My favourite beauty brands from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland.
Photography by Wendy Carrig at A & R Photographic. Styling and art direction by Karena Callen and make-up by Frances Prescott, both at S Management. Hair by Sam Hoad. Models, Saga Rickmer at Present Model Managemen, Kirra Jones and Cecile Sinclair at Premier Models.
I’m a bit obsessed with Scandinavia. Well, actually more than a bit. It’s not just my fascination with Scandi-noir drama – The Bridge, Beck, Borgen and The Killing to name just a few – or the desirable fashion brands and designers that come from the region – H&M, & Other Stories, By Malene Birger, House of Dagmar, Acne Studios and Cecile Copenhagen. I also admire the minimalist approach that the Danes and their fellow Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic neighbours have to beauty. With a passion for honest, no-frills beauty, theirs is an aesthetic based on natural elements and pared down regimes, all with the intent of preserving skin from the elements all year round. They also have a fondness for skincare packed with lush, wild berries and fragrant pine and birch, as well as a penchant for curative saunas and icy plunge pools. What’s not to love? So let's explore some of the finest beauty exports from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway.
Founded by Monica Kylén, L:A Bruket is a Swedish skincare company specialising in natural products created with high quality vegetable ingredients, organic where possible, and free from chemicals. Using locally-sourced seaweed and salt from the West Coast of Sweden in many of their formulations, L:A Bruket have made an impact internationally with their no-nonsense, highly-effective face and body products and men’s groomingrange. My favourite treat is the Marigold, Orange and Geranium Salt Bath, £20, with marigold, roses, lavender, unbleached sea salt and essential oils of marigold, orange and geranium. The perfect pre-bedtime bath soak, it smells incredible and leaves skin soft, smooth and deliciously scented.
Skin Tip: Want long-lasting, well-hydrated skin? “To keep skin fresh and dewy all-day-long, moisturise well before applying your make-up and keep a small hydrating spritz handy to rehydrate skin and make-up throughout the day,” says make-up artist, Frances Prescott.
Hair Tip: Follow hairstylist Sam Hoad’s steps to get the look. “Apply Sachajuan Medium Hold Hair Mousse, £20, to the roots before you blow-dry. Tip your head upside down and finger dry, ruffling the hair as your go. Use a large round brush to smooth the ends. For extra shine, smooth on a few drops of Sachajuan Shine Protect Serum, £22, which protects and repairs damage.” Sachajuan was created by Swedish hairdressers, Sacha Mitic and Juan Roselind, their own patented 'Ocean Silk Technology ', a combination of sea algae, rhodophycea and chondrus crispus, which boost moisture and shine.
Do It Like A Dane
It’s been a while since make-up artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis and I created beautiful pictures on a sandy Bahamian island for Red magazine. While not on shoots doing the kind of make-up that doesn’t look like make-up – skin looks perfectly real, features are enhanced without being obviously ‘made-up’, Kjaer Weis, who is the epitome of Danish-style and New York suss, has been busy has been hard a work launching her own uber-stylish make-up collection. With refillable compacts (brilliant idea) and the finest of natural and organic ingredients, the range is as covetable as it is practical. As she says; “Ultimately what I wanted to achieve was an alternative that fused beautiful colour, texture and design with organic, non-harmful formulas. I think it’s the way forward”. Having started with a capsule collection of Cream Blush, Lip Tint, Eyeshadow and Mascara, she has built it up to include brushes, Lip Stick, Bronzer, Highlighter and Foundation. Each product, designed by Marc Atlan (an art director and designer who has created packaging for Comme des Garcons, Helmut Land and Yves Saint Laurent) and Weis, is like a piece of mini-engineering. It feels properly “heavy” in your hand. All the compacts have lids that “slide” to the side to reveal the product and click back into place like a designer car door. The colours are spot-on, the textures feature-light and easy to blend. Simple but very, very elegant. There’s nothing in the range that I don’t want, but I am an ardent fan of Cream Blush in Blossoming, £40, the perfect ‘rosy cheek’ pink.
Make-up Tip: “Create a more intense smoky eye by lining the inner upper and lower lids with soft khol pencil. It takes a bit of practise but makes a difference,” says Frances. For a smokier effect, blend a little Kjaer Weis Onyx Eyeshadow, £32, with your pencil.
There’s nothing new about models launching beauty ranges. Giselle Bundchen, Miranda Kerr and Cindy Crawford have all done it. But it’s rare to find a male model with a passion for making potions. A mix of high-tech technology blended with plant-based ingredients, Sprekenhus is the beauty baby of Norwegian model, Alexander Sprekenhus. Based in Oslo, Sprekenhus originally formulated his gender neutral skin, hair, fragrance and body range to tame his “curly, frizzy hair.” And while the super-effective Sprekenhus Hair Styling Elixir is how I happened upon the range, everything in the range, fragrances included, is definitely worth a try. My hero is the luxurious Hair Styling Elixir, $42, an Argan Oil treatment which is easily absorbed, so it gets right into the hair shaft, rather than sitting on the surface like many anti-frizz remedies. Available in a Light formulation for those of us with finer hair, it’s definitely worth waiting for the post (all the way from Norway!).
Hair Tip: “Recreate the look by spritzing damp hair with Sachajuan Straight and Shine Spray, £22,” says Sam. “With your hairdryer set to a medium heat (nozzle attached to reduce flyaways), blow-dry hair using a large paddle brush. Take small sections and dry completely before moving on to next section. Spritz dried hair with Straight and Shine Spray, the use ceramic straightening irons to maintain shine.”
The Finnish Line
Berries are at the heart of leading Finnish beauty brand, Lumene’s range of skin and body care and make-up. Not your average berries, mind. These are super-tough Artic berries that are able to survive in the harshest of climates, and can withstand 24 hours of sunshine during the short summer and sub-zero temperatures in winter making their vitamin and antioxidant potency 81 per cent better than cultivated berries. Hand-picked cloudberries, blueberries, sea buckthorn, rosehips, lingonberries and raspberries are all incorporated into nurturing formulations designed to combat environmental damage and keep aging in check. There’s a lot to love about Lumene but for me the Complete Rewind Intensive Recovery Beauty Oil, £18.99, stands out. With Sea Buckthorn berries, Jojoba, Sunflower and Avocado oils, it’s the perfect skin-nurturing treat. Just a few drops and my skin is plumper, smoother-looking and more radiant.
Hair Tip: To maintain shine and create texture, follow Sam’s styling tips. “ Apply a few drops of Sachajuan Intensive Hair Oil, £35, to damp hair. A nourishing but weightless oil, it’s easily absorbed and doesn’t leave a residue – and you can also use it as a leave-in overnight treatment. Finger dry hair on a medium heat until completely dry. For a soft, textured look, take large sections of hair and wind around a ceramic heated hair wand for 30 seconds.”
Make-up Tip: “For a fresh, outdoor flush, opt for cream or liquid blush,” says Frances. “If you like your blush intense, build it up gradually by dotting on a little, blending, then adding more for a deeper flush.” Try Face Stockholm Creme Blusher in Stockholm, £22, a super-creamy glide on blush that blends imperceptibly.
Ice, Ice Baby
Proof that there’s more to Iceland than snow, ice and Bjork, meet Skyn, an internationally coveted skincare range. Originally created to combat the negative impact of stress on skin, founder Sarah Kugelman formulated the range using the mineral rich water, antioxidant-rich berries, soothing algae, replenishing moss and immune boosting Angelica Archangelica all discovered whilst travelling in Iceland, seeking a cure for her own stressed-out skin. An experienced skincare formulator for many global brands, Kugelman’s focus for Skyn is on solutions for stress-related skin damage, especially targeting the area around the eyes. My top pick from the range is Skyn Icelandic Relief Eye Cream, £38, with Saponaria Pumila, an arctic botanical so good at adapting to extreme climate change that it survived the Ice Age! The Saponaria extract helps to reduce puffiness, minimise dark circles and ease fine lines, so it gets a big ‘tick’ from me as an effective skincare ingredient.
Make-up Tip: “If you’re using white eyeliner or pencil, always liner before you use mascara to avoid ‘white-tipped’ lashes,’ says Frances. Line eyes with Face Stockholm Eye Pencil in White, £15, a soft, easy to blend pencil, perfect for lining and defining.