Meet the 14 Geniuses Behind Your Favorite Beauty Products

Maybe you can’t pack a makeup bag without Urban Decay’s Primer Potion or imagine the days when you couldn’t just pop into Drybar for a blowout. Anastasia Beauty might be your favorite Instagram feed (it has over 10 million followers, after all), and you love watching YouTube celebrities show how to use the latest Tarte, Benefit, and Too Faced launches. Perhaps every time MAC reveals a new collaboration, you set a Google calendar reminder to shop it. And when Jen Atkin created her own hair care line, you were ecstatic because you could finally own the tools to get cool-girl, Kardashian waves at home. These are all cult brands and products, and they achieved that status for a reason: genius strategy mixed with focused, innovative vision. Behind every beauty empire is a talented person with the coveted job of creative director.

Creative directors are very important figures to your beloved brands. At each company, the role means something different. For smaller brands, it could be the founder who also has his or her hand in every project. At larger corporations, it might be the employee who designs the packaging, comes up with the product concepts, or oversees the greater vision of each collection. Some creative directors are industry vets (like Sonia Kashuk), while others are teens with brilliant ideas (Taylor and Ally Frankel of Nudestix).

Regardless, these are some of the biggest badasses in the biz. They are not afraid to take risks and even fail. To spotlight what they do, we interviewed 14 of them (mostly over email) about everything from their greatest regrets to unusual ways to use top products (bet you never knew dry shampoo can double as deodorant). Many of them had similar advice: use social media to spread your message, and trust your gut! But you should also “be prepared to shed dangerous amounts of blood, sweat, and tears,” according to Dineh Mohajer, founder of Hard Candy and Smith & Cult.

Whether you one day dream of being a creative director or just want to learn more from the masterminds who invent the beauty goods you can’t live without, we promise everyone can learn something from these boss ladies and gents.