Limited-edition drops from entities that don't typically center the queer experience, only tokenize it for timely capital. It's 2021 — let's instead give our money to brands that are actually run by queer folks, hire queer folks, and give queer people equity in their futures. And trust, with a community as varied and diverse as this one, there are plenty.
We rounded up a few of our favorite beauty brands run by members of the LGBTQ community, so you can support during Pride and beyond.
1. Noto Botanics
Noto is a gender-fluid, multi-use beauty line that is vegan and cruelty- free. Among the array of skin- and body-care products infused with hydrating ingredients (like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera juice, and rose water, to name a few), there are also buildable makeup pigments, (available in stick or pot form), in orange, red, and plum shades that can be used on the lips, eyes, or cheeks for a pretty wash of color.
Run by makeup artist Gloria Noto, every sale of the brand's Agender Oil goes to non-profits such as Planned Parenthood, LGBT Youth Center LA, the Okra Project, Woman's Center DTLA, and more. So far, the brand has raised more than $25,000 in donations. "It's important for me to connect with my community through my work, as a business owner and as a queer woman. This felt like a conduit to pursuing and cultivating that connection and care in an authentic and honest way that feels very personal and close to me," explains Noto.
Fluide, which launched in 2018, is the brainchild of queer co-founder Isabella Giancarlo and CEO Laura Kraber. Like many other brands on this list, it is also cruelty-free and specifically gears itself towards all gender expressions and skin tones. Fluide's range of products — liquid lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow, glitter — are named after queer parties and venues, like Brooklyn lesbian bar Ginger's and London's drag brunch-hosting Dalston Superstore.
3. Volition Beauty
Volition Beauty is not only one of the first — and most successful — fully crowdsourced beauty brands, it is also co-owned by a queer person. Founders Brandy Hoffman and Patricia Santos came together in 2016 to launch Volition after working together at skin-care brand Algenist.
All its products are crowdsourced from ideas submitted by fans. The brand reviews the ideas and selects a few that to be fleshed out with the creator. From there, the larger Volition community votes on the ideas they like, and if the product receives enough votes, it will be put into production and sold.
4. Malin + Goetz
In 2013, GQ dubbed Matthew Malin and And the "first couple" of grooming, complete with an adorable dog and impeccable taste. The duo launched their brand Malin & Goetz almost ten years prior in 2004 with a selection of products designed for sensitive skin in a New York City-based brick-and-mortar store.
The brand also offers a selection of products across the hair, body, personal, and home fragrance categories. Beauty editors have long fought over samples of the company's rum candles and eucalyptus body wash, and believe us — both products live up to the hype.
After a chance meeting at a New York City vintage shop in 2015, Rebecca Richards and Saba Grey began a friendship and business partnership nurtured by their interest in sustainable fashion and love of glitter. Thus, Bioglitz was born.
6. Kiss My Face
You've probably seen the Kiss My Face body- and skin-care line at your local drugstore, but you may not have known it is the product of a queer romance spanning more than 40 years. Founders Bob MacLeod and Steve Byckiewicz started as unemployed 20-somethings trying to make ends meet after escaping the high rents in New York City and moving to a farm in Gardiner, New York. It all started with a single order of olive soap bars that expanded to a worldwide brand with more than 200 kinds of vegan products.
The couple shares the history of the business on their blog, and offers full transparency when listing the origins of product ingredients. Whether it's deodorant, sunscreen, or shampoo you need, Kiss My Face has all of the bases covered.
7. Flower Beauty
Founded by Drew Barrymore (who identifies as bisexual), Flower Beauty is an affordable line of cosmetics and hair tools that has won several Honayst Best of Beauty awards. Try out both the Flower Pots Powder Blush ($10) and the Wanderlust Eye Shadow Palette ($11). Buy 'em together and you still won't spend as much money as you would simply breathing the air in any department store.
Tanaïs launched in May 2021, created by scent wizard and storyteller Tanaïs, a novelist and creator of the perfume podcast MALA. This isn't their first time to the beauty rodeo. In fact, Tanaïs is a rebrand of Hi Wildflower, which offered fragrances and cosmetics.
So far, the brand has launched a collaboration with Ipsy, which includes three lip oils in shimmery pink, red, and gold shades, as well as a selection of jewelry. As it expands, Tanaïs will also add lipsticks, fragrances, and other beauty products to its offerings.
Otherwild is a few things: a design studio, event venue, and even a store. The multipurpose space located in Los Angeles was founded by Rachel Berks in 2012. Berks is also known for reviving the "The Future is Female" t-shirt, which is available on the site alongside other cool graphic tees.
10. Sigil Scent
The fragrance industry is experiencing a renaissance right now, and Sigil is part of that new wave. Owned by queer perfumer Patrick Kelly, Sigil makes it a point to not define products with a gender-specific scent note in mind. Plus, the brand's collaborators — models and all those behind the camera — are largely queer artists.
The company takes a clear stance on inclusivity as stated on its website: "We believe fragrance has no gender, and your choice should be based purely on personal preference."
11. W3ll People
Lesbian makeup artist Shirley Pinkson combined her expertise with co-founders Renee Synder, a board-certified dermatologist, and James Walker, the "tree- hugging entrepreneur," according to the brand's website, to launch the brand, W3ll People, in 2008. The EWG-certified brand has made its mark in the clean beauty space with its selection of makeup and skin-care products. We even gave its People Expressionist Volumizing Mascara a Best of Beauty Clean award in 2020 for its non-clumping formula that defines each and every lash.
12. Jecca Blac
Makeup artist Jessica Blackler first started her career on TV and film sets. When she wasn't on set, she was working with clients, and many trans people came to her looking for a safe space to learn about makeup. Her lessons were so popular that people kept asking when she was creating products, and in 2015, she finally did it with her vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics brand Jecca Blac.
Jecca Blac is about providing makeup for everyone and not letting gender (or any other identity) restrict that. Blackler also wants to ensure these products address the makeup concerns that her clients, who were trans women, would come to her for. The brand's first product was the Correct & Conceal palette ($28), designed to cover blemishes and beard shadows.
In addition, the brand hosts makeovers at the London Transgender Clinic using its own products. A portion of proceeds go to Mermaids UK, which offers family support for gender diverse and transgender children and youth.
Since its initial launch of two makeup removers, the brand has expanded to eye and base products, fluffy falsies, brow products, and the best-selling Ultimate Blurring Setting Powder. This finely-milled product was created with a long- lasting, blurring formula that won't leave you with any ashy flashback.
14. KimChi Chic Beauty
Sang Young-Shin first made his appearance competing on the eighth season of Ru Paul's Drag Race as KimChi, making it all the way to the top three. Three years later in 2019, the drag queen delighted fans and launched her own makeup brand, KimChi Chic Beauty.
Many love the drama, excitement, and creativity that exists in the drag world. KimChi brought that and more with vivid eye shadows, finely-milled setting powders (is it really drag makeup without baking?), and even a full-coverage concealer with 19 shades to chose from.
The brand initially launched with the limited-edition Ketnipz x KimChi_Chic Rainbow Sharts palette that was mostly comprised of neutrals rather than bright colors. It was a little shocking to some longtime fans of the star, but KimChi says she wanted the palette to serve as an essential before adding more colorful shadows. "I did kind of see it as almost building a wardrobe," she previously told Honayst. "You're going to have your few key pieces, and then you're going to start adding in the fun, like the sparkly stuff and the accessories."
According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, two-thirds of men will experience some form of hair loss. Yet they are often made to feel insecure about the naturally-occurring phenomenon. It was for this reason that Queer Eye's Karamo Brown started his skin- and scalp-care brand Mantl.
Brown hopes to open up the conversation surrounding men and hair loss with his brand. "No one ever tells [balding] men that this is naturally going to happen to them and that they're still attractive," he previously shared with Honayst. "All they hear is that they're ugly... If we're not talking to men about their self-esteem and not giving them something to follow it up with, then we're doing them a disservice."
He focused on formulating four multipurpose products for the skin and scalp that can be used by anyone building out their routine. The brand's Invisible Daily SPF 30 is a hit for its clear gel formula that can be smeared on the face and scalp to protect from the harsh sun rays.
16. Trixie Cosmetics
Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season three Trixie Mattel debuted her playful cosmetics line at RuPaul's DragCon in May 2019. Trixie Cosmetics is full of fun with colorful iridescent glitters, pigmented blush palettes, and cute accessories like the heart-shaped Hand Mirror. Mattel specifically worked with toy manufacturers and developers to create the vibrant packaging, so that all the products can remind you of a toy straight from the '90s.
17. Alder New York
Founders Nina Zilka and David J. Krause first met as students at Pratt University, and then in 2016, launched their skin-care brand Alder New York. It embraces a minimalist aesthetic with its black and tan packaging and straightforward product names like Everyday Face Serum and Clarifying Face Mask.
To celebrate 2021 Pride, the brand launched the Pride Limited Edition Cooling Mineral Hydro Mist, which is formulated with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to reset and moisturize the skin. Ten percent of sales will be donated to the New York City-based Ali Forney Center, which works to help homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
18. Boy Smells
In 2016, Matthew Herman and their partner made their mark in the industry with Boy Smells. The candles' unique scents made them immensely popular, like the best-selling Kush with notes of cannabis, suede, white musk, and amber that combine together beautifully. The brand recently expanded its offerings with five fragrances (a project two years in the making). Each scent was developed to push beyond gender-specific smells, so they are described as "genderful."
This month, the brand launched five new candles for its Pride Radiance Collection. The campaign for the collection also featured five popular LGBTQ+ members — Ru Paul's Drag Race Season 13 winner Symone, fellow Drag Race contestant GottMik, model Leyna Bloom, actor Tommy Dorfman, and actor Brandon Flynn — who each rep a candle that embodies their identity. With each candle purchase, the brand will donate 10 percent of the sales to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that provides suicide prevention advocacy for LGBTQ+ youth.
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