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Kosas Masters the Art of Reinvention

First with Gwyneth Paltrow and now with TikTok’s Gen-Z beauty queens, Kosas has charted a course to growth through rebranding, new products and customer base expansion.
A selection of Kosas products including its sunscreen, foundation, concealer, skin enhancer and powder.
Kosas complexion products. (Ian Flanigan/Kosas)

Key insights

  • Kosas is on a rapid growth trajectory with $120 million in sales in 2023, up from $80 million in 2022.
  • First popular with the Goop set, the brand quickly pivoted to reach Gen-Z with endorsements from top TikTok influencers and celebrities like Hailey Bieber.
  • Its Revealer Concealer is now its top seller and the complexion category makes up 60 percent of its sales.

From Hailey Bieber to Kim Kardashian, makeup brand Kosas has been associated with virtually every celebrity with the clout to drive beauty trends. But when asked to picture her ideal “Kosas girl,” founder Sheena Zadeh-Daly has one person in mind: “myself.”

At the brand’s bright pastel- and neon-hued offices in Los Angeles’ El Segundo — a burgeoning beauty hub with L’Oréal Group’s new West Coast headquarters down the road — Zadeh-Daly explained that the brand intentionally avoids associating itself with one specific influencer look. First elevated by the minimalism-minded Goop mom set, Kosas has recently caught the attention of Gen-Z with a savvy TikTok marketing strategy and hit viral products. In 2023, it made $120 million retail sales, up from $80 million in 2022. Sales are forecasted to reach $150 million this year.

“It’s important to me to be able to expand my thinking and expand the universe of how makeup is formulated. And to always be looking for, ‘What’s at the forefront? What are the newest ways to do things?’” said Zadeh-Daly.

Backed by heavy-hitter investors like VMG, which had a hand in some of beauty’s most high-profile acquisitions (think Drunk Elephant and Briogeo), many expect Kosas to sell to a strategic or a financial sponsor this year. Zadeh-Daly remains demure about the possibility.


“Businesses have needs and trajectories that they take. But that’s the tail wagging the dog. And that’s not what I do. My objective is always to build the best brand, forever,” she said.

Clean but Not Crunchy

With a background in chemistry and fine art, Zadeh-Daly founded Kosas in 2015 after learning about ingredients to avoid while pregnant.

Kosas founder Sheena Zadeh-Daly.
Kosas founder Sheena Zadeh-Daly. (Ian Flanigan/Kosas)

“Then, we had things like natural and organic makeup, which were so focused on the elimination of ingredients that they also completely eliminated performance,” she said.

At the time, US retail options for clean beauty brands were limited. Zadeh-Daly remembers going to Whole Foods and feeling that the crunchy-granola vibe of beauty products there did not fit with her minimalist-glam aesthetic.

“There is no universe where I want to buy, like, a wooden compact. It just wasn’t something that I wanted,” she said. She sought a retail partner that was more elevated.

Goop filled that niche. Goop’s executive beauty director Jean Godfrey-June was tasked with finding products that lived up to not only the company’s standards for ingredients, but also for efficacy and design.

“Clean beauty started out as a health-food store aesthetic. For it to move the way that it did, it had to evolve,” she said.

When she received a package of Kosas’ first product — a matte lipstick in four shades, it was a godsend. With chic packaging and appealing colours, Goop staffers became obsessed with wearing the lipsticks, especially the cult-favourite shade Rosewater.


“She changed the aesthetic,” said Godfrey-June.

Gwyneth Paltrow was the first of many celebrities to drive hype for the label. It quickly attracted makeup artists such as Monika Blunder and Lisa Storey, a tall feat for clean makeup at the time.

“We never really emphasised the clean; I would say that’s an attribute and it’s true, but it’s not the foundation upon which this brand is built,” said Zadeh-Daly, who said that efficacy, colour and skincare benefits were its main areas of focus.

The brand expanded into both niche and mainstream retail as it launched in more categories, making its way into Credo Beauty, Sephora, Mecca and Space NK.

The buzz and retail presence attracted powerhouse investors including M3 Ventures, Hollywood agent Scooter Braun’s TQ Ventures, Glossier and Skims investor Imaginary Ventures, and CircleUp. Influencers Leandra Medine and Arielle Charnas also invested.

“We had started to gain some traction in Sephora. At that point, it was actually time to professionalise the business,” said Zadeh-Daly. CMO Adeline Leong was its first executive hire in 2020, followed by its CEO, former Tatcha CEO Jean-Marc Plisson, in 2021. It now has 70 employees.

The TikTok Tipping Point

As Gen-Z tastes began to elevate bold, colourful aesthetics over the millennial “blanding” that dominated the 2010s, Kosas embarked on an in-house rebrand. A Scandinavian-inspired accent was removed from its logo, and its minimalist black-and-white packaging was replaced with pastel and neon rainbow colours. Its next challenge would be to win over beauty’s new guard of tastemakers.

In 2022, TikTok beauty guru Mikayla Nogueira posted a video titled “Full Face of Makeup I Hate.” In it, the Kosas Tinted Face Oil was a target of her ire.


“This is so bad on my skin… it’s so liquidy, it’s so oily, I hate the scent,” she said, cringing in disgust as she applied the product. At that point, she’d been critiquing the products since Kosas first sent her a box in 2020.

“I hated a lot of the products. They didn’t work for me at all,” she recounted on a call with The Business of Beauty.

Kosas reached out to her; Zadeh-Daly took her out to eat in LA and listened to her honest thoughts. By 2023, the line completed its rebrand. New products like the BB Burst Tinted Gel Cream and DreamBeam Sunscreen were launched with the updated design.

Containers in various shades of the Kosas BB Burst Tinted Gel Cream.
The Kosas BB Burst Tinted Gel Cream. (Ian Flanigan/Kosas)

Its rebranding strategy has meant giving up on old favourites. Despite Nogueira’s aversion, the Tinted Face Oil had been the brand’s best seller at one point; it was discontinued in 2023. The Rosewater lipstick that kicked off Goop’s infatuation has been replaced by a similar shade called Daydream — a fact lamented by fans on Instagram.

“The fact that they listened to feedback, took it into consideration and actually implemented the changes with a full rebrand, full new formulations, new product lineup, new marketing strategy — it’s super impressive,” said Nogueira, who made clear that she was one of many voices who had assessed the products.

She now frequently posts glowing reviews and sponsored content for Kosas, showcasing products like its Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation and Cloud Set Setting Powder. Most recently, she praised the brand’s January shade expansion of its Revealer Concealer.

This deference to one of TikTok’s most powerful Gen-Z beauty queens is just one example of the brand’s ability to adapt to an evolving market, where customer preference and viral trend cycles are king. In addition to Nogueira, it can be seen across the posts of TikTok beauty leaders: Alix Earle, Meredith Duxbury and, of course, Bieber.

A pivotal moment for the brand was the breakout success of its Revealer Concealer, which Bieber posted about in a 2022 video. After going viral, it is the brand’s top-selling product. Kosas was one of the earliest beauty brands to join TikTok in 2020, while others in the elevated clean category remained aloof about the platform.

“When we think about the Hailey era, it coincided with us taking a bet on TikTok,” said Leong. “A lot of brands didn’t dive in headfirst. We dove in headfirst.”

Thanks in part to the concealer, the complexion category makes up 60 percent of the brand’s sales.

More complexion launches are in the pipeline, said Zadeh-Daly. Kosas’ goal to reach everyone from full-glam Nogueira to minimalist Bieber has enabled it to be more than a brand of the moment.

“I want Kosas to be a forever brand. I want to leave this behind. I don’t want it to have been for nothing,” she added.

Further Reading

Beauty’s Most Sought-After M&A Targets in 2024

Now that the market has stabilised, beauty brands of all shapes and sizes are eager to get their dues. The Business of Beauty identifies the top targets of the year including Kosas, Summer Fridays and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty.

About the author
Liz Flora
Liz Flora

Liz Flora is a Beauty Correspondent at Business of Fashion. She is based in Los Angeles and covers beauty and wellness.

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