This Clean Beauty Brand Wants to Simplify Your Routine Without Sacrificing Self-Care

CLE Cosmetics founder Lauren Jin shares why it's important to take moments for yourself.

Beauty Boss: Lauren Jin
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

You've seen that woman on the train or bus before. The one who's doing arm gymnastics holding a mascara in one hand, a lipstick in the other, and using a palm-sized compact mirror sitting her in lap to apply them all.

Ironically enough, sitting across from one such woman doing her makeup on the tube in London is actually what inspired one of CLE Cosmetics' most beloved products: the Melting Lip Powder — and the brand itself.

"I was sitting across from her, and I was so anxious for her because, what if this train just stops?" CLE Cosmetics founder Lauren Jin recalls. "My goal is to create products that are seamless, multifunctional, and really easy to use if you're in a time crunch, which everyone is at some point."

Along with simplifying your beauty routine, Lin wants CLE cosmetics' products to serve as a means for women to take time out for themselves, whether it's giving yourself a facial massage with the brand's Vitamin C Elixir or enhancing your cheekbones with the Essence Moonlighter Cushion.

The clean, vegan, cruelty-free formulas are also infused with skincare ingredients for added benefits, and inspired by K-beauty technology to ensure a natural finish and results. So while you may be hitting pause on your daily stresses to indulge in some self-care, you're actually multitasking.

Here, Jin shares the inspiration being CLE, the importance of taking moments for yourself, and advice on how to get your business idea off the ground during challenging times, like the one the world is currently in.

What inspired you to start your brand?

When I was doing my masters in fashion in London, I was exploring the idea of the modern woman and what that means to me, as I was preparing to finish school and go into society myself. As much as I love fashion and the tactile aspect of it, I found the emotional and ritualistic sensibility wasn't quite there. I realized makeup and skincare products would better carry this concept forward. That's how I transitioned into creating CLE Comsetics. It's based on this really simple, ritualistic, realistic take on what I conceived as the modern woman and what she would need, along with my own personal experiences or experiences I've seen.

Why is the ritualistic nature of the brand important to you?

Setting aside that time for yourself is really important to alleviate any stress, take your mind off certain things, or simply feel pretty and know you're doing it for yourself. Even if it's a minute of just applying blush, that minute can mean so much. It boosts your mood, and the tactile aspect of touching your face can be very therapeutic in way.

What's your approach to creating products?

Usually the pure concept of the product comes from a need I find within myself or other women. The Melting Lip Powder really came from the anxiety of seeing that girl putting on makeup across from me in the train station. Even the CCC Cream stemmed from the idea of how I don't like the way foundation makes my skin feel like it's suffocating. While I love BB and CC creams, there's always something off about the color for me. These needs or gaps in the market are what inspire the products. Eventually the ingredients do come in, and I like to keep the balance of the products in mind. It's about actual ingredients, but also functionality and texture. For example, we've heard from a lot of people that our CCC cream helps clear up their skin texture over time, thanks to its skincare ingredients.

How does K-beauty influence CLE's products?

I lean towards a lot of Korean beauty technology, and when I'm in Korea on my business trips I constantly contact everyone I know to get my hands on the newest thing. I think in the beauty industry there's so much room to grow in terms of technology, new ingredients and ingredient combinations. I like to take pieces of what K-beauty is known for, and put my stamp on it so I feel like I'm taking the best aspects of it. For example, the cushion compact is such a big staple in K-beauty, so I translated that cushion (which is originally used for foundation), into a highlighter.

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What is one product from your line everyone should try?

My personal favorite is the CCC Cream. I have not used any other product, and it's not just because it's my brand, it's because I can't go back to anything else after using it. It's the tactility of the color changing and also how it blends on your skin. I think a lot of people react well to it because it gives you light color like a tinted moisturizer, but you're also getting dewiness so your skin isn't dry.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are trying to get their ideas off the ground during the pandemic?

It's okay to start small. What has kept me going through all these years, is to really stay true to your initial concept. I went in with the mindset of that I'm no one in the industry, and I'm starting from square one and building my way up. For me I have a goal in mind, and I'm just walking towards it. I think that's what helped me go through the hard times too; just knowing that I'll get there and this is just one block on the road I have to go over. Especially with the pandemic, I think it's so easy for business owners to start small and be proactive digitally with social media. Since everyone is home right now, you don't have to go to physical trade shows to connect and engage with people.

Shop CLE Cosmetics Products

CCC Cream

CLE Cosmetics Products

This two-in-one foundation and primer also offers SPF 50 coverage. While it has the lightweight texture of a tinted foundation, the coverage is buildable with a dewy finish. CCC Cream comes in 10 shades that adapt to a wide range of skin tones.

To shop: $38;

Lifting Mist

CLE Cosmetics Products

This supercharged face mist offers extra hydration compared to other options. It's all thanks to snow mushroom extract, a plant-based alternative to hyaluronic acid that can penetrate the skin deeper because of its smaller molecular size.

To shop: $42;

Melting Lip Powder

CLE Cosmetics Products

This magical powder melts into a pigmented tint when you apply it on your lips. Bonus: Any of the five shades can double as an eyeshadow or blush.

To shop: $25;

Vitamin C Elixir

CLE Cosmetics Products

CLE's oil-serum hybrid tackles hyperpigmentation, dullness, and signs of aging. On top of the vitamin C base, the formula also contains an all-star lineup of ingredients, including vitamin B6, antioxidants, ferulic acid, and amino acids.

To shop: $48;

Essence Moonlighter Cushion

CLE Cosmetics Products

If you're after a natural, glowy highlight that doesn't get chalky, may we suggest a cushion compact? CLE's K-beauty inspired highlighter is also infused with skincare ingredients to ensure seamless application and a soft, hydrated complexion.

To shop: $30;

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Beauty Boss profiles the brains behind the brands making waves in the beauty industry. From the ideas that first inspire brands to how best-selling hair, makeup, and skincare products are made, find out how these leaders get it done.

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