The Most Badass Babes In Beauty

We've all heard of the grandes dames of the beauty industry: the Estée Lauders, the Elizabeth Ardens, and the Essie Weingartens. But, as the industry has exploded in size over the past few decades, there's emerged a new crop of ladies who are taking it by storm — and, we must say, they're pretty badass.
They've infused nail polishes with neon colors, created jaw-dropping hairstyles for runway shows, and made consumers see the light when it comes to organic skin care. Basically, they're shaking things up in a field that was getting a little snooze-happy.
But, for all they're doing, many of us don't know their names or their fascinating stories. And, we should, because each one of them is a study in tapping into your potential and releasing your inner badass. So, we sat down with 13 of the biz's biggest disruptors to learn their secrets, from how they got their start to what makes them feel beautiful. Ahead, allow us to introduce you to your new career (and maybe life) inspirations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Iman.
Iman, founder of Iman Cosmetics
It’s downright impossible to talk about badass women in the beauty industry without referencing Iman. After bursting onto the scene as a high-fashion model in the mid ’70s, she wielded her power to create Iman Cosmetics, a pioneering makeup and skin-care line that catered to women of color — women who had, until that point, been underrepresented in the world of fashion and beauty. Iman’s vision has since led to a healthy career that includes her groundbreaking book The Beauty of Color, which was the first makeup guide for women of color. The best part about her, though? She's still insanely down to earth — and hilarious.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
“The whole concept of Iman cosmetics started on my first modeling job in 1975. The makeup artist didn’t have any foundation for me; he just had shades that matched the white models on the shoot, and he asked if I’d brought my own foundation. So, I was really tired of the notion of 'black and white beauty' in the industry and what was available in the marketplace. And, the whole world was changing, with a whole new way of looking at beauty that wasn’t represented in the industry. The global aspect and multicultural aspect was happening in the streets, but it wasn’t reflected in the world of beauty. I mean, there were Asian girls walking around with dreadlocks! I wanted to put a new face and a new language on what beauty is and what beauty means to a new generation of beauty. So, I was really trying to create a brand and a beauty company that was more about the skin tone of a person.”

What do you think the main issue is with how the industry approaches “ethnic” beauty?
"Well, first of all, get rid of the word ethnic. [Editor's note: Preach it, sister.] Your ethnic background does not really determine what your skin tone is. In my family, we’re all different skin tones, and that’s one household. So, it was really just about options.

"If you go into a lot of cosmetic stores, you still have the ethnic section in the back. It’s like, if you’re a company that caters to just women of color, you’re sold differently. I wanted there to be options for us. While larger companies are now becoming more inclusive, there are still more options for women with paler skin. I was the first company to create bronzers for skin of color, to put SPF in our products, to think of skin care and technology for women of color."

Tell me about The Beauty of Color.
"It was definitely an extension of myself. The whole book is a celebration of skin of color, whether you’re from Brazil or Malaysia or New Delhi. There wasn’t a book that celebrated the variety of women in all of their shades and tones. I specifically write about all women — like Cameron Diaz and Salma Hayek and Halle Berry. They don’t fall into that 'black or white' beauty category I spoke of earlier. And, that’s what I was trying to show. It’s a different world now, where we celebrate beauty for beauty as is. We are all made up of so many things. Our skin color is not the whole of us. The whole thing I love about cosmetics is the universality of it — no matter where a woman is born, economically or otherwise, we’re all looking to look beautiful. That's what we have in common."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"When I’m loved by my family — the people who know me very, very well. To be loved by the people you love makes you beautiful."

If you could leave one lasting impression on the beauty industry, what would it be?
"That you should love the skin that you’re in. We should celebrate that. It’s really a universal thing to look beautiful, but it starts with you."

What is one thing you’d like to see changed about the industry?
"It hasn’t really changed a whole lot since I was starting. The absence of different types of people makes young girls who look at these tabloid magazines feel not beautiful because their images are not in it. For me, it’s a self-esteem issue, for young girls especially, and I’d like that to be different — especially since I have a young daughter myself. Regardless of what I say to her, what her peers say is gospel. So, what you want to do is arm her with an understanding.

"I’m so perplexed and so freaked out about how younger and younger women are trying to have plastic surgery. They see beauty as beauty aesthetics. 'If I had the nose and the lips and the legs and the waist' — it’s aesthetics, broken down into little pieces. But, you have to find something more than what your aesthetics are. It’s not the pieces of us; it’s the whole of us."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"You really have to start by being kind to yourself. Just get out of your own head! Find something else that is tangible in you, that is great about you, that you can actually harness aside from your aesthetics. It’s become an obsession, and the reason it’s becoming an obsession is because they see it as fixable. In my day, you couldn’t fix it, so you just got along with it! Halle Berry once said, 'My pigment is just a small part of who I am.' If women stopped and realized that the small pieces of themselves didn’t define them, we’d be well on our way to feeling more beautiful about ourselves."
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Photo: Courtesy of Janine Lee.
Aretha Sack and Janine Lee, cofounders of Floss Gloss
When Janine and Aretha met at California College of the Arts, it was a match made in nail-lacquer heaven. Aretha, a painting major, had been mixing up her own neon hues for years. Janine, who was studying fashion, saw the genius behind Aretha’s shades and pushed the duo to start their own nail line. Thus, they birthed Floss Gloss, an indie nail-polish collection focused on fluorescent colors, gorgeous bottles, and pure lavishness.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own nail-polish line?
Aretha Sack: “When I was a little tomboy, and I would go to the grocery stores in Texas with my mom, I’d be so bummed at the nail-polish options they had. I didn’t like red or pink back then, and I thought, Why aren’t there other nail-polish colors? So, I’d just buy colors — the primary ones — and mix them to get the colors I wanted. I kept doing this right up until I went to art school in Oakland. This is where I met Janine, and we’d just get together and mix colors and paint nails.”
Janine Lee: “We just wanted a rainbow of colors in our budget that weren’t all pink and red. Plus, we hated the way nail-polish bottles looked, and we wanted to create ones that were like little accessories.”

Tell me a little about how you got off the ground.
JL: “We’d have these paint sessions and take photos of our nails. It was right around the time Tumblr was starting, so we made a nail Tumblr and would document our manicures there. People started asking us where we’d buy the colors, and then they just started buying one-off bottles right out of Aretha’s painting studio at school.”
AS: “It kind of snowballed until we just said f*ck it and went full-in to building this brand. We created a rainbow of colors — everything that people were telling us they wanted and needed but weren’t getting. That was the big thing for us — filling that void.”

Your products are cruelty-free. Why was that important to you?
JL: "It was a very conscious decision on our part because our brand is all about designing for the customer and what she wants and needs. We also wanted to create something that we ourselves wanted to wear. Because, if we don’t need it, why should we make it?”
AS: "There’s also the fact that we’re still mixing a lot of our initial formulas ourselves. We’re breathing it in and basically eating it, so it’s good that it’s not so toxic. You want it to perform, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad for you.”

Do you think nail art is on the decline?
JL: "I don’t think that nail art will ever really be dead. The general population may be getting tapped out of it.”
AS: "They’re definitely getting tapped out of it. It’s reached the mass-market peak for sure, so it’s no longer Tumblr chicks. We love nail art, but, essentially, we’re just about color. The art was the beautiful, hard-to-find colors. I think nail polish is more where people are putting their money.”

How has the nail industry changed since you guys kicked off?
AS: "I’m so surprised by what I can find in CVS! The crazy colors we pioneered are so mass market now. I remember camping outside of specialty stores to get the new launches or stalk them out online. It’s also crazy to see the amount of colors that are coming out. Like, I thought I’d never have lived to see the day where some of these bigger brands were putting out neon colors."

Why do you think there is such a crazy, cult following when it comes to nails?
JL: "You know, we both kind of came from hippie moms. They would never wear makeup, but they’d always have their nails done. It just falls into this strange place — even men are painting their nails now."
AS: "I think what she’s trying to say is that nails are this weird spot in between beauty and fashion. They’re like an accessory. It’s like, people won’t wear turquoise lipstick, but they’ll paint that color on their nails. People who aren’t super into cosmetics still want nails because it’s like fashion."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
JL: "Seriously? Just YOLO! You only live once, so you might as well change your nail-polish color. You can change it back tomorrow."
AS: "When we started, I was super nervous, but my father said something to me. He said, 'Aretha, just get on the back of the motorcycle and ride.' The business is tough, but it’s really just about having fun. And, that’s kind of the message we’d like to share."
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Photo: D. DaSilva/Rex USA
Miranda Kerr, founder of Kora Organics
As a successful model, Miranda Kerr was extremely particular about what she put on her skin. Specifically, she was looking for a certified-organic skin-care line that suited her needs. When she couldn't find one, she did the next most logical thing: She created her own. Now, Kerr is helping to pave the way for organic skin care while educating women on the benefits of wholesome ingredients.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
"What I was looking for was a certified-organic skin-care range that actually had results. It’s important to me to have certification so the customers know they’re getting what they’re paying for. They have that assurance."

What has been the most rewarding part of your job since starting Kora?
"Our products are really empowering people to be their best and feel their best. I love hearing the stories from my customers. I’ve had mothers who have had great results using the products on their children. There was one woman with a daughter with psoriasis that cleared up in a week after using Kora. It’s validated me because the products are truly mine — I invested my own money, put my heart and soul into it."

When did you first discover the benefits of organic ingredients?
"I grew up in a country town learning the benefits of organics. Noni is one of the ingredients I use a lot in my products — it has over 170 vitamins and minerals. My grandmother introduced it to me, I drink it every day, and I would apply it to my face if I had a breakout. I’d have these incredible results, so I started working on products that I really wanted for myself."

How did your modeling career influence Kora Organics?
"Modeling gave me a face, and with that face, I had a voice. And, with that voice, I was able to encourage people to make healthy choices. Life is about a balance. I’m not super strict with everything, even when it comes to my diet. But, it’s important to make conscious choices and educated choices. I’m a certified health coach, and having that knowledge, it’s ever evolving. This has really been a passion project of mine."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"After a good night’s sleep and a nice shower, mainly. But, I just think it’s important for people to do what they’re passionate about, and that’s what I’m doing."

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your own business?
"There’s a lot of people out there who are uneducated about the benefits of organic skin care. So, being able to educate them and raise awareness is something that I feel really good about."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"I would suggest that women find what makes them feel good and not necessarily follow a trend. When it comes to finding confidence, you’ve got to be comfortable with who you are on the inside. People should be celebrated for being the individuals they are and not feel like they have to fit into a certain mold. I’m all about encouraging women to embrace their individuality. I feel like, as women, we should build each other up and encourage each other, and that’s what I strive to do."
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Photo: Courtesy of Odile Gilbert.
Odile Gilbert, hairstylist
Don't let the short title fool you — Odile Gilbert is one of the most sought-after hairstylists in the world. And, while she's a fixture backstage during Fashion Week, her work extends beyond the runway: She is the genius behind some of the most gorgeous fashion editorials of all time and whipped up the dreamy styles of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. In an industry that’s so male-dominated, Gilbert carved out a space for herself and continues to innovate. It also helps that she’s one of the most hilarious, kind-hearted professionals we’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with.

Tell me a little about how you got started in hair.
"I started when I was 18 years old in a hair school in France. After that, I came to work with a big stylist in Paris. I became his assistant. I worked with him for five years. He worked for movies, fashion editorial, and shows. He was an art director. After I was done with him, I moved to New York and started working more with magazines and design houses."

Was it hard breaking into the industry as a woman? It’s still very male-dominated, but it was especially so back then.
"It’s actually funny — since I have such a unique first name, in the beginning, when I was going to magazines, people didn’t know I was a girl. I’d walk into the shoots and they’d be like, 'Oh! You’re a girl!' I never fully understood that it was a male industry — I was just doing what I loved. I especially love my work because I am a girl, and I enjoy hair and fashion and everything about being a girl. I can see it from both sides because I can wear it, and I have to work in it.

"I was just trying to make things that were beautiful. And, that’s the most important thing. If they like the hair, they shouldn’t ask themselves whether you’re a girl or not."

Tell me about what a day in your life is like. Which products do you use? Who do you interact with?
"I use a lot of products for Kérastase for the fashion shows. I do use John Frieda for Rodarte. Some of my favorite brushes are from Mason Pearson, but then, I get my dry shampoo from a small shop in France. I basically just collect my products from all over the world!

"I do travel a lot, and I’m always with different people. I’m lucky enough to work with big photographers and models. It’s all about being creative, and for me, I love that. It’s just normal."

It sounds like you never get a day off!
"I do every once in a while. And, when I do get a day off, I take care of myself. I go to the spa, or I get a massage, or I go to the gym. I do things just like everyone else. I love to cook, so I walk around the market and shop for food."

So many people look to you for inspiration, but where do you find your own inspiration?
"From the designers, really. Each house has a different point of view, so you have to be able to put yourself in different situations. Then, for a story or a magazine, you’ve got to tap into the spirit of the photos. It’s between the designer and the photographer, so you always have to adapt yourself.

"I love films, painting, and photography — I’m a very curious person. I’m also very much inspired by people I see on the street. You have to be very open to inspiration every day."

You somehow manage to take hairstyles people wouldn’t typically find beautiful and make them so. How do you pull that off?
"Well, for me, it’s very important that when you want to create something eccentric, it can’t just be eccentric. The girl always has to look beautiful. It can’t just be a creation — that’s pure ego. You have to think about the individual girl and squeeze as much beauty out of them as you can. It’s not about me. It’s about them. "

Why do you think it’s important to step outside your comfort zone and do something different with beauty?
"Well, with your hair, you have no choice. It’s already on your head, and in the morning, you wake up and you have to fix your hair. People deal with it every day. So, why not play with it? You can cut it, and it grows. It doesn’t have to be serious — you should be having fun with it."

How do you think the concept of beauty has changed?
"I think because of stress and pollution, people are much more organically minded. They’re a bit concerned with what kind of products they use. And, those products are more efficient today than they used to be."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"Sometimes you’ve got to have fun! Never forget to laugh. It’s important to have a routine and sometimes to break that routine and have a bit of a party and have fun. Life is too short. It’s important to eat well, take care of yourself well, work, and, sometimes, you’ve got to forget it and have a bit of fun. Everything is possible."
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Photo: Courtesy of Wende Zomnir.
Wende Zomnir, founder of Urban Decay
Urban Decay made its grand entrance into the beauty industry with the tagline "Does pink make you puke?" Since then, Wende Zomnir has pioneered a range of neon, electric hues that buck the idea of the typical pinks and reds the industry was built on. Urban Decay is also cruelty-free, which goes hand in hand with Wende's healthy lifestyle.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
"When I started, there was no Sephora, no Ulta. It was the department-store model, and prestige beauty was a sea of pink, beige, and red. Those were your only products. You could go to the drugstore and see a cool, colored palette, but it was this chalky dust. So, I wanted color!"

Your original tagline was “Does pink make you puke?” Talk to me about that.
"Makeup isn’t really about covering flaws; it’s about revealing who you are. That’s the most badass thing that we talk about. So, the reason we keyed off on that line was because of the way the beauty industry was at the time. The idea was to give women that something else that they wanted, that the industry wasn’t giving to them. Plus, it was kinda in your face. Why dance around the issue?"

How has the color cosmetics industry changed since you started?
"I remember, after starting Urban Decay, walking into a Nordstrom department store, and there was this display from a larger cosmetics line. They had a black polish with iridescent topcoat, and I thought, They would have never done this before us. We were having an influence on what customers wanted, and bigger companies were taking notice of that."

Why the focus on bright, saturated colors over pastels?
"If you’re going to wear color, I want colors to be rich and full of depth! When I see something, what I see in the pot is what I want you to get. It’s more about quality — that’s the driver behind the pigmentation. My challenge every day is to find the balance between art and commerce. Plus, if I wouldn’t use it, why would I expect someone else to use it?"

You lead a very active lifestyle. How has that influenced your work?
"I love that you can be strong and beautiful. One of the reasons I’m super active is because it’s something that I love — exercise is my drug! It’s also great for road-testing products to see if they last."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"I think the time of my life I felt most beautiful was when I was pregnant. I felt really, really sexy and beautiful when I was pregnant with both of my boys. Day to day, I always feel beautiful after I work out, especially if my makeup stays on!"

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"You need to stop listening to the people who are holding you back from being a badass! Start treating your body right, and trying to make yourself a healthy person will make you feel more like a badass. You just have to ask yourself, Are you confident enough to be as beautiful as you can be?"
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Photographed by Kevin Sturman.
Jodie Patterson, cofounder of DooBop
Fed up with being relegated to the “ethnic aisle,” Jodie Patterson opened up a brick-and-mortar location to cater exclusively to women of color. She soon realized, after every type of woman started popping into her store, that women don’t shop “ethnically.” So, she started DooBop, an online retailer that feels like a mom-and-pop store and brings people the international and indie brands they adore.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics website?
"It was never a specific element, but what inspired me was this understanding that the industry used to be more of a family-run, community-run business that serviced its own community. I watched this documentary on YouTube about the business of black hair care — about these individuals and families who really started the beauty marketplace as we see it today. Now, it’s years down the line, and we’ve lost control of our own industry, but I really wanted to get away from that drugstore business mentality and make it personal.

"I also noticed the lack of personal attention and the lack of an intimate understanding of the customer, so I opened up my first brick-and-mortar store. And, that’s when I realized there were so many products in the global marketplace that were great for me but weren’t in my 'American' ethos — they were banished to the 'ethnic' aisle, where innovation and ingredients were seriously lacking. I wanted to do something about that."

Jumping off of that, how does DooBop set itself apart from the typical “beauty store” business model?
"Well, it’s kind of a funny story. The idea I had was to make a store for brown women, but in the first year, I had a lot of different women shopping in my brick-and-mortar store. White women, Asian women, European women. And, that’s when I realized — beauty is not ethnic. Women do not shop 'ethnically.' Beauty is shared, and that really informed how I ran DooBop once it was live.

"I have that face-to-face experience of seeing our customers, and that shines through on the site. We answer our 800 numbers with our cell phones. We do a lot of follow-ups; we don’t use algorithms. We just pick up the phone and jot down notes. We figure out our customers the old-school way — in real time, on the streets."

Describe a typical day at DooBop for you.
"Well, I’m a mom of five kids, so I have to juggle my kids and my business and being a wife. I wake up at five, get on my site, and see what we’re doing for the day — whether there are special deals or product changes. By 6:45, my whole house is up, and by 8 a.m., the kids are in school, which means I start my actual workday around 8:30. Typically, I’m being interviewed for a publication or interviewing people — whether it’s Iman, Zac Posen, Kerry Washington. I also write and produce almost all of the content on the site. I try and get that out of the way in the morning.

"I’m constantly meeting with brands — finding them, setting up strategic alliances, and so on. I find that our company works best when we work with other people. We’re not interacting brand to brand; we’re interacting person to person.

"My day ends at about 5 p.m. I pick up my kids from school and do dinner, and then I do a little bit more work in my home office. I always try to be in bed around 9 or 10 p.m."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"It may seem strange, but I feel most beautiful when I am actually standing next to or interacting with something that I find beautiful. Beauty to me is inspired by beautiful things. So, when I look at a photo of my mom or my kids or an antique piece of jewelry, that’s when I feel it. Beauty triggers beauty in me."

Why do you think it’s important to be a beauty disruptor? How has the industry changed since you started?
"To me, beauty doesn’t ask for any sort of attention. That said, the industry definitely needed disruption — it was sleepy and lazy, especially for brown women. It wasn’t catering to or pursuing us, and it’s changing because we’re forcing it to change. It’s actually so ridiculous — the idea of 'compartmentalized beauty.' It didn’t make sense for us to be shopping in the ethnic aisle. Beauty to me is like music. It’s creative and artistic. You don’t want to be segmented."

How do you think the concept of beauty has changed?
"I think it’s completely evolved. Lupita Nyong’o is everyone’s favorite — not just people who look like her. Same with Jessica Biel. I think that when we look at women now, we’re not looking at features so much."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"You’re never too good for inspiration, and you’re never too grown to ask for a little help. The best of us should have our go-to gals who inspire us. Find a few badass bitches who inspired you, and study them. You obviously don’t want to wear someone. But, let them inspire you, and then you’ll be as inspired by them."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rose-Marie Swift.
Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty
After a long career as a makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift set out on a mission to create a line of healthy cosmetics. She sought to create products that was free of heavy metals, parabens, and other nasty materials. Her main motivator was the heath of both her clients and herself — especially after a string of test results revealed that Rose-Marie's blood contained high levels of toxins, likely caused by the cosmetics she was exposed to. Her products have since been picked up by J.Crew, and she’s got the love and support of models like Miranda Kerr and Gisele Bündchen. Not too shabby.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
"Healthy products! After I got sick, I wanted to start something that was still a respected line that could deliver that wasn’t based on chemicals — something organic that would nourish the skin."

Why do you think people tend to shy away from organic makeup?
"I think there’s a disconnect because people tend to glorify people who don’t deserve being glorified. That’s the way of our nature. For example, my brand became more successful when a celebrity or a model endorsed me. That’s what people tend to gravitate toward. Customers are also afraid to admit that what they’ve been using isn’t really that great for them.

"I took my mother to the organic department of a local store, and she balked. For her, admitting that what she’s been using for all these years is making her sick makes her feel guilty. And, I think a lot of people feel that way. But, it isn’t about guilt. It’s about realizing that there is something better for you out there, and that’s okay to do. The people who come to me are the ones who are sick and really need to make a change. It shouldn’t come to that."

Talk to me a bit about your work with J.Crew.
"It all started when a customer called up J.Crew and asked how they got their glow. So, they started asking their makeup artists, and it turns out they’d all been using my Illuminizer. They’d even gotten the models to start using it themselves. It was a stroke of luck that just really turned into this great way to help us reach a larger audience."

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
"First thing in the morning I do Skype training for new people. I don’t like getting on planes. I speak for hours with my girl who runs things out of Charleston, because we do most of our own distribution. I also like to answer some of the customer-service questions that come my way. It makes me closer to my line and closer to those people."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"I have to say, I feel most beautiful when I get recognized for my line, for having done something with people who care."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"Never take no for an answer! I had everyone tell me I shouldn’t start this line, but I didn’t listen to them. And, you should always study everything. Learn as much as you can. If you’re going by what everybody else says you’ll never be a badass. You need to go for it!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Nina Leykind.
Nina Leykind, cofounder of Eyeko
Nina Leykind is one half of the operation behind Eyeko, a U.K.-based mascara brand with serious cult status. Eyeko is an eye-only company, focusing on eyeliner, brow products, mascara, and eyeshadow. But, Leykind herself is much more than just the “eye girl.” Her idea of mascara wardrobing is changing the way both the industry and consumers think of cosmetics.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
"For me, it wasn’t what was missing. The common frustration from me and my girlfriend was there was always a 'but.' So, we’d say, 'I love my mascara, but…' The biggest complaint was that mascara dried itself out too easily — that was the nature. You’re scraping around the tube with the wand, you’re pumping to get that last bit — all of which are super unhygienic. I also started to take note of how makeup artists would apply mascara on models. They wouldn’t use just one. So, it made me realize that the whole idea that one mascara would do it all was just crazy."

Eyeko is all about the eyes. Why did you pick this one area to focus on?
"After my research, I became obsessed with the idea of mascara wardrobing. I needed a different way to approach mascara since it’s such a competitive category. And, women are so jaded when it comes to eye makeup, especially since it’s a warped idea. All of the ads you see are so Photoshopped. So, I was really trying to do something honest and real that worked.

"But, truthfully, mascara is really, really hard to do. Everyone wears it, and that makes it different to everybody’s look. I wanted to make it easy and effortless while still doing its job."

How do you decide which products to put out? Do you follow liner trends?
"A lot of the time we’re creating the trends simply because we’re working with so many people. We work with makeup artists during Fashion Week who tend to create more out-of-the-box looks. But, then Alexa [Chung, who collaborates with Eyeko] likes something a bit more classic, so she always reins us in. You want to offer something that people love and that will excite them, but you don’t want to alienate them. I wouldn’t want to dictate to anyone what to use. I just want them to know that Eyeko works."

Do you think that eye makeup is the new nail art?
"I think so! I think we’re all getting a bit tired of nail art, so it makes sense to get more creative with our eye makeup. I like the idea of accessorizing your eye look — kind of like eye art. There’s this gorgeous photo of Goldie Hawn where she’s sketched eyeliner hearts around her eyes. People are still having fun like that but in a very elegant way."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"When I’m in the sun — I’m a sun bunny! I like to be outside, with a bit of mascara on, with a cool glass of wine. That’s when I feel most fabulous and happy."

If you could leave one lasting impression on the beauty industry, what would it be?
"I think it’s just so special when one person tells you their personal stories about how the mascara works for them. One woman contacted me, and she’d gone on her first date after she’d gotten a divorce. The night went quite well, and when she woke up at the guy’s house the next day, her mascara had stayed on, and he told her she had such beautiful eyes. I love stories like that — it shows that my product makes people's lives easier and helps them feel confident and put-together. That’s the legacy I’d like to leave behind."

How do you think the concept of beauty has changed?
"Everyone is much more aware of their products. We know the ingredients, and we’re focused on what makes a 'cheap' mascara 'cheap,' and why some products make sense to be pricier. I think it’s more from the customers because they’re asking for that. They expect things to be of a higher quality, so the industry has to cater to that.

"People also used to have just one look to aspire to, and that was the 'in' look. But, now, there’s so many different looks, and they’re all so beautiful that it’s easy to find one that suits you."

What advice would you give to women to tap into their inner beauty badass?
"Crack open the black eyeliner! You can’t even be held responsible for what goes on when you’re rocking a killer eye look. I always say that our mascaras need to come with a warning — something fun always happens when you go out looking like that."
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Photographed by Hugo Yangwella.
Alex Brownsell, founder of Bleach Salon
If you’ve recently had a slight obsession with the idea of dyeing your hair pastel, you have Alex Brownsell to thank for that. Credited with launching the colorful-hair trend, Brownsell is the brains (and color theorist) behind Bleach Salon in London. She’s also behind plenty of the celebrity manes that have recently adopted the washed-out hue, including Florence Welch and M.I.A. One look at Bleach’s Instagram account and you’ll see why the pastel trend has taken hold with two hands — and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to open your own salon?
“I started doing color in my kitchen, and I was really into that feeling of punk hair color. I loved the bright hues that were big in the ‘90s — there are actually pictures of me when I was 12 years old, and I had white-pink hair. I loved the look of these colors as they were washing out, so I started mixing my own colors and watering them down. I was really interested in understanding how the hair color could work with different pastel colors as well as natural colors. It looks like you haven’t made a mess of your hair dye, and you’re not going for that full punk, bright hair color.”

Hair dye used to be all about “covering up” your perceived imperfections, but now people are using their hair as statement pieces. Why do you think that is?
“I think people themselves have changed. As technology has changed with hair color, it’s easier to change what’s happening on your head. Also, in past generations, you couldn’t really experiment with your hair color if you had a certain job. But, now, it’s more socially acceptable — and you still have that slight rebellion. People won’t judge you, and it’s liberating, and women are feeling like, ‘F*ck it, I can do whatever I want.’

“It’s also a way for women to kind of dip into the celebrity world. The trend is so celebrity-driven — just look at Nicole Richie. They’re part of a tribe of women who are outrageous and daring. It’s a statement.”

Why do you think the colorful-hair trend has such staying power? Do you see the trend expanding and changing?
“Well, the trend isn’t really even a trend anymore. I think it will always be around. It’s kind of like a growing-up phase — people move in and out of it. I think it will move on. There have been times where I’ve gone back to having my hair a natural color. But, people like the attention you get from having your hair a pastel color. It’s addictive. Plus, pastels flatter every skin tone.

“I think that people may start to play around with metallics. People are going warmer — for golds and metallics. I think that that’s really where we’ll see this trend evolve.”

What does a typical day at Bleach look like for you?
“Every day is different! Today, I had a beauty shoot and then had lunch with my business partner. In the afternoon, I did some color filtering with Pantone to figure out the formulations of a new color, and then I had a Q&A with Vogue. One thing I always make sure I do is keep my hand in the coloring. You’ve got to keep up. If I haven’t been in [the salon] for a few weeks, I feel like a fish out of water. In a month or two, you can go back in, and you’ve got to basically retrain yourself. That’s why I love working with the people in my salons. They’re constantly pushing it.”

When do you feel most beautiful?
“I think beauty comes from different places, but I feel most beautiful when I’m healthy. It’s like you radiate that energy. And, it can be when your hair is in a top knot and you’re greasy. Everything we do is to encourage ourselves to feel confident — so if you can do something and it makes you feel beautiful, then you become beautiful.”

Why do you think it’s good to be a beauty disruptor?
“I wouldn’t say that it’s good to disrupt, but if you’re doing something that you like, people will like it. The beauty industry is much more stagnant than fashion. In beauty, it’s quite frowned upon to go out and do something different. Courageous people can open up the door for everyone else and show this new world that everyone can step into. I don’t know if that should be anyone’s goal, but I think that people should just choose to be what they think is right."

How do you think the concept of beauty has changed and evolved in today’s world?
“I think if we look back, things started changing for beauty in the ’70s and ‘80s. Now, we’re at a point where we can do whatever we want — and it’s great that people can do that. Beauty is great in the sense that you’re not stuck — you can do anything. No one is going to look down on you if you’ve got something different. Everyone can express themselves in beauty.”

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badasses?
“Go to the hair salon! It’s always good to try something new, even if it’s just a new lipstick. Keep changing so you feel fresh and interesting.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Tata Harper.
Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper Skin Care
Tata Harper takes all-natural skin care seriously. Not only is her eponymous skin-care line 100% natural and nontoxic, but the products are also manufactured by the company itself. The farm where the ingredients come from is organically certified and owned by the Harper family. Forget farm to table — this is farm to beauty counter.

What did you think was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own line?
"A line of high-performance, science-driven, anti-aging products that used clinically proven ingredients to deliver real results — but that didn't have a single drop of synthetic chemicals."

What is it about natural, homegrown products that is so important to you?
"To me, natural is important because it's about our health. I want to know that the ingredients in the products I'm using every day aren't going to negatively affect my health in the long term. I'm interested in products that make us healthier rather than compromise our health."

How has the organic beauty industry changed since you started?
"It's grown! What's most exciting are the advances made in natural and organic skin-care technology and ingredient science. America is finally catching up to Europe in terms of starting to invest in research for high-performance natural actives. Our line is at the forefront of those discoveries and innovations, so we're always on the lookout for the latest and greatest."

Why do you think there is such a stigma attached to organic beauty products?
"They're perceived to be low-performance because, in the past, they were. They weren't developed to feature advanced skin-care technology, so they were lagging behind synthetic products. But, now, things are different, and I think the stigma is fading, especially as women switch to high-performance natural skin care and realize how much better their skin looks and feels."

Where do you hope to see the organic skin-care industry go in the future?
"I hope for it to expand more into makeup. I think women need more clean makeup options that are developed to be healthy as well as beautifying."

Talk me through a typical day at work for you: What products do you use? What meetings do you have? What do you focus on? What are your challenges? What excites you?
"My days at work, when I'm not traveling, are spent in our Vermont offices, and usually I spend my entire day in meetings. I'm involved in most aspects of the business, so the topics vary through the day, including everything from product research and development to managing our manufacturing facility, phone calls with our retailers, packaging design...it's a little bit of everything. My favorite topic is product research and development, and I love my meetings with my lab team to test, try, and plan our upcoming products."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"When I'm dancing."

If you could leave one lasting impression on the beauty world, what would it be?
"I think it would be the lesson that being healthy is a big part of looking youthful and amazing in the long term, and for women to invest in their inner beauty as well as what's on the outside."

How do you think the concept of beauty has changed and evolved in today's world?
"I spend my time surrounded by natural skin care and by women who are enthusiastic about making the switch to products that are healthier for them, so I get to see so much optimism, hope, and satisfaction by women of all ages who are making an investment in the health of their skin. Since that's what I see and what I focus on, I think I could say that people are opening up to the idea that natural is the best way to go. I hope that the movement spreads!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Susanne Langmuir.
Susanne Langmuir, founder of Bite Beauty
Bite Beauty is the gold standard when it comes to all-natural lipsticks, and Susanne Langmuir calls the shots. The company boasts food-grade ingredients in its lipsticks and manages to bridge the gap between healthy and prestige products. With Langmuir at the helm, Bite Beauty opened the doors to its Beauty Lip Lab in NYC, a place where customers can come and mix up their own lipstick shades on site. Susanne’s main philosophy? Always listen to the customer — and we appreciate that.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own cosmetics line?
"For me, I made a very personal decision to switch to natural, organic products. My background is product development, and I started to think about all of the layers of things that we’re ingesting or we’re using. I just felt like there was a real gap between products that we wanted and my personal needs. So, I asked myself, 'How do we create something performance-based while still being organic?'"

All of your products are food-grade, which is different from straight-up organic. Why was that important?
"People are much more receptive and can relate to what we eat. And, truthfully, what we put on our lips we ingest, and what we put on our skin we absorb. Actually, lipstick is a lot like chocolate in formulation, but average lipstick today is made with stuff you wouldn’t want to eat. So, it’s just a relatable viewpoint for the brand."

What kind of products do you use yourself?
"I make all of my skin-care products myself."

Okay, you have to explain that a little bit, because that is amazing.
"I have 400 ingredients in my basement! I make my own body care myself; plus, all of my makeup, I make in the lab. I love to bake, so this is kind of just an extension of that. I share with my friends and family — they’re well stocked."

How has the beauty industry changed since you started?
"Well, every seven to 10 years, beauty seems to reinvent itself for new ideas and new values. I see opportunity for things like DIY. We’re much more switched on for natural. I think that there is a lot of growth, but in cosmetics in particular functionality and natural ingredients still kind of fight each other. I’m trying to change that."

You opened up your first Bite Lip Lab in New York recently. Tell me a little bit about that.
"I always say that the lab is as much an experience for us as it is for the people who go there. It’s our finger on the pulse. It’s our connection with people who are interested in color and fashion. We remain closely connected to the person using our lipstick. It’s where we get to meet in the middle."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"I feel most beautiful when I know that I’ve taken care of myself — when I’m eating well, when things are balanced, when I’m taking care of my skin, when I’m living well and I’m relaxed. But, there are some ways to add to that. I have my favorite Céline bag that I only take out every now and then. I have some material things that I have really curated that feel special to me. Good skin care helps a lot! And, lipstick is instant transformation. If you just have clean, moisturized skin and you have a beautiful lipstick — then that’s instant."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner badass?
"You know, I never thought of myself as a badass, but you’ve just got to do what feels true to you. Be disruptive! I think we are much more free to be individual than we ever have been. At the end of the day, it’s makeup — so we should have a bit more fun. Especially with lip color!"
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Photographed by Ellen Stagg.
Theo Kogan, founder of Armour Beauty
To say that Theo Kogan has worn a lot of hats in her life is a serious understatement. She’s been a model, the lead singer of the Lunachicks, and a makeup artist. But, her most recent venture blends all of her past careers into one. Armour Beauty offers up kick-ass lip glosses in rock-and-roll colors — and the pigment won’t come off onto your mic on stage.

What did you feel was missing from the beauty space that inspired you to create your own lip-gloss line?
"At the time, there was a lot less natural, yet fashion-forward, lip products. What I was frustrated with was wearing glosses on stage and it would be all over the microphone — and my face. So many lip glosses are so drying on the lips. So, I really wanted to make something that was long wearing and all natural, and having shades from the most sheer sparkle to black opaque — the rock-and-roll aspect. There wasn’t high-end, chic, prestige, rock-and-roll-style lip gloss that was also all natural."

Why was the organic aspect so important to you?
"I became a vegetarian when I was 15 and grew up with parents who were hippies. So, I grew up with a lot of natural foods. And, natural products are what I tend to use on my face. Like, there are so many ingredients that are so harmful, things we put in our bodies. I’ve learned a lot since starting the line. Like, I oil my face now! I’ve been using argan oil, coconut oil, mixtures of grapeseed and jojoba, which I never thought I would do."

Why do you think there’s such a disconnect between organic products and kick-ass colors?
"I think that part of the stigma with all natural is the crunchy, hippie, Whole Foods type of aesthetic. But, I do want to stress: We’re not all natural — I like to say we’re 'light green.' I did just launch a vegan gloss, though. I wanted to give to that population."

Would you ever expand beyond glosses?
"Yes! I’m actually working on some new products. We hope to launch by the end of the year. All I will say is that they are a lip product, but they’re not lip gloss."

How did your modeling and singing careers influence your current job?
"It’s interesting, because I kind of flipped the whole scenario. Instead of being on stage, I’m prepping the person on stage. But, that’s helpful because I know what they’re going through, and I enjoy doing it for other people. I know what hurts and what doesn’t and what’s going to make you break out and what isn’t."

As a tattooed former model, how has the concept of beauty changed since you started out?
"I think that tattoos are so mainstream now that it’s kind of funny. I feel like I see tattoos in fashion and in magazines a lot more. In my time of doing it, there were a couple girls who had kinda a sleeve, but I was the most heavily tattooed girl. So, it’s cool to see."

When do you feel most beautiful?
"It’s so corny: sometimes after exercising. I feel like my skin is maybe a little sweaty, and I’ve been in the zone, but that’s when I feel most beautiful."

What advice would you give to women to help them tap into their inner beauty badass?
"I always want women to not hold themselves back. I think of teenage girls who are going through it, and I want to tell them not to listen to those voices who are telling you to not do the things you’re most passionate about. Do what you love, and listen to your gut!"
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