You probably know that the makeup industry is highly unethical as a whole. Many brands out there still test on animals, and many of them contain toxic ingredients, like lead in lipsticks. Yet, when it comes to the alternative—vegan and cruelty-free lipsticks—quite often, the quality and efficacy misses the mark.
It can be frustrating as a conscious consumer. We want to buy more responsibly, but we also don’t want to compromise the quality of our products.
That’s exactly what Ericka Rodriguez found. Which is why she started Axiology. Ericka was able to come up with a formulation for each of her products using 10 or less natural ingredients. Not only that, but her brand is cruelty-free, and also comes in sustainable packaging.
Let’s dive into the sustainable beauty brand that is changing the lipstick industry.
A Vegpreneur at Heart
Ericka Rodriguez had always felt connected to animals. As a girl, she was a Peta poster child, donning their branding all over her school books, and committing to a vegan diet from an early age.
Her entrepreneurial spirit guided her to college where she got a degree in Business Administration with Entrepreneurship as a specialty. She knew she wanted to start her own business, but she wasn’t 100% certain what that might be.
So she started her first venture—a YouTube channel and blog for a vegan community where she focused on skincare and recipes. Ericka would film tutorials on how to use fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to make your own beauty products.
Ericka’s second shot at entrepreneurship was a wellness business where she learnt more about the power of natural ingredients in beauty and wellness.
While both of these businesses didn’t last, they definitely paved the way for Ericka’s third entrepreneurial venture: Axiology.
How Axiology Began
One of Ericka’s favorite must-haves in her makeup arsenal were lipsticks. But in 2013, she was mortified to learn that all of the brands she had been purchasing were testing their products on animals.
She initially made the switch to more ethical lipsticks. But kept getting disappointed by the quality. Most vegan lipsticks out there at the time were incredibly drying on the lips. Most of the vegan brands were found on Etsy. Their branding was “lame” according to Ericka, and most of the products would break in half due to the formulas being so dry.
Ericka decided to take matters into her own hands and, just as she did before in her other businesses, she started to make her own lipsticks. She never thought she’d be leading the charge in the clean beauty space. She also had no previous experience in chemistry or makeup formulas. All she knew is she wanted lipstick that didn’t harm animals.
As many of our brand partner’s stories begin, Ericka began experimenting in her kitchen, mixing different natural ingredients together to get the right formulations and the best consistency.
It took a number of years to perfect her formulas—and over 200 formulations! But when she finally did, the end result made it all worth it.
“The name Axiology comes from the philosophical study of ethics and aesthetics. When we were coming up with names, we actually poured through a bunch of axiology journals and studies on axiology. We grabbed a bunch of names that we found spoke to that philosophy.”
Ericka chooses the names of her shades, like Clementine, Frosting, Devotion, and Intrigue intuitively. The inspiration happens organically, and the colors materialize often by accident after many mixing trials and errors.
When Ericka was beginning her Axiology journey, she was living in New York. Her boyfriend suggested she start looking for ways to keep her startup costs down. After researching, they both decided to move to Bali, Indonesia, as it was an entrepreneurial hub for startups.
While in Bali, Ericka kept formulating her products to perfection. But she knew she would also need to think about the packaging at some stage.
One day when she was casually strolling through town, she came across a paper store with some of the most incredible products. When she entered the store, she spoke with the women who worked there.
The women had been making paper for over 25 years at that time. They had decided to start their paper journey in order to help with Bali’s excessive trash issue. The women would go out and collect paper trash, then take it home and hand-recycle it in their backyard, then make it into these incredible paper products.
Ericka just knew she had to collaborate with these women, so she and her boyfriend drove three hours on a scooter to their factory to meet with them. It was then that Ericka asked them if they could create the packaging for her products. And the rest is history.
Ericka realized it was going to be impossible to launch her brand from her studio apartment with a two-burner stove-top in Bali. So Ericka and her boyfriend decided to move back to the US. They moved into an AirBnB in Bend, Oregon, with no definitive plan to stay. But once she began to launch her products, she realized that Bend was the perfect location.
There are four products in Axiology so far—Balmies, Highlighters, Lipsticks, and Crayons. All formulations are made from a maximum of 10 natural ingredients. Let’s take a look at them all.
Organic Castor Oil: Antioxidant-rich for fighting signs of aging; antibacterial and anti-inflammatory; and hydrating properties.
Organic Sunflower Oil: High in linoleic acid; an anti-inflammatory; and skin-hydrating oil.
Organic Coconut Oil: Moisturizing; helps with signs of aging; protection from free radical damage; soothes irritation.
Organic Avocado Oil: High in beta carotene, protein, lecithin, fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E. Calms itchy and chapped skin, hydrates and nourishes dry skin; natural UV defender.
Organic Grapeseed Oil: Made from wine grapes, this antioxidant-rich oil contains polyphenols, resveratrol, beta-carotene, linoleic acid, and vitamins D, C, and E, for anti-inflammatory, anti-aging skin properties.
Organic Orange Oil: Antibacterial and antifungal. Stimulates blood flow and facilitates Vitamin C absorption.
Moringa Oil: Moisturizing and cleansing on skin.
Hemp Seed Oil: Moisturizing; reduces inflammation; and balances oil.
Plum Seed Oil: Plumps and protects the skin; facilitates the skin’s cellular repair and turnover; regulates sebum.
Vitamin E Oil: Antioxidant-rich, reduces signs of aging, and protects against free radicals.
Neem Seed Oil: High in essential fatty acids and antioxidants; antimicrobial.
Elderberry Extract: High in antioxidants; protects and calms skin; hydrating and nourishing.
Kokum Butter: Incredibly nourishing and hydrating; healing properties.
Soy Butter: Easily absorbed, hydrates skin deeply; softens and heals damaged skin.
Sunflower Seed Wax: A natural binder for ingredients; gives some strength, form, and texture to the products.
Pigments - considered safe by the FDA
Naturally-occurring Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)
Naturally-occurring Iron Oxide (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)
Synthetic Manganese Violet (CI 77742)
Shine/Shimmer - considered safe by the FDA
Synthetic Mica (Fluorphlogopite)
As mentioned earlier, there are four products in Axiology’s range. The first two products I’ll talk about are formulated with their winning formulas, and come housed in 50% post-consumer recycled plastic that can be recycled at the end of their life.
Crayons and Lipsticks
Their Crayons and lipsticks are designed just for the lips. The Crayons give a weightless matte finish, while the Lipsticks are more a bolder, shiny lip.
They come in a cardboard box made by the women’s collective in Bali. And the Balmies and Highlighters are also housed in a paper tube that can be fully recycled at the end of their life. So these makeup sticks are in fact a zero-waste makeup item, and in my opinion, incredibly innovative.
The Balmies and Highlighters may look small, but they contain the same amount of product as a normal lipstick—at .12oz. It’s just missing all of that excess, wasteful, and often plastic packaging that conventional lipsticks come in.
Committed to Sustainability
Like all of our brand partners, Axiology are committed to sustainability, from the ingredients list—short, clean, cruelty-free; their packaging—recyclable and responsible; right through to the way they operate as a business.
It's incredibly vital to our future on Earth that brand founders, especially in industries that have such a negative impact on our planet (like beauty), are committed to sustainability from the ground up.
Ericka’s inherent empathy and compassion, and her entrepreneurial spirit are what led her to create a beauty brand that breaks all the rules of conventional beauty. With her animal-loving priorities, to her collaborative nature of supporting fellow female-owned and run businesses, Ericka is a born leader in the clean and inclusive beauty industry.
Axiology is a poster-child for what makeup brands can achieve if they truly put their hearts to it.
Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn’t cost the earth.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition