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20 Notable Beauty Startups in 2021

The beauty and personal care market is expected to grow annually by 4.06% between 2021 and 2025, with personal care making up the largest segment.

According to McKinsey, in-store shopping accounted for up to 85% of beauty-product purchases before the pandemic, resulting in an up to 30% loss in revenue when lockdowns began.

However, the demand for beauty products has not decreased significantly, only shifted. In their same report, McKinsey states that skincare, nail care, and personal care experienced huge surges during the pandemic.

It follows that beauty startups are trending towards online direct-to-consumer formats, as consumers become more comfortable with online shopping. Another widespread trend among beauty startups is personalized beauty options. Additionally, clean and natural beauty is expected to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the beauty industry, with a projected CAGR of 12.07%.

We’ve compiled a list of the 20 beauty startups flourishing in this digital era and disrupting the industry. Keep reading to learn more about the key data points on each company

1. Glossier


5-year search growth: 250%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $186.4M (Series D)

What they do: Glossier is a direct-to-consumer makeup and skincare company that began as the beauty blog Into The Gloss. Founder Emily Weiss states that Glossier was built on the idea that the beauty industry should follow the demands of the consumer, rather than have the consumer chase trends started in boardrooms. At launch, the brand offered only four products: a lip balm, a face mist, a priming moisturizer, and a skin tint foundation. Today, the trendy company offers 73 products for their subtle, natural effect designed to achieve the “no-makeup” makeup look.

2. Hims


5-year search growth: 716%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $158.2M (Private Equity)

What they do: Hims is a telehealth company targeted at men that offers personal care and beauty prescriptions for concerns like hair loss and acne. A year after founding, the company launched a sister service called Hers, aimed at women. Sometimes collectively called Hims & Hers, the company is unique in that it does not accept insurance, and its products are sold on a monthly subscription basis. Though not yet profitable, the founder Andrew Dudum reports it will become profitable soon.

3. Function of Beauty


5-year search growth: 5,900%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $162.2M (Series B)

What they do: Function of Beauty is a personal care brand founded by three MIT graduates that offers fully customizable shampoo, body wash, and skincare. For haircare, users take a quiz online on their hair goals, select a scent, and formula color, and can then elect to receive regular shipments of the product. The company recently raised $150M in Series B funding led by the private equity firm L. Catterton, which the company states it plans to use to expand its product offerings and its presence internationally.

4. Curology


5-year search growth: 870%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $19.2M (Series D)

What they do: Curology is a customized skincare prescription service that treats a variety of concerns from aging to acne. Founded in 2014 as Pocketderm by David Lortscher, the company aims to make effective acne care accessible to all. The service virtually connects subscribers to providers who customize a topical prescription formula to meet their skin care needs.

5. Perfect Corp.


5-year search growth: 90%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: Taipei, T’ai-per, Taiwan

Funding: $75M (Series C)

What they do: Perfect Corp. is a beauty tech service company that utilizes its trademarked face-tracking technology to provide AR beauty apps to businesses and consumers. They are best-known for the consumer-facing virtual makeup try-on app YouCam. Companies like Estee Lauder have incorporated their technology to offer AR try-on mirrors in stores and at home to match foundation shades and sample products virtually. In its most recent round of funding led by Goldman Sachs, the company raised $50 million.

6. Madison Reed


5-year search growth: 172%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $185M (Unknown)

What they do: Madison Reed is a hair color delivery company that ships salon-quality hair color directly to your door. Founder Amy Erret positions the brand as a “prestige hair color” that fills the gap between inexpensive drugstore box dye and costly salon hair color. In 2017, the formerly online-only operation opened its first Madison Reed Color Bar in San Francisco, which offers permanent color applications for less than half the cost of a typical salon color.

7. Billie


5-year search growth: 412%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $35M (Series A)

What they do: Billie is a personal care company specializing in clean and affordable basics for women. They are most well-known for their razor start kit that comes with regular replacement blade shipments. In 2020, Procter & Gamble made moves to purchase the startup, but the acquisition failed due to federal antitrust regulations.

8. Tula Skincare


5-year search growth: 7,800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $12.2M (Series A)

What they do: TULA is a skincare brand founded by a gastroenterologist that specializes in probiotics for the skin. Their cleansers and creams contain probiotic extracts called probiotic lysates, which are designed to improve smoothness and hydration.

9. Nutrafol


5-year search growth: 2,600%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2014

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $35M (Series B)

What they do: Nutrafol offers natural products designed to support hair wellness. Their supplements are made with nutraceuticals: medical-grade botanical ingredients. Nutrafol was backed early on during its series A funding by Unilever Ventures.

10. Versed Skincare


5-year search growth: 8,900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: West Hollywood, California

Funding: $11.6M (Series A)

What they do: Versed Skincare is a clean skincare brand that focuses on transparency and sustainability. It has been touted as the first drugstore brand to offer clean skincare. The company was founded by Katherine Power, who also founded the fashion and lifestyle brand Who What Wear. Behind both initiatives, Power has stated her goal is to democratize the beauty industry.

11. ManiMe


5-year search growth: 13%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Stanford, California

Funding: $8.6M (Series A)

What they do: ManiMe creates custom-sized at-home stick-on gel manicures. Using their proprietary 3D modeling technology, they can create stick-on manicure sets that fit each customer’s nails exactly, for less than a visit to the salon. According to CEO Jooyeon Song, ManiMe has seen monthly sales grow tenfold since the beginning of the pandemic.

12. Purplle


5-year search growth: 72%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Funding: $93.6M (Series D)

What they do: Purplle is a beauty e-commerce website and app for cosmetics, skincare, and haircare. They host a wide variety of makeup and beauty brands, reportedly selling 50,000 products from over 1,000 brands. They offer utility by maximizing the discoverability of new beauty products.

13. By Humankind


5-year search growth: 740%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2018

Location: New York, New York

Funding: $4M (Seed)

What they do: By Humankind is a direct-to-consumer personal care brand with a mission to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Their products include natural tablet toothpaste in refillable jars, biodegradable floss, and shampoo bars that forgo packaging altogether. By Humankind is backed by Lerer Hippeau, along with entrepreneurs like Scott Belsky, the CPO of Adobe, and Elizabeth Cutler, the co-founder of Soul Cycle.

14. The Beard Club


5-year search growth: 130%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Westwood, New Jersey

Funding: $150K (Accelerator)

What they do: The Beard Club provides men’s grooming products. The startup experienced sudden success when their parody ad of The Dollar Shave Club went viral, earning them $30,000 in recurring subscription revenue overnight. Today, co-founder Alex Brown reports the company has become a $10M business.

15. Mamaearth


5-year search growth: 8,200%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Gurgaon, Haryana, India

Funding: $23.3M (Series B)

What they do: Mamaearth is an online retailer specializing in natural beauty and personal care products for children and adults. They experienced 400% growth through the pandemic, and name their Vitamin C face washes and move towards brick and mortar stores as major drivers behind their success.

16. ZMirror


5-year search growth: 99X%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Seoul, Korea

Funding: $850K (Series A)

What they do: Zmirror is a smart mirror and personal assistant launched in 2020 by the South Korean startup ICON.AI. The mirror won a 2020 CES innovation Award for its technology that tracks the progress of your skin and provides product recommendations. The integrated speakers and video display also allow users to watch makeup tutorials and follow along. The project has been funded by Korea Credit Guarantee Fund (KODIT) and recently completed a successful $93,039 campaign on Indiegogo.

17. Nakedpoppy


5-year search growth: 275%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $5.1M (Seed)

What they do: Nakedpoppy is a clean beauty company that offers personalized natural beauty selections without toxins. They can offer tailored products using their beauty algorithm that factors the users’ age, skin type, eye color, allergies, and more to find their “Perfect Picks.” They have also branched out to sell their own clean beauty products, like their Revitalize Organic Facial Oil.

18. Beautycounter


5-year search growth: 32%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: Santa Monica, California

Funding: $93.9M (Private Equity)

What they do: Beautycounter is a clean beauty brand that restricts over 1,800 ingredients from their formulations, striving to only use the most highly vetted ingredients. In alignment with their mission is to fundamentally change the beauty industry, they’ve established a Blueprint For Clean that their manufacturing partners must adhere to. Beautycounter received a $1 billion valuation from the Carlyle Group, a $132 billion global private equity firm, which acquired a majority stake in April of 2021.

19. Quip


5-year search growth: 21%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Funding: $62.2M (Series A)

What they do: Quip offers simple and sustainable oral care product subscriptions. They’re best known for their smart electric toothbrush that tracks and coaches better brushing habits. Also included in their product lineup are a refillable mouthwash concentrate, a reusable floss dispenser, and a healthy chewing gum.

20. Deciem


5-year search growth: 1100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Funding: $1B (Acquired - previously venture-backed)

What they do: Deciem is a beauty company that focuses on ingredient-first marketing, transparency, and affordability. They offer several beauty brands under their umbrella including The Ordinary, Hylamide, Niod, HIF, and The Chemistry Brand. In February 2021, Estee Lauder acquired a majority stake in the company, with the plan to purchase the remaining stake at a later date.


These 20 thriving beauty startups represent shifts in consumer’s desires towards simplified, customized, and clean beauty.

As the millennial generation moves to make up the largest consumer segment, beauty brands like the ones on this list cater to them with an online subscription-based business model. Beauty startups are also targeting health and environmentally conscious consumers with reusable packaging, transparency, and simple branding.

Last Updated: 
April 16, 2021
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.

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