Beauty should be an industry heavily dominated by women, seeing as its customers are predominantly women, offering products designed for and aimed at women. And it does employ majorly women. Just not necessarily at the top. To quote feminist Caitlin Moran’s words of wisdom “It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.” Although numerous beauty mega brands were set up by women, they are now run by male CEOs. Estée Lauder’s eponymous brand is now known as Estée Lauder Companies, worth $11.38bn and headed up by President John Demsey. Elizabeth Arden is now a group run by E. Scott Beattie, and Liz Earle sold her brand to Walgreens Boots Alliance, whose CEO is Stefano Pessina. In an environment where 182 beauty brands are owned by 7 major groups, it’s refreshing to see a new beauty destination championing women-led niche brands. Come and discover Rare Beauty and what it has to offer.
The Rare Beauty Concept
Founded by natural skincare enthusiast Corinne Thomas (you can read my Insider Q&A with her here), Rare Beauty is the UK’s first women-led natural beauty store. Only natural and organic products are featured, they are all cruelty-free and made in the UK in small artisanal batches. The products selected have been tested and reviewed by a collective of women called the Rare Beauty Residents, the idea being that they provide customers with honest opinions.
I came across Rare Beauty on social media before it launched and got in touch with Corinne to see how I could be involved. I agreed to be a mystery shopper when the site launched, purchasing a product to then not only write a review about it but also to share my experience as a Rare Beauty shopper.
The first thing I noticed was the website’s colour (yes that’s singular, just the one): it clearly signals its intention to appeal to women thanks to perennial pink splashed across the landing page. And there’s a lot of it: the logo, the menu, the icons, writing, the imagery, it’s all pink. Not that it bothers me as pink is actually my favourite colour (years of gender stereotyped conditioning) but I think it could work well as an accent shade – sometimes less is more, as with my tips for a hotel-style bathroom.
There are currently 7 brands available and 48 products, which compared to huge beauty sites such as Feelunique with over 5,500 on skincare alone, makes choosing products quite easy and straightforward. As you may have noticed by now I have a bit of a thing for travel size skincare so I chose Bloom Remedies travel set for sensitive skin. Once the order was placed I received a confirmation email and a couple of days later got my hands on the parcel. The product was wrapped in – yes you guessed it – bright pink tissue paper, but the plus point is that all packaging was either recyclable or compostable. I would never have known that the white loose fill packing chips were compostable and I think that’s worth shouting about.
Considering this is a brand new business there seemed to be surprisingly few teething issues, the main one being broken links to the residents’ social platforms (who is Amy? Her Instagram and website links don’t work). Overall though the experience is as smooth as the one provided by larger more established beauty websites, but friendly like a start up.
Bloom Remedies Travel Set for Sensitive Skin
Based in Cornwall, Marie Hall launched Bloom Remedies in 2012, a range of affordable skincare products enriched in essential oils. My initial thought when I saw the product on Rare Beauty was ‘Hey they stock Neal’s Yard Remedies ! Oh no wait…’ The labels and logo give off an apothecary vibe, complete with bronze coloured glass bottles. Priced at £14.00, this travel set for sensitive skin features three 30ml face care products : a cleanser, a toner and a moisturiser – the good old 3-step skincare routine. These come in an unbranded raffia drawstring bag (which isn’t quite big enough to close over the products), meaning you can re-use it to house a homemade gift. All three formulas are organic, each short ingredients list reads like a dream, heavily featuring organic base oils, flower extracts, natural essential oils and not much else.
Daily Cream Cleanser : with Sweet Orange and Geranium essential oils, this is gentle without any tightness on the skin
Refreshing Toner: with orange blossom, geranium and rose flower water, this is my favourite ; the scent is reminiscent of The Body Shop’s Rose Water from my childhood
Delicate Care Face Moisturiser : enriched in soothing Chamomile and Rose water my skin felt balanced, with just the right amount of hydration without any heaviness
What I did find odd was a leaflet inside the raffia bag offering 15% off your next purchase of Bloom Remedies – valid to use on the Bloom Remedies website, not Rare Beauty, therefore taking customers away from the site this was purchased from and re-directing them to the brand’s own site.
I love discovering new beauty websites that promote niche organic products. I’m all for positive discrimination to kick start change, so the fact that Rare Beauty champions women while doing this by only stocking brands led by women is music to my ears. Have you discovered Rare Beauty yet ? Please leave a comment below to let me know.
Features PR samples.