Over the past decade, the beauty industry has boomed with a flurry of independent brands that offer skincare and makeup products that disrupt the market. Social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok continue to be valuable marketing tools that allow small, emerging brands to reach a wide range of customers and build engaging communities around their products.
It should come as no surprise that many founders of beauty and wellness brands are women, many of whom draw from their personal experiences and needs to start their journeys in the industry. From wanting shampoos or conditioners that cater to their specific hair type and curl pattern to a desire to utilise local, natural ingredients over chemically produced solutions, female entrepreneurs are taking beauty matters into their own hands and creating products that are missing from the shelves.
Below, get to know five beauty brands founded by women, and which have a focus on sustainability and natural ingredients at the heart of the product offering.
Founded by Stockholm-born Angelica Wessel, Kudu Cosmetica is committed to sourcing ingredients of the highest quality and with the least impact on the environment for its skincare products. Using botanical extracts harvested by local farmers across Southern Africa, the brand’s unique formulas are created by hand in a small-batch production to ensure freshness and quality. Each bottle of facial oil, cleanser or hydrating serum comes in recyclable packaging.
Meryem Benomar was driven to start Shaeri in 2018 from a need to address a gap in the haircare market for natural yet sophisticated products for women of color. Taking inspiration from her French Moroccan background, Benomar combines the know-how of France’s beauty industry and ingredients from the Moroccan desert, such new star and prickly pear oil, to create products that bring hydration to revitalization to all hair types.
Arami, the Yoruba word for “my body”, is a Lagos-based beauty brand that develops skincare products that invite customers to indulge and treat their bodies like a temple. The brand was founded in 2016 by former PR and marketing executive Ore Runsewe, who found importing her favorite beauty products costly after moving from London to Nigeria so she began to make oils and body butters for herself. Free from sulfates, parabens and other harmful chemicals, Arami’s multi-use products take a less-is-more approach to beauty, with simple ingredients and formulas based on African wellness traditions.
Founded by Nafisa, Shea Botanics was created as a way to contribute to the local African economy in a positive way. From soap bars to face oils and hair elixirs, Shea Botanics uses sustainably sourced extracts of shea butter, argan and baobab oils to create products that are kind to the skin and planet. The company employs a transparent supply chain system that helps provide a source of income to local workers in the communities where the products are made.
Suki Suki Naturals
Creating products that nurture, soothe and heal skin and hair with harm-free ingredients is the goal of South African beauty brand Suki Suki Naturals. The brand was founded in 2014 by Kinshasa-born entrepreneur Linda Gieskes-Mwamba, whose passion for beauty and skincare began at a young age. Her attempt to grow out her natural hair without any chemically-treated or expensive products led her to create Suki Suki’s first product, the Miraculous Oil. With a focus on the quality of its ingredients and discovering underused natural remedies, Suki Suki’s holistic formulas for facial oils, hair cremes and conditioners are handcrafted to celebrate Africa’s rich and diverse plant life.