When it comes to the birthplaces of beauty brands, New York and Los Angeles tend to get much of the credit. Yet Chicago absolutely shouldn’t be ignored. Numerous beauty and skincare brands chose the Windy City as the ideal place to grow their business. For instance, one of the biggest names in the industry, Ulta Beauty®, is headquartered there, and other recognizable brands — including Dermaflash®, Cocovit®, and Real Techniques® — are proud to call Chicago their home as well. Here, get to know a little more about some of these Chicago-based cult-favorite companies, including their brand histories and the products you absolutely need to try.
The Brand: Cocovít Beauty
The Backstory: Cocovít was founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Rikita Kapadia, whose family used coconut oil for generations, even before it gained momentum in the beauty space. She noticed that the formulations of most coconut oil products were stripping the wonder ingredient of its essential nutrients and enzymes. So, she did what any good founder does: she filled a gap in the marketplace. Kapadia figured out a way to extract coconut oil without using heat, and plopped the raw ingredient into a pretty jar.
The Key Product: Cocovít has exactly eight SKUs, several of which are merely size variations of the same product. Naturally, the brand’s hero product is its Coconut Oil, which is 100 percent raw coconut oil you can use on your skin, hair, and nails.
The Brand: Remix by Giselle Wasfie®
The Backstory: Giselle Wasfie's journey to founding Remix — a line of natural skincare products inspired by Chinese medicine — was a winding one. The former beauty writer and editor pursued a graduate degree in Chinese medicine, and found herself incredibly inspired in a dermatology class on Chinese herbs. She decided to experiment with making her own poultices and salves. This became the early foundation of Remix, which eventually flourished into an entire line of sophisticated herbal products that harness the power of nature.
The Key Product: Remix is known for its numerous aromatherapy sprays, but we want to shout out the Spirit CleanseTM Face Wash ($35), one of the brand’s newest launches. It's a milky potion that utilizes pearl powder, organic castile soap, and essential oils.
The Brand: Dermaflash
The Backstory: Before Dermaflash was a brand and a product, it was the signature facial at Dara Levy’s Chicago medspa. Fast forward to 2016 — about half a decade and 6,000 Dermaflash treatments later — and the mogul made the financially savvy move to allow people across the country to safely nix all their peach fuzz in the comfort of their homes. Dermaflash offers a small collection of DIY dermaplaning devices, and skincare products to use in tandem, for radiant, smooth skin. Most recently, it debuted the unique “DermaporeTM” tool, which uses ultrasonic technology to decongest pores.
The Key Product: Dermaflash’s hero is its namesake product: the Dermaflash ($199). The device is designed to get as close to the skin as possible without putting the user at risk of cuts or tears.
The Brand: La Bella FiguraTM
The Backstory: After closely examining beauty products’ formulas and realizing how few ingredient lists were actually clean, Victoria Fantauzzi and Karen King launched their brand La Bella Figura in 2010. The founders are unique in the sense that they do it all — from research to development to testing to bottling — in-house at their beautiful Chicago-based space. The formulas run the gamut from home fragrance to hair and body treatments, but in our opinion, the star category of the line is its skincare. The active products, which include cold-pressed oils, cleansers, and masks, are typically priced between $45 to $115, and are created with a high percentage of organic ingredients.
The Key Product: A quick glance through the Healing Manuka Mask ($70) ingredient list is enough to sway you into purchasing; it’s no wonder it’s one of the brand’s top sellers. The mask combines raw manuka honey with aronia berry powder (rich in resveratrol), prickly pear oil, vanilla seeds, jasmine petals, and kaolin clay to nourish and hydrate thirsty skin.
The Brand: Ulta Beauty
The Backstory: With such a huge presence around the country, it's hard to imagine a world where Ulta didn’t exist. The brand is relatively young, though. It was founded in 1990 with the primary goal of being a one-stop shop for beauty fiends. As the first (and still one of the only) retailers to combine both prestige and drugstore brands, Ulta is a true trailblazer in the beauty retail space. Today, you can step inside any store and be greeted by over 20,000 products across a wide range of categories and price points, or go online and shop your favorite deals and brands there. You can also get salon services, including blowouts and color treatments.
The Key Product: In addition to selling many other brands, Ulta has its own line of products. With over 1,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating, the Matte Face Primer ($18) is one of the brand’s best-selling and most popular products. It's formulated with salicylic acid to nix excess oil production and treat acne, while providing a smooth, gripping base for your foundation.
The Brand: Real Techniques
The Backstory: The beauty world focuses heavily on cosmetics, but where would we be without great brushes to apply said makeup? That’s where Real Techniques comes in. The line of color-coded, affordable brushes was developed by two British sisters Samantha Chapman and Nicola Haste. (You might know them better as Pixiwoo — they were some of the original YouTube® influencers, and started their channel in 2008). Capitalizing on their momentum, they launched Real Techniques with the help of Gurnee, Illinois-based Paris Presents Inc. The line and its brushes are accessible (most cost no more than $12), high-quality, and cruelty-free.
The Key Product: The Everyday Essentials SetTM ($15) comes with five of the brand's best-selling products, including the Miracle Complexion Sponge®, 400 BlushTM brush, 300 Deluxe CreaseTM brush, and 402 SettingTM brush. It’s a great gift for someone who’s looking to build out their makeup application tool arsenal.