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Vapour Beauty Re-brands From Makeup for Hippies to Clean and Chic

Under investor Nicky Kinnaird, the 11-year-old organic makeup brand has gotten a makeover.

Vapour Beauty, an 11-year-old line that has historically been known for its organic products sold at natural beauty retailers, has reinvented itself for the modern, clean-beauty-curious consumer under the guidance of investors Nicky Kinnaird and Lori Perella Krebs.

The Taos, New Mexico-based brand has been entirely reformulated and repackaged as a luxury clean makeup line with a mix of 23 new and revamped sku’s, including foundation, brushes, lipstick, blush, mascara and eye shadow quads. New products are set to go on sale at The Conservatory at Hudson Yards on Sept. 5, and later will roll out to The Detox Market, Credo and six Neiman Marcus doors.

The products, once formulated with a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients and marketed as such, have been reformulated to incorporate new botanically based ingredients and technologies, said Vapour cofounder Kristine Keheley. While they may occasionally feature some organic ingredients, the overall brand is no longer considered organic. Prices range from $24 for a lip conditioner to $60 for a Gentle Illuminating Primer.

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The shift is reflective of what Kinnaird sees as growing consumer demand for clean beauty, in particular efficacious “clean” makeup in the luxury category. Historically, makeup considered to be clean — Vapour’s new formulas are made without a slew of ingredients, including parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and even silicones and dimethicones — has not been considered efficacious, but technologies have been improved to the point where items like non-irritating natural mascaras are possible to make, said Keheley.

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Vapour’s Mesmerize mascara, $28, made with lash-conditioning acacia flower wax, jojoba oil and amino acids and formulated without carbon black, is one of Keheley’s personal favorite products because of how hard it can be to get the formulation right on a “clean” mascara. “Mascara is a tricky thing to break. It’s almost a holy grail [of clean beauty],” said Keheley. “We’ve all tried natural mascaras. There was one month I tried five different mascaras and got five different styes.” 

Other products expected to be heroes include the High Voltage Lipsticks, $35 each, which come in four matte shades and eight satin shades. The high-pigment lipsticks are made with jojoba oil, shea butter and sunflower wax, and without petroleum, silicone and dimethicone. Keheley and Kinnaird are also betting on the Luminous Foundation, a stick formula that retails for $46.

Ancora Investment Partners, a venture between Kinnaird, Krebs and private equity firm Winona Capital, invested in Vapour in 2018. Ancora’s first investment was Indie Lee, a clean skin-care brand, in 2017.

“Clean has increasingly become the norm, especially in skin care,” said Kinnaird. “It’s only a matter of time before the consumer turns and realizes that actually, she doesn’t have to compromise on her color cosmetics [either].”

Kinnaird and Krebs were attracted to Vapour because of the “authenticity” of Keheley and her cofounder Krysia Boinis, who live in and are inspired by the creatively inclined city of Taos. Keheley and Boinis have been working in clean beauty for nearly two decades each, and they are also founders of natural deodorant brand Aer. Vapour’s packaging re-brand, done in an array of soft and muted jewel and earth tones, was inspired by the light in Taos.