Beauty Store Business

OCT 2018

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50 October 2018 | beautystorebusiness.com themselves. "My wife and I were essentially testers for years, and decided we were crazy to keep these formulations to ourselves," he says. "With our creative backgrounds and my mother's naturopathic knowledge, we created Asarai and kept the brand gender-neutral just like it started. Men are becoming increasingly more interested in self-care and grooming, so we wanted to provide products for all." The line uses several Australian botanicals known for their ability to thrive in extreme temperatures, and therefore have powerful defense systems. Such ingredients include kakadu plum, which has the highest plant-based form of vitamin C; as well as moringa oil, Chondrus crispus and linden flower. The line's best-selling Earth Tones mask uses Australian Red Clay to detoxify the skin without drying it. With an eco-conscious mission, Asarai also aims to do no harm to the environment, which is why a portion of all proceeds is donated to the nonprofit 1% for the Planet. Another gender-neutral skincare brand aiming to make a difference in the world is Noto Botanics, founded by Gloria Noto. Noto was working in a thrift store when she came across legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin's famous books, which inspired her to become a makeup artist herself. When Noto switched to a clean lifestyle a decade later, she couldn't find a natural skin care line that could clear up her skin breakouts. "I didn't feel that all the demographics of those individuals that care about their well-being or the environment were being represented by brands," Noto says. She founded Noto Botanics almost three years ago, after going on a personal exploration to find clean, natural ingredients for herself and her clients. "It's a brand that really can work with almost every skin type and every skin identity, and is something that comes from a place of true heart … I have friends of all different genders and identities, and the needs are the same in a lot of ways. I wanted to create something that didn't feel targeted to one type of identity," she says. "When products are targeted toward one type of gender or culture, I think you're being 'had' or 'sold.' It's like finding a weakness. Take antiaging for example, which targets older women and perpetuates this insecurity. I didn't fit into that idea." Environmentally and socially conscious, Noto sources her packaging and ingredients as ethically as possible. She also created a product called Agender Oil, which is a hair and body oil made from organic hemp oil, vetiver and lavender–with 100 percent of the profits donated towards rotating charities like Planned Parenthood, LGBT Youth Center, Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles and more. So far, sales from the oil have generated over $15,000 for charity. "Even just the product alone has a bit of a political stance in itself. It's an anywhere body and hair oil. If you choose to grow your armpit or pubic or head hair out, or you just want to put it all over your body, it's a minimal but rich and luxurious oil that you can use in these parts," she says. Many of the brand's items have a smoky, earthy, shamanistic scent that men and women can enjoy, such as the Rooted Oil, made with Palo Santo, frankincense, vetiver and Madagascar black pepper. Like most of the products, it's multiuse for the hair and body. In the near future, Noto will also release a hyaluronic acid cream, moisturizer and a natural sunscreen. When she first started Noto Botanics, she was making orders in her kitchen; now, just a few years later, her products have been featured in the subscription box FabFitFun and she's gearing up to open her first brick-and-mortar store. ABOVE AND BEYOND BEAUTY The future looks brighter than ever for these emerging unisex brands, but how do these entrepreneurs feel about the growing genderless beauty category? Noto remains cautiously optimistic. "When something becomes a trend, everyone wants to ride that wave. In one way that's good, because it's great to be able to celebrate these things; in another way, it's a little scary because [consumers] are being sold that [idea]. As far as gender fluidity, I think we're just touching on it now and it's going to grow massively," she says. As society becomes more accepting of the LGBTQ community, brands across all categories will follow suit. "I just hope these [unisex] brands are coming from a real, true, authentic, personal, experiential place. I really hope that brands continue to have a unique voice and aim at more than just the exterior of things." Since starting her company, Noto says she's already observed more brands adopting a gender-fluid, minimalistic aesthetic to appeal to everyone. "It's inspiring (and about time) to see people of all gender expressions and identities in fashion and beauty campaigns, and we would love to see the conversation move towards questioning the gender binary, in general," Giancarlo says. Rynenberg adds, "As millennials ourselves, we have countless conversations with friends and family who are increasingly more interested in gender-neutral products. Women don't always need to be defined by florals and pastels, and men don't always like navy and steel materials. We're really proud that we can offer natural skincare solutions for anyone who is looking for them." The beauty of the beauty industry is that it's so influential to society as a whole. As beauty marketing becomes less aimed at capitalizing on the insecurities of cis-females and more directed at representing people from all walks of life, there's no telling the positive implications that will have on the world at large. ■ Asarai's gentle, eff ective formulas are all 99 to 100 percent natural. Founded by leading makeup artist Gloria Noto, Noto Botanics' multipurpose products are all-natural, unisex, vegan and cruelty-free. Gloria Noto Courtesy of Asarai, Noto Botanics

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