21 San Francisco Beauty Tech Companies Leading the Cosmetics Revolution

by Olivia McClure
January 9, 2020

As a city built upon culture and entertainment, San Francisco wears its cosmopolitan status with pride. While tourists and locals alike still spill out of the city's historic theaters and admire the architectural faces that gaze down its steep streets, the City by the Bay has continued to shift the tides of mainstream America. It was in San Francisco that Levi Strauss, the mind behind Levi’s jeans, built his denim empire, ushering in a new era for fashion. And it was also here that sisters Jane and Jean Ford opened a small makeup store with very little money in the Mission, which would eventually become the billion-dollar company known today as Benefit Cosmetics. 

Over the decades, technology has begun to influence the cosmetics industry. Many of San Francisco’s biggest beauty companies are using science and technology to enhance the consumer experience and create sustainable, healthier products. For many of these beauty trailblazers, it’s not just about finding the perfect shade, but about reinventing the ways in which we discover beauty and make it our own. From advanced retail technology to AI-powered skincare personalization, the possibilities are endless at these 21 beauty tech companies. 

San Francisco Beauty Tech Companies to know

  • Ayla Beauty
  • Benefit Cosmetics
  • Beautylish
  • Biossance
  • Blushup
  • Credo Beauty
  • Earth Tu Face
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics
Ayla Beauty beauty companies San Francisco
Ayla Beauty

Founded: 2011

Focus: Makeup, Skincare + Haircare

Location: Lower Pacific Heights / Polk Gulch

What they do: Ayla Beauty offers an expert-curated collection of healthy beauty products. The company houses a variety of different beauty products including bath soaks, cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, shampoo and conditioner, mascara and bronzer. Ayla’s collection of international brands includes Inika, Plume, Boucleme, Bottega Organica, Vintner’s Daughter and Ellis Brooklyn.

 

Benefit Cosmetics beauty companies San Francisco
Benefit Cosmetics

Founded: 1976

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: Financial District

What they do: With store locations spanning 59 countries and five continents, Benefit Cosmetics sells a wide variety of makeup and skincare products. The company’s makeup collection includes mascara, eyeshadow, bronzer and lipstick. Benefit also offers a wide range of services at their stores such as brow styling and waxing, tinting, lash application, spray tans and laser facials. 

 

Beautylish beauty companies San Francisco
Beautylish

Founded: 2010

Focus: Makeup, Skincare + Haircare

Location: Lower Nob Hill

What they do: Beautylish serves as a community for women to discover and learn about beauty products, as well as an online cosmetics boutique. The company offers reviews of products and makeup tutorials on its website and sells a variety of beauty products encompassing makeup, nails, skincare, fragrances, haircare and styling tools. Beautylish carries products from a diverse range of brands including Benefit Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Natasha Denona, Stila and St. Tropez.

 

Biossance beauty companies San Francisco
Biossance

Founded: 2016

Focus: Skincare

Location: Emeryville, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Biossance creates effective, safe and sustainable beauty products through the use of biotechnology. Before breaking into the beauty business, the company developed patented technology that allowed them to create an accessible cure for malaria. Today, Biossance sells a wide range of products such as serum, eye cream, moisturizer, mist, cleanser and lip balm. The company uses squalane in all of its products, which is made from plant-derived, renewable sugarcane and effectively locks in moisture.

 

Blushup beauty companies San Francisco
Blushup

Founded: 2017

Focus: Makeup + Skincare Services

Location: The East Cut

What they do: Blushup provides retail technology to help beauty brands and retailers drive traffic to stores by enabling consumers to book beauty services through their mobile devices. The company collaborates with various beauty brands like Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder and Laura Mercier, helping consumers discover makeup and skincare services at more than 300 beauty retailers throughout the Northeast. Blushup was founded to counteract the lack of online reviews of local beauty counters and brand artists, offering an easy, on-the-go alternative.   

 

Credo Beauty beauty companies San Francisco
Credo Beauty

Founded: 2014

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: Presidio

What they do: Credo Beauty provides clean, cruelty-free beauty products, which are manufactured without harmful ingredients like aluminum powder, chemical sunscreens and formaldehyde. The company carries a wide selection of clean indie and luxury beauty brands such as 27 Rosiers, Captain Blankenship, Saint Jane Beauty, Susanne Kaufman and Zoe Organics. Credo has several store locations across the country, where consumers can purchase products and book beauty services like makeovers and facials. 

 

Earth Tu Face beauty companies San Francisco
Earth Tu Face

Founded: 2010

Focus: Skincare

Location: Oakland, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Founded by herbalists, Earth Tu Face is a company that creates plant-based, food-grade products. Formulated without alcohol, synthetic dyes, chemicals, fillers or fragrances, their products boast all-natural ingredients like organic beeswax and plant-derived Vitamin E and are packaged in reusable, compostable and recyclable containers. Some of Earth Tu Face’s products include perfume, lip balm, lotion, serum, face wash, toning mist and salt scrub.

 

e.l.f. Cosmetics beauty companies San Francisco
e.l.f Cosmetics

Founded: 2004

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: Oakland, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Designed for the care of eyes, lips and faces, e.l.f. Cosmetics creates beauty products at affordable prices. The company’s vegan and cruelty-free products include mascara, eyeshadow, blush, foundation, highlighter, setting spray, moisturizer, cleanser and face masks. Additionally, e.l.f. Cosmetics now sells products infused with hemp-derived cannabis sativa seed oil, which includes Happy Hydration Cream, Calm Balm and All the Feels Facial Oil. 

 

Etta + Billie beauty companies San Francisco
Etta + Billie

Founded: 2009

Focus: Skincare

Location: Portola Place

What they do: Etta + Billie produces sustainable, handcrafted natural products that are free of additives and artificial colors and scents. The company’s products are inspired by various food creations, boasting names like Cold Brew Mint Coffee Scrub, Grapefruit Cardamom Body Oil and Earl Grey Soap. In addition to selling products like lotions, scrubs and soaps, Etta + Billie also creates room sprays and natural deodorants. 

 

Ipsy beauty companies San Francisco
IPsy

Founded: 2011

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: San Mateo, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Ipsy is a beauty product subscription service with more than three million members. The company delivers customized Glam Bags, which are tailored to each subscriber’s needs using a proprietary technology that analyzes hundreds of attributes. Subscribers who wish to receive a greater quantity of full-sized products can choose either the Glam Bag Plus or Glam Bag Ultimate. 

 

Juice Beauty beauty companies San Francisco
Juice Beauty

Founded: 2005

Focus: Skincare + Makeup

Location: San Rafael, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Founded by wellness entrepreneur Karen Behnke, Juice Beauty develops beauty products derived from nutrient-rich organic botanical juices. The company’s range of skincare products includes moisturizer, sunscreen, toner, cleanser, serum and masks. Juice Beauty also sells makeup made with organic ingredients and plant pigments instead of synthetic dyes. Some of the company’s products are designed to correct uneven skin tones, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and clear skin. 

 

Kendo Brands beauty companies San Francisco
Kendo Brands

 

Founded: 2010

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: The East Cut

What they do: Kendo Brands creates founder beauty brands, collaborating with major names in fashion and entertainment. Kendo’s house of brands includes Kat Von D Beauty, Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Bite Beauty and Ole Henriksen Skincare. Since its launch, the company has opened headquarters in Toronto, Paris, London and Singapore, and its products are currently sold in 27 countries. 

 

lilah b. beauty companies San Francisco
lilah b.

Founded: 2015

Focus: Makeup + Skincare

Location: Sausalito, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Also known as Lilah Beauty, lilah b. offers a streamlined color collection of multi-purpose products, focusing on healthy, clean, skin-sensitive formulations. The company’s products are vegan friendly and cruelty-free, created without gluten, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and sulfates. Their products include cleansing butter, priming oil, skin illuminator, tinted lip oil, face mist and eye primer.

 

Madison Reed beauty companies San Francisco
Madison Reed

Founded: 2013

Focus: Haircare

Location: Mission District

What they do: Madison Reed creates at-home hair color free of harsh chemicals like ammonia, parabens and phthalates. The company works with manufacturers in Italy who operate under strict EU guidelines to produce high-quality hair color products filled with nutrients such as keratin, argan oil and ginseng root extract. With several salon locations across the nation, Madison Reed also offers a variety of other products including treatments, accessories and styling tools. 

 

Memebox beauty companies San Francisco
Memebox

Founded: 2012

Focus: Makeup

Location: Theater District / SoMa

What they do: Initially founded in Korea, Memebox is a global cosmetics company that boasts private, in-house labels inspired by Korean beauty trends. The company’s collection of brands, which includes Kaja, I Dew Care and Nooni, encompasses a wide range of products, including eyeshadow, lip gloss, blush, masks, mist, serum and cleanser. In addition to their San Francisco headquarters, Memebox has several offices located worldwide.

 

PROVEN Skincare beauty companies San Francisco
PROVEN Skincare

Founded: 2018

Focus: Skincare

Location: SoMa

What they do: PROVEN Skincare offers personalized skincare products derived through the use of AI. The company’s Skin Genome Project is a skincare database that analyzes the effectiveness of skincare ingredients and even the water hardness, humidity level and UV index of where a person lives. In order to be matched with the right products, consumers take a quiz that analyzes over 47 factors about themselves including heritage, lifestyle and environment.

 

Rodan + Fields beauty companies San Francisco
Rodan + Fields

Founded: 2000

Focus: Skincare

Location: The East Cut

What they do: Established by Stanford-educated dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields develops skincare products for a wide range of skin types. The company’s products treat a wide range of skincare concerns including acne, fine lines, dark spots, dehydration and redness. Rodan + Fields consultants work individually with each customer to craft tailored skincare solutions. 

 

Sephora beauty companies San Francisco
Sephora

Founded: 1969

Focus: Makeup, Skincare + Haircare

Location: Financial District

What they do: Founded in France and headquartered in San Francisco, Sephora sells cosmetics products in 38 markets worldwide and online. In addition to the company’s own Sephora Collection, Sephora showcases products from many of the world’s leading beauty brands, including Armani Beauty, Bobbi Brown, Dior, Guerlain, Jo Malone London and Laura Mercier. Sephora’s collection of products encompasses every aspect of beauty, from makeup and skincare to fragrance and haircare.  

 

theBalm beauty companies San Francisco
theBalm

Founded: 2004

Focus: Makeup

Location: Alameda, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Boasting cruelty-free, paraben-free cosmetics, theBalm sells multi-use beauty products. Encased in vintage-inspired, empowering packaging, their products include eyeliner, mascara, bronzer, blush, lipstick and highlighter. The company also sells a wide range of merchandise including hats, cosmetic bags and phone pockets. 

 

True Botanicals beauty companies San Francisco
True Botanicals

Founded: 2016

Focus: Skincare

Location: Financial District

What they do: True Botanicals is a direct-to-consumer beauty brand that creates products with nontoxic ingredients. Their products are formulated with certified-organic and wild-harvested ingredients, as well as plant-derived peptides, antioxidant-rich oils, soothing ceramides and hyaluronic acid. True Botanicals sells a wide range of products including cleansers, mists and toners, serums and aromatherapy oils, as well as safe, antioxidant-rich products designed specifically for pregnant women. 

 

Volition Beauty beauty companies San Francisco
Volition Beauty

Founded: 2015

Focus: Skincare

Location: Sausalito, Greater San Francisco Bay Area

What they do: Volition Beauty is a creative platform where consumers, enthusiasts and chemists can create their own beauty products through crowdsourcing and community vetting. If an idea for a beauty product is vetted by one of the company’s experts, the community is allowed to vote for its creation. Volition Beauty’s collection of skincare products includes cleansers, eye creams, moisturizers, sunscreens, serums and mists. The company also uses a unique sample program in which consumers are allowed to try a sample size of their mail order before opening the product, so they can return it risk-free within 30 days if needed.

 

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