16 Green Beauty Company Founders on Why They Started Their Brands
Categories: Beauty Products

16 Green Beauty Company Founders on Why They Started Their Brands

Making the big switch to the green beauty movement can be more than a little overwhelming. Whether you’re a pro makeup artist, industry vet, or just a lover of all things makeup, skincare, and hair — shifting to more eco-friendly products is a personal preference with a purpose. We caught up with a few of the women (and one exceptional man) who head up our fave clean beauty brands to find out why the future is green.

KRYSIA BOINIS + KRISTINE KEHELEY, CO-FOUNDERS, Vapour Beauty

“It was never a question of doing it any other way. Organic plant-based products are the only ones I want to use and create. Krysia and I have both always said that we are our customer — we knew that if we wanted these products for daily use then other people would too. We’ve been working together in the natural products arena since 1999. Literally last century! We’ve been pioneering forces of innovation and are gratified to lead awareness as green beauty becomes the new standard.”

Patricia TRIMBLE, FOUNDER, Suntegrity

“Definitely having the personal connection to losing my mom to skin cancer gave me the extra drive to create something that would help protect people so they wouldn’t experience this same kind of loss. Additionally, wearing sunscreen is a necessity for me, so I was inspired to create something that I personally would enjoy wearing on a daily basis because it made my skin look good versus being something that I had to wear, but didn’t particularly enjoy wearing.”

LORI LEIB, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, Bodyography

“When I came on board as creative director of Bodyography seven years ago, the brand had already started moving in a more ethical direction. I was happy with the jumpstart and continued to push for Bodyography to be as clean, environmentally sustainable, and ethical as possible. Of course with doing so comes challenges, endless testing and claims, shelf life issues, and the list goes on — but it was and is important for us to offer products with amazing quality and pay off that still maintain ‘green’ standards. As a brand that does 75 percent of our business overseas, it is also extremely helpful to fit within the stringent guidelines of EU, India, and other strict country regulations by being a ‘clean’ brand.”

ASHLEY PRANGE, FOUNDER, Au Naturale Cosmetics

“The opportunity to empower women by providing them with transparently healthy makeup. The motivation behind Au Naturale has always been rooted in ethics and principal, so the additional barriers were never deterring factors, but rather inevitable obstacles in achieving my goals to empower the consumer.”

KAREN BEHNKE, FOUNDER, Juice Beauty

“Upon becoming pregnant with my first baby, and experiencing hormonal changes and the beginning of lines in my skin, I set out to find healthy skincare solutions that delivered visible results. I was astounded to learn that, although the skin absorbs up to 64 percent of what is placed on it, there were very few available healthy personal care products that worked well.

Years after my second child was born, I subsequently bought the name Juice Beauty, launched the company from scratch in 2005, and then I set out to do the impossible: to create organic and truly natural formulations that perform as well as conventional beauty products yet never compromise on the luxurious experience. Over five years, our team worked with chemists, physicians, and microbiologists from California laboratories, to perfect the chemistry of Juice Beauty. Juice Beauty’s revolutionary formulations started with a basic premise: I believed that by formulating with an antioxidant and vitamin-rich organic botanical juice base, rather than petroleum derivatives or added water, and combining it with powerful skin care ingredients, it could yield equal or better results than conventional products. Multiple clinical testing proved this assumption correct. I wanted to create meaningful change in the beauty industry.”

SUSIE WANG, CO-FOUNDER + PRODUCT DEVELOPER, 100% Pure

“100% Pure launched in 2005 because we found out about all of the toxins in conventional cosmetics. It’s true; there are more barriers because not everyone understands or accepts how toxic some of the chemicals are in conventional products and have a misconception that natural products don’t perform as well, so we had to make 100% Pure products that perform even better and were also healthy to offset the prejudice.”

SHIRLEY PINKSON, CO-FOUNDER, W3ll People

“W3LL PEOPLE has made no secret of our tireless mission to lead a new generation of beauty committed to a healthy balance between style and substance. Proving to ourselves and our customer that our holistic approach to beauty can actually provide the same, if not better, efficacy than our conventional counterparts turns us on. Our boundary-breaking formulas combine extraordinary artistry, state-of-the-art technology, and social responsibility into fiercely performing, plant-based cosmetics. We want to empower every woman to make healthy choices in life, particularly when it comes to self care. Knowing that W3LL PEOPLE provides access to better-for-you cosmetics that promote health and wellness provides a deeper level of satisfaction beyond anything imaginable in a more traditional corporate setting.”

MATTHEW WAITESMITH, FOUNDER, Artis

“I believe that the pursuit of beauty is a right for everyone. And that is enabled by having access to the right products and tools. The conventional makeup brushes available did not meet my standards of what a makeup brush should be. And I didn’t think I was alone in that conclusion. So, I spent years developing and perfecting the best and most beautiful makeup brushes in the world, in the hopes they would afford makeup-wearers the best way to pursue their own definition of beauty. When something is worth doing, it should be done right.”

Rose-Marie Swift, Founder, RMS Beauty

“I wouldn’t have created a line any other way than what I stood for. At the time so many labs didn’t want to take on this project because it was the mineral powder boom and they were focused on recreating the same thing — why not, it was cheap and easy. My formulas were considered “too expensive” and my insistence that I select and purchase all of my raw materials myself made creating my products undesirable until I found JUST the right partner. I had a clear vision of what I wanted and how I was going to do it and there were going to be no compromises, and 10 years later, I still refuse to take anything less than what I know is the best quality and a formula that I would use.”

KIRSTEN KJAER WEIS, FOUNDER, Kjaer Weis

“It was really important for me to create an alternative. The market offers so much makeup but when it came to natural brands, I felt that there were always compromises attached to the purchase. The performance wasn’t great, the colors and textures weren’t on par with conventional brands, and packing was not luxurious. There was a strong desire to fill the very evident gap that was in the market and do it well.”

SASHA PLAVSIC, FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR, Ilia



“At the time there weren’t so many barriers for entering the green beauty industry; in color there wasn’t that many options available, so the goal was to provide a new one. What mattered was transparency and quality product. Packaging also played an important role visually and I think that is something that is underestimated in the green beauty industry.”

JANE IREDALE, FOUNDER, Jane Iredale

“It was worth it because our mission is to enhance the lives of women. We can’t do that if we fill our products with ingredients that we know aren’t good for them. It’s always a challenge to produce products that work and that women want to wear and at the same time find ingredients that are green but also effective.”

KAREN BALLOU, FOUNDER, Immunologie

“It really all began for me nine years ago when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I had to make some drastic lifestyle changes to keep my body healthy as I underwent chemo treatment, everything from my diet, exercise, and as a beauty industry veteran, even my skincare regimen. After having spent over 25 years working on product and brand development, I was sincerely concerned that my skincare regimen, due to some of the ingredients found across the industry, could have had a role to play in my diagnosis. It was, to say the least, a wake-up call. So from there grew a desire to create a product as clean and natural as it was effective and luxurious. A crucial moment came during my treatment, when I was re-introduced to the incredible healing powers of French montmorillonite clay, the most mineral-rich clay on Earth. I was using it regularly and it helped calm inflammation in my skin and keep my skin from looking tired or weathered from the stress of chemotherapy, to the extent even my doctors made note of it. Given my industry experience, I also had access to a wide range of technologies, science, and individuals I knew could help me utilize this French green clay to produce a product that pushed the boundaries of how we understand skincare and how to more effectively benefit from it, in the same why I did when my body needed it most. For me I had already surpassed the highest barrier to entry, and so I decided if I survived my diagnosis, I would wholly commit myself to building a product and a brand that was honest and true and gave women and men what I feel is truly a luxury experience in skincare: the best quality clean, natural ingredients with full transparency, combined with the best production processes, to give our clients the best results and the healthiest skin.”

JOANNA MONTESANO, CEO + PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, Saint Cosmetics

“The inspiration to create Saint Cosmetics was driven purely from a space of being a consumer who was running out of options with conventional luxury beauty. We were addicted to the performance of our department store brands, but had reached a point where we were fed up with the toxic ingredients. After three years in product development, we surpassed our wildest dreams with offering formulations to complement various undertones. Slowly but surely, industry experts began comparing our formulations and color payoff to the likes of Makeup Forever, Giorgio Armani, and Mac Cosmetics, to name a few.

The inspiration to create Saint Cosmetics, from the beginning, was intentional: to bring forth a luxury plant based color cosmetics collection to the market with superior product pay-off.”

NADINE CORMIER + SANDRA ANDERSON-DIAZ, CO-FOUNDERS, Nu Evolution

“The idea of launching NU EVOLUTION came out of a need as we couldn’t find what we were looking for and were extremely frustrated as a result. There were limited options for women and men with an elevated aesthetic who also live a holistic lifestyles and coveted products that met both spectrum’s. Coming from a world that is all about top luxury beauty, we know that there is nothing beautiful about the toxic ingredients in most conventional products on the market.

Equipped with an overall wealth of professional experience from both the Fashion and Financial industries, and armed with the knowledge gained through our extensive research of ingredients, we were confident that NU EVOLUTION would fill the void in the market. Due to our affiliation to Fashion Week and our positioning in the market, we have been coined as the “Natural MAC” and are compared with top artistry brands such as DIOR, NARS, and other top players in the industry due to our branding, clean ingredients, and functionality. Essentially, we created NU EVOLUTION for the Beauty Junkie WITHOUT the Junk!”

TARA FOLEY, FOUNDER & CEO, Follain

“Helping women (and men!) make their daily routines safer is the driving force behind Follain. I think we will look back on toxic beauty ingredients the way we now look at smoking, and my passion for leading this charge has helped motivate me to push past the obstacles we faced in building the business.”

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(Photos via founders)

Designer: Rebecca Fong