As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly thinking about innovation. But what I’ve learned is that creating something new just to have something to talk about isn’t innovation – it’s cheap and easy marketing. Real innovation may come less often, but it leaves a lasting impression. Indeed, real innovation changes the game. This is what Kari Gran and her business partner, Lisa Strain, have accomplished. Dubbed the Little Black Dress of Eco-Beauty, Kari Gran epitomizes simple sophistication. With only 5 unique products in their skincare range, Kari and Lisa are perhaps the most calculated formulators in Indie Beauty, launching new products not based on marketing cycles, but based on authentic consumer demand.As two of the smartest, most authentic and practical women in beauty, Kari and Lisa assume the customer (that would be us) is as smart as they are, and doesn’t want to be sold or told anything that’s not true and that doesn’t serve them. I loved working with Kari and Lisa on their 2016 launch of a serum sunscreen – Three Sixty-Five SPF 28 – and was so excited to learn that Kari had decided to launch one, very special, new product. Knowing her commitment to minimalist skincare, I immediately asked if we could feature the Essential Balm as a special, holiday discovery.In the following conversation, Kari shares more about staying true to her minimalist skincare philosophy and how Kari Gran Skincare resists the urge to cater to industry demands, and instead listen to what consumers want.
On a blustering, snowy day, I met Kristi Blustein, founder of KHUS KHUS in the warm and cozy Dushanbe Tea House in Bolder, Colorado. Though not conscious of it at the time, the sensorial contrast of our first meeting was not dissimilar to how I experienced KHUS KHUS; namely her Hero product, Bleu Body Wax. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried due to its simultaneous cooling and warming effect on my skin. I was instantly intrigued by this unique sensation, and equally curious about her background in Ayurveda. Having spent a month doing a full-on (very restrictive) ‘pancha karma’ Ayurvedic purification ritual in Grass Valley, California (incidentally the same area where Kristi studied), I was well aware of traditional Ayurvedic principles, ingredients and practices. But while her line is rooted in this ancient eastern philosophy, her products didn’t smell or feel like anything I had experienced before. My interpretation was that Kristi learned and studied the rules, practiced them for years, and then adapted them to make something that was somehow reverent of tradition, but entirely her own. To me, KHUS KHUS has its own distinct look, scent profile and feel – not an easy feat when you’re abiding by centuries-old recipes. The oils are unctuous and decadent, and super skin-softening. While there is no shortage of oil-based green beauty brands available these days, KHUS KHUS stands out for its modern take on Ayurveda that will, as Kristi intended, get you hooked on a daily Abhayanga, self-massage practice.
By the end of the 20th century, chemists, in response to the awareness of the impact of toxic compounds and the consumer concerns, started to form a new way of understanding science and technology; the result was the principles now known as green chemistry. These principles have been developed to consider and continually advance the prevention of waste and pollution, offering safer and more ecological alternatives to hazardous chemicals, the use of renewable raw materials and optimizing efficiency. To me, the green chemistry revolution is a vast opportunity for innovation and the advancement of cosmetic chemistry.
If you have the fortune to meet Axiology Founder, Ericka Rodriguez, in person, you’ll quickly learn that for this California-born beauty, she’s not into playing small. A vegan since her tween years, Ericka has been an advocate against animal cruelty for as long as she can remember, using her voice to protect the voiceless. She also had a mad crush on lipstick, amassing a collection of shades to pair with her current mood. Imagine her shock when she realized many of her favorite brands tested on animals and even contained animal byproducts. She turned her anger into action and set out to create the most comfortable, wearable, sustainable lipstick on the planet, starting with small batches from her kitchen.
There’s no question about it: Natural beauty is booming, and in the grand scheme of things, this is a very good thing for all of us. It signals a movement towards greater awareness, discernment, transparency and advocacy. It’s pushing conventional personal care companies to clean up their act, and even if they never win clean beauty awards, they’re making progress in the right direction, removing the most harmful ingredients and trumpeting their green initiatives, steering the masses to consider natural the new normal. It’s a sign of the times – we’re waking up and demanding better quality from brands. Yay, us.But, let’s be honest. We also know that natural is loosely defined, and since greenwashing is so much easier than becoming a natural beauty formulator, many brands have mastered the “look and feel” of natural, but don’t have the formula integrity to back it up. So, while they may get to hang out with the pros in the Naturals section, they haven’t earned their stripes.
When I stumble upon a new skincare or beauty brand, I start with Why. “Why did this Founder have to create this brand?” More often than not, there’s a compelling story that captivates me, and I immediately want to share it with the Beauty Heroes Tribe. But, when I first discovered LINNÉ Botanicals, my first question wasn’t Why?; it was How? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this founder created a brand so luxurious, with formulas that were as unique as they were effective. LINNÉ Botanicals was unlike anything else I’ve come across. In fact, when I first applied this month’s Hero product duo, PURIFY Face Wash and ACTIVATE Body Wash, I told Jenna Levine, the Founder of LINNÉ Botanicals, that I simply could not choose between the two! They were both Hero worthy and I felt they both deserved the spotlight. So, in the first time in Beauty Heroes history, we celebrate a double feature Beauty Discovery that is pure, effective and unique.
Susan Jane White isn’t just our newest Brand Ambassador, she is my newest health and wellness inspiration and Hero. The former President of the Oxford University gastronomy society, journalist, cookbook author and long-time Beauty Heroes subscriber and fan has been connecting food, health and beauty in the most delightful ways with her wit, sass and deliriously delicious approach to healthy living. She brings a heaping serving of humor to the table and the page every time, helping us all take it all just a little less serious so we can get back into the true joy of healthy cooking. I highly recommend her two wheat, dairy and gluten-free cookbooks Tasty. Naughty. Healthy. Nice and The Virtuous Tart that are both chock full of inventive and approachable recipes and are even more fun to read than they are to prepare. Can you tell, I’m a fan? I know you will be too, just watch, read on and enjoy meeting Susan Jane White.
Indie Beauty Expo, known in the industry as simply iBE, has quickly evolved into one of the most exciting and engaging consumer beauty events in our industry. Co-founded by Jillian Wright and Nader Nayemi-Rad, the event puts a spotlight on … Continued
Svetlana Zakharevich, Founder of GRESSA, is the first to tell you there’s no such thing as a miracle in a jar, which makes her stunning beauty and lit from-within, radiant skin seem even more enviable, because you know she comes by it honestly. In fact, Svetlana has dedicated her career to demystifying healthy, glowing skin. While earning her PreMed degree, she discovered that the topic of nutrition was barely broached, so she pursued degrees in natural sciences in biochemistry to offset this gap in her education. What she learned through her studies is that total body wellness begins in the gut through a healthy diet and a balanced biome. A love for all things glamorous happily collided with her passion for science, and she set out on a mission to formulate products to highlight and support healthy skin. Her skincare-first makeup line is a range of natural skincare and color formulations that nourish the complexion, illuminate its best features and wears like a second skin. With each product taking years to perfect, Svetlana takes us behind the scenes and reveals her inspiration for her brand and shares the philosophy that has made GRESSA a cult-favorite among the most discerning audience – celebrities, makeup artists and beauty editors. Meet Svetlana.
By now, we’ve all heard about the myriad benefits of antioxidants in food and skincare. We know that the vibrant reds, oranges, purples and blues in our fruits and veggies equal antioxidant potency, and we know that ‘free radicals’ are … Continued