Gina Carney, 29 RGB
Creation myth: While working at Barneys New York, Carney was mixing her own nail polish colors at home. When customers started asking about her manicures, she realized she’d found a market. In 2009 she debuted RGB in 10 classic colors and followed up with seasonal collections. Toast (right), from 2009, is still a best-seller.
Key ingredients: The products are known for what they don’t contain: formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.
Recent developments: A nail- care collection, including acetone- and acetate-free soy-based color-removal pads, and an ongoing collaboration with green celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp.
Where to buy: Tenoverten (tenoverten.com); Reformation (thereformation.com)
Sasha Plavsic, 33 Ilia Beauty
Creation myth: Plavsic, a Vancouver native who grew up with a holistic-oriented mother, wanted to make an organic version of her beloved cherry-tinted Labello lip balm. In 2011, she launched Ilia Pure Lip Care, six 85 percent certified-organic lip conditioners in a range of shades, from nude to rich burgundy—all encased in recycled-aluminum packaging.
Key ingredients: Jojoba oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E.
Recent developments: Plavsic has expanded with six lip glosses (right), two illuminators, and four mascaras, which contain a synthetic preservative—but Plavsic is working on creating a sugar-and-salt-based alternative.
Where to buy: Colette in Paris (colette.fr); ABC Carpet & Home (abchome.com)
Bethany Karlyn, 49 Prtty Peaushun
Creation myth: This veteran makeup artist used to mix up batches of a homemade illuminating body moisturizer, which she would then tote to her photo shoots in Tupperware containers. When renowned trainer Tracy Anderson discovered the product, she persuaded Karlyn to go public with it. Her vegan skin-tightening lotion (left, top and center) is available in four shades—the glow comes from natural minerals—as well as a colorless option. After Rihanna fell in love with the moisturizer, Karlyn came out with a darker shade.
Key ingredients: Avocado butter, grapefruit wax, jojoba gel, green tea extract, rosemary extract, arnica, and natural minerals among others. It’s all 100 percent vegan, 95 percent raw, and fragrance-, dye- and paraben-free.
Recent developments: Karlyn is testing a nonchemical SPF version of the lotion.
Where to buy: Joyus (joyus.com); OpenSky (opensky.com)
Katharine L'Heureux, 52 Kahina Giving Beauty
Creation myth: On a trip to Morocco in 2007, this former public relations executive had her expensive skincare products confiscated at the airport. The dry desert air did a number on her complexion, and a guide suggested argan oil, an emollient extracted by local Berber women from the nuts of the endangered argan trees. When L’Heureux noticed the difference in her skin (argan combats the effects of aging and soothes irritation), she set about creating various products with the oil and now gives 25 percent of the sales back to the Berber communities.
Key ingredients: Argan oil— but there’s also olive, coconut, and shea oils, and rosemary and lavender in the soap trio (left).
Recent developments: L’Heureux has converted her 16-year-old son into a fan (argan oil can also treat acne) and is hoping to move into home goods made by the Berber artisans with whom she works.
Where to buy: ABC Carpet & Home (abchome.com); Urban Zen (212.206.3999)