This Pride season, let’s put our dollars toward LGBTQIA2S+-founded and -owned beauty brands that are championing and supporting queer communities year-round.
Pride month welcomes us with colourful sidewalks, the strategically planned product launch and a month’s worth of rainbow washing. Even as many beauty brands are vocal in their support of LGBTQIA2S+ people and communities, the industry has been criticized for tokenizing queer and trans people. Beauty means so much to queer and trans folks — it is affirmation, it is visibility and, often, it brings out the truest version of ourselves. LGBTQIA2S+ communities are not to be bought; solidarity is not a monthly obligation and support for our communities goes beyond June. So, this month and beyond, let’s put our support in those actually a part of the community. See our recommendations for beauty brands founded and owned by LGBTQIA2S+ people below.
Real-life partners Matthew Herman and David Kien created Boy Smells as a way to disrupt gendered beauty standards. What started out as a side hustle of mixing traditionally masculine and feminine scent notes together in their kitchen in Los Angeles has evolved into a line of candles, fragrances and clothing they have coined “genderful” as a rebellious way to be gender-inclusive toward their clientele. “When we started Boy Smells, we were in the process of unpeeling how we saw ourselves in the world and embracing a deeper, truer version of ourselves — our feminine sides — with pride in addition to the more prescribed masculinity that was expected of us,” reveals Herman. Even the moniker and the overall look of the brand hold major weight in untagging pre-existing norms. With “Boy” in the name and their pink packaging, Herman says they’re “purposefully poking fun at rigid gender identifiers and giving permission for both boys and girls to borrow from the other side of the binary.” Building supportive spaces that affirm gender choices and sexuality is crucial to the mental wellness of queer individuals, he adds, which is why, throughout the months of June and July during 2020 and 2021, the brand supported The Trevor Project — the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth — by donating $150,000.
While sheltered at home in Toronto during the pandemic, Claire Davis maximized her downtime by starting her own cold-pressed-soap company, an idea inspired by her former chemistry professor. The beauty entrepreneur was pursuing her Master of Applied Science when she and her prof bonded over their mutual love of soap and concerns about sustainability, clean ingredients and what people put on their skin. “One day, I went to his office and saw soaps all over,” recalls Davis. “After our conversation, I was like, ‘I have to learn how to make soap!’ At the beginning of COVID, I just started doing research on it.” Fast-forward to today and CitySoap offers one-of-a-kind handmade bars that don’t strip the skin thanks to moisturizing Canadian-sourced ingredients like coconut and olive oils and soy butter. Davis also strives to avoid using plastic. And recognizing the powerful ability scent has to evoke memories, she’s very passionate about her comforting essential-oil blends. “Scents are an important aspect of my storytelling,” she says. “What’s the feeling of the scent? What does it bring up for you? What scent can you — as a queer person looking for comfortable and safe experiences — go back to? It’s so much more than just soap.”
Houston-based makeup artist Amoré Monét founded her eponymous vegan cosmetics label after she saw a need for “quality cosmetics brands that are Black-owned” and prioritize inclusion — a topic that’s especially important to her because her preteen daughter identifies as being gender fluid. “My daughter being a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community is a major reason for me to always keep pushing,” says Monét. “Makeup is fun and can be washed off at any given moment. I don’t understand the stigma around it being for a specific ‘gender.’ If it makes you feel good, do it! A community of people feeling good about themselves is what I want.” With a focus on creating hydrating and long-lasting lip products, Monét works closely with her daughter to name and test lipstick shades. Plus, every June, the brand donates a portion of its sales to The Trevor Project, which has special meaning for Monét as a mother. “Our queer youth are four times more likely to commit suicide,” she declares. “We need a safe space for them.”
After struggling to find easy-to-use and effective products to treat his acne breakouts, Peace Out Skincare founder Enrico Frezza set out to merge tech and skincare by developing his brand’s bestselling hydrocolloid patches. The award-winning bandage technology uses a cocktail of bacteria-fighting salicylic acid, retinyl acetate (vitamin A) and soothing aloe vera to treat zits. “I founded Peace Out because I saw a need for a skin-positive community where the effects of acne and other skin issues on mental health could be openly discussed without fear or shame,” explains Frezza, who knows all too well the psychological toll that acne can take. “I still struggle with the effects my skin issues have had on my mental health. It just doesn’t stop suddenly one day. It’s a journey.” What’s more, the San Francisco-based brand, which has expanded into serums, creams and balms, supports The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young people. This year, $5 from each box of the brand’s Limited Edition Pride Acne Healing Dot sold will be donated to The Trevor Project, with an overall minimum contribution of $25,000.
Soapwalla was born out of founder Rachel Winard’s autoimmune diagnosis and the heightened sensitive skin that came with it, which led Winard to realize the necessity of a natural, ethically sourced skincare brand for herself and others who were facing similar circumstances. The queer-founded, women-ran brand has a mission that is built on four pillars: products that are natural, vegan and organic, inclusivity (which includes looking at skincare as a universal health issue), sustainability, and activism.
Tanaïs Beauty is the brainchild of South Asian author and perfumer Tanaïs. Their platforms are thought-provoking reflections on identity, queerness, and reclamation of self, offering a place of landing and visibility for Black, Brown and Indigenous femmes to explore and see themselves in someone who knows what beauty means to us.
The brand is clearly one that draws inspiration from culture and rituals while still creating different worlds. Perfume products are “imagined beyond ideas of gender” and the brand itself “imagines fragrance, beauty and jewelry as expressions of ritual, adornment and ancestors.”
Fran Miller created her skincare line to address her own skincare needs. The Canadian founder launched the clean beauty line with values rooted in the transparency of ingredients used (plant-based); sustainability both in manufacturing and packaging, and beautiful design. A peek at the F.Miller social media platforms shows curated minimalism, however there are intentional nods to the queer communities it is a part of and inspired by. The brand also commits to donating proceeds from their lip balm to non-profits fighting for environmental and universal human rights.
You might have heard of Kaleidoscope CEO, Jesseca “Judy” Harris-Dupart from her television show Judy loves DaBrat or her social media presence. The entrepreneur is more than just a reality star. Harris-Dupart is a hairstylist-turned-hair salon owner-turned-author and CEO. She initially uses creative videos and parodies on Instagram to build her brand and expand beyond styling. The beauty mogul often shares her journey to success to inspire other Black women entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. She’s built a network of creative entrepreneurs hoping to learn from the business-savvy icon.
If you look through the social media platforms of TooD Beauty Founder Shari Siadat, you’ll notice a person committed to defying beauty norms, often flexing a unibrow and body hair, a rebellion against Eurocentric beauty standards. This among other experiences led Siadat to launch TooD Beauty, a non-binary beauty brand committed to spreading messages of self-love and encouraging consumers to fully embrace themselves. Siadat strays away from creating “… any products that make you feel like you need to change or erase anything.”
Kim Chi may not have won RuPaul’s Drag Race but her makeup brand is iconic. From lipstick and eyeshadow palettes to compacts and face scrubbers, this brand carries all the need-to-have items for makeup lovers. Kim Chi is a fan-favourite drag queen and since her time on the show, she has launched the makeup line with accessibility as a focus. The founder is intentional about making products at a reasonable price. Currently, all products are under $50. This is just one of many ways KimChi Chic gives back to the communities they are a part of. The brand also frequently donate to charities with missions aimed at supporting marginalized women and people.
Founder Remi Brixton has had a fascination with freckles since childhood. It’s the inspiration behind her cosmetics brand, Freck Beauty, a brand committed to pushing and expanding beauty standards outside the norm. Their first product Freck OG was the first freckle pen on the market. Seven years later, it is one of their most recognizable products. Their unique delivery, approach and ingredients (cactus is in all of their products) have helped them build a loyal following. Many resonate with the women-led brand’s mantra to create products for individuals who “care about ingredients, respect the process, and don’t care about the rules.”
Many beauty brands target older users with messaging to reverse aging. So when Rochelle Weitzner founded PAUSE Well-Aging, she knew she wanted to avoid such messaging. PAUSE was born while she was experiencing menopause symptoms, which led Weitzner to analyze how beauty companies speak about aging, rather than acknowledging the privilege as it is. She was determined to create a brand that allows women to feel graceful, empowered and beautiful on their own terms as they age. In doing so, she has created a community of women embracing all the changes and chapters of their lives.
Emmy-nominated makeup artist JoAnne Fowler began her beauty journey as a makeup artist on television and movie sets. She developed SAPPHO New Paradigm as a safe, natural makeup alternative for her clients and actors. This cosmetic brand is vegan, cruelty-free and committed to sustainability; its promise to consumers is to “get greener as we grow.” The brand is invested in biodegradable, recyclable packaging that is kind and healthy for the planet. For instance, its latest launch, the Maximum Intensity Refillable Mascara, sees the brand’s beloved mascara formula in new refillable packaging, featuring a single-material plastic inner tube, and reusable and recyclable aluminum outer tube. Better yet, the launch is a collaboration with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to ensure it was thoroughly tested for PFAS (which are often referred to as “forever chemicals” and have been linked to a range of health concerns, plus water and soil contamination) with undetected levels found in both the formula and packaging. SAPPHO is an eco-friendly brand that recognizes the Indigenous land they occupy, and donate to initiatives that support Indigenous youth.
This gender-free beauty brand was founded by former TV and film makeup artist Jessica Blacker. She began the brand after one of her trans clients sought makeup advice from Blacker while sitting in her chair. Since then, she’s created a brand that proudly states they create “makeup for all genders, sexualities, expressions, abilities, pronouns, shapes and sizes.” One of the coolest aspects of the brand is its ambassador program where customers can submit photos and videos to be features on their platforms.
Fluide Beauty is a mission-driven beauty brand that creates vegan and cruelty-free products designed for all skin shades and gender expressions. Co-founded by intergenerational duo Laura Kraber and Isabella Giancarlo, this brand is intentional in showcasing bold, glittery and expressive images that are reflective of the LGTBQIA2S+ people and communities they come from and serve. The brand is loudly and proudly queer stating on its website, “through providing a platform and amplifying the voices of queer and gender-expansive identities…we hope to inspire others to create their identities on their own terms, opening up possibilities for everyone’s self-expression.”
A version of this article first appeared in FASHION’s Summer 2022 issue. Find out more here.