9 indie beauty brands you need to try in 2023
New beauty brands are constantly popping up – but what makes them stand out? Well, in 2023, it’s all about sustainable sourcing and glowing skin. So from mushrooms to papayas, one-step skin routines to max makeup fun, HUNGER scopes out the top indie beauty brands right now.
Are you looking to strip back your makeup routine to a five-minute affair? Well, Merit Beauty is coming to the UK from the US and will swap out your current overflowing beauty bag for a clean and curated pack of essentials. Founded in 2021 by Katherine Power (who also owns Who What Wear, Versed, and Avaline), the brand’s aim was minimalism, from its ingredients and packaging to its usability. They partnered with Biba de Sousa, a famed Hollywood facialist, to eliminate a whopping 73 potentially harmful ingredients to the skin. With plant-based squalane and antioxidants, Merit is all about its skin-loving, sustainable, natural beauty-enhancing products.
HUNGER’S standout: ‘The Minimalist’
Merit’s perfecting complexion stick with buildable coverage is described as “not foundation or concealer, but it will replace both in your bag.” Coming in 20 shades and doubling up as a creamy contour stick, you just reduced your essentials by three whole items – it doesn’t get much more minimalist.
Created by twin sisters Simi and Haze, Simihaze Beauty is on a mission to utilise duality and versatility: morning and night, function and form, clean and crazy. If you haven’t heard of the brand’s founders via their LA status and celebrated DJ sets at Coachella, it’s time to get them on your radar. With a focus on self-expression, their colourful range combines futuristic artistry to create a product of sculptural style. Their funky face stickers and sparkly eye gems are Insta staples, selling out the weekend before Coachella as festival-goers emptied the shelves in a mad rush to get the Simihaze look.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Sun Flush’ face tint
As it says on the tin, ‘Sun Flush’ is set to enhance your natural blush with a creamy and blendable texture. But, true to its twin-spired brand ethos, it also injects a fun and experimental quality with a buildable pop of colour. After picking one of Simihaze’s best-selling products in five different shades, all that’s left is to throw your funky pastel blush in your bag for that healthy glow on the go, no brush needed.
Berlin beauty line Herbar is mad about mushrooms — and for good reason. Founded by Catarina Oliveira and Rui Liu, their desire to produce an inclusive line for all ages and skin types was merged with their passion for adaptogenic mushrooms and plants. The mushroom’s magic lies in its ability to adapt to specific body demands, including anxiety, fatigue, and stress. With three products (a face oil, skin pearls and gua-sha shroom), Herbar’s ingredients boast a multitude of natural healing properties. Still, it’s not just their flawless formula that sets the brand apart from its competitors, as their anti-design branding taps local artists for their campaigns. From 60s-inspired fairy illustrations to a photo shoot with Oliviera’s grandmother, nothing about Herbar is conventional.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Adaptogenic Skin Pearls’
Herbar’s brand-new item launched this year as the cult-fave Face Oil and Gua-Shroom’s partner in crime: the Adaptogenic Skin Pearls. The brand has created its sell-out face oil in an ingestible form, utilising the knowledge of beauty, fungi, and cellular senescence to boost your skin’s immunity.
Youthforia was founded by Fiona Co Chan, who, when the pandemic hit, reminisced on those times when you’d have so much fun that you’d forget to take off your makeup before bed. Thus, Youthforia was born as the brand that produced makeup *actually* as good for your skin as skincare. Even in the early stages of Youthforia, Chan would sleep in makeup to prove she woke up with better skin. Viewing makeup as an extension of skincare, all their products use plant-based synthetics, ensuring a high-quality performance and rich texture. Despite being founded in 2021, the brand has become a favourite for many with its selection of innovative formulas and fun-loving ethos. And on top of that, they formulate completely without fossil fuels.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘BYO Blush’
BYO Blush is the world’s first colour-changing blush. This transparent oil is actually a coloured blush that caters to any texture and combination of skin. No makeup means the blush retains a glow, and a powder base merely accentuates its colour. A world first, but hopefully not a last.
When US skincare brand, Tower 28, came to the UK, it sold out within a few hours of release. TikTok-approved and more than worthy of the hype, Tower 28 has cemented itself as the go-to for sensitive skin and a dewy glow. Amy Lui founded the brand in 2019 after seeing the underrepresentation of skincare products for those suffering from eczema. She vowed to make it a priority to be branded as safe by the National Eczema Association, entirely vegan and 100% free of irritants. With their completely clean USP, Tower 28 has gained fans from the likes of Khloe Kardashian and Kate Bosworth.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Shine On’ Lip Jelly
Do you know those lip glosses that shine for a while but then leave you dry-lipped and re-applying every ten minutes? The ‘Shine On’ lip jelly formula does the opposite, as it retains moisture and keeps you glossy for hours to come. In 12 shades (six translucent and six milk jellies), it’s a unique blend of lip treatment and gloss qualities, making it the perfect all-in-one for everyday makeup.
Oh My Cream
Oh My Cream is all about skin, skin, skin. Their beauty concept stores aim to give women access to the most cutting-edge brands and the best advice on products and treatments for their skin. Founded by Juliette Levy, the 22 concept stores in France are now bringing their own skincare line to the UK — and they can assure you everything will be expertly formulated. Aiming to find a routine that works for the individual, its new range of products means that mixing and matching according to their advice will help you achieve your ultimate look.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘The Shower Gel’
With an oil-into-gel texture, Oh My Cream’s foamy shower gel proves that the brand can do it best itself. The all-natural unisex fragrance of bergamot combined with the texture means Oh My Cream displays its love for luxury, knowledge, and, especially, moisture in all it does.
Haircare connoisseur Loretta De Feo was trying to solve her struggle of finding a staple product she could return to with confidence. This resulted in Dizziak: the super-hydrating, cost-effective conditioning brand. Multi-award-winning and inclusive for all hair and body types, their deep-conditioning formula and curl-reviving, anti-frizz results have made it one of the most-talked-about haircare brands in the past few years. Alongside curls, their body range with conditioners and scrubs shows Dizziak to be committed to their no dryness cause: a feat they are on the way to undoubtedly eliminating with their cult-fave products.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Deep Conditioner’
At just £22, the affordable Deep Conditioner has been making its way through the curly community as the ultimate revival mask. Completely cruelty-free and vegan, De Feo’s first-ever product was created to cater to the Black community, who she felt were underly represented compared to other hair types. With this outlook, she produced a deep conditioner that worked wonders and didn’t use cruel or harsh chemicals that would damage the hair more in the long run.
The new skincare brand BAO essentials, launched by Jae Joseph, is all about papaya. The brand’s love for storytelling starts all the way back with their making, where they used the idea of ‘bodega beauty’ by sourcing and creating essentials for the community in a local New York lab. The collection includes four products with papaya enzymes in each, going on to dull surface cells and creating a smooth and clear complexion. Joseph’s Caribbean heritage is also intrinsic to BAO essentials, as their highly-researched love for superfoods extends to their ethos that beauty starts from the inside out.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Papaya Enzyme Toner’
It couldn’t smell any fresher than if you had an actual papaya in your skincare bag. BAO essential’s toner with geranium, sage, and cucumber extract tones the skin without drying it, while the superfood papaya dissolves the dead skin cells on top and removes dark spots that make it appear duller. Vegan and cruelty-free, this is the answer to your mega-glow skin prayers.
As sunscreen protection is one of beauty’s most treasured items, you may forget that your SPF-checking habits also go past your skin and under the hair. The solution to your sun-soaked scalp woes lies with the haircare brand Oway, which is the first to tackle UV damage with its soil-to-the-scalp and zero-mile production approach. Just in time for summer, the brand is launching its new Sunlight Serum, a 100% natural SPF for the scalp, hair, and body. Their formula aims to maintain nourishment whilst protecting from photo-ageing, sun exposure, saltwater, sand, and chlorine. Their new Sunway collection is the perfect travelling companion that utilises nutrients to stop the scalp dehydration we tend to neglect.
HUNGER’s standout: ‘Sunlight Serum’
This hydrating and nourishing body and hair dry oil is holiday-ready as the perfect two-in-one product. It comprises biodynamic marigolds, organic baobab and pomegranate, ethical passion fruit, and brown algae. By spreading all over the hair and paying attention to the ends, this quick fix for sunny days will have your hair feeling healthier than ever. As for the body, a quick lather over after sun exposure will keep you hydrated throughout the drier and hotter season.