Glossier's undeniable success has paved the way for a new wave of millennial-targeted beauty brands, some of which aim to fill what few gaps in the market the rapidly growing beauty startup has yet to fill. So far, most of those brands are in the skin-care space, going after a different age group or making more natural ingredient claims. But a new entrant into the direct-to-consumer, accessible, clean beauty space is focusing on cosmetics.
As overwhelmingly crowded as the beauty space is, Zoe Brenneke, a former brand consultant and beauty editor for sites like Byrdie and and The Zoe Report, found something that was missing — something she'd been looking for long before her beauty career even began. "Everything would break me out," the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur tells me. "It was this 'champagne problems' struggle where I loved product and I wanted to be able to wear it and I never could." In the hopes of finding options that wouldn't irritate her skin, she tried more expensive products, which turned out to be a waste of money; and an exploration into the early, Goop-approved natural beauty world proved equally unfruitful. "I got rid of all my synthetic products; I went out and got everything [Gwyneth Paltrow] recommended," Brenneke explains. "Not only did none of it work, but it was so expensive."
She realized that even if an ingredient is natural, it can still break out acne-prone skin. Beyond that, the packaging left something to be desired. "In my mind, there wasn't a brand that was efficacious, biocompatible, affordable and well-branded, and that to me seemed like the bare minimum of what a brand should be in this day and age," she says. So, she started one.
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In April, she launched Arrive: The direct-to-consumer cosmetics brand is the result of two and a half years of product development and planning to check each of those boxes. She raised an angel round of funding and assembled a team including a product developer from Laura Mercier, packaging and design from Glossier and operations from Deborah Lippman. She and her team developed the formulas entirely from scratch in lieu of tweaking existing ones (which is why it took so long), making sure not to use any ingredients rated above a three on 's toxicity scale. The products are also claimed to be hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, paraben-free, fragrance-free, vegan and cruelty-free.
Her first drop includes three products: Skin Boost, $26, is what Brenneke calls a "skin-tone evener." It's not quite as hydrating as a tinted moisturizer, much lighter than a foundation, but offers a bit more coverage than a skin tint. "It's light, but it's really buildable; it's going to cover redness and dark spots but it's light enough that you can sheer it out and it's going to show your freckles and all the good skin," she says. "It's your everyday, basic, get-out-of-the-house-quickly-and-look-great product."
I've been using it for a few days, and while I did find it a tad drying (just make sure to moisturize aggressively first and/or mix it with a light moisturizer if you have dry skin), it blends super smoothly and does make skin look like it's naturally near-perfect. In fact, a facialist once thought I didn't have any make up on while I was wearing it. And while there are only five shades — quite narrow, especially in a post-Fenty Beauty world — the formula is made to be "forgiving" or adaptable, meaning it should blend well for a variety of skin tones, even if it's not an exact match. And, per Brenneke, those five shades are made to cover a broad range of complexions: She says the lightest shade is a match for Laura Mercier's lightest tinted moisturizer shade, while the darkest is a match for MAC's darkest foundation shade.
Then there's a bronzer, $28, meant to strike the right balance of warm and cool: It's more neutral than orange or brown and contains light-reflecting particles without being sparkly. Unlike most powder bronzers, the formula is free of talc. It comes in a cute red compact. The final product is a an ultra-soft bronzer brush, $20, with its own reusable travel pouch. All three products can also be purchased in a bundle for $65. The packaging is all undeniably appealing, with a punchy red replacing overused millennial pink. Everything is also delivered in a cute, transparent red, plastic, envelope-like pouch with a button closure.
The brand's website — despite being difficult to Google, thanks to Arrive's not-so-SEO-friendly name — has all the trappings of a millennial startup, with cute, young, un-airbrushed models wearing and demonstrating the products, and conversational language in sans-serif fonts. There are also detailed product pages with all ingredients and claims clearly listed. The name is inspired by a quote by a Buddhist monk and meant to evoke a reminder to stay in the present rather than wanting to be somewhere or someone else. "We want you to feel good today, not to cover you up or change you, but to make it easy to make you feel like your best self," says Brenneke of the brand's messaging.
She says she already has the next 20 products planned, beginning with a highlighter set to launch over the summer. After that, new items will drop every eight-to-10 weeks. She describes them all as "reimagined basics" meant to simplify beauty routines. "How can we make shopping for the products easier, how can we make it less stressful? We're really transparent with our ingredients; you feel like a more empowered, educated consumer," she says.
She wants to stay direct-to-consumer in order to keep prices reasonable and control the customer service experience. "If we got a message that somebody got skin boost and it exploded all over their jeans, we could sent them a new one and dry clean their jeans," says Brenneke. "I think those are the kinds of things that build longterm relationships with consumers." She's been focusing on gifting and social media to build awareness; Arrive already has a solid 9,500 Instagram followers. But ultimately, her biggest focus is on the efficacy of the products. "They're going to perform as good or better than the best-performing products in that category across the board," she promises. "We all want products to be good for you, but if they don't work the way you want them too, eventually you're just going to go back."