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The inspiring female entrepreneurs behind your favourite cult beauty brands

Show your unwavering support to these international cult favourites and homegrown beauty brands owned by women

Photo: Instagram /  @emilyweiss

Have you ever wondered about the numbers and statistics of women behind beauty brands? Well, according to LedBetter’s most recent Gender Equality Index, 71 per cent of leadership roles in the beauty industry are held by men. Shocking, isn’t it? Especially when it seems like it’s the one industry women should dominate in.

As surprising as the figure is, it is also equally motivating to see more and more women stepping up and taking charge in this sector, either by leading the product creation team or spearheading a new brand. Here are seven inspiring female entrepreneurs who are heading either international cult favourite beauty brands or homegrown ones, and the product to try from each label.


1. Rea Ann Silva – Beautyblender

The tiny but mighty cheery pink tear drop-shaped sponge, which is no stranger to makeup aficionados and regular Sephora shoppers, has spawned countless imitations. But did you know that it is the brainchild of celebrity makeup artist Rea Ann Silva, who came up with the concept while working on a TV set almost twenty years ago?

Back when Rea was the department head of American sitcom Girlfriends – it featured four African-American female lead actresses and was also one of the first shows shot in high definition – she ran into serious problems with making foundation look natural. Her experience with special effects makeup proved valuable: She knew that bouncing a sponge onto the skin with makeup will add dimension and make it look skin-like. She also knew that by adding a bit of water, it would set the makeup and give a more natural, luminous finish.

The only thing she lacked was a tool that would seamlessly blend makeup as any lines of demarcation would appear on camera. That led her to the creation of her secret weapon on set – she cut up wedge sponges into little tear drop shapes in her trailer and wet them before use. And yes, the Beautyblender sponge is designed to be used wet so remember to wet, squeeze and bounce your blender, people!

Must-try product: Beautyblender Original, $32, from Sephora


2. Wendee Lee – Biconi


A silver ining from a dark cloud, the news of her father's cancer diagnosis kick started her family’s search for a natural health supplements to help her father cope with his illness. After witnessing the healing power of natural ingredients on one's body, Wendee & her mom started @biconi . Inspired by the amazing biodiversity of SEA, this power-packed mother-daughter duo brings your heritage to you in the most natural of ways. #WarriorCrushWednesday #livemoreconsciously #gitnbasia #littlegreensteps . . . . . . #sustainabilitysg #consciousliving #ecofriendlyproducts #ecosg #eatbetter #plasticwaste #greenliving #ecofriendly #sustainability #sustainableliving #gitnbasia #savinggaia #gogreen #consumerism #happy #gaia #happy #mindfulness #greenliving #singapore #ethical #love #life #urban #sustainableproducts

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It all began when Wendee Lee’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008. To help him fight skin infections and hair loss, Wendee, along with her mother, started making soap bars infused with homemade noni enzyme from the medicinal, antioxidant fruit found in her family-owned farm.

Noni has been used in traditional Malay medicine for centuries and realising how its restorative properties can greatly benefit those with damaged hair and skin, Wendee launched Biconi that uses noni as the key ingredient as well as other native Southeast Asian ingredients such as virgin coconut oil in the products.

Must-try product: Hair Repair Clarifying Shampoo, $24 for 250ml, from Biconi


3. Emily Weiss – Glossier


Wearing a blazer over your shoulder = instant fancy

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Glossier was introduced to the world in 2014 via the powers of social media. And it’s hard to imagine that this millennial beauty brand first started out as a blog (known as Into The Gloss) four years prior by founder and chief executive officer Emily Weiss before skyrocketing to cult status. Everyone wanted a piece of its signature pink TSA-ready makeup pouch in bubble wrap design, which the brand uses to package its products.

The background story is that Emily launched her blog to let readers in on the enviable beauty regimes of fashion’s elite while working as a fashion assistant in Vogue. And using it as a springboard, she started selling her own products under the Glossier brand soon after.

Widely regarded as one of the key figures in democratising the beauty industry, Emily is one of the pioneers of the concept of consumer-led beauty, where heavy emphasis is placed on millennial-friendly marketing and social media to get consumers to buy the products without trying them on first. It also helps that its budget-friendly products have found fans among Hollywood’s A-listers such as Beyonce, Chrissy Teigen and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Must-try product: Boy Brow, $35.90, in three variants – black, brown and clear, from Blushboss