Beauty Comes In From The Cold…

16th December 2011

When it comes to skincare the world over, says Mary Linehan, the big US and French cosmetics giants are the most instantly recognisable. Think Estée Lauder, Revlon, Elizabeth Arden. Think L'Oréal and the big fashion conglomerates such as Chanel and Dior. The truth is, though, that the major beauty houses are now global brands with the lion’s share of the market in practically every country, marketing under their own name or gobbling up others, as L'Oréal did when they snapped up The Body Shop.

The cosmetic industry is booming, with new products being launched all the time. Truthfully, most of us can’t keep up with the science, and many are not too bothered as long as they see results. Science aside, growth is especially true of the natural and organic sector, not because the big guns are blazing for it, but because of consumer demand. What this means, in effect, is plenty of opportunity for passionate, entrepreneurial brands to spring up, several with the science to prove efficacy. This is certainly true in the UK, which has become a very crowded market – and tough and expensive to do business in – and it’s true too for some of the Scandinavian countries.

Market research experts Euromonitor, reported that in 2010 all the main Scandi countries reported percentage growth in spend on beauty products. Denmark, for example, was 2% (a growth figure most countries in the Eurozone would vote for) and while big name brands – L'Oréal and Beiersdorf (Nivea to you and me) – are still the biggest players, there is a reported shift towards natural and organics here too. The research also reported that most women in this part of the world are sceptical when it comes to product claims; they’re willing to try, but they vote with their purse. If it doesn’t work, they don’t buy. So what are our Nordic friends spending their hard-earned krone on?

M Picaut…

…is a very special Swedish brand comprising only four anti-aging products that combine the benefits of 95% certified organic natural oils and the latest peptide science. The M in question is Swedish ex-model Mette whose beauty philosophy is Less Is More. Preferring ingredients derived from what she calls ‘clean crops’, using natural over synthetic and working with eco consciously suppliers, Mette espouses elegant simplicity, a return to pure clean products that deliver on their promise and a respect for nature.

Star Performer: Skin Perfect Moisturiser with organic sea buckthorn, olive and apricot oils – all rich sources of essential fatty acids and of protective anti-aging antioxidant vitamins. The high dose (3%) of peptides boost collagen production plumping and smoothing the skin and reducing fine lines.

M Picaut hasn’t arrived in the UK yet, but is available online from www.slowfashion.com. It retails for €43 – about £36.

Estelle and Thild…

…With impeccable eco-credentials, looking pretty and ever so slightly girly, E&T was created by Pernilla Rönnberg who wanted to use only organic products for her first-born. Not satisfied with what was available she created her own. As skincare fairy tale demand grew, Pernilla set up her own brand, named after her two daughters.

Describing itself as Ecorganic, it has skin care, body care, children’s and mother/baby ranges, all formulated with low amounts of the highest grade skin-friendly essential oils, including rose otto, neroli and orange blossom, plant extracts and gentle raw materials all certified organic by Ecocert. The skincare ranges are Rose Anti-Aging and Neroli for Normal Skin plus a fragrance-free selection for sensitive skin types.

Star Product: Rose Otto Facial Oil (£44) - rose otto oil, blueberry seed and plukenetia oil. Comforts, nourishes and moisturises the skin, and can be blended with night cream or daily moisturiser for added hydration.

See www.urbanretreat.co.uk for more.

Ole Henriksen…

…is a very well-established Danish brand dating from the early 70s, with a global reputation and celebrity following. Ole Henriksen suffered from acne himself, and his first-hand experience sparked his interest in skin care. Since then, he has had a hand in every product formulation and still treats customers at his Beverly Hills spa.

Star Product: Truth Serum Collagen Booster (£47)… Vitamin C Complex with rosehip extract, green tea and Vitamin E – all powerful anti-oxidants that penetrate the skin to actively protect the skin from environmental pollution and aging. Divinely aromatic, it’s also good for sensitive skins.

Available online or at Harvey Nichols.

Dr Bragi…

…Dr Jon Bragi Bjarnasson, PhD, is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iceland. Iceland’s abundant waters inspire this range based on the therapeutic properties of marine enzymes. The USP is the clear, natural gel base for the patented enzymic complex. Each formulation apparently becomes ‘super-active’ on contact with the skin, to work at deeper layers of the epidermis to boost circulation, protect, hydrate, smooth, calm and lift the skin.

Star Product: Intensive Treatment Mask Marine Enzyme (£10) – a professional strength mask that reduces redness, boosts hydration and lifts and brightens. Works a treat and leaves the skin looking thoroughly cleansed and brighter.

See www.drbragi.com for more.

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