When it comes to shopping for gifts, especially at the holidays, the temptation to just Prime everything and get it over with is strong (believe me, I UNDERSTAND). But shopping small for even a few items can have a big impact for entrepreneurs and their communities. To make things easy for you, I rounded up some woman-owned small beauty businesses that have earned rave reviews either from me or from trusted friends.
Of course, the companies in this list represent just a tiny fraction of the small businesses where you can find unique bath, body and makeup gifts. What are your favorites that didn’t make my list? Share them in the comments below so other readers can check them out!
ArXotica | Natural skincare with northern roots
Founded by sisters Michelle Sparck, Cika Sparck and Amy Sparck Dobmeier of Alaska’s Qissunamiut tribe, ArXotica started out in 2011 offering just a single, high-potency serum and now offers a growing line of skincare and body products, from lip balms ($4) to lotion sprays ($12) and the original serum ($10-$130). A few years ago, I wrote a story for 61º North magazine about the science of Arctic botanicals behind ArXotica’s products, which are full of natural antioxidants from flavonoid-rich tundra plants. The plants for ArXotica’s products are harvested by hand on the tundra of Western Alaska.
Atomic Cosmetics | The science of color
Founded by biochemist Dr. Jennifer Dietrich, Atomic Cosmetics offers bath, beauty and skincare products that are “tested on showgirls, never on animals.” My friend Kamala (who founded a burlesque troupe, so you know she knows what she’s talking about) has been raving about Atomic’s Lip of the Month club ($55-$180) for years. Did another brand discontinue your favorite shade of lipstick? Atomic will recreate it for you ($45)!
Berwyn Betty’s Bath and Body | Prize bath bombs for all ages
Once my kids found out about prize bath bombs, it was only a matter of time before they started coming for mine. (A lesson I learned when I found my preschooler running LUSH bath bombs under the bathroom tap to see what was inside them.) To head them off, I started ordering prize bombs just for them from Berwyn Betty. Owner Stephanie Miller was inspired to start making bath products by her daughter, who is autistic, and her goal is to build a business that provides meaningful employment for people with special needs. Her products are colorful, high-quality, and reasonably priced, and my kids are nuts about her bombs. Berwyn Betty products are handmade in Berwyn, Ill.
Dirty Girl Body Beauty | Sweet-as-sugar handmade scrubs
My mom brought me a jar of Dirty Girl’s all-natural sugar lip scrub ($10 from the Portland Saturday Market last year and I adore it. (I haven’t even made my easy DIY lip scrub since I’ve had the Dirty Girl version on hand.) Dirty Girl’s scrubs and body butters are handmade by Jennifer Ross in Vanouver, Wash.
Drag Off | Skin care, simplified
Full disclosure: Drag Off was founded by my cousin, Sheri Olesen. That said, I would love her all-natural makeup remover ($25-$36) even if I weren’t obligated by family ties to do so. If you’re not into multi-step skincare regimens, this is the product for you; just rub it into your skin, let it break down your makeup, and wipe it away. You don’t even have to moisturize afterward. My personal favorite is The T, which contains tea tree oil and baking soda — a refreshing treat for congested skin. Drag Off is handmade by Sheri and her crew in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Jewelry Jar Candles | Made-to-order bath bombs
I guess technically Jewelry Jar Candles isn’t solely woman-owned, but I’m throwing it in here because it’s a great little company. If you missed my full review of Jewelry Jar Candles during Ring Bomb Bonanza, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Bath bombs, shower steamers and candles (with jewelry inside, obvs) that are handmade in Canada by a husband-and-wife team who also provide really excellent customer service.
Juvia’s Place | YouTube’s favorite pigmented eye shadows
OK, fine, I’m bending the rules again… I don’t know that Juvia’s Place can really be called a “small” business (they’ve got more than a million Instagram followers and you can buy Juvia’s Place in Ulta now!). But this WOC-owned beauty brand makes some of the best eye shadow palettes I’ve tried in a long time, and they’re affordable to boot (think $20-$25).
What’s your favorite woman-owned small beauty business? Drop a link in the comments!