June 24, 2019 | News | No Comments
Image credit: Getty Images
G-beauty brands are on the rise. According to Euromonitor, the German beauty sector was valued at €17 billion ($AU 27.8 billion) last year and saw a 2.4 per cent growth. It is, after all the birthplace of one of the oldest beauty creams in the world, Nivea Creme, which launched in 1911 and fast became a staple around the world.
The brands (including those created in other German-speaking regions such as Austria) currently leading the charge for G-beauty are offering nothing new, necessarily, but perhaps that is exactly what appeals – skincare based on nature or created by doctors who really understand what skin needs. “It is a certain idyllic view, which sees nature as a positive thing and the chemically produced as bad,” says Susanne Kaufmann, founder of her eponymous Austrian skin and body care line.
The core principles for beauty brands from the region have remained consistent over time: transparency, efficacy, natural. German and Austrian brands are far more about honing the beauty regime down to a simple repertoire of products that are proven to work. Less is more, as long as the quality is good and there is enough science to back it up.
Image credit: Courtesy of Royal Fern
“German cars, science – they’re associated with not just the highest techniques, but the ultimate proof that something truly works,” explains cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Royal Fern skincare brand (above), Dr Timm Golueke. “Think of it as German engineering for the skin.”Germany is also known for adhering to stringent safety and quality parameters, so products have to tick a lot of boxes before they reach the beauty counter. “Germany has an exceptionally rigid list of acceptable ingredients. Many more ingredients are approved for use in a US skincare product than in a German one. There is an emphasis on safety,” explains aesthetic doctor Dr Barbara Sturm.
The label “Made in Germany” is now a symbol of the highest quality, particularly in the skincare sector. “It’s a brand new honorary title in the beauty cosmos that preserves our supposed virtues in the global arena. The coveted products are strictly scientific, thoroughly tested, have a reliable effect and are created by German doctors,” says Beatrice Graf, head of digital beauty at Germany.
Pioneering retailers identified the potential of G-beauty early too. “I brought Dr Barbara Sturm onto her very first retail platform at Net-A-Porter many years ago [in 2013],” says David Olsen, formerly global vice president of the fashion and beauty e-tailer and now CEO of US-based luxury retailer Cos Bar. “They were products I’d never seen before that were very efficacious and backed by a forward-thinking founder. It took off right out of the gate and was a no-brainer to add to the Cos Bar assortment when I joined in 2016. Then we became the second retailer of Augustinus Bader. They are our fastest growing brands at Cos Bar – I guess German beauty resonates with our clients because it stands for strong science, innovation and, in these two cases, incredible founders.”
Image credit: Courtesy of Dr Haushcka
While some of the founders behind the brands are not doctors (although others are), they do have a solid experience within the region’s well-established spa and wellness sector. “The tradition of German and Austrian spa towns like Baden Baden have been practising proven methods for years and years,” says Golueke.
“Gimmick-free, these establishments return to the idea of treating the body from within. Rather than promising transformative miracles, the approach is holistic,” Kaufmann continues. “If you stay healthy, you feel better and look better. In Austria, we have very deep roots in a sustainable and holistic lifestyle. There is a saying that the skin is a mirror of the soul. The skin is the largest organ of the body and if one feels bad, one sees it immediately. Radiant skin and shiny hair are more about personal lifestyle than you might think. And the fact that a healthy diet is part of it is no longer a secret.”
The heritage of German and Austrian beauty has always been anchored in simplicity: seeking out ingredients that are proven to work. The continual use of ingredients like calendula, rose and lavender have been the backbone of natural brands. “Founders of skincare brand Dr Hauschka (above), Elisabeth Sigmund and Dr Rudolf Hauschka, created their first cream in 1931 and were, even then, passionate about products that were the best for people and the planet,” says Charles Beardsall, CEO of Wala UK (Dr Hauschka Skin Care).
Image credit: Getty Images
As the ideal aesthetic evolves and those wanting to fight the signs of aging aspire to a more natural look, G-beauty comes into its own. “People no longer expect a miracle in a bottle as they once did,” says Golueke. “People want to look like a healthier, happier version of themselves – it’s about good skincare, proven ingredients and prevention.”
This new era of transparency means that we expect more from our skincare too. “I think we are entering a new era where efficacy rather than marketing is valued. I don’t think skincare is the Olympics. This availability of information brings the world closer together in its preferences and its understandings. Everyone in the world wants healthy skin after all,” says Sturm.
Image credit: Courtesy of Barbara Sturm
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From the traditional healing properties found in the foothills of the Austrian Alps, Susanne Kaufmann has created a skincare line that targets multiple issues using natural ingredients that have been around for centuries.
Dr Barbara Sturm (above)
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