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4 Indie Beauty Trend Highlights

Contact Author Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor in Chief, Global Cosmetic Industry
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  • Unicorn Snot, a brand of glittery beauty products, has launched a bio-glitter range, featuring Bioglitter Sunscreen SPF 30 (pictured), Bioglitter Lip Gloss and Bioglitter Gel for Body and Face.
  • Lotion Yon-Ka PS, a limited edition of the dry skin toner. The brand, well known in the spa world, is expanding its reach with consumers. The mist is designed for dry skin, purifying and toning upon application. The 99% natural formulation comprises lavender, geranium, rosemary, cypress and thyme oil, as well as hydrating plant glycerin.
  • Beigic is a vegan, cruelty-free brand offering gorgeous products for face, body and hair in minimalist designs. The Correcting Exfoliator scrub comprises organic certified coffee bean grounds, which are high in caffeine, as well as green coffee bean oil and coconut oil for moisturization. The range also includes the caffeine-rich Regenerating Oil comprising green coffee bean oil and argan oil; a Scalp Revival Purifying Scrub featuring sea salt, mint and green coffee bean extract; and the Damage Repair Treatment Mask for hair, which features green coffee bean oil, argan oil and vitamin C.
  • Codex Bia Group Shot v2.jpg CAPTION: Codex Beauty recently obtained COSMOS Organic certification (certified by Ecocert) for five Bia products, as well as four EWG Verified certifications (Day Cream, Skin Superfood, Eye Gel Cream, and Facial Oil). The brand is a merger of Silicon Valley thinking and traditional Irish herbal science and features a plant-based preservative system paired with airless containers for many SKUs. Codex’s Bia uses green polyurethane airless containers made with plant-based biofuels. The brand’s BiaComplex includes Calendula officinalis, Helichrysum italicum, Symphytum officinale, viola tricolor and Malva sylvestris.
  • Instanatural’s forthcoming Firming DMAE moisturizer comprises alpha lipoic acid and Vitasource (INCI: propanediol, water, baicalin) from Provital Group. Vitasource is reportedly a purified fraction obtained from roots of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, which is said to delay cellular senescence. Instanatural’s moisturizer is designed to improve the appearance of elasticity, support cell renewal and provide nourishment for dry skin.
  • True North’s skin care products are powered by chaga, a fungus that grows on birch trees in Maine and other cold locales. The material is wild-harvested and rich in antioxidants. It also reportedly has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects to render complexions clear and smooth, according to the brand.
  • Yangu Beauty’s product range comprises the Cleansing Whip cleanser that reportedly minimizes the appearance of pores, balances moisture and sebum, and is appropriate for even acne-prone skin; a Gel to Milk Cleanser, which contains baobab for hydration anwd is intended for sensitive, dry and normal skin types, as well as morning and night use; and the Even Tone Serum, comprising rooibos and licorice root to address hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
  • The Wellness Apothecary’s range includes Cacao & Shea Body Butter, Calming Blend Bath Salts, a Citronella Soy Candle and Lemongrass & Jasmine Soy Candle, Lip Balm, and Nourishing Hair Oil. The Calming Blend Bath Salts comprise Himalayan and sea salt, oats, and coconut milk powder; photo by Bridget Shelvin.
  • Asutra offers a range of mists to fit various mood occasions.
  • Terra & Co. was flocked with visitors wowed by its oral care range, including the Brilliant Black Bamboo Toothbrush which is biodegradable due to its bamboo content.
  • Way of the Will has introduced multiple CBD product formats, including full-spectrum hemp oil blends for tinctures and diffusers, as well as gummies.
  • Beboe displayed its product mix during Indie Beauty Expo, including a forthcoming moisturizer launch (no photos of the product were permitted by the brand).

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Indie Beauty Expo NYC is a great platform for tracking emerging trends and growth opportunities for the beauty and personal care space. This year, the ever-larger show floor was packed with offerings in the sexual wellness, CBD and oral care sectors, as well as a wide range of natural and clean brands and unique product concepts. Here, we provide some show highlights.

1. Let's talk about sex(ual wellness) & beauty

In 2020, sexuality and sexual wellness are inclusive, clean, Instagrammable and individualized. Sound familiar?

The sexual wellness market is forecast to generate revenues of $39 billion by 2024, representing an annual growth of more than 7%, according to research from Arizton.

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Meanwhile, Research and Markets is predicting nearly identical growth rates for feminine hygiene, with values totaling $52 billion by 2023.

The category's growth potential is fueled by a boom in upstart indie players, direct-to-consumer models, subscription services, investment from major multinationals and a desire from consumers for products and self-care experiences that speak to their individual journeys.

For instance, playful feminine care brand Queen V (not featured at Indie Beauty Expo) has expanded to 2,000 CVS locations, offering SKUs such as Swipe Right Wipes, The Spritzer, V Bar, Make It Reign, UTMI and Pop The Bubbly.

And sexual wellness startup Maude offers on-trend products such as a skin-softening, jojoba oil-based massage candles, aloe-based lubricants and a USB-charged “personal massager” that could look at home in a beauty shelfie on Instagram.

Indeed, many of these product ranges are indistinguishable from any other wellness or beauty brand, and leverage the same macro trends of self-care, technology integration, cannabis innovation, natural/non-toxic credentials, etc.

That’s why beauty and personal care are ideally situated to take part in this new generation of sex and sexuality, which unites such disparate categories as sex toys/accessories, feminine care/hygiene, lubricants and body oils, supplements, body-attuned skin care and more.

During Indie Beauty Expo, Province Apothecary presented its natural Lover’s Oil, featuring rose absolute and cedarwood oil.

Quim, which bills itself as, “A self-care line for humans with vaginas and humans without vaginas who love vaginas,” offers a range of sexual wellness products, including Smooth Operator Intimate Serum, which features CBD. The product is intended to “increase blood flow, promote pelvic relaxation, and decrease inflammation and pain.” The serum is recommended for sexual encounters, as well as for women who are menstruating or at a postpartum stage.

The brand’s Happy Clam Everyday Oil is touted as an “eye cream for your vagina … designed to intensify sensation, increase libido and serve as a proactive vaginal health supplement.” It can be used post-bath or -sex and during menstruation or postpartum. Quim recommends a dosage of three to five pumps of product, which is said to comprise 1.5-2.0 mg full-spectrum CBD.

The brand is at heart focused on natural and clean materials. As such, the Everyday Oil comprises apricot, olive, sweet almond, MCT, hazelnut and tea tree oils, as well as calendula, damiana and violet.

The Night Moves Intimate Oil is a California-only product sold exclusively through dispensaries. It is designed for “enhanced sensation” and is recommended and a usage level of eight to 10 pumps. Product is applied directly to the vagina, according to the brand, and comprises MCT and teatree oils, as well as damiana.

Similarly, Quim’s Oh Yes! Latex-Safe Serum contains THC, is sold exclusively through California dispensaries, and is “designed to intensify sensation, stimulate libido, and increase natural lubrication,” according to the company. The formulation comprises aloe leaf juice, mushroom-based sclerotium gum, sunflower oil, glucolactone, sodium benzoate, and vitamins C and E, among other materials. Dosing is recommended at 4-6 pumps and is applied to the vagina.

Graydon presented Intimacy Oil, featuring hydrating squalene oil, hemp seed oil, milk thistle, vitamin E and blue tansy.

Elsewhere, Indie Beauty Expo has even created some unique crossovers that illustrate the category-breaking juxtapositions offered by sexual wellness. For instance, Dame, which offers an aloe-based, glycerin-free Alu lube, has upped the design game in the sexual accessory space (Jony Ive would be jealous).

Its elegant, Apple Store-ready vibrators and pillow wedge point to the enhanced aesthetic of today’s sexual wellness space. Taking a cue from today’s more inclusive marketing and brand concepts, Dame’s products notably do not take visual cues from male genitalia, rendering products truly universal.

NZ-based Hello Cup, which offers no personal care products aside from a sanitizing spray, had a steady stream of visitors to examine its colorful period cups, which comprise a “German medical grade thermoplastic elastomer,” or TPE. The recyclable product is hypoallergenic for those who have sensitivities to latex and silicone. The TPE is colored with food-grade pigments. And the design is set to last five years, sparing the earth many discarded feminine care products.

Similarly, Kegelbell, an FDA-registered pelvic floor training system, is a non-beauty company that has found its sexual wellness positioning to be a fit with the indie beauty world. The functional product features high design and Instagrammable packaging, a far cry from most health products.

2. Oral care gets an upgrade

In April 2019, Kendall Jenner unveiled her beauty industry debut with Moon’s Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen. Moon is an oral care company currently offering consumers six oral care products, including Jenner’s Whitening Pen, two kinds of whitening toothpaste, flossers and soft bristle toothbrushes.

The vegan and cruelty-free Whitening Pen was created to instantly brighten teeth and whiten teeth over time. Key ingredients include lavender oil, strawberry fruit extract and honeysuckle flower extract. The pen is available in vanilla mint flavor. The brand launched in Ulta and marks the expansion of beauty- and lifestyle-inspired concepts in oral care, similar to the recent renaissance in the deodorant category.

In this context, oral care innovation has expanded at Indie Beauty Expo. For instance, Terra & Co. was flocked with visitors wowed by its Brilliant Black Bamboo Toothbrush which is biodegradable due to its bamboo content. The brush is infused with activated charcoal to boost whitening.

The company’s Brilliant Black Dental Floss was similarly vegan and biodegradable. Its Brilliant Black Toothpaste is vegan and cruelty-free, featuring activated charcoal, coconut oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil and xylitol.

Its Brilliant Black Oil Pulling is designed around Ayurvedic traditions and features fractionated coconut oil, coconut oil, activated charcoal, peppermint oil and vitamin E.

Meanwhile, the Alka-White alkaline pH-balancing oral cleanse is a tablet format that lasts for five days without the use of fluoride. The formulation is reportedly hydrating, soothing and desensitizing, and features potassium and magnesium, coconut, peppermint and tea tree oils, xylitol, and peppermint oil.

Black Chicken Remedies, an Australian brand, offers an Oral Swishing Oil “for fresher breath, whiter teeth and clearer skin.” The formulation comprises organic sunflower, organic sesame and castor, hemp oil, coconut oil, avocado, and cardamom, myrrh and peppermint oils.

3. Beauty gets in the mood

How brands make consumers feel has become increasingly important in the mindful wellness age. This was on full display at Indie Beauty Expo, particularly (though not exclusively) in the area of sleep and calming.

For instance, Venus Williams recently took an ownership stake in Asutra and reportedly “fell in love” with the brand’s Natural Pain Cream. However, the company’s broader wellness focus bridges into the consumer’s state of mind.

Asutra’s Sleep Tight Kit “features three sleep enhancing products designed to help you power down,” according to the brand. The kit includes the Dream the Night Away melatonin lotion with magnesium. The product is formulated to “create a sense of calm and soften your skin,” according to the brand, and includes sweet almond oil, shea butter, lemongrass, rosemary extract, aloe vera and jojoba oil, among other materials.

Asutra also offers a Pure Soothing Comfort aromatherapy mist, which is available in a range of scents. The brand suggests: “Mist your body, room, linens, your car, or gym bag. Then, just breathe.”

Finally, the brand’s Chill Pain Away magnesium CBD cream features CBD and magnesium for relaxing and diminishing pain after workouts or to chill out on long flights.

Way of Will has formulated two sleep aid products as part of its CBD launch, including a full-spectrum hemp oil blend with sweet orange and lavender essential oils named Sweet Slumber. The formulation is intended to be dosed into a diffuser to “fill the room with an alluring fragrance that will gently encourage a calm, restful slumber.” The brand’s full-spectrum hemp oil and melatonin blend, Nighttime Comfort Tincture, features blueberry and lavender oil, melatonin, and 1,000 mg of full-spectrum hemp oil for a “natural way to achieve tranquility and restfulness after a long demanding day,” according to Way of the Will.

Finally, Black Chicken Remedies’ De-stress Essential Oil Blend and De-stress Nasalette Essential Oil Inhaler are design to offer a calming experience. The formulation comprises lemongrass, peppermint and sweet orange.

4. Yes, cannabis is still a big deal

As seen with several of the examples in the mood-focused and sexual wellness categories, cannabis (particularly CBD) introductions have hit a fever pitch in 2019—especially among indie brands.

Canadian essential oil company Way of Will has expanded its line to include full-spectrum hemp-infused tinctures, massage oil, sleep aids and edibles.

“CBD is a very hot topic at the moment, and I believe it can truly help people manage their everyday stresses,” said brand founder and CEO Willie Tsang. “I personally experience numerous anxiety attacks daily and see an improvement by using CBD products.”

The launch includes two full-spectrum flavored hemp oil tinctures for daytime use. The daytime boost tinctures are MCT-oil-based and include grapefruit and peppermint essential oils.

The Sweet Relief Massage Oil features a full-spectrum hemp oil and quickly absorbs “to deliver a relaxing calm to desired areas,” according to the brand. The formulation includes a calming kick of lavender and refreshing sweet orante.

Way of the Will’s Yummy Gummy Calming Chews, meanwhile, are vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free designed to “restore your inner peace and calm.”

Beboe, which began life in THC-focused lifestyle products, has boomed into beauty with a range of distinctively designed products, including a forthcoming moisturizer. Currently, the brand offers CBD sheet masks that act as “a therapy session for stressed skin” by supporting the skin’s cell renewal and moisturization.

Beboe has also introduced a High Potency CBD Face Cream comprising squalene, shea butter, glycerin, niacinamide, peptides, vitamins C and E, and 250 mg of CBD. Other brands touting CBD products included CBD+ Nature, Code of Harmony, BLNCD, Gron, I+I Botanicals, Moon Mother Hemp Co., Sweet + Kind, Sweet Mary Jane, Winged, The Good Patch and Terra/Form.

Read an expanded version of this report in the forthcoming October 2019 issue of Global Cosmetic Industry.