Beauty Basics: The brands to watch

Is the future of beauty to be found in going back to basics? AISLING KEENAN looks at the brands to watch as we attempt to turn back time on our skin…

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Marie Kondo, we dutifully cleared our homes of things that didn’t “spark joy” and we’re now living with less – at least in theory. We also fell deeply in love with hygge for 15 minutes, and are now firmly over that too. We love a good bandwagon, but the emerging trend for back-to-basics skincare? That’s not something we’ll move on from quickly.

This past year, celebrities have done a 180 on the make-up front. They’re showing skin while being fully clothed, and their make-up routine has been all but replaced by a focus on skincare.

Words and phrases like small batch, natural, organic, handmade and sustainably sourced are the first line of enticement for an increasing number of beauty brands. They know that exhausted beauty lovers everywhere are growing weary of the intimidating Instagram-centric wave of over-the-top cosmetic consumption. Brilliant skin isn’t rocket science, and covering it up is no longer the first port of call.

If the current grá for no messing, straight-to-the-point skincare is anything to go by, brands like The Ordinary, Lixirskin, Pestle & Mortar and Herbivore Botanicals will be around for the long haul.


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Form follows function

Instead of twisting the consumer’s arm with pretty packaging, perfumes and celebrity endorsements, the brands that are rising to the top of the cult list are going back to basics. Possibly the most recognisable right now is Deciem’s The Ordinary, with its pared-back packaging and cheap as chips range. Prices are confusingly low, and instead of highfalutin concepts, airy-fairy names and packaging to draw the consumer, what really get the clicks are their active ingredients. They list percentages. They tell you straight off the bat what acids are contained in what products. The packaging is clinical – still Instagram-worthy, just in a different way.

Their website’s claim that they are an “evolving collection of treatments offering familiar, effective clinical technologies positioned to raise pricing and communication integrity in skincare” is possibly the most convoluted element of their brand. But we see what they mean. Their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution tells you everything you need to know about the product without the need to scour the back of the pack, frantically Googling, to find out what exactly it will do for you.

Describing themselves as “an advanced yet relaxed approach to good skin”, Lixirskin is another emerging brand that believes one good product should do it all. They claim that there’s no such thing as a product that is good for one part of your skin and not the other, and we see the sense in that straightaway. Founded by Colette Haydon, a doctor in dermo-pharmacy, the brand focuses on pure molecules with published clinical results.

Pure and simple

The list of brands doing a version of that exact thing goes on. Here in Ireland, Warrior Botanicals by West Cork native Reidin Beattie has created a brand that stands out for its simplistic approach and commitment to using as little plastic as possible in their products. Glass jars and recyclable paper hold products that are all natural and never tested on animals. “My brand focuses on simple, effective products,” says Beattie. “The Warrior products are formulated with only active ingredients, meaning each plays an important role, and all work in unison to create something sensorial and safe.”


Sonia Deasy’s Pestle & Mortar, the Irish no-fuss skincare line that was founded on the exact “less is more” philosophy we’re talking about, has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue and Vanity Fair. The brand’s aesthetic matches the simplicity of each unique product, and appeals to those looking for results without the faff.

And Amy Cahill, creator of Irish brand Oxmantown Skincare and Wildflower Organics, made a range of natural products at her kitchen table, starting about four years ago. She now produces them in small batches in her home with high quality ingredients, as that is what her clients want. “Gone are the days when you want to apply a heavily perfumed skincare product that has been sitting on the back of a truck for weeks with a massive list of ingredients a scientist couldn’t even understand,” says Cahill. “For years, our ancestors used nature to heal and protect. We’re slowly going back to this way of thinking. The shift towards clean beauty helps educate people about what they are putting on their skin, and it’s all for the better.”

Spending 90 minutes layering foundation, concealer, contour, powder and setting spray onto our faces is often a therapeutic ritual. But what if underneath, our skin had all the essentials it needed to flourish, making the layers of product an entirely optional venture? Effective skincare is the way to ensure that, and the brands that’ll help you achieve that are ready to work for you. Basic might not be as dirty a word as we thought.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of IMAGE magazine. For more beauty features, check out the April issue of IMAGE, on shelves nationwide now. 

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