Move over French pharmacy remedies. Step aside K-Beauty. The latest innovations in skincare are from Germany, New Zealand and Ireland.
Korea’s 12-step skincare, complete with snail slime serums and Happy Meal-like packaging, hit the international beauty scene with full force several years ago. Since then, there’s been a spotlight on what different countries have to offer, honing in on native ingredients, ancient practices and modern advancements.
After the success of French pharmacies and American drugstore culture comes offerings from green Ireland, lab-geek Germany, and environmentally-conscious New Zealand. We discover the notable brands that capture the best of their country and are worth the international shipping fees.
Beauty buyers are flocking to Germany’s cutting-edge brands thanks to the extensive research, dermatological credentials and streamlined ingredient lists involved in creating their products.
Biomedical scientist Augustinus Bader didn’t plan to launch a beauty brand but on discovering a molecular complex that triggers lazy stem cells to repair skin faster, he decided to funnel this technology into skincare to fund his medical research. His moisturiser quickly reached cult status and now comes in a body version to bolster skin from the neck down.
Bynacht’s skincare works while you’re asleep to ply skin with ingredients that supercharge cellturnover, the mechanism vital for that elusive glow. With Persian silk tree extract and Japanese seaweed, this silky night cream acts like a sleeping bag, zipping in moisture to aid overnight skin renewal.
Appointments to see Stuttgart-raised Dr Michael Prager at his London clinic are like gold dust, but now there’s an easier way to access his skin knowhow: Prager Skincare. Each formula targets skin enemy number one – pollution. This frothy cleanser peels back fumes, dirt and dust, without taking the skin’s natural moisture with it.
After years of trialling treatments to soothe her adult acne, Klarskin founder Antoneta Bursac teamed up with a lab to develop supplements that drip-feed skin with all it needs to heal. This liquid blend of vitamin C, B12, magnesium and copper – first used as a remedy for acne scars – ringfences collagen reserves and smooths out rough patches.
The fern may be one of the most common plants but, as dermatologist Dr Timm Golueke’s research has found, extracts have antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties and can boost collagen. These ampoules contain a potent shot of fern alongside niacinamide and vitamin C to fade hyperpigmentation and bat off pollution.
Blending centuries-old Maori remedies, wild-sourced indigenous ingredients and slick aesthetics, New Zealand’s beauty bounty taps into the environmentally conscious zeitgeist.
According to Auckland-based Syrene, the most precious skin ingredients lie in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Its products come infused with antioxidant-rich algae extracts as well as reparative marine-sourced collagen, while this rich moisturiser also contains acne-soothing manuka honey and calming aloe vera.
Ashley & Co’s products are the kind you’d expect to find in the bathrooms of the swankiest private members’ clubs. Not only do they look chic (see: smoky-glass effect soap decanters), but they have the olfactory finesse of niche perfumery. With shea butter, this super-strength hand cream can bring even the driest hands back from the brink.
Girl Undiscovered sources its headline ingredients like kanuka honey and thanaka bark from small, community-managed groves rather than industrial-size plantations, allowing for full supply-chain transparency. This balm contains anti-inflammatory kawakawa leaf (a mainstay of Maori communities) and works equally well softening elbows as it does glazing cheekbones.
With stripped-back ingredients lists that would satisfy even the most discerning ‘clean’ beauty advocate, Only Good’s mission is to offer natural skin and body products that don’t compromise on form and function. This soap bar is milled with nourishing rosehip, healing peony and soothing geranium and, like its peers, doesn’t leave skin feeling uncomfortably rubbery or squeaky.
From the wild flora of its moors (Ireland is home to over 900 native plant species) to the healing magnesium in its waters, Irish beauty brands are uniquely placed to deliver solutions charged by nature.
Global beauty incubator Codex Beauty’s first brand, Bia, is the brainchild of herbal scientist Tracey Ryan. She uses the most effective indigenous herbs and flowers the minimally polluted Irish landscape has to offer – think calendula, elderflower and mallow. This robust balm uses comfrey to melt away flakiness and pansy to retain moisture.
While some natural deodorants fail to last a steamy commute, this one from West Cork-based Modern Botany is reliable. Its blend of botanicals includes antiseptic lemon tea tree, witch hazel (to constrict skin around pores, reducing perspiration) and deodorising eucalyptus.
Based in Burren National Park, The Burren Perfumery produces a range of organic products. With hydrating squalane, this serum contains a blend of seed and flower oils to drench skin in a juicy-looking sheen.
Combining founder Sonia Deasy’s Indian heritage (she comes from six generations of healers) with her biochemist sister’s know-how and the potent ingredients of Co Kildare makes Pestle & Mortar a mix of tradition and science. This face mist battles pollution and calms skin with cortisol-inhibiting Deep Sea Irish magnesium.