How Sheena Zadeh-Daly Built Kosas Into A Beauty Powerhouse

Image: Courtesy of Mecca.
It’s a broadly accepted fact that, in 2024, TikTok can make or break a beauty brand. New products go viral on the app every single day, and most beauty lovers will know that seeing one of their favourite products in a video with millions of views could mean that it’ll be sold out for months. 
This can be good news for beauty brand founders, because sales equals success. But the real trouble can come after the initial virality fades, with very few brands successfully capturing the popularity and holding onto it. One brand that has managed to do just that is Kosas.
Founded by Sheena Zadeh-Daly in 2015, Kosas has carved a niche in the beauty world with its innovative skincare-spiked makeup. From the beginning, Zadeh-Daly's vision has been clear: to create cosmetics that offer more than just coverage. With a background in biology, Zadeh-Daly brings a scientific approach to her formulations, ensuring that each product is packed with skin-loving ingredients that deliver real benefits.
“Looking back, Kosas has come together as this alchemy of all the things that I love: science, art, wellness, colour,” Zadeh-Daly tells Refinery29 Australia. “I couldn't understand why makeup wasn't doing more for your skin and saw it as a huge opportunity to continue your skincare routine.” 
She explains that every Kosas product is created with the goal of being “100% makeup, 100% skincare”, adding that it’s really important to her to include active, clinically proven skincare ingredients in every product. Whether you personally want or need your makeup to also act as skincare is a choice only you can make, but Zadeh-Daly points out that since “makeup sits on your face all day, it's such a huge opportunity to continue your skincare routine”.

“We’re not just churning out newness to keep up with trends.”

Sheena Zadeh-Daly
When speaking with Zadeh-Daly, it becomes clear that her dedication to ingredients is the driving force behind each product’s formulation. However, her inspiration extends beyond science; she draws from seemingly unrelated aspects of her life, infusing her brand and its products with a unique, personal touch. She explains that her love of beauty stemmed from her heritage as a first-generation Iranian American and she was deeply inspired by her mother. “My mum worked behind the makeup counter when I was growing up,” she says. “She would bring home so many beauty samples and I loved playing and experimenting with them — that’s how I fell in love with makeup”.
This may have set her on the path to conceptualising one of the most viral beauty brands on TikTok, but it's not the only thing that played a role in product development. “I was actually in a portrait painting class when I created our first lipsticks,” she explains. “I was fascinated by all the colours that went into making flesh tones look alive and I wanted to apply that theory to makeup.”
This experimentation has paid off, culminating in a range of products that includes a blurring foundation with 36 shades and a creamy concealer with 38 shades — both of which are lauded on TikTok for being brightening base products with medium coverage. 
The range recently expanded to include a hydrating BB gel-cream, which offers a whisper of coverage for people who prefer a no-makeup look, but it’s the Revealer Concealer, $50, that has really captured and kept the hearts of many online. It makes sense, since Zadeh-Daly admits that Revealer Concealer is the product in Kosas’ range that captures the brand’s ethos best. “First off, it’s skincare-packed,” she says, adding that it’s a product that’s pumped with ingredients that promise to brighten the skin (caffeine), soothe blemishes (arnica and panthenol), and hydrate and plump skin (peptides and hyaluronic acid). 
The name of the product itself is a nod to these goals. “Instead of concealing, we want to talk about revealing,” Zadeh-Daly says. “[The packaging is also] yellow, which is a colour connected to the solar plexus chakra, which is your power centre, and the feeling of confidence that comes from having your best skin.”
If it sounds like we’re hammering the point of how viral the Kosas concealer is, that’s because the numbers are kind of staggering. On TikTok, 98.1 million videos have been made about the Kosas concealer at the time of writing, which is the equivalent of every person in the Australian population creating three or four videos each about this product. Everyone from Hailey Bieber to your mum’s neighbour’s daughter has posted about this product (probably), praising the ultra-creamy concealer for being brightening and hydrating (though I will admit that, on me, that also translates to some under-eye creasing). 
Of course, we had to ask whether this level of online success has affected the way Kosas products are dreamed up. Zadeh-Daly explains that every product the brand creates must be innovative and also necessary in her own beauty routine, and by extension, the routines of Kosas customers. 
“Trends nowadays are so fleeting and ever-changing,” she says. “We’re not just churning out newness to keep up with trends." This is a refreshing take for a brand that is consistently popping up on our FYP, because having a single runaway success on TikTok is one thing,  but creating a brand and products that repeatedly sell out and garner the praises of creators and beauty editors alike, as Kosas has, is quite another. 
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