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Every June, the corporate marketing world becomes awash with rainbows, but how much does this actually benefit LGBTQIA+ communities?
If you buy from smaller LGBTQIA+ owned companies, you know you’re directly supporting these communities with every purchase. The eight brands below all have at least one owner who is LGBTQIA+, so shop with pride.
Adding a temporary rainbow to the border of a skin care brand’s Instagram profile pic for Pride Month doesn’t do much, but supporting brands that are doing the work year-round does.
When the ownership of a company is LGBTQIA+, your support benefits the well-being of these communities by putting dollars in their hands. These brands are also much more likely to pay it forward with donations to LGBTQIA+ organizations throughout the year.
Don’t get drawn in by temporary rainbows without researching if the company donates to and advocates for LGBTQIA+ communities outside of June. When searching for brands, consider:
- What percentage of sales (specifically!) goes towards LGBTQIA+ causes, and which ones?
- Besides rainbow marketing and showing up with branded pens at Pride, what is the company doing for the community?
- Are they silent when anti-transgender bills are being considered and passed?
- What do they do and say July through May?
Brands that are openly supportive of or owned by LGBTQIA+ folks tend to donate to community causes. They may also focus on clean, eco-friendly, cruelty-free products, just like almost all of the eight LGBTQIA+ owned skin brands below.
Each of these brands has a range of products with a range of prices. We took the average price of the skin care products offered (excluding packaged bundles or promotions) to come up with this key.
- $ = under $25
- $$ = $25–$45
- $$$ = over $45
Alder New York
- Price: $–$$
- What to try: A Healthline editor tested out the Everyday Face Serum and found it to be gentle and hydrating. It’s a good serum to layer under moisturizer — well — every day. The Everyday line also includes Everyday Face Cleanser and Everyday Face Moisturizer. Get all three bundled in the Everyday Skincare Mini Set.
Alder New York sees skin care as genderless and their marketing is as well. Instead of shopping by gender, you can shop by skin concern (like acne, wrinkles, or dullness) or by product type.
“We are always trying to create the best possible, most effective product, and that has nothing to do with someone’s gender identity,” co-founder Nina Zilka said in a 2020 interview.
All of their products are vegan, and the best friend duo running the brand is committed to people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and ages feeling great with their products.
- Price: $$-$$$
- What to try: With sun-grown organic hemp and plant-derived essential oils, these CBD-infused lotions are unique in the skin care world. They’re tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-free so there’s no high of any kind. But, beyond the hydration you’d expect from a lotion (thanks to organic jojoba oil and organic shea butter), these also may soothe discomfort. Choose your favorite scent: Lavender Bergamot, Peppermint Juniper, Cedarwood Bergamot, or Lemon Verbena.
Run by wife and wife team Trista Okel (founder and CEO) and Michele White (COO), Empower Bodycare is “the kind of CBD you’d give your own mother,” literally. Okel developed her CBD-Infused Topical Oil in a slow cooker in 2004 to help her mother manage her pain. It worked, and she started making the oil for others. Eventually, her entire business of CBD-infused topical products was born.
Empower Bodycare products are ethically sourced, vegan, cruelty-free, tested by a third-party lab, and non-GMO. They’re also free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, and a whole list of other potentially harmful ingredients.
Besides the lotions and oil, they also offer soaking salts for full-body relaxation with a blend of Epsom, Dead Sea, and pink Himalayan salts along with organic CBD oil, lavender, and other aromatic essential oils.
- Price: $$
- What to try: Apply So Jelly twice a day to your under-eye area and Freck promises you won’t regret it (free returns if you happen to). This cactus eye jelly with plant collagen is said to reduce the appearance of dark circles and wrinkles and improves skin’s brightness and youthfulness.
Founder Remi Brixton always loved freckles, and her flagship product with Freck was Freck OG, a faux freckle cosmetic. Now, beyond a whole makeup line that is a love letter to Brixton’s home of East Los Angeles, Freck also offers a line of skin care products based in cactus, which helps lock in moisture.
Besides the So Jelly eye jelly, there’s the Rich Bitch cactus and vitamin C moisturizer, Cactus Water cleansing lactic acid toner, Foreclay cactus clay mask, Lil Prick cactus seed dry serum, and On Repeat pH-balanced cactus cleansing gel (20 percent of On Repeat profits are donated to Black Lives Matter).
Everything is cruelty-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, and gluten-free.
Malin + Goetz
- Price: $$$
- What to try: Their bestselling Grapefruit Face Cleanser has a 3-in-1 formula that removes makeup, dirt, and oil, along with toning and balancing skin. Antioxidant-rich grapefruit extract and coconut-based surfactants clean the skin with a thick, creamy foam. Then hydrating amino acids, glycerin, and sodium PCA bind water to the skin to keep it moisturized. It works well for sensitive skin, doesn’t dry you out, and is vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free.
Run by life and business partners Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin, part of the inspiration to create Malin+Goetz was Matthew’s eczema, seborrhea, and rosacea. The result is a line of skin care that works well for sensitive skin.
But the brand doesn’t just do skin care. They also offer candles, fragrances, shampoos, deodorants, and more. For skin, the list is even longer: cleansers, moisturizers, masks, exfoliants, serums, oils, scrubs, and so on.
non gender specific
- Price: $$$
- What to try: This brand’s flagship product is without a doubt the Everything Serum. Teeming with over 17 natural ingredients including microalgae and rose, this smooth serum is made to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation while firming, brightening, and rejuvenating skin.
Founder Andrew Glass was working for a global men’s skin care brand and became more and more aware and uncomfortable with how segregated by gender the industry was. So, he started his own genderless brand with a name that says it all.
“I became interested in beauty at a very young age and knew that it was an industry I wanted to be a part of,” Glass said in a 2019 Teen Vogue interview. “As a gay man, equality has always been important to me. I knew that if I ever started my own brand, equality would play a huge part in that brand’s core values.”
This brand is eco-friendly from their sourcing methods to their recyclable glass containers. You can even plant some of their packaging. Just tear the box and plant it in the ground (and of course water it) to let the wildflower seed-infused paper bloom.
- Price: $$
- What to try: One of NOTO’s bestsellers is their Agender Oil, a “gender free vegan oil” to soften and protect any areas of the body that grow hair (their tip is to add some to eyebrows to help grow and strengthen them). The oil is made of hemp seed oil, vetiver, and lavender. Best of all, NOTO Botanics donates a portion of proceeds from this product to rotating organizations like Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and The Okra Project, an organization that gets home-cooked meals to Black trans people.
A clean beauty brand, NOTO Botanics was founded by Gloria Noto to amplify identities she wasn’t seeing represented in the beauty industry.
“Six, seven years ago people were just starting to talk about clean beauty and, as a queer individual, I just felt so unrepresented,” Noto told Vogue in 2020. “I didn’t think the world needed another makeup brand or cosmetic line, but I did think the world needed a platform that could help expand on what diversity and inclusion could look like in the clean beauty space.”
This turned into NOTO Botanics. Each product is designed to be used by all genders and can work well with any skin type.
For those in Los Angeles, you can get a discount and go eco by using their unique refill station.
Roots & Crowns
- Price: $
- What to try: The most popular product in the whole shop is the Rose Face Serum, which promises to cleanse and moisturize. It’s made with organic jojoba oil infused with rose petals, rosehip seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, and an essential oil blend. Tip: While this is a cleanser and moisturizer, you can also use it as an exfoliator. Just add a quarter to a half of a teaspoon of ground oatmeal to a few pumps of the serum and gently massage your face with it.
This entirely unique apothecary sells far more than skin care products. They also have herbal remedies like elixirs, teas, tinctures, and bitters; perfumes; magical needs like brooms, Tarot decks, and amulet necklaces; and home products like pillow spray, candles, tea towels, and much more.
Portland-based queer founder Max Turk is passionate about herbalism and plant medicine (“plant power to the people”) and her training goes into the careful blends chosen for her serums.
- Price: $-$$$
- What to try: The nourishing Concentrated Repair Balm helps reduce the appearance of redness and promotes renewal. It can even be used on tattoos or bruises. It contains moringa and prickly pear seed oils for hydration, arnica for soothing, horse chestnut to reduce the appearance of varicose veins, and St. John’s wort, blue tansy, and frankincense for softening.
“If you have skin, you can use our products,” Soapwalla says. It’s as simple as that.
Depending on your needs, you can shop by skin type and find products for sensitive, mature, dry, or oily skin. The vegan products range from cleansing bars to face serums to lip balm to toning mist, and more.
Soapwalla values inclusivity, eco-consciousness, and activism. The recipients of their donations include Immigration Equality and the Trevor Project.
If you have to choose between two equally amazing skin care companies, why not use your dollars to support an LGBTQIA+ business owner? It’s a much more effective way to support LGBTQIA+ communities than lining a corporation’s pockets because they temporarily added a rainbow to their packaging. These eight companies produce high-quality eco-conscious products that are worth adding to your skin care lineup.
Sarah Prager’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, HuffPost, SheKnows, NewNowNext, JSTOR Daily, Bustle, The Advocate, Motherfigure, and many other outlets. She is the author of two books for youth about LGBTQ+ heroes of history, both Junior Library Guild selections published by HarperCollins. “Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World” is for ages 12 and up and “Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History” is for ages 8 and up. Sarah has spoken to over 150 audiences across five countries on LGBTQ+ history at venues from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to Twitter’s headquarters to Harvard Business School. She lives in Massachusetts with her wife and their two children. Learn more about Sarah here: www.sarahprager.com.