Scandinavian Beauty Brands Are Having A Moment

Scandi-mania is a real thing. With their model-off-duty styles and laid-back attitudes, Scandinavians have become the arbiters of cool. I moved to Stockholm from New York in 2012, and NYC's constant urgency suddenly lifted. In Sweden, the tone is calm, cool, and collected: more Elin Kling than Lisbeth Salander. And, in addition to the Skarsgård-level good looks many of them enjoy, these northern Europeans get an average of five weeks paid vacation a year — not to mention the 16 months of subsidized maternity leave (no, that was not a typo).
So, it's no wonder that over the past year, Scandinavian style stories have popped up in glossies and online. With Vogue and Elle onboard, Arctic love is proving its longevity. This leads to an obvious question: Is there a brand that sells “Scandi in a bottle” out there? And, so my quest began. I delved into the Nordic beauty pool and unearthed a wealth of homegrown brands utilizing natural resources and a sense of minimalist cool. Trend-hunters, take note.
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Photo: Via Kjaer Weis.
Kjaer Weis (Denmark)
Danish-born makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis was fed up with traditional beauty brands. After years of working with high-profile magazines, she couldn't continue to ignore that the go-to products were irritating skin and causing breakouts. Upon seeing their short-term damage, she wondered what long-term damage they could cause. After swapping in organic alternatives, Kirsten was still disappointed: The makeup lacked rich pigments and had a poor consistency. So, she set out on an eight-year journey to develop her own brand.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Kjaer Weis offers a range of organic makeup alternatives. Don’t even get me started on the packaging — which is modern, sleek, and, of course, sustainable. This season's standout is the Lip Tint in Lover’s Choice. The cold, velvety red works with all skin types and is the perfect finishing touch for an autumn look.
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Photo: Via & Other Stories.
& Other Stories (Sweden)
In 2013, H&M upped its luxury game, adding this higher-end offshoot. Shortly before the launch, an oversized shoebox arrived at my Södermalm apartment containing body scrubs, hand lotions, contouring creams, lipsticks, and eyeshadow: You name a beauty product, and it was probably in there. I instantly fell in love with the makeup — the contouring cream rivals that of Tom Ford, without the hefty price tag. And, those fragrances: The brand created the intoxicating scents in collaboration with basketball-star-turned-perfumer Ben Gorham, the mastermind behind Byredo.

Needless to say, the fashion giant's younger cousin has become a fast favorite in Europe, with ateliers in Paris and Stockholm and stores across many cities. And, its first U.S. store is opening in NYC in mere weeks. Once e-commerce gets up and running, opt for an item in the Cotton Care body collection: Trust me, there's nothing like the smell of cotton.

& Other Stories Cotton Care Flannel Body Lotion, $17, available in mid-October at & Other Stories.
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Phoot: Via Skyn Iceland.
Skyn Iceland (Iceland)
Icelanders are stress-relief experts, consistently scoring remarkably high on quality-of-life rankings. (Plus, their stunning landscapes and adorable ponies are calming enough to cause a blood-pressure dip.) Of course, their skin-care is equally soothing. Case in point: Skyn Iceland has developed a unique system to process the way the skin handles stress, using products that are rich in moss, algae, and mineral waters and loaded with healing antioxidants. Noted for their instant cooling effects, the potent naturals boost microcirculation and dial down redness. And, with names like Pure Cloud Cream, it’s no surprise this brand's a hit among celebs.
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Photo: Via Estelle & Thild.
Estelle & Thild (Sweden)
This organic Swedish brand is staging a global takeover, thanks to Net-A-Porter. After launching on the e-commerce giant earlier this year, the eco-certified company relaunched its skin-care offerings to target specific issues, with products like Anti-Redness Rescue Serum and Multi-Nutrient Youth Oil.

Founder Pernilla Rönnberg was the CEO of another Nordic beauty brand — until she became uncomfortable with the chemicals in its products. She reflected on the future of her daughters, Estelle and Mathilde (yes, they influenced the name), and sought to create skin-care for the next generation. The main specialty is mixing high-tech, organic formulas, like marine microalgae and oat beta-glucan. For you lucky Londoners, Estelle & Thild just launched an exclusive facial at the flagship Mondrian hotel.
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Photo: Via Lumene.
Lumene (Finland)
Founded during the '40s, mass-market brand Lumene is the Nordic equivalent of L’Oréal. With a home base and factory near Helsinki, it has proximity to Arctic super berries — one of its prized ingredients. And, it was the first beauty company to hand-pick these skin-saving berries and use them in its formulas.

Not only are the products effective, but they come with seriously reasonable price tags. This autumn, I’m stocking up on the Arctic Aqua Moisture Booster: It floods the skin with total hydration and helps balance moisture levels throughout the day.
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Photo: Via SachaJuan.
Sachajuan (Sweden)
Stockholm hair maestros Sacha Mitic and Juan Rosenlind need no introduction. Their brand's sleek bottles of hair magic have been shipping stateside for years. Product empire aside, the two have been hands-on hairdressers from the get-go, working with glossies on editorial shoots around the globe. In 1997, they opened their namesake salon in Stockholm’s Östermalm district (think Upper East Side).

The ease of the formulas makes a strong case for Swedish efficiency. Infused with famed Nordic microalgae, the range helps revive dull, worn-out strands. And, the volume cream is a daily essential. It offers boost and shine, and protects follicles from heat damage with ocean-silk technology, a method used to extract nourishing proteins and minerals from sea algae. But, don't skip the body-care line either: Ginger Flower has stolen my heart.
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