It’s been almost a decade since Beyoncé reminded us who runs the world, and a generation of ambitious women have been admirably driving home the point louder than ever. Strangely enough, in an industry dominated by female consumers, many of the biggest beauty brands are still run by men. Not to say that a man can’t run a successful beauty biz (see: Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, and MAC Cosmetics, for the proof), but there sure is something to be said when the boss is completely entrenched in the products with the overflowing makeup bags, meticulously towered shelfies, and impressive shower lineup to show for it. Enter: a group of powerful women behind female-owned beauty brands who are quickly dipping into the multi-billion dollar industry with innovative new product lines, empowering messages, and cult followings to boot.
These inspiring beauty bosses each entered the market with a product that fulfilled a need missing in the current landscape. For some, it was immaculate ingredient lists. For others, it was sticking true to low-maintenance ways, and for a few, it was tapping into cultural roots to bring century-old rituals to the modern-day beauty lover.
In the spirit of powerful women supporting powerful women, here’s a collection of 18 splurge-worthy gift ideas from some of the industry’s thriving female-owned beauty brands. The future is female, and here’s the cold hard proof.
When the woman behind the glowing complexions of the entire lineup of models at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show packages a dozen personal beauty favorites into a glittering advent calendar, there's reason to get excited. This fully loaded lineup from beauty mogul Charlotte Tilbury includes her coveted do-it-all Magic Cream and pinky-nude Pillow Talk matte lipstick, along with 10 other skin and makeup picks that make for one seriously beautiful holiday countdown.
There’s a reason why Jen Atkin is everybody’s BFF. For starters, she’s hilarious, cool, and refreshingly down-to-earth... but she’s also single-handedly responsible for helping lazy girls achieve the easiest good hair days imaginable. Her luxe, no-fuss haircare line includes all the standard classics like shampoo, hairspray, and leave-in conditioner, along with a lineup of game-changing newness you never knew you needed, like dry texture foam and anti-frizz sheets. This cheeky duo set includes a hard-to-come-by extra-large bottle of smoothing hair oil and the brands best-selling texture spray, for a one-step tousled piece-y effect — sans the crunch.
Don’t let the adorably cute name and packaging fool you: This complexion-perfecting line is focused on powerful actives that drive impressive results. The brand was born when founder Tiffany Masterson took her irritable skin into her own hands and created a “clean clinical” product range that eliminated a cocktail of irritant-prone ingredients she coined the “Suspicious 6” (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance and dyes, along with SLS). This mega set will stock you up on the brands best-selling formulas including personal favorites Sukari Babyfacial, Marula Luxury Face Oil, and Lippe Balm.
Sarah Potempa, founder of Beachwaver, is quite literally the wave whisperer. She completely re-imagined the classic curling iron, creating an automatic rotating tool that made bombshell, salon-worthy waves instantly achievable at home. The innovative design eliminated all the confusing wrapping and clamping of traditional irons, making "effortless" styles as easy as humanly possible. This genius dual voltage version has been converted so you can bring all that gorgeous bounciness with you overseas, without blowing a fuse.
Aesthetician Carol Cole and her daughters Tera Peterson and Kim Morales launched NuFace in 2005, after recognizing the need for more frequent microcurrent treatments and designing an innovative device that let you safely treat yourself from home. The cool massaging device stimulates the skin with soft wave microcurrents that help to tone and smooth skin instantly, and even more so over time. This pretty set comes with two priming products, a gold zip case, and a limited-edition device complete with 18 karat rose gold dipped spheres, because why the heck not.
You can't talk about beauty bosses without mentioning Pat McGrath. The self-taught makeup legend works with just about any favorite brand or designer you could think of, and sets the beauty world into full freak-out mode with each and every highly anticipated launch in her eponymous lineup. Holding true to its name, these velvety shadow palettes and buttery lipsticks come nestled in a sequin-stuffed envelope that is lavish and over-the-top in the best way possible.
Glossier founder Emily Weiss gracefully sashayed her way from a cameo appearance on The Hills, to the beauty closet at Vogue, to the launch of her OG blog Into the Gloss. Now, she runs the most instagrammable beauty brand of the 21st century. But most impressive of all is how she listens to her fans. Her product lineup is dictated by the daily feedback she receives from her loyal cult following of millennial beauty lovers. Case in point: this serum trio that recognizes how your skin changes throughout the month and helps to check all the boxes. It includes a Super Glow serum for when your skin’s looking dull, a Super Pure serum to temper any breakouts, and a Super Bounce serum when skin’s feeling tight and dehydrated.
One look at the Kristin Ess's long, glossy, cascading red waves and you’ll want to listen to whatever this woman is saying about hair. As it turns out, nearly 500,000 of you are, following along as she divulges her daily styling secrets on Instagram. She also happens to be the mastermind behind the enviable manes of Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale and the creator of the super-chic eponymous haircare line sold at Target. This gorgeous white and gold blow dryer is part of her newest collection of hair tools, and epitomizes her idea of affordable luxury haircare.
Dr. Loretta, a Miami-based dermatologist, designed her skincare line to protect against four main factors responsible for unwanted skin aging: pollution, light, climate, and irritants. To do that, her products are formulated with high concentrations of medical-grade actives that act as defense for your skin and deliver impressive results. This pretty trio simplifies your daily skincare regimen into three easy steps — cleanser, moisturizer, and repair serum — that results in smoother, brighter, and more even looking skin.
“Ilia” is the middle name of founder Sasha Plavsic’s younger brother. It’s a Slavic name with double meaning for both a hand-made shoe, and organic and healthy. Aptly named, this Vancouver-born brand marries functionality and sustainability, creating products that are as clean and beautiful on the outside, as the formulations on the inside. Exhibit A: an exquisite seven brush set made with silky, soft cruelty-free synthetic fibers that you’ll want to brush all over your face.
For starters, this is not your average vegan nail polish line. Founders Mary Lennon and Leah Yari created the ten-free collection to be safe and stylish for mom’s (and daughters), with every single element free of toxins, including the glass bottles blown in Italy. Heck, even the physical salon locations (in New York and Los Angeles) seem to be stripped of any outside stressors with a cozy vibe that feels more like your best friend’s beach house than a nail salon. But if you can’t sneak away for a manicure, this not-so-basic set of sophisticated neutrals will make for the perfect DIY-version.
Popular K-Beauty duo Sarah Lee and Christine Chang took the beauty world by storm when their Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask sold out the day it launched... and subsequently nearly a dozen times after that. It’s safe to say people are obsessed, and with good reason. Its unique jelly-like consistency and seriously soothing and conditioning benefits do all the dirty work while you snooze, so you wake up pretty darn glow-y by morning. Package up the complete watermelon range, including sleep mask, sheet mask, and moisturizer, into one chic jelly tote and it’s basically the most sought-after beauty gift of the year.
Anastasia Soare has been raising brows for decades. Her namesake brand, Anastasia Beverly Hills, launched in 1997 with a brow salon dedicated to her Golden Ratio eyebrow shaping method and a lineup of coveted brow products that are still sworn by today. Since then, the beauty mastermind has moved beyond the brow, with a collection of color cosmetics that are equally as beloved. Take for example her Sultry shadow palette, which includes a very fall mix of 14 matte and metallic shades ranging from nude to bronze.
Her family-owned farm in India was originally supplying essential oils to leading beauty brands like Estee Lauder and Tom Ford. That was until Shrankhla Holecek cut out the middle man to bring these luxurious botanical blends directly to the beauty shopper. She brilliantly teamed up with Equinox to combine the signature scent of the gyms famous eucalyptus towels with a blend of aroma-therapeutic oils to create a “wellness candle” that instantly relaxes a room the moment it’s lit.
She’s the woman behind the glowing complexions of just about every celebrity A-lister you can think of — Taraji P. Henson, Olivia Wilde, and Vanessa Hudgens to name a few. Lucky for the rest of us, Somerville took all of that red carpet glow from her famed Los Angeles skincare clinic and bottled it up into some seriously impressive formulas that deliver similar at-home results. This giftable cleanser-serum-cream trio combines powerful actives and fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate and intensely hydrate for instantly brighter complexion.
Here’s a fun fact: Nancy Twine grew her beauty startup to $10 million in sales in just four years. The brand targets customers by hair texture (think wavy, thin, coily, dry) instead of ethnicity, and her unique formulas steer clear of all the harmful stuff like sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, and artificial dyes. If you’re curious what all the fuss is about, this fully loaded vault (for dry hair) gives you five hair pampering products that really drive home the point.
There are multi-tasking makeup products which make life a little easier. And then there are Nudestix, which simplify things on a whole new level. The genius makeup crayons were founded by teenage sisters Ally and Taylor Frankel and their mother, Jenny, as a streamlined way to pare down the makeup application process to a more relatable, everyday style. There’s a stick for just about every beauty need — shadows, contour, highlight, base — each with an impressively creamy texture that glides on smooth and blends in beautifully. A personal favorite: this curated collection from beauty influencer Melissa Alatorre which includes four neutral eye color pencils (two matte, two shimmery) and two lip and cheek pencils (a soft pinky-nude and a darker red plum) so you can quickly dial it up from day to night.
The name Joanna Vargas is synonymous with luxury skincare for good reason. Her star-studded client list includes some of the glowiest celebrity complexions like Karlie Kloss, Emma Roberts, and Julianne Moore. As one of the most sought-after facialists in the industry, it’s not hard to understand why this set of five at home face mask from her namesake skincare line, should be at the top of your wish list.