For the past few years, beauty enthusiasts have been obsessed with new products arriving from Japan and Korea. Now, J- and K-Beauty will have to face off with G-Beauty, aka German beauty brands. While K-Beauty emphasized Korean beauty balms and jelly cleansers and J-Beauty highlighted Japanese essences and sake ingredients, G-Beauty is all about clean beauty.
Spotted at Whole Foods and Bluemercury, G-Beauty products are usually straightforward and organic. “Our customers like that Germany beauty follows the European standards for clean, which automatically means they don’t include many toxins,” said Jessica Richards, the founder of Shen Beauty.
Cassandra Grey, the founder of Violet Grey in Los Angeles, whose top-selling skin care lines are German, adds that “Customers now look for the Made in Germany stamp on skin-care products the same way we look for the organic sticker on our tomatoes.”
Examples of G-Beauty include Weleda, a Swiss-German natural skincare pioneer founded in 1921, and Dr. Hauschka, a natural skincare and cosmetics brand established in 1967. Both work with biodynamic farms, labs and manufacturing processes. “We have a lot of control over our ingredients, which is key for a natural beauty brand,” said Rob Keen, the chief executive of Weleda North America. “You don’t know where some of these companies are getting their naturals from.”
Weleda, which markets its Skin Food moisturizer, a favorite of top makeup artists and celebrities like Rihanna, Julia Roberts, and Victoria Beckham, experienced a 19 percent increase in sales in the US last year. Overall, according to Spins and Nielsen, a market research firm, natural G-Beauty skincare brands grew 13 percent in the US last year, compared with 11 percent for all natural skincare brands.
Unlike K-Beauty and J-Beauty brands, which were actively supported by their respective governments. G-Beauty is going it alone, although Germany’s commitment to the environment and sustainability is well-known. “If you look across many different categories and businesses in Germany, it’s about quality and ingredient integrity,” said Martina Joseph, the chief executive of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care.
Other clean brands include Augustinus Bader, Dr. Barbara Sturm, and Royal Fern. Timm Golueke, a dermatologist and founder of Royal Fern, says his brand, which features an ingredient derived from fern extract, marries “wellness with German engineering.” He says German brands tend to rely upon science and transparency to develop their products and marketing strategies. “The patients I see in London and in Germany, they want the same thing. They want skincare that works, but they also want things to be nontoxic. That’s what German brands are building trust in,” he added.
Marla Beck, the co-founder, and chief executive of Bluemercury, which is the largest retailer of the Dr. Barbara Sturm products in the US, agreed, saying, “German beauty is known for science-backed, clean formulas that deliver highly effective results.” Beck is a fan of the Dr. Barbara Sturm Brightening Serum, which is formulated with cress sprouts extract and shimmer particles for added glow.
Barbara Sturm, an aesthetic medical doctor based in Düsseldorf, creates custom-blended creams with blood drawn from the patient. She also focuses on eliminating all damaging ingredients from products. “Clean beauty, which I take to mean nontoxic, nonirritating and noninflammatory, is at the center of my approach to healing the skin,” Dr. Sturm said.
Meanwhile, Augustinus Bader, a professor and scientist, founded his eponymous skincare line two years ago. Last year, the company reported $6 million in revenue with just two moisturizers, simply named the Cream and the Rich Cream. There are now plans to introduce a third product this summer.