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The Best Products I Found at the Indie Beauty Expo

Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

I find most beauty conventions to be extremely stressful. With good reason: I was almost trampled to death by a hoard of Gen Z girls at Kylie Cosmetics’ booth at Beautycon last year. Despite the fear instilled in me by that horror show, I’ve always been curious about Indie Beauty Expo, an event that showcases the newest and best in smaller, independently owned brands. As a beauty addict who happens to be interested in purchasing from ethically produced, female-owned companies, I thought Indie Beauty Expo might be a good place to find some exceptional products I’d never heard of before. And I wasn’t wrong! I spent a whole day walking around, swatching and testing products, and meeting founders. I also managed to snag a ton of samples, many of which I’ve been using in my daily routine since. Below, my very favorite products I discovered at Indie Beauty Expo.

Lately my dry, temperamental skin has been extra sensitive — I’m not sure what is causing it, but I constantly feel like I’m on the brink of a massive eczema flare-up. Because of this, I’ve been trying to use only my gentlest, dry-skin-friendly products. When I stopped by the Pai (a London-based, female-owned skin-care brand) booth at the expo, this Hydrating Cream Cleanser immediately caught my eye. The cleanser incorporates camellia, a potent source of vitamin E and omega-9’s, as well as rose, known for helping the skin retain moisture. It’s especially thick and creamy (a bit richer than Biologique Lait U, for example) and leaves my skin feeling velvety and plump. Though it’s definitely on the pricey side, a little bit goes a long way and, if like me you’re ultra-sensitive, you know how hard it is to find a cleanser that’s gentle enough to not irritate the skin. My Dr. Loretta Cleanser is magical and non-stripping, but this cleanser actively conditions on any dry or tender patches. I was recently talking to a fellow eczema sufferer about Pai, and she told me that no matter what the state of her bank account is, she’ll always carve out money to ensure she has this cleanser in her medicine cabinet. Plus, it comes with a washcloth that you can use to gently exfoliate your face after cleansing, which I’ve been using lately in place of chemical exfoliants (I like to run it under some lukewarm water, then use it to remove my cleanser).

These palettes from female-owned beauty brand Ace Beaute are some of the most gorgeous, and unique (a bright pumpkin shade, a lively chartreuse green, and a vibrant teal blue) most importantly, intensely pigmented shades I’ve ever seen in my life. Usually when I want to create a colorful lid, I have to pack the shadow on (unfortunately, though I love the colors, this is the case with my Make Maryam Nassir palette) in order for it to show up. With these, the color is insanely vivid with just one swipe.

I use CBD-infused oils to soothe body aches post-Pilates and have also found that it helps out a lot with keeping my eczema under control (I dab the Saint Jane Beauty Serum on any flare-ups on my face). But this is much more than your standard CBD oil — it’s specifically made to be used on your lady parts to heal cramps and prevent UTIs! I know this might sound kind of Goop-y, and I honestly can’t speak to how well it works for preventing UTIs, but I recently applied it while experiencing some really nasty cramps, and it immediately took the edge off. This oil also contains tea tree (an anti-fungal), violet extract (which stimulates circulation), and apricot (a soothing agent). A few pumps all over (and I mean all over — it’s safe to go inside), and everything will feel less tense and painful.

You know how in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the dad puts Windex on everything? That’s kind of how I am with aloe vera. Whether it’s a rash, a pimple, a burn, or just a little mysterious patch of red or dryness, I reach for the aloe vera. I found out about the many wonders of aloe when years ago (before I was a sunscreen, hat-wearing, tent-sitting-under psycho) I got a bad sunburn on my face, put aloe vera gel on it, and realized that not only did my burns heal, all my pimples faded away, and scabs fell off faster. For years, the Nature Republic gel was my go-to. But ever since I found this Aromatica version at Indie Beauty, I haven’t looked back! While the formulas are relatively similar, I much prefer the pump bottle for easy application (it’s way less messy).  I use it on my face and body, either as a lazy, one-step treatment (after I’m in the sun or on sensitive skin days, I’ll wash my face and apply this), or if I’m in need of more hydration, I’ll use it as a moisture treatment after my serum step).

This lightweight-yet-extremely-hydrating moisturizer from Graydon has very quickly become my go-to daytime moisturizer of choice. It’s specifically designed for extremely sensitive skin (hi!), and contains only the most nourishing and soothing ingredients, including evening primrose, vitamin E, and rose-hip oil. It’s not at all greasy or sticky, and gives your skin a serious boost of moisture. I’ve found that the consistency of this is quite similar to my beloved Drunk Elephant Protini Cream — moisturizing without being thick or pore-clogging.

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The 5 Best Products I Discovered at the Indie Beauty Expo