As a company that works at the intersection of beauty and technology, we are lucky to have inspiring role models everywhere we look. These are some of the trailblazers in the beauty industry that challenge the status quo and drive the beauty industry to be more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
Alongside the fantastic women in our company with whom we are building a beauty tech company for the books, we've pulled together a list of 12 successful, driven, and inspirational women leaders from across the globe. From senior executives, self-made millionaires, and those representing the business at the highest levels – who have changed and continue to change the way we consume and perceive beauty – they inspire us forward, and we hope they inspire you too.
Here are our top picks of women leaders and influencers in the beauty space with a beautiful purpose worldwide that have left a mark and that continue to take on the world:
Madam C.J. Walker, Founder of Madam C.J. Walker Beauty
Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919) was the first Black woman millionaire in America and made her fortune thanks to her homemade line of hair care products for Black women. She became one of the most successful African American entrepreneurs of the early 20th century and helped other women succeed as educators and philanthropists.
“I want you to understand that your first duty is to humanity. I want others to look at us and see that we care not just about ourselves but about others.”
“It is remarkable what a woman can accomplish with just a little ambition.” A legendary innovator and a remarkable entrepreneur, Miss Elizabeth Arden established the American beauty empire over a century ago. Born Florence Nightingale Graham, she initially worked as a bookkeeper for a pharmaceutical company, and later as a “treatment girl” for a beauty culturist. She used the knowledge she gained, and started what is now one of the most well-known cosmetic brands in the world: Elizabeth Arden.
Elizabeth Arden had always believed that beauty should never be just an ordinary cover of makeup, rather “an intellectual bond between nature and science”. She not only promoted her concept of Total Beauty, including diligent skincare, nutrition and fitness, but lived it prudently as she persistently sought to bring a scientific approach to skincare formulations.
She lived by her mantra, “Every woman has the right to be beautiful.”
Emily Weiss, Founder of Glossier
Emily Weiss is the founder and CEO of Glossier Inc, the digital-first beauty company changing how the world sees beauty. She created a beauty start-up for the ages. Precisely, for one generation: millennials. With Glossier legions of fans—not to mention a crush of competitors—Weiss is trying to rekindle the "humanity of things and the connections you feel with people."
"Women's rights and fertility rights, in particular, are incredibly important to me personally and to many people here as a majority-female organization . . . so it just felt like the right thing to do. You have to stand up for what you believe today, and I'm proud that Glossier has and will continue to do that."
Huda Kattan, Founder of Huda Beauty
Launched by award-winning beauty blogger Huda Kattan in 2013, Huda Beauty is one of the world's fastest-growing beauty brands. Beginning as a blog, Huda Beauty has fast become the number 1 Beauty Instagram account globally, with over 26 million loyal fans, followers, and consumers worldwide.
Today, Huda Beauty offers over 140 products, from foundation to concealer, lipstick, eyeshadow, brushes, and more. In line with its roots, the brand has also kept its social media presence strong — Huda Beauty currently has over 48 million followers on Instagram and more than 4 million followers on YouTube. "It's so important to find something that really, really fuels your passion," Kattan says.
She has been nothing but an inspiration to all young, ambitious women out there!
"Being a Middle Eastern girl in America with a name no one could pronounce was not easy, so I turned to make-up and cosmetics as a way to deal with my insecurities, thus creating my long-term relationship with beauty."
Sylvia Chantecaille, Founder of Chantecaille
Sylvia Chantecaille is the founder of the eponymous luxury skincare and makeup brand Chantecaille. She has been at the forefront of many of the industry’s most innovative moments for over 30 years, making modern women’s lives easier and more beautiful.
At Chantecaille, they are committed to philanthropy and conservation at the forefront. Since 2006 Chantecaille has launched 29 limited edition Philanthropy Collections to benefit conservation efforts to protect the ocean, the environment, and endangered animal and plant species. She is one of the most extraordinary women using their powers to save our planet
“Being a woman means you can do everything right now! We are very good at multitasking. We are incredibly efficient; we can keep our eyes on the big picture and get the small tasks done at the same time.”
Falguni Nayar, Founder of Nykaa
Falguni Nayar, the former investment banker turned entrepreneur needs no introduction, she has become a household name now, and people know her for her dedication. Falguni has created a fashion and lifestyle retail kingdom Nykaa with over 1500 labels, including its house brand available online and across 68 outlets in India.
To address women's beauty needs, she started Nykaa the same year with no prior experience in retail, beauty, or technology. She was just a few months shy of turning 50 then. Today, ten years later, she is India's richest self-made woman with a net worth of $7 billion!
"A strong woman accepts both criticism and compliments in a very gracious manner, knowing that both sun and rain are required for a flower to bloom."
Pat McGrath, Founder of Pat McGrath Labs
Pat McGrath is an institution in herself when it comes to makeup artistry. She is the most influential makeup artist in present times. Her breathtaking works have since been featured in global editions of the biggest fashion magazines, as well as seen on the runways of shows like Prada, Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy.
"Anyone who knows or works with me knows I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a ‘mistake.’ With that in mind, I celebrate all aspects of makeup and find something beautiful in all ‘trends.’"
Anna Ayers, Founder of Rahua
Anna and her husband created Rahua after visiting the Amazonian Rainforest while working on conservation, environmentalism, and human rights. Her passion for fashion and beauty has taken her from her hometown in Georgia, New York City, and to the Amazon rainforest. Over ten years ago, Anna Ayers, inspired by Mother Nature, set out on a mission with her husband Fabian to help save the rainforest and empower people through the power of beauty.
Rahua and her brand is a story of passion, truth, and relentless commitment to make the world a better place. Rahua products are made with ingredients sourced and processed by women and men, following the traditional methods passed down for generations.
“The beauty of Mother Nature and the power of women inspire me every day. My passion is to harness this beauty from nature and the rainforest and to share a rich experience with the world in the form of thoughtful beauty products.”
Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip, the CEO of the Thailand-based JKN Global Group
A Thai businesswoman and transgender advocate bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million, making her the first woman to own the global beauty pageant in its 71-year history. With gorgeous, model-like looks and a six million follower count on her Instagram page, the 43-year-old has been making waves in the business world for a while now. She’s also known for supporting trans awareness in Thailand by setting up the Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation (LIFT), which advocates for transgender rights.
“I learned to get through pain, therefore I prepared myself to be ready all the time. I can become the aspiration for so many people, in particular women, LGBTQ, so they can transform”
Suvi Haimi, Co-Founder of Sulapac
Dr. Suvi Haimi and Dr. Laura Tirkkonen-Rajasalo founded the globally renowned environmental forerunner Sulapac in Helsinki, Finland, with a mission to save our planet from plastic waste. The brand develops biodegradable packaging products for the cosmetic industry.
Most recently, they teamed up with Chanel, which has become Sulapac’s first investor from the cosmetic industry. Aiming to tackle the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastics, Sulapac has developed an innovative material that responds to consumers’ growing desire to find environmentally friendly products or packaging.
“Making the decision to become an entrepreneur wasn’t that difficult, in fact. It seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t miss, a door that needed to be opened. I’m happy that I didn’t let any skeptical voices hold me back”, says Suvi Haimi, Sulapac CEO.
Sharon Chuter, Creative Director and CEO of UOMA Beauty
Sharon Chuter was a corporate executive for LVMH and worked with major international beauty brands like Revlon, L’Oréal, and Benefit Cosmetics in her former life. But, all the while, she was dreaming of something bigger—she was dreaming of a brand that represented and catered to all women of color.
UOMA is a powerful brand with a strong message. “Their race is human, their kin are free, their language is shading. They are a wonderful clan, and everybody is welcomed.”
“Growing up in Nigeria, it was hard to find brands or marketing that resonated with me and people who looked like me. It was hard to believe you were beautiful when no one looked like you in a magazine—it was all Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn as the standard of beauty and the femme fatale phenomenon.”
Ayami Nishiwaki, Founder of BAUM
In June 2020, BAUM debuted as a global skin beauty brand in the prestige category. Ayami Nishiwaki is one of the most inspiring leaders who redefined sustainability within the prestige category. Ayami developed BAUM while working inside Shiseido, which is now part of Shiseido Prestige. BAUM uses ingredients extracted from every aspect of the tree—trunk, skin, leaves, fruit, and roots—in its products.
Shiseido says Baum focuses on “the power of trees” in all aspects of its products, packaging, and stores.
“As symbolized in the phrase “itadakimasu (thank you for the meal or offering),” maintaining a sense of awe and gratitude towards nature and living by efficiently circulating the limited resources in this island nation are deeply ingrained elements of Japanese culture.”