Celebrate International Women’s Day With These Female-Founded Brands

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Courtesy of Ouai | Dibs Beauty

“I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man,” writes Sojourner Truth in her seminal work, Ain’t I A Woman? And the women of beauty, skin care, fragrance and hair care are constantly proving her right, taking on a male-dominated industry geared towards women and making it their own. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re bringing you the top women-owned, women-founded and women-run brands that blow us away with their quality.

Women’s Day is the perfect time to take a look at the women in beauty that aren’t just changing the gender landscape of the industry, but pushing forward with the latest in products and technologies. We’re not just honoring women for the sake of Women’s Day, but acknowledging the leaders in the industry and spotting the newcomers we’re excited for. This International Women’s Day, we’re talking award-winners, editor-favorites and the products we just can’t stop buying from the women who are defining the industry.

International Women’s Day

We celebrate International Women’s Day to acknowledge the contributions of women across fields, the rights won and that still must be won, and the progress made in the name of women’s rights. Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911, born of the labor movement of that time. And every women’s day since, we’ve seen the results of every woman’s hard work to get in the door and stay there.

But there’s still work to do.

According to a 2022 study from The MBS Group, about 75% of beauty brands are owned by men, despite their products catering almost exclusively to women. Board rooms and executive committees, despite major progress, are still dominated by (white) men, with racial diversity lagging even further behind gender diversity.

This Women’s Day, the theme of Invest in Women is particularly relevant, as many of the women on this list worked at their brands for years before receiving the investment needed to launch. It’s important to note that economic disparity still exists between men and women, and the more women we have at the helm, the more we close that gap.

The good news, though, is that more women than ever before are leading the way in beauty. These women are often at the forefront of innovations like waterless formulas, recyclable and biodegradable packaging, vegan and cruelty free products as well as cutting-edge technology. From every angle of the beauty industry, women are pushing for what’s next and what’s best, and we’re living in a better beauty world for it.

This is beauty for women, by women.

Women-Owned Beauty on Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is the best time to celebrate the women leading the way in quality beauty.

Pat McGrath, founder of Pat McGrath Labs

Veritable titan of the beauty industry and the creative vision behind the beauty looks for dozens of runway shows a season, Pat McGrath is so much more than a makeup artist. When she’s not working backstage or as the beauty editor at large for British Vogue, she’s constantly making headlines with her celeb-loved products.

Pat McGrath Labs, with its first launch in 2015, has quickly grown to powerhouse in beauty. Now in-store all over the country, the brand is responsible for major collaborations like Naomi Campbell-approved skin care and the first collaboration ever with Supreme New York, which sold out in a record 8.2 seconds in September 2020. This is alongside a line of skin, face, eyes and lip products that deliver on rich, high-quality formulas with skin-loving ingredients.


BUY NOW – $34

Anastasia Soare, founder of Anastasia Beverly Hills

A true American dream in action, Anastasia Soare started out as a Romanian immigrant in 1989. Now a hallmark name in the beauty industry, Soare started her journey with in-salon brow services that quickly gained celebrity clientele, thanks to her soon to be patented brow shaping method: Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping Method. Next was a flagship salon, debuting her brow method on Oprah! and selling in-store. But it wasn’t until around 2014, with the adoption of Instagram and the explosion of the online beauty community, that Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) released its iconic influencer-loved eyeshadow palette collaborations.

If those palettes had you in a choke-hold in the 2010s, you were not alone.

With 25 years in the business Anastasia Beverly Hills dedicates its products to building pro-level formulas that will extend beyond the lifetime of a trend. Alongside products for the eyes, lips and face, the brand has never lost sight of its original goal to provide the essentials for brow shaping and proportion.

BUY NOW – $26

Amy Liu, founder of Tower 28

Named for a real-life lifeguard tower, Amy Liu started Tower 28 with a vision: create a safe harbor in the beauty world for people who suffer with sensitive skin. Her own trials dealing with product-caused irritation and settling for boring clinical brands led her to create a carefully crafted beauty that didn’t sacrifice fun for that non-irritating label.

The result is award-winning skin care–infused beauty that delivers on pigment, application and longevity without causing skin-barrier damage. From serum-concealers infused with hydrating heroes to double-duty cream blush that’s perfect as a lip color, Tower 28’s ingredient-forward philosophy and dedication to clean ingredients makes it a stand out amidst brands.

BUY NOW – $20

Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier

First appearing on our screens back in 2007 in The Hills, Emily Weiss has gone from actor to business mogul in the last few years. From a fashion assistant at Vogue to blogging the beauty routines of the world’s most prominent people, Weiss transitioned in 2014 to starting Glossier. Quickly gaining ground with a valuation in the billions, Glossier is now a household name for huge names like Michelle Obama and Sydney Sweeney.

Since Glossier was born from the things Weiss learned during her beauty blogging days, the brand is all about inclusive, accessible prices for high quality formulas. Now evolved to include makeup, skin care and fragrance, Glossier is a force to be reckoned with.


BUY NOW – $22

Divya Gugnani and Lindsay Ellingson, founders of Wander Beauty

This busy duo are both moms, and it was the fast-paced environment of a mom-on-the-go that inspired the multi-tasking philosophy behind Wander Beauty. Gugnani, a serial entrepreneur, and Ellingson, a supermodel, wanted to create beauty products that fit their lifestyle, busy day and love of beauty. With an emphasis on mess-free packaging and application, this is the brand by and for moms who love beauty. Ellingson and Gugnani streamlined their offers to sleek multi-functional essentials that will never run out of style, backed by smart formulas.

Free from parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances and phthalates, Wander Beauty hosts an ingredient black-list to ensure only the best quality ingredients make it into their formulas.

BUY NOW – $26

Sasha Plavsic, founder of ILIA Beauty

After over a decade of pursuing her dream to create a skin care–powered beauty brand, ILIA is a powerhouse and an editor favorite for its luxurious look and high-performing products. While the brand was in development, Plavsic helped Sephora create their Clean at Sephora brand list to serve as acting guardrails for emerging beauty and skin-care brands, and sought to get to the bottom of what ‘clean beauty’ actually meant.

What was born from that investigation was a marriage of the best natural ingredients with the safest synthetics on the market. “I know there are many clean makeup brands coming to [Sephora], but we had to go through the ringer to prove that we could have that category there,” Plavsic told CEW in 2021. These days, they’re recognized as an industry leader in the space for their elegant, carefully crafted formulas.

BUY NOW – $48

Courtney Shields, founder of DIBS Beauty

Desert Island Beauty Status is an idea Courtney Shields knew would break through the clutter. Honing in on the makeup that goes everywhere and does everything, Shields pictured a brand populated only by the must-haves. And we must have. Their iconic formulas have made fans out of every editor, including Liz Ritter, executive editor. “I am obsessed with this multi-use stick,” Ritter explains. “One side is a blush, one side is a bronzer and there are so many shades to choose from. Besides being insanely hydrating, it also saves space in your bag by not taking up a ton of room.”

Since 2014, Courtney has built a loyal community of women, of over 1.3M followers, who have bonded through the highs and lows of real life. Through Courtney’s social media platforms and in-person meet-ups, she has been able to share real-life experiences, product recommendations and general advice on all things beauty, lifestyle, motherhood and everything in-between (including the hard stuff), to support her community and help them feel their best.

BUY NOW – $24

Women in Fragrance

The women redefining fragrance. This Women’s Day, we want to call out the taste-makers and innovators that are changing the world of perfume.

Shani Van Breukelen, Co-Founder of AYOND

Shani Van Breukelen is an African American/Dutch fashion alum from Central Saint Martins. Her journey towards co-founding AYOND in 2018 came from a surprising place. A burn survivor, Breukelen began experimenting with various ingredients to help heal her burns. Realizing the transformative potential of plant-based remedies in New Mexico, her experiences in the desert led to developing AYOND’s desert-backed skin-care and fragrance line.

BUY NOW – $160

Jennifer McKay Newton, founder of DefineMe

Borne from her desire to help her daughter experience self-confidence and self-empowerment, DefineMe is an all-natural fragrance brand powered by California-local manufacturing. Using sugarcane alcohol instead of ethanol, DefineMe creates a skin-friendly scent that allows for the natural notes to shine through the brightest. With a focus on self-worth scents, the brand emphasizes the connection between how an ingredient and a scent can make you feel comforted and loved.

BUY NOW – $48

Brianna Arps, founder of MOODEAUX

From beauty editor to fragrance CEO, Brianna Arps has been all over the beauty industry, and is ready to see it change. Focusing on providing clean, gender neutral fragrances that inspire the confidence, MOODEAUX employs the science of scent and mood to create a brand designed to pick you up. With scents like a “warm hug for the senses,” as Arps says, her line runs the gambit from a cozy night in to the punk-rocker in you that wants to be the center of attention.


Women-Founded Skin Care

The women leading the way in skin care. With so many men still controlling the industry, Women’s Day acknowledges the many women making waves in the industry.

Shani Darden, founder of Shani Darden Skin Care

Celebrity aesthetician and skin expert Shani Darden created her brand to give herself the products she couldn’t find herself. And from a flagship studio and custom-made products to send patients home with, an entire award-winning skin care line was born. Having recently celebrated her first product’s ten year anniversary, Darden’s celebrity-favorite Retinol Reform is still going strong as a world-wide bestseller.

BUY NOW – $89

Ju Rhyu, founder of Hero Cosmetics

Hitting $100 million in sales in just five years? That’s Ju Rhyu, founder of editor-favorite Hero Cosmetics and their iconic patches. Inspired by acne-fighting hydrocolloid skin patches in Korea, Rhyu made it her mission to see the patch design take off in the U.S. She was smart to do so, as the Might Patch now sells a box every two seconds.

BUY NOW – $13

Amy Ford, founder of Hello Sunday

Wanting to bring sun protection year round is an honorable goal, and Amy Ford believes that every day is a sun day. UV protection in mind, Ford started the concept for the brand during the early pandemic. Creating a product line that was positioned as a year-round skin care and sun solution in one, Ford wanted innovative packaging, formulas and application methods to traditional sunscreen. The result is the elegant and adorable Hello Sunday, which provides strong UV protection without sacrificing on good skin-care ingredients.

BUY NOW – $22

Kate Crosby, founder of Dionis Goat Milk Skin Care

An editor-favorite that I personally can’t stop buying, Dionis skin care is all about the nourishing properties of goat milk. With luxurious lotions and scrubs, Dionis combines heavenly natural scents with hard-working skin care to reveal soft, smoothed skin without irritation. Founder Kate Crosby started it all on her farm, naming her brand after a beach she loved in Nantucket and went into Cracker Barrel with her favorite goat to pitch her products in the 1980s. “She just walked into that store with a goat under her arm, asking whether they were interested in her products,” says current Dionis president Karen Minsky.

BUY NOW – $24

Jan Marini, founder of Jan Marini Skin Care

If you ever meet someone more obsessed with skin science than Jan Marini, no you didn’t. Marini lives and breathes skin care, and its through her industry knowledge and science-backed products that her skin care line has become a household name. A longtime NewBeauty Award winner, the Jan Marini Skin Care System focuses on power, limiting the sheer number of ingredients in order to make sure actives have the right amount to be effective. As a result, her line of carefully curated products are standouts in a sea of skin care.

BUY NOW – $330

Iskra Lawrence, founder of Saltair

A model, a mom and an entrapenure, Iskra Lawrence created Saltair for all to feel comfortable in their own skin. A brand ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) as well as L’Oréal for The Prince’s Trust, Lawrence’s self-love focused has helped make Saltair a star. Focused on actives, botanicals and nourishing ingredients, the brand owns the bath category in our hearts and minds.

BUY NOW – $12

Claudia Sulewski, founder of CYKLAR

Created from the desire to have truly recyclable, responsible beauty, Claudia Sulewski launched CYKLAR last year to her millions of Youtube and Instagram fans. Sulewski has been making online content since she was 13, and now 27, has collaborated with several major brands already. But this is all her. “I’ve never built my own brand or put my name on something as, here is 100 percent me,” she told Elle.com. With blank slate packaging that is refillable and won’t just end up in a landfill, the brand is also genderless with a sleek design.


BUY NOW – $58

Molly Sims from YSE Beauty 

50-year-old supermodel and founder of YSE Beauty, Molly Sims says she has the best skin of her life thanks to diving headfirst into skin care. Suffering from cystic acne for years, Sims turned to common helpers like prescription skin care and laser treatments, but found they prevented her from living the way she wanted. Her nine-product line rejects a “more is more” approach and instead focuses on gentle, effective ingredients that are safe enough to use every day without causing irritation or breakouts.

BUY NOW – $85

Martha Soffer, founder of Surya Spa

Martha Soffer, an internationally acclaimed Ayurvedic doctor, chef and herbalist, is renowned for her leadership at the authentic, artisan Ayurvedic spa, Surya Spa. With a skin care line focused on Ayurvedic practices and a spa in Santa Monica, many of Soffer’s offerings focus on prenatal and maternity care through pregnancy-safe oil massages. The spa itself embodies Ayurvedic wellness, with not only massages, but cooking and meditation classes as well as yoga on site.

BUY NOW – $98

Charlotte Knight, Founder of I Am Proud

Serial entrepreneur and beauty-space titan Charlotte Knight has not started one successful beauty brand, but several. From Lottie London and Ciaté London to I Am Proud (which includes hair and body care), Knight is behind some of the UK’s most successful brands. I am Proud takes on Gen Z directly to meet their skin, hair and body care needs with effective products at affordable prices. Their newest line, body care, brings the use of active ingredients from the skin of our face to everywhere else, opening up the world of skin care even further.

BUY NOW – $11

Women-Owned Hair Care

Hair care by women, for women.

La La Anthony, founder of INALA

After experimenting with rice water in her own home, La La Anthony knew that she had to find a way to bottle it. Enriched with proteins and essential nutrients for hair, Anthony’s home-brew rice water inspired a hair-repairing, thickening line that brings the best of natural hair care right to those who need it. The formula improves on the kind of rice water you can make at home and eliminates the time consuming steps needed to make it yourself, cutting out the middle man to provide everything from scalp rinses to styling products powered by rice.

BUY NOW – $55

Jen Atkin, co-owner of Ouai

Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin helped found Ouai with Dr. Lamees Hamdan with the goal of keeping boardroom decisions out of product development. Based in LA and created through community, Ouai’s products are industry-leaders in providing the best of hair care. Atkin herself has also worked with everyone from the Kardashian family to the Hadid family to apply her masterful hand to their long locks.

BUY NOW – $32

Jennifer Aniston, founder of LolaVie

She’s not just your favorite Friend, Jennifer Aniston is also the mind behind award-winning hair care line LolaVie. From product testing to creative development, Aniston had a hand in it all. The goal? To create an un-fussy, elegant solution to hair-care needs that could give anyone the hair of their dreams. The line employs the latest in hair-care science while employing the best renewable resources and recycling methods.

BUY NOW – $26

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