The 10 most innovative beauty companies of 2021

Although the pandemic has shifted our views on sporting make-up and styling our hair, the beauty business didn’t wither in 2020—it simply introduced therapies houses. From hair colour to manicures to laser facial therapies, this record is filled with improvements that assist us look (and really feel) higher even once we’ve canceled all our common appointments.

1. Credo Beauty

For tackling the beauty business’s packaging downside

Final March, clear beauty retailer Credo Beauty introduced its Sustainable Packaging Pointers, which require its 135-plus model companions to fulfill particular requirements meant to scale back the use of single-use objects, virgin plastic, and non-recyclable supplies. The formidable packaging directive mandates that every one manufacturers carried in its shops to repair their packaging in phases over the subsequent three years, along with assembly the corporate’s already stringent security, transparency, and sustainability necessities for elements. The transfer marks a serious problem and innovation alternative for an business that for many years has relied closely on plastic bottles and containers.

2. Madison Reed

For stripping harmful chemical compounds, inaccessible costs, and outdated enterprise fashions from the haircolor business

On a mission to carry the curtain on hair colour’s harmful chemical compounds and sticker-shock pricing, Madison Reed has embraced a hybrid online-physical retail mannequin. That turned much more pertinent throughout COVID-19, when clients had been capable of order the identical unhazardous hair colour to their residence as they discover of their native Madison Reed salon. (The firm’s merchandise are additionally carried by beauty large Ulta.) In 2020, the corporate launched a membership mannequin, providing clients limitless contact ups at its salons for a flat month-to-month charge. The firm additionally launched a Mr. hair colour line for males together with facial dye via It opened new shops on the premise that ladies will nonetheless need to go to salons, albeit much less often than earlier than, and continues to pay colorists 30% to 40% greater than the typical wage, plus healthcare and childcare advantages. The firm tasks greater than $100 million in gross sales for 2020, greater than double that of 2019.

3. Mira Beauty

For filtering via BS beauty opinions

The litany of faux and altered web opinions on beauty merchandise makes it arduous to suss out what feedback are legit and what got here straight from a bot. (*10*), which is backed by Unilever Ventures, makes use of AI know-how to sift via 1000’s of manufacturers and merchandise and combination opinions and costs from all around the web into one simply shoppable interface. The software program can even make customized product recommendations primarily based on pores and skin points, age, pores and skin tone, and worth vary, so that you don’t need to spend a lot time piecing all of it collectively by yourself.

4. Kinship

For formulating a clear beauty model for—and with—Gen Z

Kinship, a clear skincare model, launched in Ulta shops nationwide in August. The firm was based in 2019 with the mission to be a “Gen Z beauty model.” Its first six merchandise—that are clear, cruelty-free, sustainable, and zits centered—had been developed with the enter of the Kinship Circle, a staff of 20 younger individuals who examined and gave suggestions on every thing from formulations to the colour palette and typography of packaging. The Ulta launch was focused: A 2019 survey discovered that the beauty outlet was the most common beauty retailer amongst teenagers. Since then, the corporate has welcomed greater than 125 testers to the Circle, and partnered with TikTok influencers together with Hyram Yarbro to advertise the model.

[Illustration: Ellen Porteus

5. ManiMe

For customizing stick-on manicures with 3D modeling

Jooyeon Song cofounded ManiMe in late 2019 after being disappointed by her nail-care options. Gel manicures were time-consuming and damaging, while stick-ons didn’t fit right or last long. Using her background in 3D modeling, Song devised a way to turn 2D smartphone photos of users’ hands into a 3D model, then custom print gel polish nail stickers that fit perfectly. ManiMe’s manicures range from $15 to $25, and work on both long and short nails. The company’s sales grew tenfold in 2020 as the pandemic shuttered salons. ManiMe also commissioned designs from hard-hit nail artists, providing them with a new revenue stream. “We envision ourselves as a community of nail artists and enthusiasts,” Song says.

6. Prose

For betting big on personalized hair care

Bespoke beauty is booming right now, and Prose is setting a new standard in manufacturing within the category with a proprietary 60-foot, 10-ton manufacturing machine that’s powered by machine-learning capabilities. The machine will not only reduce the brand’s carbon footprint, but will allow Prose to scale up to packaging 30,000 custom shampoo and conditioner units a day, making it one of the most mass-scale custom beauty operations in the world.

7. Sephora

For pledging to help Black-owned beauty brands thrive

In early 2020, Sephora commissioned a study on the prevalence and impact of racial bias in retail and found that only 3% of its brands were Black owned. After making efforts to curb racial bias among its staff with trainings, this summer Sephora became the first major retailer to commit to the 15% Pledge, dedicating 15% of its in-person and digital shelf space to Black-owned brands, and forming an advisory board of business owners of color to help spearhead industry-wide change.

8. Starface

For embracing (and showing off) blemishes and imperfect skin

Founded by a former Elle magazine beauty editor, Starface is flipping the concept of pimple patches on its head with its cute, colorful Hydrostars—healing pimple stickers in a variety of bright, noticeable shapes. Running counter to the beauty industry’s typical “cover it up” approach to acne, these bright and bold patches stand out on skin while treating blemishes and preventing skin picking. It’s all about embracing “flaws.” The company’s yellow stars, and numerous collaborations including rainbow pride stars and Hello Kitty stickers, are a hit with Zoomers, and make the whole ordeal of acne feel a lot more—dare we say it—fun.

9. Lyma

For cracking the code on a home laser treatment that is both safe and effective

Until Lyma, no one has been able to figure out how to harness the strength of an in-office skin laser and make it both safe and effective to use at home. This new pocket-sized gadget is officially the strongest at-home laser on the market, with clinical evidence backing up its ability to help improve hyperpigmentation, rosacea, acne, and wrinkles in just 20 minutes daily. And its safety is impressive: You can treat the area around your eyes without goggles. Anyone who’s seen a dermatologist for laser treatments and had to don a pair of futuristic light blockers knows how major that is.

10. Opte

For printing customized skin-perfecting serum directly onto our faces

After 13 years of development, Procter & Gamble debuted its high-tech customized skin-perfecting device, the Opte, at CES this year. The handheld retouching tool uses a high-speed camera to scan your skin and zero in on age spots and imperfections, then disperses just the right amount of correcting serum to cover them up flawlessly. The tinted serum treats the skin simultaneously, so that dark spots fade over time.