Seven Innovators That Are rē•spinning the Beauty Industry
These forward-thinkers are shaping the future of beauty
We don’t need to tell you that skincare plays a significant role in countless self-care routines, often serving as a twice-daily check-in upon waking and before bed. But separately from the nutrient-rich active ingredients we mindfully massage onto our faces, the beauty industry is thriving. It was valued at $511 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach the low $700 billion by 2025.
As such a massive market, a great deal of attention is paid to tracking the different skincare trends emerging and shaping its evolution. For instance, some of these tendencies can emerge from the top-down among industry insiders and experts. They can even come from the bottom-up, initiated by the consumer, but the origins are truly endless. One shift to note has indicated changes in values by younger consumers — away from cosmetics and towards the more wellness-adjacent notion of skincare. The rise of beauty supplements has also heralded in the age of ingestible beauty from within. Conscious shifts towards sustainability, “cleaner” means of functionality, and sourcing by consumers and companies alike serve as evidence.
The changes to come are not accidental; we can only hope it indicates a growing global interest in promoting wellness for self, others, and the planet. Leaders and advocates within the industry have been spearheading causes, helping to change the tide regarding how we think about beauty collectively. Here are seven beauty innovators rē-shaping the beauty industry, from combating stigma to promoting skin minimalism.
Dr. Elsa Jungman, Microbiome Researcher
You’ve likely noticed pre-, pro-, and postbiotics showing up in skincare, and this is due to the growing body of research pointing to its importance for overall health — including the skin. Skin microbiome researcher Dr. Elsa Jungman, CEO and founder of Dr. Elsa Jungman, likens the microbiome to being a sort of biological “Rosetta Stone” for skin health. “Your skin health is inseparable from its microbiome [and] thanks to more accurate scientific tools, we can understand and learn about specific microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, and the role they play in your skin’s health,” she says. Her team has already identified distinct microbiome profiles that can be linked to your skin type and age. This evidence-based research shows that minimal and microbiome-friendly skincare can promote the growth of “good” bacteria.
As the first brand to achieve a certified microbiome-friendly label by MyMicrobiome, they are leaders in driving the understanding of the microbiome forward. “We are continuing with our clinical research focusing on understanding the impact of the skin microbiome on women’s overall health.”
Dr. Julius Few of The Few Institute, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
This integrative plastic surgeon already coined the term “Four-Dimensional Beauty.” Now, Dr. Few is one of the first medical doctors to champion the use of CBD in skincare. A fan of anti-inflammatory skincare in general, he created the first clinically-tested, anti-aging CBD retinol cream for the skin. The Few Institute will be publishing the study, helping the industry to identify and clinically substantiate the benefits of water-soluble CBD — found in Aforé Beauty CR Emulsion.
“When I began seeing patients in Beverly Hills, I was exposed to cannabis and became very curious about its potential benefits. I realized that very little work was done to research the medicinal properties of cannabidiol on the skin, largely because my colleagues disregarded it without consideration,” Dr. Few tells rē•spin. “That was enough for me to take another look and subject the compound to clinical research and, ultimately, development.” By bringing CBD into the luxury, evidence-based space, your complexions will benefit.
Annie Jackson of Credo, Clean Beauty Advocate and Retail Co-Founder
“The catalyst for Credo has been a parallel to [opening those first Sephora stores in the late 1990s], but with a second generation of entrepreneurs and makers who are passionate about the beauty category, but are conscientious and informed about the harmful ingredients that exist in most conventional products,” says Annie Jackson, co-founder of Credo. What Credo has done for the health-conscious consumer is to get the extensive vetting process out of shopping for beauty products, pre-screening the brands they carry, and making their standards for inclusion transparent.
“The brands we look for are the most selective group of passionate entrepreneurs that are all determined to be part of this movement to bring beauty and health together,” she says. “They have a profound and holistic approach to their vision.” While she laments the fear-mongering and greenwashing that tends to discredit the actual ambitions of the “clean” space, Credo stays focused on the big picture. She advocates for greater brand transparency regarding waste and supply chain, as well as pertinent legislation at the state- and federal levels.
Greta Fitz of ASCENTION, Ethical Crystal-Infused Fragrance Creator
Greta Fitz is yet another founder that is passionate about merging beauty and wellness. After two decades of creating, developing, and marketing products for big beauty brands like L’Oréal, Coty, and Shiseido, she ventured into the clean fragrance space in 2014. She has since created a trustworthy indie line called ASCENTION. It sets itself apart as a clean, vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable, and eco-consciously crafted fragrance line. “I’d rather my customers focus on their feel-good intentions with scent to elevate their minds without having to worry about the ingredients,” Fitz says, noting that all ingredients are responsibly, sustainably, and ethically sourced — including the crystals that come with each scent.
After turning to alternative modalities like reiki and meditation to align her chakras in her own healing journey, she decided to combine her lifelong love of crystals with the therapeutic aspects of scent therapy. “ASCENTION bridges the gap between scent and wellness,” she says. “It pairs aromatherapy-inspired perfume with ethically-sourced crystals and a mantra card to condition positive, feel-good vibes [that are] rooted in self-care… It’s not just about smelling good, but more about feeling good.”
Krupa Koestline of KKT Consultants, Clean Cosmetic Chemist
Cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline formulates skincare and beauty products for countless brands. But as a “clean” cosmetic chemist, she is downright revolutionary in selecting and sourcing ingredients. “First and foremost, I am inspired by nature,” she tells rē•spin, noting that she will turn to the natural source of an active ingredient whenever possible. “As a scientist, I have always looked at science itself as an emanation of nature… I prefer formulating with plant-derived ingredients because they tend to be more stable and already have molecules that work synergistically with each other and your body.”
With a degree in biotechnology, she considers the entire picture holistically — from ingredient sourcing (and fair labor practices) to how they are processed, to the ethics of the supply chain and its carbon footprint, the preservative system, and the biodegradability of the ingredient itself. “As we all know, ‘clean’ is not a regulated term, and there is no such industry-wide standard. Because of this, I feel that a large responsibility to define it falls on chemists. My philosophy has always been using ingredients that are safe for the skin, safe for overall health, and safe for the environment.”
Dr. Antony Nakhla of Eighth Day, Board-Certified Dermatologist
Many argue that biotechnology is the direction of the future, and the success of Eighth Day is a testament to that. The Orange County-based dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon is the founder of the skincare company, whose wildly popular Regenerative Serum seeks to bring the beauty industry away from the myth and glamour of whimsical brand stories — and back to science. Their notoriety is due to the innovative active ingredient they developed, Peptide Rich Plasma®, which contains twenty-four synthetic, bioidentical peptides, growth factors, and amino acids that mimic the skin’s own cellular signals to bring about impressive results.
“We are changing the way you think about treating skin,” says Dr. Nakhla. “Eighth Day is bringing to light the fact that the human body is its own entity and that human cells possess unique characteristics which are not present in other organisms, like plant cells. Most notably, an innate ability to heal and repair itself with messenger molecules that you can tap into.” Along with glycolic acid, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, GABA, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and more, work with the biomimetic active ingredient to “speak the language of your skin cells” for downright revolutionary results.
Dr. Ben Van Handel of Heraux, Stem Cell Biologist and Epigenetic Skincare Founder
Epigenetics looks at the way that stress impacts the genetic expression of our genes. When applied to skincare, this looks more specifically at inflammation (or inflammaging) that leads to these unwanted genetic expressions (like, say, aging). Dr. Ben Van Handel, the co-founder of Heraux, used his background as a stem cell biologist to develop an active ingredient called HX-1 that essentially protects the skin against this unwanted effect. “Chronic inflammation greatly accelerates molecular damage in our skin stem cells, resulting in irreversible epigenetic changes and changing the fitness of skin cells,” he says. “The active ingredient HX-1 shields skin stem cells from the impact of chronic inflammation, restoring them to their youthful, functional capacity and protecting them from unwanted epigenetic alterations.” As the largest organ of our body, it makes sense that the cause of underlying disease thus leads to undesirable effects on the skin.