, multi-use unisex products, meaning that people can tailor-make a beauty routine without reams of bottles.
4. Prestige Oral Care (United States)
More of a trend than a simple pick, and one likely well known to U.S. indie aficionados, Lebon’s beautiful oral care brand still brings a smile to the mind with its elegant colorful packaging, which now includes the Making Waves alcohol-free mouthwash in a glass bottle.
Lebon stands out because premiumized oral beauty care is still in its infancy in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. The tide is turning, however. For example, luxury dental care brand Swiss Smile presented another IBE standout, Pearl Shine Dental Conditioner, an on-the-go all-in-one cleanser, whitener, desensitizer, remineralizer and stain protector.
5. Microbiome Innovation (United Kingdom)
Gallinée is a British-based microbiome brand founded by a French pharmacy whizz (and self-confessed science nerd), Marie Drago. The core range of products is built on Drago’s patented complex of probiotics, prebiotics and lactic acid, which reportedly supports the skin’s good bacteria and rebuilds its natural barrier.
The brand’s latest product, Face Vinegar, is a soothing toner for sensitive skin that contains Actibiome, a novel prebiotic and hibiscus vinegar. The vinegar is claimed to purify, soothe, repair and brighten skin, making pores smaller.
Where are the other 5 innovations?
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Sara Jones is a partner at Free the Birds (www.freethebirds.com), the brand communication and design agency formerly known as DewGibbons+Partners.