Ahead of International Women's Day 2022 we've devoted our weekly edit of our best new beauty and wellness discoveries to the women who make them
Women rock - and they also excel in science, the arts, entrepreneurship and any other field we can think of. Here, we pick some of our favourite new drops and classic products from female-founded brands to say Happy International Women's Day 2022
Founder: Anna Brightman
"If there’s a sustainable skincare brand that leaves absolutely no eco stone unturned it is Upcircle, which this year has become plastic-negative (plastic-neutral ‘offsetting’ is no longer the standard, people!). Co-founder Anna Brightman explained to me that her by-product beauty brand’s mission is not just to give food-industry waste such as coffee grounds and date stones a second life in skincare. She also wants to leave the world a better place than she found it, which means that the brand takes more plastic out of circulation than it generates.
"Upcircle doesn't just badger its suppliers not to use ‘secondary’ plastic where possible, for example when packing palettes for shipping, but it also supports the charity Repurpose, which gives waste workers in Goa a fair wage and financial incentives to clear unrecyclable MLP plastics. These multi-layered plastics are used heavily by the beauty and food industries (think crisp packets and the like) and have no commercial value in the recycling industry. But they do end up in our oceans.
"Anna is incredibly knowledgeable as well as being a realist and a beauty buff (as you’ll see from this Instagram live I did with her recently) and she puts just as much effort into making sure the products perform as she does into being planet-positive. My favourite product is the best-selling caffeine eye cream (just the smell...) soon to be available in a plastic-free pot." Victoria Woodhall, Editorial Director
Ruka Hair Think Silk Ponytail 18” , £109.99
Founders: Tendai Moyo and Ugo Agbai
"Ruka was co-founded by friends Tendai Moyo and Ugo Agbai in 2020 and is a breath of fresh air in the hair space, elevating the hair shopping experience for black women. Ruka is dedicated to raising the bar for natural-looking hair extensions by offering more thoughtful and ethical wigs, clip-ins, ponytails, and bundles. It was a gap in the industry that needed to be filled for a long time, and Ruka has stepped in. Their ethos is based on empowering and loving our natural hair, as well as helping people find the best products to embrace their curly, coily, or wavy textured hair.
"It’s a community-based brand with a wealth of education, tutorials, and a large group of consumers who act as 'co-creators', providing feedback and trailing any newness. There’s a strong element of transparency, from disclosing where they ethically source their hair in South East Asia to their commitment to sustainability. The products are amazing, and I can’t stop wearing this silky pony on weekends. I’m excited to see where they go next." Jemma Thompson, Design and Social Media Manager
Founders: Ade and Antonia Ogunsola
"Okiki meaning 'Prestige' in the Yoruba language was founded by mother-daughter duo Ade and Antonia. What started as a soul-healing hobby of making soap after Ade's mother passed, sparked their desire to create high-quality products using only the best natural ingredients that are affordable for everyone to use, all the while paying homage to their Nigerian and Ghanaian heritage. Each product is reminiscent of recipes that have been used by their ancestors for generations.
"This duo of kind, strong women values tradition and community; Ade and Antonia believe in helping the women they work with move up the ladder by helping them set up their own businesses and brands. And if that isn't enough, they have partnered with the One Tree Planted initiative, meaning every large candle sold will result in a £1 donation by Okiki to help re-plant trees in Ghana. The candle itself is named 'Akhinde' which means 'he who came after me'. It's a delicious blend of tonka bean, cedarwood and patchouli that will indeed bring all the boys to the yard. It's topped off with a crackling wooden wick, evoking the scents and feelings of community gatherings around an open fire." Hattie Sloggett, GTG contributor
Sann Solid Lip Serum , £24
Founder: Yuliya Tertilova-Kristell
"Sann ticks all of the millennial beauty brand-boxes; clean, vegan, cruelty-free, sustainably packaged and the rest. But it does so much more than that. Ukrainian-born Yuliya Tertilova-Kristell founded Sann after a career in investment banking left her wanting to create something that really resonated with people. The result? A curated edit of modern, multi-functional makeup essentials launched in December 2021 with these Solid Lip Serums, which triple-up as a balm, serum and tint.
"As well as building a great beauty brand, Yuliya is using Sann as a platform to uplift and support women and girls around the globe. Proceeds from every Sann product sold support A Day of School Programme for girls in Africa through the brand's partnership with the global NGO CAMFED.
"On top of that Sann has pledged all proceeds from the March sales of the Lip Serum in the colour Wild will be split between Doctors Without Borders and Choose Love . 'I have a lot of family members in Ukraine and my immediate response was to help them directly with whatever I can,' Yuliya told us. 'Not everyone wanted or had the opportunity to flee and a lot of people wanted to stay, so helping those people with food and medicine is vital'." Verity Clark, GTG contributor
Natucain Lash Serum, £59
Founder: Dr Stefanie Seyda
"Bamboo, thyme and lentils don’t sound like the most obvious recipe for longer lashes, but they’re what Dr Stefanie Seyda, an Oxford-educated doctor and biochemist, turned to when developing her plant-based lash serum. Most lash serums employ peptides to rev up hair growth, while the doctor-prescribed ones contain a hormone derivative that works a treat on lashes, but can in rare cases affect your eye colour. Spotting a gap in the market for an all-natural, side effects-free alternative, Seyda created and patented a molecule called MKMS24 which relies on stem cells (rich sources of peptides) extracted from the above salad ingredients to extend the hair growth phase and nourish follicles. It’s no joke: the serum is clinically proven to give you ticker and 52 per cent longer lashes after eight weeks of twice-daily use. Just paint along your lash line like a liquid liner – it definitely works as long as you are consistent with it." Inge van Lotringen
Founder: Randi Christiansen
"Uber-chic Nécessaire was born in the US 2018 with the idea of creating only products that truly we need, aka ‘The Necessary.' It landed in the UK just this year. Co-founded by Estée Lauder Companies alumna Randi Christiansen, who built amazing brands such as La Mer, Nécessaire's minimalist packaging not only provides a bathroom upgrade, the formulation is top-notch too, and free from sulphates, silicones, parabens and PEGs.
"What I love is that the range totally caters for dry, irritated and sensitive skin, offering unscented options for the body wash and moisturisers. I tested the gently scented eucalyptus body wash which lathers up a dream (despite that lack of drying suphates, which are usually responsible for a surplus of bubbles) and leaves skin hydrated and fresh. Best of all, Nécessaire is certified climate-neutral and certified plastic neutral, and is a member of 1% For The Planet - which means they allocate one per cent of every sale to environmental non-profit organisations fighting to defend our air, water, land and wildlife worldwide." Catherine Fulwood, Commercial Projects Manager
Pura Collagen Glow+ , £39.99
Founder: Jennifer Mo
"Pura Collagen was Jennifer Mo’s lockdown baby. The former champion skier, who used collagen peptides to recover from injury and went on to work in sports nutrition in the US, was stuck in the UK with enough time on her hands to create a collagen product of her own. Collagen is one of the most-hyped supplements of the last year or two, with celebrity brands abounding, but this is one of the few to list the supplier name of the actual peptide so you can check the clinicals for the ingredient on their website.
"When Jennifer hosted a sold-out masterclass on Get The Gloss earlier this year, she answered pretty much every question I could throw at her with robust science. Crucially, the actual collagen peptides she uses (in this one sourced from fish) have been shown to make a difference on skin in four to six weeks. They have a very low molecular weight (2000 daltons) which is crucial for absorption and aren’t denatured with heat so you can add them to hot drinks, as I do. And, says Mo, they can survive the digestive process so as to reach the tissues where they do their work. The clever thing is that these peptides (called Verisol) are somehow targeted at the collagen in skin. There are two other blends (sourced from cows) that target immune tissue (Protect) and joints (Flex+), and all have other ingredients such as vitamins C and D which contribute to collagen generation. I learned from Dr Emma Hughes, a fan of the brand, that a great time to use them is after a collagen-stimulating tweakment such as microneedling, when a collagen supplement can act like rocket fuel for skin remodelling." VW
Flo Organic Eco-applicator Tampons Regular & Super 14pk , Was £3.60 now £2.40
Founder: Tara Chandra and Susan Allen
"I’ve been using Flo tampons and pads for a few years now. It's not only because the cheerful packaging (doesn’t it look like an ice-cream tub?) makes me feel better at a time when I’m feeling the worst, but also because it’s a brand committed to fighting period poverty in the UK and around the world: five per cent of all profits are donated to charities that support women such as Bloody Good Period and The Orchid Project. Best friends Tara Chandra and Susan Allen founded the company in a public loo when studying at the London School of Economics in 2017. Both were frustrated with the lack of affordable organic tampons on the market and made it their mission to change the game. Their eco-friendly products which now include sustainable tampons, period pants, pads and liners, are designed to fight period shame with their fearless attitude and empowering messages. And they’re not too pricey either, which is not always the case with planet-friendly alternatives for our daily staples. " JT
Founder: Kuldeep Knox
"Founder of the fast-growing hair care brand Champo (pronounced ‘shar-pour’) Kuldeep Knox is a beauty innovator and entrepreneur who created her brand when she couldn't find a good solution for her own hair concerns. She consulted her Indian grandmother who was still blessed with long, thick, lustrous hair in her seventies on the oils and techniques she had used all her life - which completely changed hair for Knox as a result. She realised her gran's practices had their roots in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic healing system, so that became the founding principle of her brand.
"This gel-like growth serum, part of the volumising pitta dosha collection, features a complex of peptides and amino acids and comes with plenty of rave reviews from women whom it has helped with fine or thinning hair. It has sold out in Harrods numerous times. Not only does it plump strands, a gentle massage with a few drops of this non-sticky, gently scented will also calm a sensitised scalp and protect against flaking. Our hair is a huge part of our identity and I know from my personal hair concerns how much of an impact it can have on self-confidence. ” AR
Owner: Lucy Litwack
"You may have heard of the boutique lingerie label Coco de Mer, which was started by Sam Roddick in 2001, but the story of the current owner and CEO Lucy Litwack is one of personal inspiration to me. Lucy started working for the brand in 2014 and eventually bought it. As conversations around sexual wellness moved more into the mainstream, Lucy wanted to grow the business into a global luxury brand, focused on female pleasure. Lucy's deep belief in championing women’s causes underpins all her goals for Coco de Mer. She works with NGOs and activists in the fight against FGM (female genital mutilation), in addition to trying to break down taboos around female sexuality.
"When I met Lucy she told me, 'I want to shine a light on the extraordinary power, potential and importance of female pleasure and sensuality. I want to provide our customers with a safe place, built by and run by women. Knowing and owning female pleasure and sensuality can be life-changing, and it is only now starting to get the attention it deserves.'
"I can personally attribute my own journey with self-pleasure to Coco de Mer's new own-brand sex toys. If it wasn't for Lucy and her passion for making women's pleasure a priority rather than a taboo, I might never have discovered the art of self-love. Coco de Mer has my heart and my gratitude for everything they do." HS
Founder: Kim Smith
"Kloris was founded by three friends over the dinner table in 2018 after discovering they had all turned to CBD for varying reasons, from anxiety and insomnia to menstrual cramps and back ache. They had all been frustrated by the products on offer and the lack of real results. Today, co-founder Kim Smith is dedicated to education about CBD and its benefits, giving free informative talks and workshops across the country to share the insights that helped her to heal her own health issues. It's why I trust these products actually work. The Uplifting Body Oil, with blood orange, vanilla and oud smells divine, fresh and heady and has 300mg of CBD to provide relaxation. Lather all over the skin or pop some in your bath for a chilled night in." CF
Founder: Laurie Mias
"Mono Skincare was created by Hong Kong born-Laurie Mias with one mission in mind. 'To change the skincare industry,' says Mias. Mono is the world’s first brand built around waterless skincare tablets, designed, obviously, to minimise the amount of water wasted in skincare. 'Not a lot of people know that most skincare products use 80 per cent water as an ingredient,' says Mias.
"Mono is different. Each product comes with a bottle and tablet. The tablet, being totally waterless, is a concentrated source of actives. Drop in the bottle, fill it up to the line with water, shake, and you have a fresh and active solution that will last you at least a month. It means the products waste far less carbon to ship (there's no water-weight) and your ingredients, many of which oxidise and eventually become inactive the longer they're suspended in water, will stay potent for longer. 'We want to break the skincare status quo by doing better with less,' say Mias. If you’re new to the waterless beauty game, try the pH-balancing toner. It’s a bit of an all in one with prebiotics, gentle acids and aloe that help to purify, nourish, hydrate and protect skin from outside aggressors." VC
Founder: Yasmin Greenway
"An all-female team headed up by founder Yasmin Greenway (who has a background in tech and cosmetic science) is behind Base Plus. This new brand makes bespoke skincare available to everyone. The idea is simple: you choose from a light, oil-free serum base as well as two, more nourishing, basic face creams (all unscented), then complete an online quiz to detail your skin concerns and needs. A database containing information on more than half a million people’s skins kicks in, selecting a balanced formula of actives to tackle your concerns.
"You can see what’s going to be in yours before you buy, and suggest alternative ingredients if you really must (though we’d advise you to trust the expert-created algorithm). It’s quick and nifty, doing away with wild guesses about what your skin might need, piling on too many incompatible products and having to discard whole bottles of skincare that aren’t working for you. So confident is the brand that you’ll achieve visible results in 90 days (the time it realistically takes for skin changes to show), they offer a free re-formulated product after that period if you’re not happy." IVL
Nessa Crowning Glory , £29
Founder: Fiona Toomey
"Founded by mother of three Fiona Toomey, Nessa is passionate about creating an honest, supportive, inclusive community for women from pregnancy right through to menopause, regularly asking their community for feedback. The brand's philosophy is to bring you products that support you through every phase of your womanhood. And, having had a tricky time with the birth of her first son, Fiona wanted to give back to those who supported her so every time you shop with Nessa, they donate one per cent to Bliss, a UK charity for babies born too soon, too small, or too sick.
"I love that they don’t alter the look, smell or feel of anything they make, believing they work best without additions or enhancements. So you might find little flecks or specks in your products. This signature Crowing Glory Scalp and Hair Oil is an absolute saviour for my very bleached locks: I apply a few drops to my scalp and hair ends at night, and in the morning too if I’m feeling fancy. " CF