Cosmoprof North America, one of the first large-scale, beauty industry meetings to be held in person since March 2020, welcomed a pared down—yet enthusiastic—cadre of beauty professionals for its 2021 event in Las Vegas.

The Delta variant and travel bans did limit attendance, but many felt the show’s intimate feeling yielded productive meetings.

“I’m so proud of what the team has accomplished. It was tough, but it was incredibly rewarding to get the industry back together in person,” said Liza Rapay, Head of Marketing for CPNA. “We far exceeded not only our expectations, but the expectations of our exhibitors, buyers and visitors. We came out of these challenges better than ever and ready for 2022.”

Citing that it wasn’t a like-for-like comparison to pre-COVID-19 numbers, CPNA did not release attendance figures.

Those in attendance on the exhibit floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center were on the hunt for sustainable packaging, responsible ingredients and beauty and grooming  options for men. CBD re-emerged as a buzzy beauty ingredient after taking a backseat during the pandemic. Trendalytics ranks CBD as the ninth “emerging” ingredient for 2022.

There was also a desire for fun—as evidenced at the Bijou booth where convention goers had Swarovski crystals affixed to their hair via a new device, The Blinger. Angie Cella came up with the idea for The Blinger after having a dream where her flat iron delivered sparkly gems each time she passed it through her hair. The item is sold at Walmart and Target, among other doors.

The Discover Beauty section of the trade show floor, an area devoted to emerging beauty brands, was one of the busiest areas. “We were swamped each day,” said Sonia Sommers, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beauty Barrage. While her business was limited during  COVID-19 Sonia put her creative talents into creating a brand called Shielded Beauty. Shielded Beauty goes beyond the current buzz around clean to what Sonia calls safe beauty. The formulas fuse antimicrobial properties with non-toxic actives for daytime protection and live probiotics to restore skin’s health and balance for day and night. “During this past year of the pandemic, I, like most, became fixated on how to protect my skin and knew there had to be something better than hand sanitizer,” Sonia said. Her solution includes facewash, moisturizers, serums, hand and body lotions and a mist.

Three major department stores have committed to add the line. In addition to visibility on the floor, Sonia participated in the Buyer Program with one-to-one meetings. “It was well worth it for my brand.”

Lindsey Peterson, Associate Director at Verishop, also participated in the Buyer Program. “I am seeing a lot of innovation,” she told Beauty News. Other retailers participating in the Buyer Program included Cos Bar, Nordstrom, GlossWire, The Detox Market, Von Maur, Bloomingdale’s, Showfields, Citi Trends, SOL’FISH, eCosmetics, Farmacias del Ahorro, TikTek Marketing and Tricoci Salon.

New brands were also highlighted in the Beauty Vanities area where Jeffrey Ten, CEO, President and General Manager of Global Brand Development, discussed Dr. Sobel Skin Rx, which launched last year online and at “I had many spa and aesthetician salons come by to see our ‘clean beauty with clinical performance and vegan line,’” he said of the brand he’s looking to grow.

Other curated areas generating foot traffic were Discover Green and, in a nod to renewed interest in cannabis, a CBD Beauty installation in The Green Village. CBD brands in attendance included Just Beauty CBD, Tescosmetics, Vido’s Health and Beauty and Prio CBD Skincare.

Several retailers mentioned a CBD brand called KOVO Essentials (which was presented in Discover Beauty). The brand’s hero item is its Bakuchiol Serum11. KOVO launched in July 2020 and had to pivot when stores closed to “triple” down on social media and shipping samples to influencers and makeup artists, according to Michael Sette, founder and CEO. The lineup also includes products teaming up CBD with ingredients such as turmeric and prebiotics.

Packaging and contract manufacturers were bustling with activity as companies looked for more sustainable packing. “I loved talking to the packaging suppliers about sustainable options made with PCR. There were a lot of refillable glass airless pumps. I thought those were fantastic sustainable solutions,” said Alex Pottash, the founder of Unforgotten Skincare.

Sustainability was top of mind. Seed Phytonutrients introduced Concentrated Cleansing Powders that use 60 percent less plastic and compostable paper certified. The packaging uses shower friendly paper bottles which have been treated with a mineral complex extracted from clay, so it’s safe for use in the shower. Each paper bottle contains a surprise—after use, they can be cracked open to access heirloom herb seeds.

Plant Apothecary, which is relaunching following the 2019 acquisition by Rare Beauty Brands, unites science with nature for clean and effective products with plant actives. The brand is certified by Climate Neutral, 1% for the Planet, Peta Global Animal Test–Free and Vegan Forestry Stewardship Council. The rebooted lineup debuted in The Detox Market and will be in merchandised in Neiman Marcus this month. At CPNA the company provided a glimpse of new body care slated for October, teaming up scents and moods such as Start Happy and Calm Down.

The seriousness of protecting the planet was balanced by fun. Kelly Harari showed off her Glossy Pops, lip glosses packaged to look like lollipops. The brand, which has been sold by Target, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Macy’s, has expanded into lipsticks and lip stains retailing from $14 to $18.

Bespoke Beauty Brands, founded by NXY creator Toni Ko, was also loaded with exciting brands including Jason Wu, now available at Target, and KimChi Chic Beauty, which is headed to CVS later this year. The latter is a kitschy assortment of makeup created by Korean American Sang-Young Shin who goes by the stage name Kim Chi and was a finalist on Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”