This has been a banner year for beauty. Sales are soaring and consumers are more engaged in the category than ever. The 45 brands here aren’t just benefiting from the buzz, though: They’re creating it. To compile this list, which is divided into The Establishment, The New Guard and The Originals, Beauty Inc looked at a wide array of quantitative and qualitative data to assess who’s winning and why. Here, the new guard.
These visionaries forged new paths in beauty, studying what came before, then injecting their own point of view into the subject. They get top marks for bringing innovation, inspiration and a competitive spirit to the industry. No surprise consumers cheer them on — they’re the most popular brands around.
One year post-acquisition and still on the upswing. Circana data shows Amika was the eighth largest hair care business — and top share gainer — in the U.S. prestige market in 2022. Its Soulfood Nourishing Hair Mask and Dream Routine Overnight Hydrating Hair Mask both make appearances on Sephora’s bestselling hair care products page, and consumer interest shows no signs of waning: Google searches climbed 17.9 percent, per Spate, and Amika’s earned media value grew 17 percent, according to Tribe Dynamics.
Long before science-backed skin care became table stakes, Caudalie, which combines its patented vine sap viniferine with tried-and-true skin care ingredients, had tapped Harvard Medical School to launch its Premier Cru range with scientific street cred. The brand’s value proposition is resonating as strongly as ever, with sales growing 13.7 percent to $341.4 million. Now, Caudalie is appealing to a new swath of consumers, with its acne kit nabbing a top rating on sephora.com. That success has also translated to social media, notably TikTok, where #Caudalie has more than 500 million views.
The stars are aligned at Charlotte Tilbury — and not just because of brand ambassadors like Bella Hadid and Kate Moss. The number-one makeup brand in the U.K., Charlotte Tilbury is a force in the U.S., too, the third largest share gainer in prestige makeup, according to Circana. Its social media stats are equally as impressive: Charlotte Tilbury has the second highest EMV of any beauty brand at more than $440 million, a double-digit increase year-over-year. That growth propelled makeup to fast-growing category status at powerhouse parent company Puig.
Lightning is striking twice for Gail Federici, who first conquered the frizz category with John Frieda and is now doing the same for hair color maintenance with ColorWow. The business, which was the second largest share gainer in prestige hair, per Circana, has garnered fans like superstar stylist Chris Appleton, who signed on as a brand ambassador. It’s also expanding its purview, notably with a Curl range that contains a proprietary ingredient called Profaxil-18. First-year sales were estimated to hit $8 million. Meanwhile, ColorWow’s original products are still gaining steam: various iterations of ColorWow’s Dream Coat treatment regularly land on Sephora’s bestselling hair products page.
Talk about being bullish on beauty. In 2012, when Dyson invested 50 million pounds to create its now-iconic hair dryer, it catapulted the global tech giant into the category. Fast-forward 10 years, and Dyson is still firmly focused on beauty, announcing a 500 million pound investment in 20 ensuing products in the coming years. That includes its latest innovation, the Airstraight Straightener, which launched this year and purports to dry hair as it straightens to mitigate heat damage. Consumers swooned, no matter the $499 price tag, with the bulk of its hundreds of reviews on sephora.com boasting five stars. Dyson is also among the top-searched beauty brands on Google, according to Spate, at 3.9 million searches.
Though she’s no stranger to the stage, Rihanna forged new ground during the Super Bowl Halftime 2023 show when she pulled out a Fenty Beauty compact for a touch-up. That product placement generated $5 million in media impact value in just 12 hours, according to Launchmetrics, and that’s just part of the $161 million that puts the brand as the seventh largest by that metric. Fenty is the fifth largest brand by EMV, per Tribe, at $361 million. The products also stand alone from their famed founder: Fenty’s Poutsicle Lip Stain won an Allure Best of Beauty Award. No wonder the brand is a star player at Sephora and Ulta.
Glow Recipe has parlayed its power-packed, fruit-forward formulations into an arsenal of heavy-lifting franchises. That includes Watermelon Glow, whose toner and serum top Sephora’s bestselling skin care page. The brand, which is said to have passed $150 million in retail sales in 2022, has grown 76 percent in the first half, according to industry sources. It’s a standout on social as well: EMV is up 33 percent to $100 million; Spate reports Google search is up 37 percent. Results almost good enough to eat.
Just three years after launching, K18 has turned one hero product based on proprietary biotechnology into a full-fledged hair care routine, spanning treatments and cleansing — as well as a reported $100 million in net sales. Even after the viral #K18HairFlip campaign hit hundreds of millions of views shortly after launch, its digital prowess shows no signs of slowing. According to Tribe Dynamics, EMV swelled 47 percent to $103 million. Sales remain on fire: The Molecular Repair Hair Mask is still a bestselling hair treatment at Sephora.
One of P&G Beauty’s latest acquisitions, Mielle Organics was hardly an overnight success. The brand, cofounded in 2014 by Monique and Melvin Rodriguez, sold to the beauty powerhouse for an undisclosed sum on the heels of a virality-induced run on its bestselling Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil, which boasts hundreds of millions of TikTok views. That was just one driver that made Mielle the second largest share gainer in mass hair care, according to Circana. It’s not the only product capturing buzz, either — the Twisting Soufflé won an Allure Best of Beauty award as well.
Though the leap from deodorants to hair care seems like a stretch, it’s one Native did with ease. After launching the category, it quickly became the top share gainer in mass hair care, according to Circana. The same data shows its equity in other categories, too, with Native becoming the third largest share gainer in mass market beauty aisles after doubling down on its key categories. It’s performing well digitally, too; EMV rose 41 percent.
Don’t let the name fool you. The Ordinary, acquired by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. in 2021, is a superpowered beauty brand. It is the fourth largest prestige skin care brand in the U.S., according to Circana, and is still reinventing the wheel. The brand introduced the O. Lab, a program that grants members early access to new products. Meanwhile, The Ordinary’s existing lineup is still capturing share of mind and wallet, with its Glycolic Acid Toning Solution, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum and Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serums all landing on Ulta Beauty’s bestselling skin care lists.
Parfums de Marly
Ahhhh, the sweet smell of success. A key player in the white-hot luxury collection fragrances segment, Parfums de Marly offers a robust retail footprint and collection of dozens of stock keeping units, inspired by the French court. Parfums de Marly has garnered attention from fragrance enthusiasts and investors alike. Earlier this year, Advent International took a majority stake in the brand as well as sister brand Initio Parfums Privés at an estimated valuation of more than $700 million. Sales for both brands were said to hit $366 million at retail.
At the nexus of purpose, star power and product sits Rare Beauty, which has catapulted to explosive sales and digital dominance just a few years after launching. The brand, which Selena Gomez launched in 2020, is the top-ranked brand by Tribe Dynamics in EMV at more than $474 million. Every launch causes a sales spike: Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil, Rare’s most recent launch, was estimated to hit $30 million in retail sales for its first year on the market. Of those sales, the brand donates 1 percent of sales to the Rare Impact Fund, which aims at increasing access to mental health services and education. Look good, feel better.
Sol de Janeiro
No brand better epitomizes the body care boom than Sol de Janeiro, which is expecting $650 million of global retail sales this year. The brand, which came to the scene with its intoxicatingly scented Bum Bum Cream, has expanded both product categories and footprint with roughly 30 retailers globally and 30 products. Among those sits a suite of popular fragrance mists based on its bestselling body creams. Google searches are up 33.8 percent to more than 450,000 weekly, according to Spate. Chief executive officer Heela Yang attributes the obsession, in part, to Sol’s body-positive ethos, epitomized by the tag line, “Love it. Flaunt it. You’ve got it.” She knows whereof she speaks.
Tom Ford Beauty
Call this business one in a billion. As Tom Ford Beauty’s sales neared $1 billion, the Estée Lauder Cos. snapped up the entire business in a landmark deal valued at $2.8 billion. Given the brand’s immense success — and staying power across categories — it’s no wonder why. It’s the fifth largest fragrance business globally, according to Euromonitor, thanks to a mix of its luxury collection fragrance launches like the Enigmatic Woods collection. Tom Ford Beauty plays just as well in media, with its $25.5 million in MIV making it the 10th fragrance brand ranked by the metric, according to Launchmetrics.
WWD Beauty Inc consulted a variety of sources to compile our list of beauty’s most powerful brands, including our own reporting throughout the year.
Domestic and International Sales:
For the prestige and mass markets in the U.S., we considered rankings of the top performers and highest-growth brands, provided by Circana. Globally, we consulted Euromonitor International on sales rankings for 2022, in addition to the WWD Beauty Inc Top 100, an annual ranking of the world’s largest beauty companies.
To see the brands with the highest digital traction, we consulted data from Tribe Dynamics, Launchmetrics and Spate, in addition to bestseller pages on sephora.com and ulta.com.
Agility and Innovation:
We considered our own reporting when looking at product innovation, trend leadership and agile responses to the factors that have most impacted 2023 thus far. As far as figures for donations and philanthropic endeavors, we relied on companies’ own reporting.
We looked at 2022 winners of the Allure Best of Beauty awards, the 2022 Beauty Inc awards, the 2022 CEW Beauty Creator Awards, the 2023 Fragrance Foundation awards and the 2023 Marie Claire Prix d’Excellence.