The Clean Makeup Brand That Puts Complexion First

LYS Beauty's initial product offerings include options for every skin undertone.

BEAUTY BOSS: Tisha Thompson LYS Beauty
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

Thanks to Fenty Beauty's game-changing launch in 2017, 40 shades has become the industry baseline for brands launching foundations. However, wide offerings mean nothing if various undertones aren't included in the range.

Beauty industry veteran and makeup artist Tisha Thompson noticed this gap in the current clean foundation options on the market, so she set out to make the clean makeup category more inclusive with her brand LYS Beauty, the first Black-owned clean brand to be carried at Sephora.

Thompson launched with complexion and skin prep products at the beginning of 2021, and the brand's second-skin finish Triple Fix Serum Foundation, a formula that comes in 35 shades across three undertones, has already created a cult-following on social media.

"A lot of times you'll see brands promote clean and they may have some shade ranges, but they're all one undertone like yellow or pink," Thompson says. "The thing about skin is that we all have different undertones and that effects how we perfect that base. I wanted to take it a step further and create options for people with golden, olive, red, and neutral undertones, too."

Ahead, Thompson shares the special, relatable meaning behind her brand's name and its unique packaging, why complexion is the most important part of any makeup look, and what she hopes for the future of clean beauty.

What inspired you to start LYS Beauty?

Throughout my career, I've focused on learning everything I possibly can about the beauty industry, from product development to marketing. All of these experiences, along with my passion starting off as a makeup artist, have played a part in my desire to start my own line. My gives me an opportunity to do better and showcase the overlooked people who haven't been represented in the beauty space, which has really fueled my passion for wanting to start LYS. I thought I had done so many things over the last 15 years while building beauty brands and traveling the globe, but when you start your own business, you really see it all. I can't imagine going straight into starting a business without the all of the experience I've had.

How do you hope LYS impacts the clean beauty space?

When you look at the industry as a whole, although we've made a lot of improvements, I think definitely think still there's work to be done. When you dive even deeper into the niche market of clean, it's a phenomenon that is still relatively new to the industry overall. Then you factor in diversity or lack there of, and it's even more compounded in that space. My mission for Lys is building those blocks and bridging the diversity gap in not just the beauty industry overall, but also in the clean space. I want to be impactful in the clean space by not only providing products that are your perfect shade, but ones that are also good for your skin type and concerns, whether that's hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or sensitivity. These are things we take into consideration when we formulate as well. I'm really excited about what we're doing and what the industry overall is doing. We're making a lot of much-need progress and I'm excited to see where things go in the future.

Why did you decide to launch the brand with complexion products?

Based on my experience as a makeup artist, who worked with consumers in stores and models behind the scenes, we all strive for that perfection complexion or makeup base. And I think the secret to that is foundation. No matter how perfect your skin is, we all have uneven tone in certain areas and want to perfect it and build from there. So I knew if I was going to create a line, it needed to be around complexion. I also saw that the biggest lack in diversity in the clean space was in the foundation assortment. The Triple Fix Serum Foundation has been a game-changer for both the industry and the brand. It's our number one item and I'm in awe of the reviews it's gotten and how much people post about it online.

Tell me about the name LYS and the unique triangular packaging.

The name LYS means love yourself. It's gentle reminder the power you hold to change how you feel about yourself. Loving who you are and being confident is really important. The other element to the branding is the triangle, which is the delta symbol. The delta symbol represents change and my mission is to change the clean beauty industry for the better by really diversifying it and making it more inclusive. I wanted a package that really represents this story. Even the product and shade names are very inspirational to remind you that you are amazing, love yourself, and be true to who you are.

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As a clean beauty brand founder, what do you hope to see in the future?

I hope to see a standardized approach, because I think from brand to brand and retailer to retailer there is a different perception or meaning behind clean. I love that retailers like Sephora and Credo have done a fantastic job in standardizing their meaning behind clean and sustainability, and I think that would really help clarify things for the consumer. It will also allow brands to be authentic if they are that and meet the requirements where they can authentically claim those statements. At the end of the day, the consumer should have the choice about what is important to them, and I think this is the best approach. I hope to see that continue in the space and I think consumers would appreciate it as well.

I also hope to see representation continues to be a focus for all brands, clean or not. It's just time that we represent everyone, regardless of size, skin tone, or sexual orientation. We're at a place where it's just important to allow everyone to be seen and that's what I hope for the most, but it seems like we're headed in the right direction.

Shop LYS Beauty Products

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Triple Fix Serum Foundation

LYS Beauty Clean Makeup Products

Inspired by your favorite serum, this easy-to-blend, second-skin finish foundation is infused with ingredients like ashwagandha, turmeric, hyaluronaic acid to boost hydration, brighten, soothe, and firm skin. Lys has created 35 shades with three different undertones to ensure everyone finds their perfect made.

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No Limits Matte Bronzer

LYS Beauty Clean Makeup Products

LYS' silky bronzer is ideal for softly sculpting and defining the face. The talc-free powder has a customizable, buildable matte finish, so you can use it for a subtle or full glam look.

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Secure Skin Gripping Serum Primer

LYS Beauty Clean Makeup Products

On top of holding makeup in place, LYS' serum primer works to minimize the look of pores and minimize hyperpigmentation for smooth, even, application of base products.

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Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush

LYS Beauty Clean Makeup Products

Thanks to a blend of nourishing oils and vitamins, this creamy matte blush glides on skin for a smooth, natural finish. Choose from six shades that cater to a wide range of skin tones and desired makeup looks.

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Triple Fix Setting Powder

LYS Beauty Clean Makeup Products

Designed not to leave a white cast while setting makeup, LYS' setting powder comes in four shades.

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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