10 Standout Trends From Indie Beauty Expo’s 2018 Los Angeles Edition

If the existence of Beauty Independent wasn’t sufficient to confirm indie beauty isn’t merely a trend, the strength of Indie Beauty Expo’s third visit to Los Angeles provides excess proof. The number of brands at the trade show, which was held from Jan. 24 to 25 on the 13th floor of downtown’s California Market Center, climbed nearly 33% from last year to 150. Attendance soared 47% to almost 1,500 people, including 389 buyers (up 59% from 2017) from retailers the likes of Nordstrom, Costco, Goop, The Detox Market and Cult Beauty, and 156 members of the press (up 46%) from outlets such as Racked, Fat Mascara, PopSugar, Byrdie, Well + Good, Vogue, Glamour and Allure. Now that we’ve established indie beauty is a movement rather than a trend, let’s explore 10 actual trends spotted at IBE that rising indie stars are incubating and big beauty players are watching.

1. Intentional Manufacturing

The difference between products churned out by conglomerates and those made by indie brands doesn’t simply boil down to quantities. Indie beauty brand founders often care for their products like they would care for themselves. They’re incorporating myriad rituals (i.e., smudging and playing singing bowls) during production to garner goods that proffer positive energy to recipients.

Aim HI Every Day: The Hawaiian brand’s products come to fruition in a workspace that’s far from the norm. Founder Betty Guerre stations crystals throughout it and features them in Aim HI’s aromatherapy products. When she receives the stones from suppliers, she fills mason jars with ocean water to cleanse them, and they sit in the water under the moon for three days. In the production shop, Guerre smudges herself with palo santo or sage. “As it’s smoking, I whirl it around my body from bottom to top, winding the energy up. It’s very clearing,” she says. “Once I’m done with myself, I go around the room in a counterclockwise motion, and look at each corner and bring light and love into the space.”

Kailo Organic Chakra Therapy: This brand is for beauty and wellness enthusiasts attracted to energy work on full blast. Its product creation procedure involves color therapy, Tibetan singing bowls, crystals, affirmations and Bija mantras or one-syllable sounds. For example, rose quartz, Tibetan singing bowls played in an F note, the Bija mantra Yam, the affirmation “I love,” and green factor into Kailo’s Heart Charka Collection of body oil, essence and body butter offerings containing bergamot, palmarosa, lavender, lemon and geranium. “This is much more than body care. This is mind, body, spirit care,” says Kailo founder Kat Taylor.

Little Moon Essentials: The bath and body care brand is deeply connected to the lunar cycle. It mixes raw herbs like ginger and arnica and base oils such as sesame and olive oil on the day of a new moon, and lets them soak a complete moon cycle before extracting the herbs on the next full moon to place in merchandise Little Moon Essentials hand makes without machinery. “It gives it a little extra magic, a little more love and intention,” says Rae Steele, a coordinator for Little Moon Essentials.

2. Wondrous Water

Eleni & Chris: Inspired by the beauty of its homeland, Eleni & Chris puts a piece — or rather, drop — of Scandinavia in its skincare products. The highly-oxygenated glacier water from a natural, untouched source near the Arctic Circle in Northern Scandinavia is infused into the formulas along with omega oil from the water that flows through the region’s fjords. “It’s 3,000-year-old water that has revitalizing properties for both skin and hair,” says co-founder Christinah Nicolaisen of the hero H2O.

Ola Tropical Apothecary: For its body mists, Hawaiian mainstay Ola Tropical Apothecary journeys off the Kona Coast to capture seawater from 3,000 feet below the surface. The brand describes the water as some of the most nutritious on earth. It’s jam-packed with more than 90 minerals, notably calcium and magnesium. “It’s very, very pure. It’s the kind of water you want in your life,” gushes Robin Williams, co-founder of Ola Tropical Apothecary owner Hawaiian Body Products, noting it has a high alkaline pH to elevate skin hydration. To complete consumers’ trips to Hawaii, the mists boast a blend of organic and wildcrafted botanical distillates of sugar cane, bamboo, ginger, noni, olena and taro, and come in plumeria, pikake, passion fruit, coconut and rainforest options.

3. Step Up Your Shower

Level Naturals: Showers tend to be swift and practical. Even if they’re a few minutes, Level Naturals believes there’s no reason why showers shouldn’t be imbued with a bit of luxury. The brand’s Shower Bombs in organic menthol and cucumber, organic menthol and lavender, and organic menthol and eucalyptus varieties turn a daily chore into an invigorating practice. The bombs are laid on the floor of the shower, and the menthol and essential oils are activated by water. “It’s a beautiful way for non-bath users to get a spa like-experience,” says Celeste Bernabe, head of manufacturing and product development at Level Naturals.

IBE trends

KlenSkin: An arm of Colabs Intl. Corp, KlenSkin makes sunscreen application easier than ever. The brand’s Shower-on Sunscreen shampoo, face and body washes cover bodies with SPF 30 as users cleanse. KlenSkin sells soaps that leave on SPF 20, too. The products are especially great for guys who balk at lathering up with SPF. They’re powered by what KlenSkin dubs QuantaSphere encapsulated sunscreen that wraps the skin in a protective layer of non-allergenic active ingredients.

4. Personal Care As Pain Relief

The beauty category’s merger with wellness is bringing products to the fore in beauty previously reserved for the medical and nutrition sectors. Pain therapies are chief among those products. With CBD and aromatherapy on the upswing, beauty companies are perfectly situated to push into pain management.

Laki Naturals: Not everybody wants to pop pills for routine pain. For aspirin avoiders, Laki Naturals has developed Tension & Relief Headache Mist with papaya extract to address stress, aloe vera gel to relax tight muscles, and peppermint oil to calm the body and lessen nausea and sensitivity to noises and lights. “I am definitely seeing a big trend toward its popularity,” says Laki Naturals founder Tiffany Lerman. “Of course, we are not medical professionals, so we do stress that if someone’s headache persists, gets worse or they are having any other symptoms, they should see their healthcare provider. But, if you are someone who would like to try an alternative and see if peppermint oil helps with your occasional headaches, we would recommend giving our mist a try.”

Way Of Will: Essential oils-fueled body care brand Way of Will has released three aromatherapy remedies — Think Straight, Calm Down and Sleep Tight — to tackle an array of ailments from headaches to constipation. Founder Willie Tsang’s favorite is Sleep Tight. “Before I go to bed, I apply it onto my temple, behind my ears and wrist. The sandalwood essential oil in this product is so soothing that it actually makes me fall asleep within 10 minutes,” he reports. The women in the Way Of Will office douse themselves in Calm Down to fend off menstrual cramps. “Please keep in mind that these are not drugs, and no harsh chemicals are used. You cannot compare them with taking an Advil,” warns Tsang.

EiR NYC: Avid surfer and herbalist Jun Lee introduced EiR NYC with natural products such as zinc-enhanced Cooling Lip Balm and sunscreen Surf Mud suited to her active lifestyle, and antidotes to the soreness and skin damage that lifestyle causes. The brand’s Rolling Liniment Heat Rub is on the pain relief end of the product spectrum. The mentholated herbal roll-on oil is spread topically to mend muscular discomfort and heal headaches and relieve stress.

IBE trends

5. A Cornucopia Of Collagen

As the beauty segment embraces ingestibles, collagen has arisen as a key ingredient in several forms. Emerging brands, ingestible or external, are proliferating with new takes on the protein to differentiate themselves and attract customers who might not be keen on bovine sources.

La Sirène: The hunger for ingestibles isn’t satiated, and dietary supplement specialist La Sirène has entered the beauty market with a pescaterian-friendly contribution. The brand’s sustainably-sourced collagen is derived from the scales of wild-caught Tilapia and formed into a powder for swallowing purposes. La Sirène makes its collagen available in three formulations that are doled out in 30 single-packet servings: 100% Natural Marine Collagen, Blueberry with Acai Extract and Co Q10, and Orange with Vitamins C, E and Co Q10.

Te Mana Skincare: The New Zealand brand is pulling the wool over our skin with two new uses of the seminal sweater material. Te Mana incorporates finely-milled New Zealand merino wool and collagen derived from the wool in its newest product duo: Ultra Soft Polishing Balm and Overnight Rehab Mask. It describes merino wool proteins as identical to the proteins present in human skin, giving the wool-derived collagen unique abilities to interact with the skin’s structure.

6. Climate Concepts

With worries over climbing temperatures growing, nascent beauty brands are crafting formulas that respond to shifting weather patterns.

Ogee: The skincare brand is showcasing the versatility of jojoba, its key ingredient, by touting its benefits for customers in a multiplicity of climates. Specifically, Ogee’s new Jojoba Hydration Day Cream is centered on an emulsifier designed to adapt to surrounding conditions. Ogee co-founder Abbott Stark explains, “Whether we’re in the Arizona desert or in the high Brazilian summer where the humidity is off the charts, the emulsifier is going to feel the same on the skin.”

Pour Moi: The self-proclaimed first climate smart skincare line, Pour Moi challenges the assumptions underscoring skin types thought to be primarily genetically programmed. Founder Ulli Haslacher worked with international scientists to tailor the brand’s products to address skin conditions that manifest in polar, desert and tropical environments. “The most important thing is to focus on the climate that you live in and travel to,” instructs Pour Moi beauty director Molly Nover-Baker. “Signs of external aging can be addressed and improved by focusing on what’s happening to your skin in the climate you’re in.”

Uliv: Aesthetician and Uliv founder Lishawn Lalonde has encountered clients adhering to skin classifications that don’t reflect their realities. “A lot of them were diagnosed with combination skin or oily skin or dry skin at a certain point in their life, and they’re stuck there. [They thought,] ‘This is who I am, this is the kind of product I need,’” she says. Instead of skin types, Lalonde built Uliv’s products to adjust to the four seasons and the continual transformations of skin. “We’re a corrective skincare line that concentrates on four different major areas or situations that people struggle with,” she says.

Bryt Skincare: Catkin Wemyss Bodmer, founder of Bryt Skincare, is a skeptic of stringent skin types. “Skin is constantly evolving and constantly under pressure from outside forces, whether that be environmental or internally,” she says. “If we live in an urban environment, or where temperatures fluctuate dramatically, if we are exposed to the sun, these will directly affect our skin and how we need to treat it.” Instead of defining its products by skin type, Bryt has assembled a three-step system encompassing a cleanser, serum and sun protector that can be modified depending on the state of the skin. Pointing out that Bryt’s lineup has four serums, Wemyss Bodmer elaborates, “Serums can be used consistently or can be interchangeable to help manage the effects of external activity and exposure.”

7. From SPICE RACKS To Skincare PRoducts  

Tumeric tuned the beauty market into the power of ingredients traditionally used in cooking. Brand founders have moved beyond turmeric to integrate a bevy of spices and herbs that they’re accustomed to eating into beauty solutions.

Joon: Concocted out of saffron, pistachio and rose oils, Joon’s debut hair product pays homage to founder Shiva Tavakoli’s grandfather Jalil who sold Persian herbs and spices to the European market, and her grandmother Akram who whipped up delicious dishes with them. The elixir oil, which has been acquiring five-star customer reviews, relies on saffron to strengthen the hair shaft and pistachio to inject moisture into manes. In combination, the ingredients boost shine and overall hair health.

Honey Belle: With Honey Belle’s bestselling DIY Detox Charcoal Cardamom mask, beauty shoppers receive a twin punch of super-hot skincare ingredients. The activated charcoal in the formula draws out bacteria, and the cardamom, a potent antioxidant, promotes vitality, fights fine lines and kicks age spots to the curb. The mask gives customers the options of choosing water, milk, honey or aloe bases according to their personal preferences, and it doubles as a spot treatment.

Svati Organics: Clinical aromatherapist Lindsay Wolf founded Svati to support Southern India by producing formulas with ingredients indigenous to the area and devoting a portion of the line’s proceeds to causes tied to it. The brand’s lightweight body serum depends on ingredients such as green tea and cardamom to rev up circulation and ward off signs of aging. In addition, Svati employs other ingredients consumers might find on their plates such as watermelon, pumpkin and coriander.

IBE trends

8. Teamwork Makes A Product Work

Unity isn’t just a political rallying cry. Beauty brands are increasingly joining forces on products to leverage their diverse strengths and celebrate their shared indie credentials.

The Vanity Project: Solo projects can sometimes can be a drag, so The Vanity Project invited fellow brands Lovability, XO Mints and Good Clean Love to participate in a case bursting with mini items for lovers. Aimed at the hospitality arena, the case, which houses The Vanity Project’s feminine wipe biddettes, is already in the Granada Hotel and Bistro in San Luis Obispo and will head to the Skyview Hotel in Los Alamos, Calif. “It was important to us, as a female-owned business, that we included as many other brands that are female-owned as we can. At the very least, we wanted the product to be geared toward women,” says Gina Wood, wholesale and operations manager at The Vanity Project.

9. Ear Gear

The beauty industry has a habit of making staid products and modalities pretty sexy and sophisticated. It’s done so for supplements and water bottles, and acupuncture may be the next subject of an upscale makeover.

Vie Healing: The holistic brand is modernizing the ancient art of acupuncture with luxurious 24-karat gold ear seeds. “They stimulate points on the ears that correlate to different reflex centers in the brain to trigger relaxation all over the body,” says Beverly Hills acupuncturist and Vie Healing founder Mona Dan. While auriculotherapy — or ear acupuncture — is nothing novel, Dan was displeased with the Band-Aid-like appearance of traditional ear seeds and fashioned the 24-karat gold ear seeds as a stylish alternative for clients who like to look cool as they chill out.

IBE trends

10. Eco Makeup Goes High Performance

Natural makeup is associated with natural looks, and there’s nothing wrong with a subtle dab of nude lip color and an understated swipe of beige eyeshadow. However, many women seek to ramp up their glamour games, and green cosmetics brands are delivering improved color payoff to them for extra fierce faces.

Nude & Noir: Created to withstand long hours on photo shoots and the bright lights of the red carpet, Nude & Noir’s palettes can be used for versatile, fashion-forward looks on any skin tone. The four deeply-pigmented palettes include four shades to highlight, sculpt and add color. The brand prides itself on being eco-conscious, and doesn’t stray from 100% vegan and cruelty-free formulations. Its packaging is crafted out of recyclable materials. Nude & Noir offsets the power necessary to produce the packaging by purchasing renewable energy credits. 

IBE trends

The Organic Skin Co.: The New Zealand import taps highly concentrated ingredients, including organic pomegranate and calendula, to yield highly concentrated cosmetic results. Bestsellers include cream eyeshadows, lip jars and lipsticks that deposit hefty doses of vibrant pigments to perform — no matter the lighting. They’re certainly selfie-approved.