For any beauty fanatic, new-to-the-market brands are one of life’s greatest joys. Whether it’s a newly formulated serum, innovative SPF product, or groundbreakingly-hydrating hair mask, count beauty buffs in for immediate sampling and experimentation, likely followed by an animated review on Instagram “for those asking...”. Even more impressive than being one of the first to discover an ingenious elixir or all-nature scalp tincture that promises long and lustrous locks? Being the brains behind 2020’s best beauty brand launches — and there were a lot! — all of which debuted during an unprecedented pandemic.
From Jenna Lyon’s foray into beauty via LoveSeen to celebrity-founded brands like Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez, Keys Soulcare created with Alicia Keys, and Lauren Conrad Beauty, it's a good year for beauty launches. Also major: clean and vegan lines, science-backed formulas, and a turn to hygiene in response to COVID-19. Best of all, many of these newly-launched lines broke into the beauty space with diversity and inclusivity in mind, and with BIOPIC women at the helm — you love to see it, right?
Keep scrolling to discover and shop 22 of the best 2020-launched beauty brands. TZR tapped each for the inside scoop on coming to market during a pandemic, best-sellers, and what’s to come in 2021.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez
“Launching in a pandemic had its challenges. We had multiple photoshoots and events planned from March on — none of which were able to happen,” Rare Beauty CMO Katie Welch tells TZR. “Instead, large-scale photoshoots were shot on an iPhone, and our founder, Selena, recorded her tutorials in her bedroom. Press launches and community launch parties were all virtual. There was no playbook for how to do this — we simply moved forward, focused on our community, and telling the story of our products. Selena’s at-home tutorials on applying the Perfect Strokes Liquid Liner and Soft Pinch Liquid Blush in Joy helped the products become top sellers!”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: LoveSeen
When asked what it was it like launching the brand in a pandemic year, Lyons tells TZR, “Like a game of Twister. Every spin on the board was impossible.” The co-founder adds, “It was a blessing that we launched something that registers on a Zoom call and still shows above the mask, considering people can’t necessarily go out. Now they can at least shine a little brighter via Zoom!”
Though every 2020 plan “went through a cheese grater,” according to Lyons, the brand has seen a positive response — the Cate, Iris, Levi, and Inez styles are already front-runners, with Cate and Iris being Lyons’ personal favorites — hoping to build on the momentum in 2021. “I think the best we can do right now is continue to focus on one thing and do it as best as we possibly can. We’re excited for 2021 and the potential for weddings, parties, hugs, and travel. We’ll be there for all of them.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Keys Soulcare
Keys Soulcare, launched by Alicia Keys and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Renée Snyder, is a lifestyle beauty line of clean, skin- and soul-nourishing products, including a luxuriously rich ceramide moisturizer, soothing oat milk and sage candle, and handcrafted obsidian face-roller.
“It’s been so incredible working with Alicia Keys to develop Keys Soulcare,” Dr. Snyder tells TZR. “My personal skin care journey led me to pursue dermatology, and I’m passionate about healthy skin, knowing firsthand that it can help others feel empowered, confident, and strong.”
Though the pandemic brought its challenges, Dr. Snyder says the passion all but slowed the duo down. “The moment is right,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed working with Alicia and the team to create products that are clean, efficacious, and focus on holistic self-care: body, spirit, mind, and connection.”
In 2021, expect more product launches and a growing Keys Soulcare community.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Alo Yoga
Alo Yoga, the celeb-loved activewear brand, got in on the clean beauty game, launching an assortment of skin care and body products with the antioxidant-packed super berry amla at the crux. Upon discovering the ingredient, the brand set out to redefine the beauty industry with products that deliver beauty from within. “We wanted to get it out as soon as possible,” Danny Harris, Alo Yoga’s co-CEO and co-founder, tells TZR. “This took us two years to develop, and people need good clean skin care and wellness now more than ever.”
As a brand all about health, wellness, and bringing mindfulness through the practice of yoga, it’s Alo’s goal to inspire people to live clean and healthier lives. “With our clean beauty line, it allows us to offer a holistic clean, non-toxic, and balanced lifestyle,” Harris adds.
Coming up for 2021: wellness supplements launching in February.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Lauren Conrad Beauty
Famous for rocking the perfect cat-eye, who better to launch a makeup and skin care line than Lauren Conrad? “We faced a lot of unexpected challenges launching this brand during a pandemic,” Conrad tells TZR. “Fortunately, this is my first time launching a beauty line, so I didn’t know any different. It was definitely the most stressful launch I’ve ever done.”
Though the line debuted six months later than planned, the eco-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free assortment is already seeing success. An unsurprising best-seller: The Liquid Eyeliner. “We had a feeling it might be,” Conrad shares. “It’s one of my favorite products and one that we spent a lot of time getting just right.”
In 2021, expect several new product launches and color extensions to current offerings.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: BREAD Beauty Supply
BREAD Beauty Supply is a line of haircare basics for not-so-basic hair, inspired by founder Maeva Heim’s professional and consumer experience. “It wasn’t really talking to me,” she tells TZR of the beauty industry. “I wanted to create a brand that would not only aim to drive the industry toward a more diverse future but provide clean formulas, all encased in a visual universe that felt more relevant to today’s Gen-Z consumer.”
Though Heim says travel restrictions impacted her COVID-19-timed-launch, only a slight delay occurred, and so far, the hair-wash is a best-seller. “[It’s] my personal favorite product, smells like fruit-loops, and is just the perfect amount of milky,” she says. “I designed it to give an effective clean without drying or tangling my curls.”
With much to come in 2021 — including new product launches that can’t yet be revealed — Heim wants to create positive, industry-wide change. “I want BREAD to develop into a brand that has significant media buying power. I want this brand to have a say in [how] black women are represented in the media because right now, it can be very one dimensional,” she says. “Once we’re in that position, and we’re able to impact those representations, my hope is that one day soon, black women with textured all over the world hair will be able to walk into a board room with Bantu knots, or an afro, or whatever she wants, and not a single person will bat an eyelid.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Symbiome
Symbiome is a plant-based skin care line of cleaners, moisturizers, and oils, featuring minimalist formulas with maximum efficiency. Each product uses less than ten clean, organic, traceable, sustainable, and nutrient-rich ingredients, guided by scientific research in the skin microbiome. “We believe that ‘minimal is the new clean,’” says co-founder and CEO Vicki Levine. “As consumers seek safety within this global pandemic, they look to science to guide their choices. We were able to embrace current consumer sentiment — a return to nature, simplicity, and above all, health.”
Despite launching in the fall of 2020, Levine says Symbiome was two years into development and built a community of future customers through our product trials. “These users helped us not only shape our product development but understand and address the changing consumer attitudes prior to our debut to the world.”
Come January, the brand will launch duos of the postbiomic oils for customers to create customized regimens based on their skin needs, followed by a treatment collection in the spring. Levine says, “We will debut two products that will really change the definition of clean and minimal skin care: a stem cell serum for repair and a replenishing eye cream for depuffing, brightening, and smoothing zoom-fatigued eyes.” Also on the horizon: a collection of body care products, including oil and hand cream.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Ceremonia
Ceremonia is a clean haircare brand founded by Babba C. Rivera, with a mission to bring Latinx representation to the beauty industry’s forefront. “During the pandemic, we started engaging community members via WhatsApp groups to join us behind the scenes and be part of the Ceremonia Familia,” the founder explains of her launch process, which she describes as rewarding and humbling. “From testing product formulas to capturing content from their own bathrooms, the opportunity to co-create with my community has been a beautiful silver lining during a year like this.”
Already with a cult product on her hands — the Aceite de Moska treatment oil, which boosts shine, reduces frizz, and strengthens strands— Rivera says the Scalp Power Duo is a best-seller. It includes a massager to help distribute the oil and stimulates blood flow circulation, promoting hair growth and overall scalp and hair health. “Together, these two products work like magic for your scalp and overall hair wellness,” she explains.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Dieux
Dieux is a skin care brand with reusable silicone eye masks and recycled silk scrunchies, co-founded by Charlotte Palermino of Nice Paper, Marta Freedman, and Joyce de Lemos. Palermino says the brand had opportunities to launch earlier, but a desire for more tests, research, and a clinical study lead to the development of the now-signature eye mask. “Everything takes more time, and that’s OK,” she tells TZR of Dieux’s launch process. “You can be more measured and deliberate — two things that weren’t my strong suit. Ensuring people are safe takes priority over a beauty product launching.
Describing the launch as “unreal,” de Lemos adds: “We dealt with a lot of logistical challenges like production delays and priority changes, but more urgently, we had to figure out how to take care of ourselves and our community as we experienced all of the emotions that came with this year’s events. I think that all of the challenges and emotions brought us closer and helped solidify our voice.”
After selling over 20,000 units of the now cult eye mask, Palermino says Dieux sees the demand for products that rethink beauty. “[This] has made us realize that our hypothesis that you can innovate in beauty and that people want to see innovation does matter,” she says. Expect exciting extensions to this brand in 2021.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Schwanen Garten
Schwanen Garten is a Korean skin care brand, including a cleanser, serum, oil, eye cream, ampoule, and facial mist, featuring a patented Antioxidant Source formula. “It’s very versatile,” co-founder Dr. Suan Hwang, Ph.D., tells TZR of the naturally-derived antioxidant formula. “It works not only as a high-potency serum on its own but also as a booster when mixed with other skin care products, enhancing the efficacy of its active ingredients.”
While there were moments of hesitation, Dr. Hwang says the brand moved forward with its plan to launch in 2020. “Our own research and development lab and facilities are based in Korea, as we believe in formulating and producing in-house to keep our product integrity high and transparent,” she explains. “There were relatively minor restrictions due to the pandemic but nothing that affected our manufacturing.”
Already counting the cleanser and ampoule as best-sellers, Dr. Hwang says, “We are so grateful for this new community we created quite quickly that really put the time and effort into understanding our brand and then introducing and sharing us with their loyal audiences. Even with so much uncertainty, as people are staying home to be safe, they are spending more time on self-care, which is what skin care is all about.”
Several new launches from Schwanen Garten are on deck for 2021: a low pH foaming cleanser, an essence toner, and the brand’s first-ever moisturizer, which took the most time in development and testing. “We do not use synthetic emulsifying agents,” explains Dr. Hwang of the moisturizer’s antioxidant-packed formula. “It was very challenging to develop the perfect formula using only clean and effective ingredients, avoiding any unnecessary fillers.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: The Hardest Working Collection by Beau-ti-ceu-ti-cals
One of the best drugstore launches of 2020? The Hardest Working Collection by Beau-ti-ceu-ti-cals, a dual-purpose skin and hair care line boasting clinically-proven, natural ingredients. “Launching during a pandemic has been extremely challenging,” Mahisha Dellinger, CEO and founder of CURLS Beauty Brand, tells TZR. “Components were next to impossible to secure from February to April, and custom orders were put on hold. We had to do what we do best — become agile and find ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to get by.”
An unexpected blessing? The company, as a whole, grew by 35% during the pandemic. “We met our year-end goal by July 2020,” Dellinger reveals. Plus, two best-sellers products: the Triple Threat Skin + Hair Cream and the Skin + Hair Collagen Toner.
Among the brand’s 2021 launches: an Essential Oil, fragrance-free and medical-grade skin care concentrations, a skin + hair sunscreen, and additional multi-purpose products.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Faace
Faace is a line of sustainable and cheekily-named masks formulated to address a range of skin issues, many, well, face — Tired faace, Period faace, and Sweaty faace — by Jasmine Wicks Stephens. “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” the founder says of her 2020 launch. “Essentially, we’ve grown a global brand from our bedroom.”
Like most others, Stephens encountered challenges, from delays to key ingredient shortages. At the same time, she says the timing was serendipitous. First, a change in retailer, switching from a single brick-and-mortar setting to three online and in-store retailers, followed by 2020’s self-care boom. “Masking went through the roof, and with ours being a sustainable Zoom-friendly option, interest continued to grow, and sales kept going up,” she says.
Though the plan was to launch more masks in 2020, new formulas including Menopause faace, Dull faace, and Dirty faace are set to launch in 2021, plus additional products. Stephens teases, “We’re excited to be branching out of masking whilst still give consumers straightforward, straight-talking, effective skin care solutions.” She adds, “As a new brand, we’re keen to listen, learn and grow as a result.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Monday Born
Monday Born is a luxury skin care brand founded by beauty influencer Teni Panosian boasting two mighty products: a reparative hydrating essence and gentle resurfacing serum. “Being a community-driven brand presented a unique opportunity to bring people together when we couldn’t physically be together,” Panosian says of the pandemic-timed launch. “It was uplifting to see our community come together and talk all things beauty, giving us a much-needed distraction in an uncertain time.”
Already, Monday Born’s Rebirth serum has received an overwhelmingly positive response, per Panosian. “This is a product that I had envisioned for a long time,” the founder tells TZR. “Our community has dubbed [it] ‘magic in a bottle.’”
Panosian hopes to create an entire Monday Born skin care routine in collaboration with the brand’s community and plans to extend more creative process, brand building, and product development opportunities in 2021.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Virgin Suncare
Virgin Suncare is a post-sun, antioxidant-based body oil that works to rebuild the skin’s natural moisture barrier and replenish hydration while providing supple radiance. Key ingredients include botanical squalene, essential fatty acids, and Vitamin E and C to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals and preserve youthful skin.
Founder Nicole Federico planned to debut the vacation-centric brand in March, but as travel halted worldwide, she rethought her strategy and postponed until late August. “You have to be flexible, not so much that you are sacrificing your vision, but in a pandemic world, you can’t possibly have everything at once,” she explains of her brand’s 2020 launch. Virgin Suncare’s soft entry into the market ultimately allowed Federico to understand her customers better. “We would have never learned so much so quickly had we not delayed our launch and rolled out slowly at a time of year that seemed unnatural for a brand like ours,” she tells TZR.
Her biggest 2020 takeaway: “You have to remember why you started and believe that what you’re creating will find its place of value to people in the world. At the end of the day, it requires an immense amount of spirit and creativity.”
Federico says several new developments to Virgin Suncare’s product line are in place for 2021. She also has her sights set on several collaborations, particularly with boutique hotels when travel is safe. “I think that would be an incredible way to experience our oil — right off the beach when you’re on vacation in a dreamy far-off place.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Whimsy Official
Whimsy Official started as a matcha and adaptogenic tonic cafe, but once COVID-19 hit, co-founders Victoria McAbee and Jasmine Lee pivoted their company to create their dream beauty brand. “At first, the idea of closing the cafe felt insane, but now, we are so pleased with the new direction of our brand,” McAbee tells TZR. “In just five months, we had sourced all of our ingredients, designed our branding and packaging, and created this whole new entity.”
Currently offering collagen and matcha powder, 2021 will bring more product launches, including the brand’s first skin care product. “It’s going to be epic,” McAbee teases. “It’s something that can be loved by every skin type, every age, during every season of the year.”
The duo has a bigger mission, too. “By 2022, our goal is to give seasonal grants to female and non-binary founded sustainable brands who lack financial resources,” McAbee shares. “When we first launched our cafe, we had some help from friends and family, and that’s something we’ll never forget. We want to give back to deserving individuals who want to make an impact on our planet. Our time here is so brief, and it’s so inspiring to see people wanting to use their brief lifetime on this earth to do incredible things.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Emma Lewisham
Emma Lewisham, the transparent beauty brand, boasts serums, exfoliants, cleansers, and SPF (among other skin care essentials), developed and manufactured with leading green chemists in New Zealand. “[The pandemic] cemented our position as a 100% clean, natural, and high-performance skin care brand and the value in being able to offer this to our customers as an option,” the founder tells TZR.
The brand’s Skin Reset serum is already an award-winning formula and backed by five years of research that proves its ability to brighten skin, reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and even skin tone. “This was the product that proved we could engineer 100% clean and natural products that didn’t compromise on performance,” Lewisham explains.
Next up in 2021: “We have some big sustainability projects in the pipeline for next year,” the founder shares. “We’re currently measuring our carbon usage to set a benchmark for reductions and to offset these across our business.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: MyKirei by KAO
The sustainable beauty brand, MyKirei by Kao, is a collection of hair, body, and hand soap products inspired by the Japanese philosophy of Kirei, promoting a beautiful life of balance, cleanliness, order, simplicity, well-being, and sustainability.
The brand followed its e-commerce launch plan for 2020 with Amazon as a partner and two of the five main products being hand washes that have already sold out several times. The yuzu flower foam hand wash — which stamps a foam flower onto your hand — features a soothing rice water formula that plumps the skin with moisture to keep hands nourished without stripping away vital moisture skin, no matter how many times you wash.
“It’s been great to see such a positive response to this product that has been able to add a bit of joy into our hand washing routines, which has become so important this year,” Marissa Vallillo, the brand’s director of marketing, tells TZR. What’s more, the line’s refillable packaging uses up to 50% less plastic than traditional bottles, which consumers respond to well. Vallillo says, “They appreciate the option to cut down on plastic waste and reduce their carbon footprint.”
With several launches planned for 2021, MyKirei by Kao will continue to bring the Kirei lifestyle to customers, building upon the ethos of living clean, beautiful, and sustainable lives.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: äz Haircare
For luxury lovers, äz Haircare is a 2020-launched line of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that was all but slowed down by COVID-19. “We signed a distribution deal in the middle of it and have opened 96 doors so far in the past ten weeks,” founder Rodger Azadganian tells TZR. “We are grateful that we had the chance to go to market during this pandemic because it forced us to up our game to another level that I don’t know we would have done otherwise.”
Among Azadganian’s favorites: the Sooth Serum, Elixir Nourishing Oil, and Compose Matte Texturizer. In 2021, the founder plans to develop several new products and continue the brand’s western expansion.
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Gelo
Clean brand Gelo debuted handsoap starter kits and refills made with essential oils in 2020, launching in over 10,000 doors, including Bed Bath & Beyond & Albertson’s. “With some key brands out of stock, we had this unique opportunity to showcase Gelo in the absence of normal competition,” founder and CEO Curan Mehra tells TZR. “It was a market reset. And, as consumers were handwashing more than ever, they took to and appreciated our clean formulas, amazing fragrances, and low-waste footprint.”
Mehra adds, “Over the summer, we found ourselves suddenly taking off on TikTok, which was really fun. So many of our customers started filming and sharing their own Gelo Pod Drops. We joked that Gelo, as a hand soap brand, went viral for being ‘anti-viral.’ Since then, our customers have collectively generated millions of views and encouraged countless others to make the switch to Gelo.”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Imbue Curls
Imbue curls debuted in 2020 as a vegan haircare brand with a collection of products for curl and coil types 3A to 4c. “There’s nothing quite like the challenge of launching an entire brand right in the middle of a pandemic,” Caroline Dawe, head of brand and customer activation at Mibelle Group, tells TZR. “Thanks to the world of content creators, we were able to hand our launch photoshoot over to them, so they filmed incredible brand content for us from their homes. In-person events quickly got moved to online, and we even won an award! 2021 will see lots of exciting new products from us, especially for our tighter curled girls!”
The Best Beauty Brand Launches of 2020: Dermatica
After a UK debut in 2019, the online dermatology service Dermatica launched in the US in 2020. On offer: prescription ingredients like niacinamide, tretinoin, and clindamycin in tailored and customized skin care formulations for $24.99 per month for a 28-day treatment.
“We noticed a massive increase in the demand for teledermatology during this time when people were struggling to access their dermatologists in the traditional clinic setting due to the lockdown,” Dwayne D’Souza tells TZR. “We saw a huge surge of new patients as the demand increased — we were so pleased to be able to help so many people who were unable to access the help they needed with their skin.”
Expect to see much more from Dermatica 2021, including new products and treatment plans.
The Best Beauty Launches Of 2020: Untamed Humans
Take out the middleman by curating a routine meant for you and you alone. Through a nine-question personalized quiz, Untamed Humans sets you up with a custom cleanser and moisturizer powered by natural and organic ingredients. Honorable mention goes to the willow bark extract and aloe leaf Mask Relief Spray, which helps combat maskne.