Indie Beauty Expo New York 2019 at Pier 45

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Indie Beauty Expo 2019 in New York City. It’s the first beauty trade show I’ve ever been to and while there was a lot to take in, I had an absolute blast!

I took to the Expo floor with my friend Wen of WenWen Beauty (photo by Wen Shi)

With well over a hundred vendors on the floor at Pier 94, I did my best to visit and spend time with as many brands as I possibly could. While all of them had something unique to offer, there were five brands that especially stood out to me.


knours display indie beauty expo

Knours. — short for Know Your Skin — is a South Korean beauty brand that focuses on products that work in harmony with fluctuating hormones. I’m sure many of us can attest to the fact that when hormones are out of whack, it can show on our skin. (For me, it’s in the form of chin and jawline acne.)

From the brand:

Knours. is a clean beauty brand that was created in collaboration with top dermatologists, beauty creators, herbalists, and tech experts to address the daily changing needs of a woman’s skin. Backed by years of research performed by a team of clean beauty specialists, the line addresses changes to the skin associated with hormonal fluctuations to ensure clear, balanced, glowing skin.

Why Knours. stood out

Wen and I spoke with Peng, a graphic designer at Knours., and she could not have been any friendlier or more helpful. Peng took the time to answer every question we had about the brand and thoughtfully explained the products that were on display. It’s obvious that Peng truly knows, and believes in, what Knours is all about.

And what is Knours. all about? Minimizing steps, for one. Products such as the Your Only Cleanser and Double Duty Mist are made for those who can’t be bothered with a 10-step skincare routine. This is intentional, as Knours. subscribes to the idea of a Skincare Diet, which is founded on the belief that the more products you use in your routine, the more damage you may be doing to your skin.

Meanwhile, this is the first time I’ve come across specialty hormonal skincare, for lack of a better term. Whether you’re menstruating, menopausal, or in the throes of pregnancy, Knours. promises to leave your skin in good condition throughout it all. The company is even developing an app to make caring for your skin even easier when those ragey hormones rage on.

What I’ll be trying

Knours cleanser mist

The company gifted me with a 2-piece sample set of the cleanser and mist mentioned above. I hope to be testing them out real soon!


instanatural indie beauty expo

Florida-based InstaNatural is a vegan beauty brand that makes skincare and hair care products.

Update: My bad – InstaNatural is not vegan. But it is cruelty free!

From the brand:

Our focus is to develop safe, smart and efficacious beauty products that are free from harmful ingredients and make them accessible to consumers across the globe. We believe that beautiful skin begins with healthy skin and that is why our skin care products are formulated with a specialized blend of botanical ingredients to support the skin’s natural barrier for optimal skin health and real beauty results.

Why InstaNatural stood out

It was the sign that caught my eye: “Find your serum soulmate!”

I’ll admit that the prospect of finding a serum just for me sounded promising, if not a tad gimmicky. (No shame, I like a good gimmick.) I took this quiz on one of the company-provided iPads and learned that my soul-serum is the Glycolic Acid. It contains an 8% Glycolic C Complex, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and Argan Oil. Given my giant pores, and how clogged they can get, this seems on the money for me.

The women Wen and I spoke with at the InstaNatural booth were also very helpful in answering our questions about their line of serums plus the brand at large. I do like that it’s cruelty free — actually, most brands at Indie Beauty Expo NYC 2019 were — and while there’s some debate over the legitimacy of “clean beauty,” I still appreciate InstaNatural’s transparency about its holistic approach to skincare.

What I’ll be trying

instanatural glycolic acid serum

I “won” a bottle of the Glycolic Acid Serum upon completing my Soulmate quiz and hope to crack it open within the next month or two.


Codex skincare indie beauty expo

Based out of Ireland, Codex marries science with ingredients found in nature to create pure, sustainable skincare.

From the brand:

Codex Beauty is a collective of global skin care brands built on science, natural ingredients, plant-based preservatives, pharmaceutical-grade processes, safety and efficacy trials, sustainability, and consumer transparency—in lieu of celebrities, influencers, or market trends. Our offering is entirely organic, free of harmful chemical compounds, and rigorously tested according to biotechnology practices. We believe constant innovation, refinement, and improvement are essential to transformative results. To that end, Codex Beauty is always in search of new skin care discoveries and technical breakthroughs.

Why Codex stood out

Codex was on my radar before I hit Indie Beauty Expo NYC. Obviously, I’m familiar with American and Korean brands, and have dabbled with Japanese and Taiwanese skincare products as well. But it was refreshing to come across a brand from Ireland, a country that has served as a home-away-from-home for me.

The brand’s tagline is, “Discovered in Nature, Perfected by Science.” While Indie Beauty Expo 2019 was flush with natural skincare products, Codex appeared to be one of the few such brands on the floor that truly embraced its scientific side. Codex claims to conduct extensive testing of its products to ensure that the organic ingredients it harvests are effective and safe for daily use.

The brand’s Bia Collection invoked memories of the Irish countryside for me, from the subtle herbal notes in the Skin Superfood cream to the modest green hue of the packaging (which is also green in the sense that it’s plant-based). I’m looking forward to seeing what else Codex has in store for the future.

What I’ll be trying

codex bia collection

I received sample-sized sachets of the Skin Superfood, Day Cream, and Eye Gel Cream. Stay tuned for my thoughts on those.

Chemist Confessions

chemist confessions indie beauty expo 2019

Founded by a pair of skincare chemists, Chemist Confessions is in the business of educating consumers while having fun in the process.

From the brand:

After a couple of years of making skincare products for a beauty conglomerate, we saw firsthand that the skincare industry is basically just smoke and mirrors. We believe that by making skincare science fun and approachable, we can empower you to make the best decision for your skin. So join us in our quest to #decodethatIL.

Why Chemist Confessions stood out

I know them from Instagram! They’re one of the first skincare accounts I remember following and thanks to CC, I’ve become a more educated consumer when it comes to knowing what I put on my face. Their lighthearted approach is especially helpful for someone like me who has a Fluffy Liberal Arts Brain.

What grew from CC’s desire to educate consumers was their own skincare brand. Is it vegan? Not exactly. But it doesn’t automatically make it bad. (Of course, if vegan is your preference, do you.) CC believes in efficacy, which means using the best blend of natural and synthetic ingredients they can concoct. Similar to the aforementioned Codex, CC unabashedly embraces the scientific side of skincare.

Wen and I spoke with the company’s co-founders, Gloria and Victoria, who were as approachable as the skincare philosophy they preach. They gave each of us a tiny Box of Goodies that contains three trial-size moisturizing products plus a “cheat sheet” that details which combinations work best. (Of course a brand called Chemist Confessions is going to encourage some experimentation!)

What I’ll be trying


My Box of Goodies includes Aquafix, Mr. Reliable, and The Better Oil. As the seasons begin to change (and therefore my moisturizers), I’ll likely be reaching for these and conducting some experiments of my own.

Kakadu Dream

kakadu dream samples indie beauty expo

Kakadu Dream is an Australian brand with products that are specially made for people who spend way too much time in front of a computer screen…like me!

From the brand:

Esthetician and beauty industry veteran, Mandi Vance has been observing the link between those who work in front of a computer and the acceleration of skin concerns such as pigmentation, aging, and sensitivity. Noticing there were products to counteract pollution and UV, which you are typically only exposed to during your work commute, Mandi set out to create a line of to address the damaging effect of blue light, of which we receive an average exposure of 10 hours per day.

Why Kakadu Dream stood out

First off, the presentation. It was a holographic dream paradise! It certainly caught our eye, especially the bed. (Wen and I were tired from walking all day.) From there, we got to talking with founder Mandi Vance, whose candor and passion really resonated with us. According to Mandi, Indie Beauty Expo New York was the official launch of Kakadu Dream and she could not have been more excited (nor could we have been for her).

By the way, what’s a kakadu? It’s a plum that’s native to Australia and allegedly has the richest Vitamin C content on the planet. As you may have surmised by the name and bedroom theme, Kakadu Dream products are meant to be worn at night when skin is in its regenerative state. No better time to take in the potency of kakadu, huh?

For as much time as we spend in front of a computer or phone screen, we do little to compensate for blue light exposure (save for our eyes). Here’s to Kakadu Dream providing a solution to a skincare issue that may not have crossed most tech lovers’ minds.

What I’ll be trying

Nothing. 🙁 Unfortunately we were unable to procure samples. But…Mandi, if you’re reading, we’re ready and willing to try either your cream or serum at any time!

A postmortem of Indie Beauty Expo 2019

I want to thank the Indie Beauty Group for allowing me to attend this event as a member of the press/influencer community. I’m also grateful to the many vendors who were generous with their time and products. To see my complete haul of items from Indie Beauty Expo, check out my Instagram Highlights.

Overall, my time at Pier 94 was well spent. While it may have been overwhelming, once that feeling washed over me I enjoyed the event to the fullest. I saw a lot of interesting products and made several wonderful connections. I even met Skincarma for the first time! (Thank you for not running away from me when I caught you by the entrance, heh.)

Would I go back next year? I’d love to. And I promise I’ll bring more business cards to hand out. It turns out 15 was way too few…

Unwinding at the Kakadu Dream booth after a long day (photo by Wen Shi)

Now over to you…

Have you heard of any of the brands above? Meanwhile, were you also at Indie Beauty Expo 2019 in New York? What vendors stood out most to you? Leave it all in the comments.

You’ve heard from me, now you can hear from Wen about the brands that caught her eye at Indie Beauty Expo New York 2019.

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I am not a professional. All opinions are my own. 

3 Replies to “5 Standout Brands at Indie Beauty Expo 2019”

  1. Hey it’s Peng again❤️ Thank you for stopping by Knours at Indie Beauty Expo. It was really nice meeting you and talking to you. We love your coverage and we’re so honored to be included on your blog. You truly captured Knours’ soul in your article!

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