At first glance, it may seem like women run the beauty industry. We are by far the largest consumer base, have the highest purchasing powe, and are lucky enough get the best smelling products. But just because the ladies are the ones doing the buying doesn’t mean that we’re being represented behind the scenes. The CEOs of L’Oreal, Revlon, Estée Lauder, and MAC Cosmetics are all men, and pretty much run the $50 billion beauty industry. Crazy, right?
Wednesday’s "Day Without Women," set to coincide with International Women's Day, challenges female consumers to withhold their purchasing power from brands that aren't owned by women — which means all of the major consumer brands listed above are out (and you’d be surprised by how many smaller brands each of them owns). Lucky for us, there are plenty of amazing beauty companies out there owned, run and operated by women.
In honor of International Women's Day, here are 15 beauty brands (and some lust-worthy products from each of them) owned by kick-ass, powerful women. Just keep in mind: If the world were without women permanently, like it will be on March 8, these brands and their inspiring female founders wouldn't exist.
1. Mary Kay
Mary Kay's "Be Your Own Boss" method of selling makeup has been empowering women for years, so the female-owned (Mary Kay is a real person!) brand's red lipstick is a natural choice for International Women's Day.
2. Juice Beauty
“When I first launched my business, no one would give me a loan, so I opened 17 credit cards, with $2,500 line of credit on each one, and paid them all off simultaneously throughout the month," says founder and CEO Karen AREN Behnke of how she got started.
3. Lazy Perfection Brushes
Owned by makeup artist Jenny Patinkin, "Lazy Perfection Brushes" are designed to make your beauty routine faster, easier and prettier. Jenny also founded Chicago-based Lazy Perfection Beauty School (formerly Dollface Beauty School) as a business dedicated to educating women about makeup and makeup application.
4. Kylie Cosmetics
Say what you will about Kylie and the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner legacy, but the youngest sister has launched her own beauty empire before her 19th birthday. Now that's what I call #girlpower.
5. Shen Beauty
Ilia Beauty Radiant Beauty Balm SPF 20 All Your Gold, $42, Shen-Beauty.com
"The night before Shen Beauty opened, I realized I had mistakenly priced all of the products at wholesale cost instead of retail," says Shen Beauty founder Jessica Richards of how she got started selling products out of her Brooklyn-based shop. "It was about midnight, so I ended up staying until 3AM to take off the wholesale stickers and re-price with the retail stickers. Nightmare!"
6. Huda Beauty
Huda Kattan may be one of the most successful women in the beauty world right now, but that wasn't always the case. She spent the beginning of her career working in finance, then decided to quit what some would call a "dream job" to pursue her passion — makeup. Taking risks
Emily Weiss started working on her blog Into The Gloss while she was an assistant at Vogue, which required her getting up at 4am every morning. The blog was crazy successful, and allowed Weiss to launch everyone's favorite beauty millennial pink beauty brand. She's pretty much the bossiest girlboss ever, and based on her Instagram seems really cool to hang out with.
The idea for Immunocologie was born after founder Karen Ballou was diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to establish a brand that encouraged people to educate people about their skin, its health, and how it relates to their lifestyle as a whole.
When Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna founded Birchbox back in 2010, it was one of the first subscription beauty boxes around. It totally changed the way people shopped for products, and inspired legions of similar brands to pop up in its wake.
10. Miss Jessie's
The natural haircare brand was founded by sisters Miko and Titi Branch who wanted to make sure women had the right products to care for every kind of curls. Tragically, Titi comitted suicide in 2015, but the brand lives on with her initial vision.
11. Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown is a legend. She started her makeup brand with ten lipsticks almost 30 years ago, and sold it to Estée Lauder within the first five years. She stepped down from the company at the end of 2016, but is worth including on the list because she has been one of the most powerful, admirable women in beauty for the last three decades.
12. Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden was one of the founders of the American beauty industry as we know it. She traveled from rural Canada to NYC in the early 1900's, and opened the first Red Door Salon on Fifth Avenue in 1910. Today, there are Red Door Salons in nearly every major city, and her products are available worldwide.
13. Blue Mercury
Marla Beck, along with her husband Barry, founded BlueMercury in 1999 — when she was only 29 years old. It was one of the first brands that allowed consumers to buy products outside of department or drugstores, and at the time was totally revolutionary.
14. Sonia Kashuk
After working with Cindy Crawford on Cindy Crawford's Beauty Book, makeup artist Sonia Kashuk decided she wanted to start a line of her own and saw a lack of good quality products in the mass market. She partnered with Target to create her own affordable brand, and the rest was basically beauty history.
15. Josie Maran
Josie Maran was a model and actress, but in 2007 launched her own natural namesake cosmetics line. The company's motto is "luxury with a conscience" and the main ingredient of the skincare and cosmetics is fair trade argan oil, which is grown and harvested by co-ops of Moroccan women. And what could be better than women's beauty brand employing and empowering women all over the world? (Answer: Nothing.)