Magazine Headline: S-Beauty Rises
Call it the hygge effect. Scandinavian beauty is having a moment, and new brands are percolating. Industry executives say their lure is manifold, from their eco-friendly positioning to minimalist aesthetic. Here, a look at some notable entrants.
David Hjalmarsson believes biotech and skin microbiome are game-changers for the beauty industry. So for the Stockholm-based skin care brand Tiny Associates, he zooms in on those.
“We try to use as few nature-derived ingredients as possible and campaign for synthetic ingredients, which biotech ingredients can be described as being,” the founder explains.
“The storytelling around it is interesting and the sustainability impact of biotech could be significant,” continues Hjalmarsson — who says he’d like Tiny Associates to become the proof of concept.
The brand — with five skin care products and three oral skin care supplements — was born in South Korea, but its lab has always been in Sweden, where the executive is now based.
Tiny Associates soft-launched 10 months ago on tinyassociatesskincare.com. So far, the bestsellers are The Face Serum (a 30-ml. bottle is 750 Swedish kronor, or $71.75) and The Face Cleanser (at 390 kronor per 150-ml. bottle).
“We are looking to global distribution in more niche premium doors,” says Hjalmarsson, adding hand and body care are also in view.
He teased some collaborations are upcoming with other like-minded companies.
LastObject was established in Copenhagen out of a frustration with single-use products.
“We wanted to do something that had a big [environmental] purpose,” says Isabel Aagaard, who cofounded LastObject with two other product designers and serves as its chief creative officer. “We wanted to create something that replaced thousands of something else.”
The trio crowdfunded in 2018, launched a cotton swab then branched out into other products, such as tissues, rounds and the LastSwab Beauty Trio Pro, a makeup kit containing three tools, priced at 24 euros.
Next up: eco-friendly laundry detergent that’s sheet-based and compact.
LastObject sells in beauty, lifestyle and natural-organic stores; pharmacies, and larger chains, such as Sprouts and Anthropologie. The U.S., France, U.K. and Australia are its largest markets.
BIOpH is a Swedish medtech brand for healthy skin, which launched in 2021 as part of Biocool AB, a company with chlorine-free water solutions.
BIOpH counts 12 different products, with formulas that are MDR [medical device regulation]-compliant and center on a patented Swedish innovation.
“The treatment is based on a granule activated in water, creating an oxygen explosion,” explains Malin Combes, who heads up international sales at Biocool. “BIOpH believes in the skin as a highly competent organ. Therefore, we focus on removing what should not be on the skin, rather than adding new substances.
“BIOpH creates an optimal environment for the skin to heal and repair itself,” she says. “Our medtech products create a milieu on the skin disliked by unwanted bacteria, viruses and fungus. Instead, we create the optimal condition for the skin to be healthy.”
Product prices range from 10 euros to 70 euros.
In the Nordic region, dermatologists, skin therapists and podiatrists use and sell the products. So do the brand’s website, biophplus.com, as well as clinics, spas, pharmacies and other online beauty platforms.
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In creating his brand, Haisam Mohammed thought about the fragrances his father used to bring him from Africa and the Middle East as a boy in Stockholm. There was also the odor of the high-rise buildings Mohammed lived in as an art director, where the stairwells captured the scents of food cooked with spices by families from the world over, or burning incense.
“It’s something that I felt as home, as something beautiful,” he says, explaining he wondered whether as a passion project he could take such a scent and make perfume out of it.
Such experimental thinking birthed the roll-on perfume oil Maghrib, with notes of apple, tobacco and sandalwood, for which Mohammed took pre-orders in Stockholm clubs he frequented.
Unifrom, which officially launched in January 2020, has grown to five perfume oils (each 10-ml. bottle goes for 65 euros), a home fragrance collection and a solid perfume — all with non-alcohol-based formulas.
“I never wanted to be a classical perfume house,” says Mohammed.
Aside from direct-to-consumer selling, Unifrom just launched wholesale, with retailers such as Browns Fashion.
“Colekt is the Scandi take and clean beauty approach in fragrance and skin care for a contemporary and long-lasting conscious lifestyle with an elevated design expression,” says Ellen af Petersens, who cofounded Colekt with Susanne Vennerstrand in Stockholm in 2020 and is its creative director.
Af Petersens says that the brand “has an open eye for impressions and expressions from the world over,” and gleans inspiration from art, fashion, design and architecture.
Colekt’s Scandinavian heritage is evident in ingredients, such as red algae and mallow leaves, and inspirations. La Chambre scent, for instance, nods to August Strindberg’s book “Röda Rummet.”
The brand’s three fragrances are created with a Grasse, France-based perfume house, while its seven skin care and three body care products are developed with “eco-beauty” chemists. Three candles round out the collection, which will add a new perfume line, body soap and beauty balm, among other products, this year.
Colekt products (a 50-ml. cologne sells for 230 euros) are available in high-end beauty and fashion stores and luxury department stores, such as Galeries Lafayette, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
Susanne Manasi, a makeup artist by training, launched her brand in 2018 with 10 product types and 23 stock keeping units she considered to be essential, like an allover color, a face powder and mascara. Today, she has about 45 skus, including two allover glosses and an eyebrow color.
The product formulas are a mix of color pigments and naturally derived oils, waxes and butters.
“Quality has always been our number-one main thing in terms of effect and staying power,” says Manasi.
(M)ansai 7 plans to launch two skin and body care products under the Microbioskin label, focused on the microbiome exclusively on its website, manasi7.com, March 6. Five more products will be introduced in the line throughout the year.
The (M)ansai 7 brand’s products (a 5-g. allover color cream is 39 euros) are meant to be mixed and matched. They’re found in 20 countries, with the U.S. being its biggest market.