Before making it to department-store counters and hotel bathrooms, labels like Kiehl's and Aēsop were considered undiscovered gems by those in the know. Now a new circle of indie-status products have developed a growing fan base so intense and loyal, their days in the shadows are numbered. Familiarize yourself with these five lines before everyone else does.
|The Brand: Le Labo|
The Gist: High-end, hand-blended colognes, candles, and concentrated perfume oils from New York City
The Ethos: We're so good, we'll never beg for business. The brand is off all social media (except Instagram, because "we love photography," says cofounder Fabrice Penot) and has even held "Sell Nothing Days."
Buzz Factor: Ryan Reynolds wears Patchouli 24; Karl Lagerfeld prefers Neroli 36.
Fan Endorsement: "You can't be a human being and not love Santal 33. Once a day, people come up to me and say, 'Oh my god, what is that smell?'"—Jesse Margolis, 38, TV developer in Los Angeles
The Standouts: Santal 33 and Rose 31 perfume oils (both $130); lelabofragrances.com
|The Brand: Hanz de Fuko|
The Gist: Organic hair products developed by three childhood friends out of San Francisco
The Ethos: There are more ways to style your hair than the basic side part. The team has created dozens of YouTube tutorials (you can learn how to get hair like Channing Tatum's or Andrew Garfield's).
Buzz Factor: Musicians and actors like Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman use the hybrid products.
Fan Endorsement: "I bring a lot of these products on set with me to share with stylists and other models, and everyone gets hooked."—Joel Alexander, 25, model in New York and L.A.
The Standouts: Claymation (a clay/wax combination, $18.50), Quicksand, a wax/dry-shampoo blend ($17.50); hanzdefuko.com
|The Brand: Juniper Ridge|
The Gist: A wilderness-fragrance distillery based in Oakland, California
The Ethos: Everyone should enjoy a fresh whiff of the California coast. Hikers and nature lovers camp in Big Sur, the Redwoods, and other coastal regions to collect plants and distill their essences into soaps and colognes.
Buzz Factor: Juniper Ridge produces limited-edition seasonal scents called Field Lab Fragrances. Winter Redwood sold out in days.
Fan Endorsement: "They bring out a sense of place and time that no other brand does."—Jonah Buffa, 38, co-owner of Fellow Barber in San Francisco
The Standouts: Yuba River BackPacker's Cologne ($55), Cascade Glacier Trail Crew Soap ($30); juniperridge.com
|The Brand: Triumph & Disaster|
The Gist: Skin-care and shaving products by former New Zealand cricket star Dion Nash
The Ethos: Go outside and sweat, then clean up with the stuff that got you dirty. Hardworking ingredients derived from nature (like volcanic ash and green clay) are brought into a lab setting to maximize their performance.
Buzz Factor: Ozzy Osbourne was seen buying Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub; Glee's Darren Criss likes the Shearers Soap.
Fan Endorsement: "I thought Malin + Goetz's moisturizer was the be-all, end-all until I tried Gameface."—Sean Kalember, 29, cofounder of Kaliber boutique in Sonoma County, California
The Standouts: Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub ($39), Gameface Moisturizer ($56); triumphanddisaster.com
|The Brand: Ursa Major|
The Gist: A Vermont-based skin and shave brand (named for the Great Bear constellation) that steers clear of parabens, sulfites, and synthetic fragrances
The Ethos: Stop putting toxic chemicals on your face. The highly edited list of products (there are only five) have a naturally spicy scent and get along with even the most sensitive skin types.
Buzz Factor: Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon have both used the balm and face wipes.
Fan Endorsement: "I have challenging skin. It's the only thing that works, because there's nothing harsh in it."—Jason Viola, 35, project manager at a medical-supply company in Boston
The Standouts: Fantastic Face Wash ($26), Fortifying Face Balm ($36), Essential Face Wipes ($24 for a pack of 20); ursamajorvt.com