Stackable cosmetics that women can easily pack in a purse or backpack. Photo courtesy of Subtl Beauty.

Rachel Reid has a new business, a new fiancé and a busy life. She does not have hours to devote to a daily makeup regimen or the desire to lug lots of cosmetics around town.

Luckily, her cosmetics company is designed for women just like herself.

The 27-year-old Mt. Washington resident created Subtl Beauty, a line of makeup products packaged in compact, customizable stacks that can easily fit inside a gym bag, purse or back pocket, perfect for low-key touch ups in the car or on the job.

Company founder Rachel Reid with her new product. Photo by Redford Photography.

Subtl Beauty started as an inside joke between Reid and her friends.

The pals often complained about carrying bulky (and conspicuous) cosmetic bags to “adult sleepovers.” Reid’s original solution was putting makeup in tiny contact lens cases, a travel system she laughingly referred to as “Ho on the Go.”

An early investor urged her to choose a subtler company name, a suggestion she took literally. Subtl Beauty was born.

After interviewing 150 women about their daily beauty routine, Reid settled on five basics; concealer, a lip and cheek color, bronzer, highlighter and a compressed shine control powder. The products come in various shades and stack sizes. If used every day they’ll likely last up to two months, the same as a standard, full-size package of another brand.

Last month, Reid’s Subtl Beauty Kickstarter campaign reached its $10,000 goal in just 52 hours. She’s now continuing to raise funds to offer more color options. Financial backers will receive their makeup in time for the holidays.

Reid, who studied web development and digital marketing at Duquesne University, says Subtl Beauty is strictly an online business, allowing her to deal directly with consumers and focus on customization in a way that national brands sold in department stores cannot.

She works out of AlphaLab Gear, a nationally ranked hardware accelerator in East Liberty that provides office space and mentorship to physical product companies through a 21-week customer discovery module followed by a separate 15-week manufacturing module.

Subtl Beauty cosmetics come in a range of shades and types of makeup. Photo by Redford Photography.
Subtl Beauty cosmetics come in a range of shades and types of makeup. Photo by Redford Photography.

Reid applied, pitched her idea and became a company-in-residence in August.

Sitting in one of the conference rooms, the New Zealand native recalls her not-so-glamorous start in the cosmetics industry.

“My first job ever was sitting on the floor in my mom’s office, labeling her skincare products,” she says. “I would earn, like, 10 cents a label.”

Growing up with a mother who ran her own business, she learned some tricks of the trade and the importance of not sacrificing quality for convenience.

Reid spent a year tweaking the formulas, experimenting with different ingredients such as jojoba and avocado oils. Manufactured in San Diego, Subtl Beauty makeup is paraben-free and fragrance-free, and the highlighter, bronzers and shine control are all vegan-friendly.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that Subtl Beauty is for makeup people,” Reid says. “It’s for women who need a level of portability and flexibility in their lives. It’s a foolproof makeup brand that you can’t mess up.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.