The beauty world is a crowded one (just step into any Sephora), and nobody knows this more Zoe Brenneke. The former editor and brand consultant has written for sites like Byrdie and The Zoe Report and even co-founded a now-defunct beauty site highlighting some of today's most influential fashion forces (like celebrity stylist Maeve Reilly and author/host Louise Roe, to name a few) — so it's safe to say she's well-versed in everything from haircare tools to face oils to makeup trends. But when it came to her own skin, Brenneke struggled to find safe, effective, and affordable products that didn't make her break out.
Enter Arrive, the wallet-friendly clean beauty brand that Los Angeles-based Brenneke launched in April after over two and a half years of developing and testing formulas from scratch. The goal? Simplify skincare by offering uncomplicated, cruelty-free, and dermatologist-tested products for everyday use as well as maintaining transparency.
To accomplish that, Arrive offers just three products (for now): the Skin Boost ($26), a buildable and "breathable skin-tone evener" available in five shades; the Bronzer ($28), which gives a sun-kissed finish or contoured look and comes in two shades (light/medium and tan/dark), and the super-soft Bronzer Brush ($20). The brand lists all of its ingredients on its website and also showcases each product in action by way of quickie tutorial videos featuring a range of skin tones.
If Arrive calls to mind another millennial-focused, playful beauty brand, we don't blame you. In fact, Brenneke recruited a packaging designer from Glossier as well as product developer from Laura Mercier — in fact, the team had developed five products but opted to launch with just three: "We actually had two other products planned for our launch that we held off on releasing because we didn't feel like they were as good or better than the existing products in those categories," Brenneke tells us. "We don't ever want to be a brand that adds noise to an already overcrowded space.
Here, we sat down with Brenneke to find out how her career as a beauty writer informed Arrive, how L.A. inspires the brand (as seen clearly in the bronzer above), her favorite food and fashion spots around town, and more. Read on below, then shop Arrive online here.
How did your career as an editor help guide the brand?
I've spent almost my entire adult life working in the beauty industry, and I still get overwhelmed by how much product is out there, so I can only imagine how confused the average consumer feels. There are already hundreds of brands you can go to if you need one-off products for a special event or a night out, like a bright eyeliner or fun lipstick, but Arrive is all about a really pared-down catalog of products, focusing on the ones you're going to reach for every day.
Our goal with all of our product launches is to simplify your routine and help you get out the door feeling your best as quickly and easily as possible, all while making sure you don't have to worry about what you're putting on your skin.
What were some of the challenges as far as finding the right ingredients?
Formulating the products as a whole was really challenging because it was a constant balancing act of keeping the ingredient list as clean as possible without ever losing efficacy. We've been incredibly lucky to work with amazing talent in this space.
As much as I know what qualities make a product great, formulating is a science, and Jessaline Orlansky, our head of product development, is a chemistry wizard. She and I were always very in line in the sense that we never added ingredients to our formulas just because they had a good marketing story. Everything we included was incredibly thoughtful and always made the product more effective.
You and the company are based in Los Angeles. How has living here inspired the brand?
Arrive products are designed not to be noticed in the sense that we want people to compliment you on your skin, not your foundation or your bronzer. There's definitely a part of L.A. that embraces the full glam, but really, I find that a lot of the beauty culture here errs more on a light touch. The look feels very healthy, happy, hydrated — like you're the kind of person who drinks their green juice, goes to yoga, and has a little sun because you hit the beach last weekend — so we create products that try to "bottle" that aesthetic.
L.A. is also, in my opinion, the heart of the clean movement in so many industries, be it food, fashion, or beauty. But because of that, we've got high standards and aren't typically willing to sacrifice things like style, taste, or efficacy. Brands and companies here have to do more than just be clean, they have to deliver quality, which was part of my impetus for starting the brand. The clean makeup space has always felt like a compromise. You're either paying a lot of money, settling for a product that's better for you but doesn't work as well, stuck with packaging makes you want to hide it in a drawer, or worst case, some combination of these three.
Where are some of your favorite LA spots to shop, play, and eat?
I'd live at The Row's store on Melrose Place if they'd let me. The space alone is perfect, but the clothes are really exceptional. I have pieces that have held up year after year, season after season because the quality and the tailoring are unmatched, so I don't mind investing in them because the payoff is incredible.
The Window on Melrose is my guilty pleasure for furniture and home accessories. I've gotten really into interior design in the past few years, and L.A. is full of fantastic home stores, but everything The Window curates is unique and eclectic in the best way, yet somehow all looks amazing together. They make vintage shopping feel easy because all of their inventory is phenomenal, so you don't have to spend hours digging through junk to find a gem.
I've spent the last five years in L.A. looking for the perfect burger and can finally say I found it at Everson Royce. I don't venture Downtown often, but this burger is worth it. Overly fussy toppings always feel like a cop out to mask a sub-par patty, so I love the simplicity of theirs because it lets the best part of the burger shine. The ambiance is a 10, and they've got a gorgeous patio space that's so fun in the summer.
Shop Arrive ($20 to $28) online here.