I’m always on the hunt for new beauty and skincare products but, admittedly, my focus isn’t always on local brands. So, for the last couple of months I’ve been slathering myself in a range of Charlotte-made creams, lotions and oils to find the best and most effective options born in the 704.
These were my favorites…
Charlotte’s most successful multi-million dollar skincare brand rolled out in Target stores last year, bringing its line of clinical skincare products specially formulated for people of color to the masses. It’s pretty cool to pick up something off the shelf in Target and see “Charlotte, NC” on the label, but it’s even cooler that the products work. Just ask celebrity fans like Ayesha Curry, Remy Ma and Eva Marcille, or browse the before and after photos from everyday users on their Instagram.
Must-try product: 3-in-1 Even Tone Cleansing Bar ($24). The unique solid soap in a jar functions as a triple threat cleanser, mask and exfoliator and is tough to keep in stock. “We can’t make enough of it,” owner Rachel Roff told me last year. Plus, 486 reviews with an average 4.7-star rating don’t lie.
The product comes with a set of sponges that you use to gently exfoliate while applying the cleanser. Leave it on for up to 3 minutes for a mask effect.
The hip young brand is positioned to take off with a line of vegan, cruelty-free products free from sulfates, parabens, silicone and other undesirables. The minimalist, millennial pink branding and high-quality packaging gives the fledgling company an established, big name look. And the products themselves have a luxury feel — silky smooth and SMELLS. SO. GOOD.
Don’t mind the Atlanta distribution address. Owner Kimberly Morin travels a lot and lived there briefly during the launch but runs the business out of Charlotte. You can find the products locally at Rose Gold Rebel in Plaza Midwood.
Must-try product: 3-piece Goals set ($75). Get all three debut products — Bare 10-Oil Cleanser, Micro-Repair Serum and Essential Elements Facial Moisturizer — for a bundled discount.
The cleanser melts dirt and makeup away with a blend of oils like marula, jojoba and rosehip. The serum plumps with hyaluronic acid and has this intoxicating fragrance that transports me to some luxury hotel I’ve never visited. And the moisturizer hydrates without a heavy, greasy feel thanks to squalane, a buzz-worthy plant extract (not to be confused with squalene, derived from shark liver) that’s popping up all over the place in luxury products promoted by your favorite Instagram influencers.
The Huntersville-based organic spray tan company has an army of “Glo Pro” specialists offering mobile services and pop-up locations all over the country, but they also have a line of vegan, cruelty-free at-home products you can use to get the glow on your own.
Must-try product: Pure Glo Mousse ($42). If you were watching my Instagram stories the night I put this on, it was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. Applying self tanner is an acquired skill and my first attempt was rocky at best. I strongly recommend watching this video tutorial before diving in and then actually doing what she says. It comes with a mitt so it goes on smooth without streaks and stays off your hands. The product dries almost instantly so you can glow and go and I was super happy with the immediate golden brown result on my body.
BUT I put way, way too much product on my face. It was a disaster but salvageable. I was able to course correct with a little baby oil and baking powder paste to tone it down. By day two, everyone was gushing about how I was “glowing” and asking where I got my tan. Lucky for you it came straight from a bottle.
Move over, Kylie. Charlotte is home to its own line of luxury long wear liquid lipsticks. Owner Quana Tribble started out making lipstick in small batches in her kitchen to fill the void when her favorite big brand colors were discontinued. Her products took off and have since been featured in Essence and Cosmopolitan. Bonus points: Everything is vegan and cruelty free.
Must-try product: Rhea ($16). Choose one of 10 colors for $16 each or get 4 for $50. I went with Rhea, a gorgeous rosey, mauve nude. The matte liquid lipstick applies super smooth with intensely saturated pigment and goes the distance, lasting hours through eating, drinking and otherwise running my mouth.
Looking for natural products that really work? Pure Stella has you covered. As a conscious consumer dissatisfied with ineffective “natural” products on the market, owner Stacey Rex started making her own.
These thoughtfully sourced, small-batch skincare products are made in Rex’s south Charlotte home kitchen, and they deliver pro results. You can find them Uptown at CLT Find at 7th Street Public Market.
Must-try products: I tried a lot from this brand and really couldn’t pick just one. Coffee-infused eye serum ($14). The roll-on oil blend is infused with local Enderly Coffee to perk up tired under eye skin.
Nourishing lotion stick ($16). This product has changed my life and I didn’t even order it initially but they threw in a mini freebie to sample. Rex first started making it to manage her daughter’s eczema and it’s the only thing that’s soothing my brutally dry, burning skin this winter. Also, if you’re someone who abhors the process of applying lotion and oils, the deodorant-style glide on stick changes the game.
Ultra moisturizing lip balm ($3). I’m breaking up with Burt’s Bees after using this silky smooth balm. It makes all other chapstick feel like gunky, sticky trash. I love it.
If there’s anyone I trust to make organic skincare products, it’s a team of local chemists obsessed with clean, effective ingredients they’d put on their children. The Davidson-based company started out making organic, mineral-based sunscreen because they weren’t happy with the ingredients in store products. They followed the SPF up with natural deodorant and will continue to grow.
Must-try product: Organic deodorant ($10). Ten bucks is a hefty investment for deodorant but it does what a lot of other natural deodorants can’t — actually neutralizes odor. I’ve tried a number of natural deodorants and stick with them in the name of ethics and clean ingredients even though I know I stink a little bit as a result. Not so with Pink Hippo, which leaves you fresh to death without any skin irritation.
When I asked for local skincare recommendations, SPL was the runaway hit. Esthetician Lori Hulshof turned her 20 years of industry experience into a line of plant-based, paraben-free, small-batch skincare products, including sheet masks, micellar water and serum.
Must-try product: Hydrating sheet mask ($20). Unlike paper sheet masks, the Lori’s biocellulose creates a tighter, oxygen-free seal against your face to allow for better product absorption.