BEAUTY A beloved indie beauty product trade show scales down, reformulates, and gets focused, writes Elyse Glickman
Photographed by the author
Between 2015 and 2020, the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) turned beauty and wellness-driven trade shows on its head. In contrast to large scale counterparts like Cosmoprof and International Beauty Show, IBE could be thought of as the Sundance of beauty industry events, transcending its professional niche through its focus on independent companies producing niche and boutique cosmetics, skin care, hair care, and other innovative products.
While parent organization Indie Beauty Media Group (IBMG) provided member companies networking opportunities and media exposure in a less formal but stylish, colourful atmosphere, media and buyers were presented with a barometer what was truly innovative in a crowded market. Even at this scale, however, the term ‘too much of a good thing’ could be applicable with the two-day marathon of creams, colours, and (by 2020) a wave of CBD goods. As fun as it was, it could be sensory overload, figuratively and literally.
While the two-year break brought on by the pandemic was a great time for average people to rethink and refine their self-care practices, it forced planners and exhibitors alike to regroup. The result was a new show—Adit Live—which premiered in 2022, bringing together a smaller group of entrepreneurs companies, and buyers, resulting in more space and time to discuss how the exhibitors were addressing changes in self-care, wellness and people’s tastes.
‘We are doing things differently with Adit,’ explains Nader Naeymi-Rad, co-founder of IMBG and publisher of Beauty Independent, on how the new format will also benefit consumers. ‘Product innovation is not solely enough to ensure retail success for a brand. Today, a brand must be “retail-ready”, which means a founder who has the requisite knowledge and know-how of retail, a targeted strategy to utilize retail, and access to resources and capabilities to execute [a] multi-year commitment that is required to successfully activate a major retail channel. [While] re-entering live events was not a priority for us after the pandemic, serving the beauty entrepreneur has always been at the core of IBMG.’
Among the hand-selected brands with the right stuff for retail success populating the Reef’s Magic Box room in Downtown LA, several well-defined new trends emerged in ways that would take longer to assess at a bigger show. We also observed the smoke had cleared from the CBD boom, while the smaller number of products from the now-mainstream J- and K-beauty movements were more streamlined and user-friendly.
Among this “best of the best” grouping, some favourites emerged in a show that was truly as boutique as many of the shops the exhibitors aspired to be stocked in.
Entrepreneurs from the UK and Commonwealth countries reigned in this show. The products ran the gamut from those with agricultural underpinnings to others that were pleasingly minimalist and environmentally conscientious from the inside out. Others still tapped into the ongoing popularity of yoga and meditation, but adding a few fresh twists with their aromatics and combinations of ingredients. New Zealand was also well represented.
Ember Wellness: Toronto-based Amanda Schuler pivoted from furniture design to designing a targeted line natural and alternative therapies with a streamlined list of ingredients. It also features a silicone LED light mask that evens out skin tone and reduce wrinkles and other age-related imperfections.
Olverum is the definition of a legacy company, offering everyday luxuries with highest quality essential oils and botanical extracts since 1931. While the brand was born in Germany, Michael Hawksley was introduced to it while visiting his Mayfair hairdresser, Truefitt & Hill, who carry a royal warrant by appointment to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. Hawksley not only wanted to bring these special formulas to the greater UK public, but to a global audience, and acquired the brand in 2014 to achieve this.
Om Organics: Kari Asselin began her Vancouver, BC company, specializing in plant-based formulas, with the idea that her customers see themselves, ‘not as collection of flaws waiting to be removed,’ but emphasizing that what each customer special is what makes them powerful and strong.
The Organic Skin Co.: Megan Douglas, a proud Kiwi, pivoted from modelling to fashion designer, and again to dedicated naturopath, entrepreneur, and heir to the accumulated knowledge of five generations of medical herbalists. She applies it to a fully sustainable collection, and is particularly proud of the partnerships her company built with Eden Reforestation Projects via its One Product, One Tree initiative, as well as farmers and organic community farms in India.
Revive Collagen: singer, actress, and presenter Amanda Holden, Revive Collagen's brand ambassador, was on hand at Adit Live to introduce attendees to the world’s first clinically proven vegan liquid collagen and tell the story of how co-founder Samantha Faiers collaborated with top UK labs to create the internationally popular line of collagen drink packets.
Rhug Wild Beauty, meanwhile, takes the term legacy company further. Founder and environmentalist Lord Newborough, who lives on the Rhug Estate, has his family tree rooted in North Wales since the 11th century. With natural and organic plants growing around the estate, he had the wild idea of creating a luxury collection using raw ingredients right from the source.
Tronque was born when Tanne Snowdon learned about how endocrine disruptors in skin care can mimic hormones. This led to a collection that brought the gentle, healing qualities of premium facial skin care to the rest of the body. The select ingredients, meanwhile, are a map of New Zealand: mamaku extract, mānuka leaf, patented rare red seaweed, kiwifruit seed oil, kiwifruit and skin extracts, Marlborough Sounds wakame seaweed, and sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes.
Urban Veda: from London, but based on Ayurvedic principles rooted in Indian culture, it counts 200 botanical extracts across four ranges of skincare with bath, body lotions and skin care that’s intended to harmonize environmental factors, to purify, soothe, revive and add radiance.
Sustaining balance between the clinical and natural, recycling, and upcycling
AllWell Beauty: this made-in-USA brand invented a new skin care category—upcycled beauty. This is achieved through proprietary, award-winning Plantrose green technology, converting underused plant materials left over from other uses that would otherwise go to waste. Other ingredients are sustainably grown and harvested.
Evanhealy: while the California-based, globally informed company has been around since 1999, its emphasis on the healing power of plants is more relevant than ever as is the founder’s commitment to ethical, sustainable, and Fair Trade farming practices and relationships with small family farms across America and Europe, as well as women’s cooperatives, and cooperative villages in Africa.
Makari de Suisse: this truly international line is one of the most inclusive we encountered at the show, with a mission statement that says it all: ‘Science can't create beauty, but enhance it and preserve it.’ Even with that foundation, however, the ingredients (including argan oil, bearberry extract, licorice root extract, wheat-derived azelaic acid, citrus, mulberry, lemon, spinach, and alœ vera) make it definitively as natural as it is practical when addressing skin care issues.
Tirtir: the South Korean plant-based line reflects the best elements of K-beauty, but with ingredients which happen to be reassuringly familiar: centella asiatica; extracts of rosemary, tangerine, and chamomile flower; hamamelis extract (whose use has native American origins); polyglutamic acid from fermented beans, and plant-based collagen.
Now that wanderlust is arriving in style, so too are sustainable brands from bucket-list destinations as well as goods that bring pampering directly into your carry-on bag. Many of these finds are unisex.
Lhamour: the ground-breaking Mongolian skin care company is dedicated to making a positive social change in Mongolia, from the use of indigenous raw ingredients to where and how they are sourced, bringing employment to people in need from local communities.
Love, Indus: founder Surbhee Grover’s mission is to apply cutting-edge technology to revive and revitalize hyper-local practices and precious ingredients from the Indian subcontinent, including single-estate Darjeeling tea and golden mustard blossoms from Punjab.
Maroc Maroc: the well established spa brand found in some of Morocco’s most exclusive wellness destinations is now focused on bringing the luxury of hammams and definitively Moroccan ingredients (Atlas Mountain clay, argan oil, roses, neroli, and more) to US shores in its clean but luxurious packaging.
Mora Cosmetics: while Minara El-Rahman andJasmine Dayal devised Mora Cosmetics as a halal, clean, and vegan beauty line, pretty much anyone will agree with the company’s commitment to ethical working conditions, producing small batches to ensure high-quality product, and doing it all with sustainable practices to protect the planet. The Satin Sheen Multisticks pack lots of rich colour into a small solid format, making them a perfect travel companion.
Moremo: the South Korean hair and skin care line is not only known for its naturally derived ingredients, but its efficacy in improving the condition of dry damaged hair.
Plaine Products: we love the travel sized, carbon neutral, and refillable packaging holding shampoos, gels, and conditioners with fresh herbal scents.
SIIA: this colour cosmetics brand is K-beauty down to the core, from its skin care calibre ingredients to its wide range of shades. However, we think the For Your 5 Minutes 5 Dual dual-sided SIIA products kit is an inspired way to travel, down to how it can be colour-customized for the customer shopping the brand online.
Silex Skincare: we like this line for its smart vegan leather TSA-ready luxury travel case alone. However, what goes in the case is genius for frequent fliers. Three formulas (Layover Overnight Travel Repair, C-Level Vitamin C Antioxiant Serum and Nimbus Gel Moisturizer, all in plastic tubes made from sugar cane resin) are created to take on dryness and premature ageing caused by travelling at high altitudes.
Sun Coast: when you can’t get to the spa, you can bring your favourite spa experience home with lotions and scrubs inspired by the world’s most popular wellness destinations in Italy, Bali, Greece, Hawai‘i, Morocco, and Malibar.
Zodica Perfumery: while there’s a galaxy of astrology-inspired fragrances (Saggitarius is particularly yummy), the Wisconsin-based perfumery just launched its new line inspired by America’s great cities (Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, and Chicago) and their astrological charts (based on when they were founded) as well as Wisconsin.
Pragmatic and practical
CōTZ the Healthier Sunscreen: CōTZ (‘Contains only Titanium Zinc’) was launched in 2002 by a plastic surgeon as a collection of silky, comfortable all-mineral sunscreens that shield skin from harmful UVA–UVB rays while multitasking as a primer, tinted moisturizer.
Davids Toothpaste: Eric David Buss showcased his alternative to traditional drugstore toothpastes, made without fluoride, sulphates, artificial flavours or preservatives. It is formulated with locally sourced, naturally derived ingredients that safely and effectively whiten teeth, fight plaque, and freshen breath.
Hello Period: reusable, washable, and recyclable monthly supplies that are not only environmentally friendly, but make the cycle easier to ride out.
Sweetums, Inc.: a fresh new twist on clinical and traditional intimate wipes from Dr Alisa Brady, with both flavoured wipes that make intimate moments a bit more ‘tasteful’ and scented-only wipes for a dash of clean confidence on the go.
Like any trade show, there were a handful of old favourites returning, including Cinema Secrets (professional make-up artist supplies) and Kitsch (purveyors of wonderful hair clips and spa accessories filling up spa retail and boutiques’ shelves across the US). However, cosmetics’ brand Borghese managed to stir up nostalgia with its vanity-friendly classics (Advanced Fango Active Purifying Mud Mask, Bagno di Vita foaming shower gel, the Il Bacio fragrance) while introducing newer products (Restorative Eye Sheet Masks, Splendore Brightening Makeup) developed for changing tastes and beauty routines. The way the ladies manning the booth sat us down for a few minutes of primping and pampering had us fondly recalling the old days of department store cosmetics’ counters.
As a result, we enjoyed “IBE, version 2·0” as it enabled a greater exchange between entrepreneurs and a smaller group of journalists, and a more intimate look into the human side of what powers the new wave of brands, product lines, packaging, and philosophy. And with fewer, but more compelling things on display, we believe Lucire readers will be the better for it! •
Elyse Glickman is US west coast editor of Lucire.
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From issue 45 of Lucire and the May 2022 issue of Lucire KSA