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Vegan Cosmetics Brands Ride Organic Wave

Axiology and Vert capitalize on resurgence of natural products.

As color cosmetics businesses focus more on ingredients, two vegan makeup brands are looking to make their mark.

One, Axiology, released three new lipstick shades and will soon launch on Free People’s web site. Another, Vert Beauty, is being launched this fall by the founder of the eponymous Denver boutique, Amanda Hume.

Kline & Co. pegs the natural beauty and personal-care market at $36 billion at manufacturers’ sales level for 2015, up 10 percent from the previous year. And, demand is swelling across the globe with Euromonitor International identifying natural and organic as one of the fastest segments of beauty, especially new product launches emphasizing botanical ingredients. Exact statistics on vegan are not broken out, but retailers mention that they see mounting consumer interest.

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Axiology’s new colors — Vibration, a pink-red; Enlighten, an amethyst glaze with a hint of silver glitter, and Instinct, a nude with slight glitter — launched July 5.

Ericka Rodriguez, chief executive officer, founded animal-product free and cruelty-free Axiology in November 2014 with an Etsy store. “I’m a vegan, I’ve been a vegan for a really long time,” Rodriguez said. “It was very hard for me to find vegan products on the market that also had the staying power….I also felt like none of the vegan products were cool. I wanted to bring [a] luxury, beautiful vegan brand to the natural beauty market, and it ended up starting with lipstick.”

During her first New York winter, Rodriguez started making her own vegan lip balm, which eventually transitioned into lipstick. “I wanted something natural and something that I could stand behind and feel good about putting on my lips,” she said. “It’s organic as well.

“We’re striving [to] make it the most comfortable and the most wearable vegan organic lipstick on the market,” Rodriguez said. “The point was to create something that felt like a lip balm but looks like a lipstick.”

Now, Axiology is sold in about 80 stores in the U.S. — mostly boutiques — as well as a handful of international stores. The lipsticks are also slated to launch on Free People’s web site in the near future, Rodriguez said.

She’s working on developing a new product — still in the lip range — that will be launched later in 2016. But in 2017, she expects the business will make its first non-lipstick products. “We still formulate everything in-house, and we’re actually hand-making all of our lipsticks. The new product is something we have to make sure that we can make by hand and also have it be amazing at the same time,” Rodriguez said, declining to provide specifics on what exactly Axiology has in the works. Expanding distribution is a priority for the brand, too, she said, and the business is eyeing natural beauty chains as potential partners.

At Vert Beauty, a Denver-based boutique that features chemical-free beauty products, founder Amanda Hume is creating a vegan color line that will launch in the store and online in September.

The products include lipsticks, eyeliners, cream compact foundation, concealer and makeup brushes. Prices range from $17 for the eyeliners to $40 for the top of the line brushes.

Hume, who has worked as a makeup artist over the past 11 years for brands including Trish McEvoy, Laura Mercier and Smashbox, is one of the pioneers of the “clean beauty” movement. That move came about by necessity. While on the road visiting stores, she was constantly asked about ingredients. “I felt uncomfortable not being able to give the true answers,” she said. “Finding out the FDA does not regulate a lot of the ingredients was terrifying.”

She started making her own organic skin and body products while also researching products on the market. To that end, Vert now stocks more than 30 brands she feels qualify as green products. The boutique also offers spa services such as facials, waxing and green beauty consultations. Everything at Vert is handpicked based on the purity of its contents, the quality of its performance, and the environmental sustainability of its manufacturer.

“With my new color line, I feel so confident saying that there are no harmful ingredients in Vert Beauty. My dream is have the brand also available at stores such as Space NK, Bluemercury or Cos Bar — as they are carrying greener beauty brands,” she said.

Some of the harmful ingredients found in other products, according to Hume, include Dimethicone, an endocrine disrupter; paraffin, which causes a slowdown in normal cell development, and a preservative called phenoxyethanol. Instead, Vert features ingredients such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, carnauba wax and green tea that help sooth and nourish the skin.

In addition to standing by vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, she is adamant about clean tools. The Vert brushes are a blend of natural and synthetic hair, which she said are easy to clean, while repelling bacteria and dirt efficiently. “Our goal is to offer 100 percent synthetic makeup brushes by 2017,” Hume said.

Natural, organic and clean beauty has dominated beauty headlines this year. Recently, Beautycounter acquired Nude Skincare Inc. from LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton — a deal executed because of the companies’ shared focus on ingredients. Beautycounter also garnered investments from Bono and his wife and Nude founder, Ali Hewson, as part of the transaction.