There’s no question Indie beauty is having a moment. And the brands and their fans were out in full force at this year’s Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas, held July 13-July 15 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

“It is the age of Indie beauty brands and Cosmoprof was just more proof of that, whether in terms of the panelists’ comments at Beauty Pitch, which shined a spotlight on smaller brands looking for mentorship and capital, or the size of the Discover Beauty area, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds,” said Ada Polla, CEO of Alchimie Forever. “Niche beauty is indeed the hottest trend right now. Consumers are excited by the stories of these brands and entrepreneurs.”

Add to this the omni-channel reality, which somewhat levels the retail playing field, and the fact that social media gives Indies as much of a voice as larger corporate brands, and it’s evident the brand landscape has evolved.

“Major retailers were all represented and were categorically enthusiastic about the quality of product from the Indie companies we had on display in all the special areas: Tones of Beauty, Discover Scent, as well as in the already established areas of Discover Beauty and Spotlights. The Indies continue to drive innovation, and can move quickly to execute emerging consumer trends,” said Daniela Ciocan, Marketing Director for CPNA.

Proving this was the show’s kick off event, Beauty Pitch, targeting Indie brands looking for mentorship, capital and the opportunity to engage a captive audience. More than 1,300 beauty professionals attended the event on the monring of July 12 featuring investor, billionaire and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Mark Cuban; professional beauty mogul and investor, John Paul DeJoria; Martha Stewart Living’s Melissa Goldstein and’s Neil Parmar, all of whom were tasked in selecting a winning brand from five finalists by putting them under a public microscope, a la “Shark Tank.” Natural cosmetics brand 100% Pure claimed the top prize (a one year mentorship with Mark) and won out over men’s salon brand 18.21 Man Made, salon app Hair Construction, LED device LightStim and hair growth stimulator Zenagen. The brand was also selected by TSG Consumer Partners as the winner of $10,000, and highlighted as a future investment candidate. The Audience Choice Award went to 18.21 Man Made. Dozens of brands entered Beauty Pitch.

“I really like their ability to extract all the bad stuff out. That was the key,” Mark said of his selection of 100% Pure, recognizing beauty’s trend toward wellness. “My wife is all about it, whether it’s products for our kids, anything we eat. They were a natural pick and not just for the lines they already have but for their ability to extend into other things outside of beauty, even food products.”

100% Pure generated $20 million in sales in 2014, which includes sales from its 12 retail stores. The company’s founders are hoping Mark’s mentoring will get them to $200 million over the next four years.

“We’ve already been approached by several major multinational beauty corporations who are interested in our brand, as well as private equity. But we aren’t ready to sell. We still need to grow internationally, China is one of our biggest opportunities,” said Susie Wang, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of 100% Pure.

Mark acknowledged he doesn’t need the money he stands to make with the stake he has in all six of his beauty brand investments. It’s more about helping out newbies.

“Every entrepreneur goes through a transition where you work for yourself, then you have one employee who is a friend, then you need a manager and you freak out because you’re the manager, and you’re going through all of those steps, which is the hard part, and that’s where I can help.”

John Paul DeJoria also served on the panel and applauded 18.21 Man Made for its unique positioning and commitment to the professional channel. Despite it being an omni-channel world, John Paul said keeping pure to salons “is good ethics.”

“My company could be five times the size if I went to the mass market. But I promised the professional industry that if I ever made it I would always support them. If you make more than enough money to take care of yourself and your family and the next generation, that’s enough. You don’t have to get any bigger or make any more money.”

Cosmoprof, which is organized by North American Beauty Events – a joint venture between the BolognaFiere Group and the Professional Beauty Association – hosted 1,017 companies from 39 countries spread across a sold-out show floor spanning more than 230,000-square feet. In total, the show drew more than 30,000 attendees, a 10 percent boost over last year – all looking for items to stop competitors from siphoning their sales.

Making it easy to find fragrance innovation was new show concept Discover Scent, an area that featured 10 brands’ latest and greatest achievements. Most exciting was an exhibit by Drom Fragrances, where users got to experience certain scents through a personal funnel that were released after pressing a button. Scents on display were those meant to trigger certain emotions and memories, such as Mother’s Handbag, New Car and First Joint.

As for products that made the show worth attending, one buyer from a national chain called out Sole Serum, an item designed to target aching, sore feet caused by high heels. Sole Serum’s luxury formula aims to relieve foot pain in under 10 minutes with lidocaine, which works to reduce inflammation, along with a blend of natural oils including peppermint oil, tea tree oil and lavender oil.

“I think it is very unique and is a one-item impulse buy. Any woman who sees it, including me, will relate. We all want relief for aching feet. And unless you wait way too long, it actually works,” the buyer said.

The buyer also noted skin care line Hey Honey for its honey-infused formulas, product textures and unique positioning.

“It does not mimic anything that I already carry. The packaging was also quite simple and elegant,” the buyer said. As for trends emerging at the show, the buyer added, “I am not sure it was a real trend or just coincidence, but there seemed to be a lot of ‘natural’ lines. Whether fully natural or quasi natural, it was a word that I continually heard.”

Claudia Lucas, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Behrman Communications, said hair color was a prominent trend among the show’s exhibitors.

“I don’t mean regular color, I’m talking about green, blue, lilac etc. I saw it in product typified by Manic Panic and also in extensions and pieces. When this trend is done well ala Katy Perry and Kelly Osbourne I think it looks stunning. Just as we are now used to blue and green nail polish being mainstream I think the same will happen with hair color.”

Claudia added that beauty from Korea continue to trend.

“Not only were there Korean brands and manufacturers exhibiting at the show, you can also see the influence in many products from an ingredient point of view, such as snail and starfish, and from an innovation perspective, like gel masks and patch technology.”

The winner of Discover Beauty was Static Nails, a line of pop-on nails created by founder Alexis Irene that are treated with Swarovski crystals and fashion forward designs. The nails can be used and removed as often as six times, thanks to a special reusable glue that makes nails easily removable with warm water.

And since smaller brands are open to constructive criticism to help them succeed, at least one buyer saw a packaging opportunity for Static Nails.

“I really like the concept, but I think the packaging needs to be reworked. I understand that the owner does not want to use the window in the box, but the consumer needs to see the product. She talked about making it a display, but I am not sure that will accommodate.”

Shawn Tavakoli, CEO and Founder, Beauty Collection, said the show seemed “extremely large this year than previous years due to the new show floor layout. This offered smaller brands better exposure, and more optimal locations, such as Sniffapalooza in Discover Scent and Tones of Beauty. I always look forward to seeing what’s new and connecting with tried and true brands that have supported Beauty Collection through the years. I also discovered some fresh international vendors such as, Muk, hair care from Australia; Gatsby hair wax from Asia; Reuzel hair pomade inspired by barbershops in Holland; and Beautysol a natural self-tanner in the US.”

Other Discover Beauty and show standouts were:

Juara Skincare: Launched in 2006, this may be the year for Juara to get some attention from the retail and financial community, alike. Inspired by ingredients and attitudes from Indonesia, Juara’s ingredient list includes items such as turmeric, tamarind and candlenut, which are now more mainstream than when they launched almost 10 years ago, said Nadia Yousif, EVP of Strategic Brand Development. Still quite small at under $3 million in sales, Juara’s prestige packaging and ingredients sets them apart from others in the space. Juara, which makes 20+ sku’s, is sold in SpaceNK, online and in more than 100 boutiques.

Clarisea: Launched in 2010, Clarisea was founded by Alison Carton who was looking for a treatment for her chronic body acne. Now acne free, Alison’s collection includes 30 items, from body to scalp to face care, each of which uses sea salt solutions to cleanse and detoxify skin. What makes Clarisea different is that the consumer can customize the level of grit in scrubs and polishes since formulas are packaged dry—one only needs to add water. “If you have sensitive skin you can use less powder than someone who has normal skin,” said Alison.

Earth’s Nectar: This hair care brand was developed for hair stylists to meet the needs of their multicultural clients. Sold in Sephora Canada, Earth’s Nectar has 12 sku’s including Coconut Curls, a leave-in conditioner; Honey Curls, a botanical gel; and Jojoba & Tea Tree Scalp Oil. Items target hair that’s been damaged by color, environmental factors and hair tools.

12 Benefits:
Troy Maier, President of 12 Benefits, said the professional hair care industry is part of his DNA: his grandfather was the creator of hair care line Kenra, now owned by Henkel. With bright pink packaging and clever delivery systems (they make a mousse shampoo), it’s just a matter of time before 12 Benefits has to ramp up manufacturing, especially with its newest launch, a floral and fruit scented hair perfume. The line’s star item? Instant Healthy Hair Treatment, formulated with natural hair lipids and UV protectors that work to reverse and repair damage while protecting hair. Recommended for those who consistently color, blow dry or straighten their hair, 12 Benefits is sold in Urban Outfitters and Birchbox.

Daily Concepts: Emilio Smeke of Daily Concepts said his brand aims to make taking a shower so pleasurable you’ll sing. The maker of bath accessories has been selling items to Mexico for nearly 25 years and is now entering the US, upping the ante in a category “lacking innovation” and where the majority of share comes from China-made brands. Take their newest item, Spa-to-Go Kit, which is packaged in one easy-to-carry tote and includes five shower items—a cleansing wash, a hydrating lotion, a purging mask, a renewal oil and an exfoliating scrub—along with a stretch washcloth. It will retail for $50. The brand, which has been featured on HSN more than 10 times, will enter 350 Ulta stores in August.


There may already be enough lip glosses to shine lips around the world but there’s still room for Flickable. The non-sticky formula is packaged and merchandised under the guise of a lollipop, and uses vitamin E and avocado oil to deliver moisture. Available in five shades, Flickable is targeting hi-end retailers with price points of $18.

MarulaOil: Following on the oil trend, John Paul DeJoria has launched MarulaOil, a collection of maurla oil-infused products, including a shampoo, conditioner, a hair/skin oil treatment and a mask. The brand will extend to hair tools later this year. Recently John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, invested in Aubio, a product that uses six different plant extracts that aim to eliminate cold sores within two days of appearing.

Lace for Your Face: This DIY mask by Dermovia is structured from a sterilized medical grade stretch cotton lace that hooks onto ears and comes with a chin strap so that the mask doesn’t fall off while wearing it. To be worn for 15 minutes per treatment, Lace for Your Face can be used twice and is breathable, better allowing for formulas to penetrate the skin. There are eight formulas, including those that target dry/aging skin, dark spots, sensitive skin and anti-aging. All masks are paraben, sulfate and fragrance free. Items sell for $15 per mask or $55 for a box of five. The item appeared on QVC UK July 15.

Aria Beauty: One of the cutest beauty items at Cosmoprof was certainly Aria Beauty’s Mini Blow Minder, $60. The 1200V mini- dryer is ideal for the gym, travel or even the younger set. There’s one that comes in a bridal design, perfect for a newlywed on her honeymoon. Liat Aharonson, Brand Manager for Aria, said the Honeymoon Mini Blow Minder is a best seller in Canada.