This past weekend, London hosted its inaugural Beauty Week. It's not on the same scale as Fashion Week (yet!), with which it coincided, but it shows promise of growing into something worth Instagramming in the near future. After all, as Millie Kendall, CEO of The British Council, explains, the two industries are inextricably bonded—one just tends to get more attention than the other. "Fashion is very much a part of beauty and vice versa, we work on the shows backstage, we create looks seen on the catwalk and beyond, and some of the most heralded beauty brands and fragrances stem from fashion houses and the people that work behind the scenes to make the looks happen," she says. London Beauty Week is a way to bring the behind-the-scenes industry to the forefront. "We have always felt like the industry has been popular, we needed to value it to prove that to policy-makers and business leaders."
With this new (hopefully ongoing) event, the British Council in collaboration with Covent Garden—the neighborhood in which the events took place—are able to "show off our success, our economic, and social contributions." And they managed to do that this year with installations from brands like Weleda and Molton Brown, games hosted by Glossybox, and panels about sustainability and consciousness and wellness. Perhaps most notable was a competition titled Next British Beauty Brand, which invited start-up companies to enter to win the chance to receive business mentoring from industry leaders and a pop-up store in central London.
The U.K. isn't exactly known for its innovation in the beauty space. Brand-wise, there's Elemis and Simple and Charlotte Tilbury, but I challenge you to name, say, five more beauty brands. Chances are you can't. But with the help of Beauty Week and the growing international beauty market, that's starting to change.
There are a bunch of companies coming out across the pond that are sustainable, eco-conscious, and effective—and, ahead, we bring you our favorites. Some were entered into the Next British Beauty Brand competition, but most we simply think are worth having on your radar.
Photo via Five Dot Botanics
Prompted to start a brand after becoming overwhelmed by the 30 to 40 ingredients listed on their products, founders Zaffrin and Brian O'Sullivan launched Five Dot Botanics with an aim to do more with less. Each of the five items (an eye and face serum, balancing mist, face oil, and mask) include only five vegan, plant-based ingredients. By pairing down what they use, they're able to provide transparency and clarity for their customers. Minimalist beauty brands aren't exactly new, but here's hoping they continue to be the norm.
Photos from Emulsion Cosmetics
If you've ever wanted to create your own perfect-for-you product, Emulsion Cosmetics provides an opportunity for customers to do just that. Channeling a personalization ethos, the brand encourages beauty fans to choose a base, essential oils, and fragrance and concoct their own face creams, conditioners, and shower gels based on their needs. If the process seems a bit daunting, don't worry, the brand will hold your hand throughout the whole thing.
Photo via Depixym
This gender-neutral brand made for everyone and anyone might actually not be great for those afraid of a little color. Founded by two former beauty editors, Depixym offers up an impressive range of what they call "cosmetic emulsions," which are packaged in raw aluminum tubes that look like they should also come with an easel and palette. Look to the brand's Instagram for inspiration, but customers are invited to paint whatever it is they please on their canvas of choice—be it yourself, a friend, or family member. From a simple colorful cat-eye to an all-over skull moment, the only rule is to have fun with it.
Photo via Radswan
Started as Big Hair Don't Care and set to relaunch this fall as RadSwan, this conscious brand is made with the global African diaspora in mind. The company, founded by U.K. blogger and influencer Freddie Harrel, creates lace-front wigs and clip-ins for the women who want some variety with their everyday look but might be lacking in funds, time, or skill. Choose from curly or blown-out protective styles, which are meant to encourage you to keep your own natural hair healthy and growing.
Photo via Axiology
Clean, vegan, and cruelty-free, Axiology has managed to create the only 10-ingredient lipstick on the market. And if you've ever looked up what goes into even some of the most popular lipsticks out there, you'll know that's a feat. Plus, it has significant color payoff—another rare accomplishment for a clean makeup brand. While skin care has rapidly entered the "natural" beauty conversation, cosmetics is lagging a bit behind. Axiology is helping to change that.
Photo via Disciple
Psychodermatology brand Disciple takes a therapeutic approach to skin care. Founder Charlotte Ferguson was in her 30s when she developed alopecia and cystic acne due to stress and decided to dig deep into how excess cortisone affects the body and the ingredients that help to lower the levels. With that information, she formulated a batch of products that are meant to nurture the skin rather than attack it. Rich with adaptogens and prebiotics, the line made up of mostly oils and face mists is about creating a mind, body, soul philosophy around how to treat your skin.
Photo via Verdant Alchemy
Speaking of wellness, Verdant Alchemy was created by Vivien Leung as a way to encourage herself and others to slow down. A natural and non-toxic alternative to the mass of body products on the market, the brand's main focus is therapeutic mineral bath salts and the benefits they have on the body and nervous system. Leung brought her nightly ritual of baths and turned it into something she could share with others, whether they're in need of muscle recovery or a little help drifting off.
Photo via Floral Street
London is a city best experienced in the spring or summer. That is, the months when the gardens, and therefore the flowers, are in full bloom and can be fully appreciated. The Brits do plants very well, whether they're hanging outside a pub or crawling up the side of the Barbican Conservatory. With that said, it's fitting that a perfume brand called Floral Street would come from this ever-blooming city with scents—from black lotus to wonderland peony—that are just as fragrant and delightful as you'd expect.
Photo via BYBI
Popular on the internet, beauty brand BYBI is about far more than just the influencers that tout it. Products include, of course, a trendy CBD oil and a moisturizer called Babe Balm, but don't start rolling your eyes just yet. The company is natural, vegan, eco-friendly (97 percent of the packaging is recyclable), and cruelty-free. Plus, the products work. So, if it takes someone who got famous on Instagram to get people to pay attention to a brand that's actually doing some good, we're okay with that.