IRISH COMPANIES ARE BREAKING NEW GROUND WITH NATURAL, LUXURIOUS AND SUSTAINABLE SKINCARE, SCENT AND BEYOND. Beauty’s coming home …
We all know by now that there’s a bounty of exciting homegrown skincare and perfume brands that manage to be both intrinsically Irish and absolutely international. And as big beauty brands scramble to become sustainable, locally sourced, eco-conscious and kind, we find that many smaller companies are doing all this very beautifully – and right on our doorsteps.
Championing Irish ingredients, brands like Modern Botany, Nunaïa and Skingredients are gaining momentum not just on our own beauty scene but also beyond. Small, but perfectly formed, these brands continue to make headway in a wider market, as well as innovating in their field. As industry expert and Modern Botany’s Director of Innovation, Tracey Woodward, notes: “It’s not just about creating products, or the latest scientific ingredient, but also about a vision for community and self-care in skincare. It’s about being meaningful and relevant in today’s world.”
Irish beauty used to be just about tan (Bellamianta, He-Shi and TanOrganic are all Irish, with names like Lusso joining the golden fray): now we can buy Irish everything, from toothpaste to beauty supplements. Sustainable, local, organic and naturally powerful is the new luxury. To this end, many of these brands offer refills. “Aspirational beauty will always have a place, but the future of beauty is local and conscious,” says Woodward.
Here’s our pick of 13 top names to know in sustainable Irish beauty for 2021 and beyond:
1. THE BURREN PERFUMERY. The natural scent and skincare company has a wide range of popular soaps, serums and lotions. Our favourite thing is Wild Rose eau de parfum, a rare and entirely natural take on the rose which we’ve written about previously. www.burrenperfumery.com
2. MODERN BOTANY in West Cork is famed for its eco-conscious approach and particularly its natural deodorant, winner of numerous awards. The most recent addition is a giant bottle of it, complete with spray bottle and funnel, so you can endlessly refill. Read more about the brand here. www.modernbotany.com
3. OXMANTOWN skincare is one of Dublin’s best-kept beauty names to know; founder Amy Cahill’s natural blends, in apothecary-style brown glass bottles, are cool rather than crafty, and are now stocked at Brown Thomas (from €21). We like the orange blossom and rose face mist (€24); www.oxmantownskincare.ie.
4. We were the first to pick up on the monochrome magic of PESTLE & MORTAR back in 2015 and it’s now an international hit, with new launches on the way; www.kilkennyshop.com.
5. GROUND, created by spa expert Peigin Crowley, is exclusive to Brown Thomas, and it’s a cleverly designed, thoughtful selection of soothing natural treats; the bath salts are divine, and refillable (from €30).
6. PERFUME FROM GALWAY
Galway’s stunning perfume company CLOON KEEN recently opened up a standalone store in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Dublin – it will be one of the first places we visit post-lockdown, for both its sophisticated design and incomparable scents. We wrote about diffusers recently, but when we said ditch the candles, we certainly didn’t mean CK’s – Noble Fir has been lit every day since December in my house, bringing a magical forest scent into every room at a time when such trees lie beyond the 5k limit. I’ve found it a calming, earthy presence.
ADD TO BASKET: Founder Margaret Mangan works with perfumers including Meabh McCurtin, a protégée of the great Dominique Ropion, who has created modern classics such as Roisin Dubh (little black rose), €130, the only Irish perfume to win at the prestigious international Fragrance Foundation awards, taking home the Best New Independent Fragrance Award in 2019.
NEW FOR 2021: Cloon Keen recently launched a Spanish Arch room spray in a stylish silver bottle; this spray gun version of their bestselling Galway-inspired candle, a fresh green floral with pettigrain and neroli, is a speedy way to scent a room, beautifully (€40).
NEED TO KNOW: We are excited to hear of a new perfume set to launch this summer, with the very talented McCurtin again at the helm… This is one we can’t wait to smell. www.cloonkeen.com
7. SERUMS FROM WEST CORK
Herbalist and “potion maker” Réidín Beattie describes her WARRIOR BOTANICALS as an “antidote to modern skin and body care”, and they do have a timeless feel. At her studio in an old grainstore in West Cork, Beattie concocts oils and serums using organic herbs and botanical extracts.
ADD TO BASKET: All the facial balms, salves and serums are beautiful to use; we especially love the lip balms, including Morrigan, tinted with beetroot (€20 set of three). She also makes a breast oil, to encourage breast massage, and herbal tea blends, including Queen of My Heart, which features hawthorn, three rose varieties, violet, hibiscus and motherwort.
NEW FOR 2021: Brand new is the Green Gardens Facial Mask, which blends French clay with colloidal oats to nourish and remove impurities with lovingly blended spring herbs to cleanse and rejuvenate. Cleavers brightens and renews; plantain pulls out toxins; rosemary offers moisture and youthful goodness; marshmallow soothes whilst primrose adds floral charm.
NEED TO KNOW: Each jar is blended by hand in small batches, using organic, homestead and wild foraged herbs and ingredients where possible. www.warriorbotanicals.com
8. ESSENTIAL OILS FROM DUBLIN
There’s nothing Benoit Nicol doesn’t know about the benefits of essential oils: THE NATURE OF THINGS is a beautifully presented collection of the highest quality, from vanilla oil to lavender (from €7), and they’re now widely available at more than 60 retailers. Nicol can put together personalised boxes of oils – a thoughtful gift.
ADD TO BASKET: Lemongrass is good for sleep and anxiety, while mandarin is uplifting. Invest in the easy-to-use MAËL diffuser too, the first decent-looking yet affordable one we’ve seen.
NEED TO KNOW: Try wearing Indian tuberose oil as a perfume, layered with patchouli. Available nationwide including Kilkenny Design and Designist. www.thenatureofthings.ie
9. MASSAGE BALMS FROM CO TIPPERARY
Beauty therapist Jenny Faison introduced me to FLYING WILD’s handmade massage balms, which she uses at Calm Beauty. Flying Wild’s Arno Schouwenburg, based in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, traded publishing for beekeeping back in 2012, starting his artisan, eco-conscious business as a way to “share the goodness of the hives”. Raw honey and natural beeswax are used make everything from candles (to facial oils and massage balms, only using organic, unrefined ingredients. The hand balms are buttery and fragrant.
ADD TO BASKET: The Menopause blend, with clary sage and geranium. And the rosemary and raw honey lip balm is a sheer bargain at €3.50.
NEED TO KNOW: The whole range is great value, simple and sustainable. Arno is famed for his wonderful customer service, too. www.flyingwild.ie
10. THERAPEUTIC OILS FROM CO DUBLIN
Clinical aromatherapist Fiona Hedigan creates FLORA & FIONA therapeutic blends of quality plant oils.
ADD TO BASKET: Carry-On Travel Oil (€25), focused on oils famed for their therapeutic and antibacterial properties, is an essential bit of travel kit (when we’re back on the move again). Meanwhile, her Rest oil is perfect for helping us sleep at the moment.
NEED TO KNOW: Hedigan recommends steam inhalations to help relieve winter cold symptoms: “Four drops of lavender and three drops of tea tree in a bowl of hot water is great for fighting infection and clear sinuses.” At Avoca and www.floraplusfiona.com.
See also Dublin-based Yogandha for Sinead Duffy’s lovely vegan and ethically sourced natural oil blends inspired by yoga and meditation – we love her body and bath oils, and the small roll-ons for calm and balance on the go. The perfect post-lockdown re-entry product … From €19.99.
11. ORGANIC SKINCARE FROM CO GALWAY
BARECHIC SKIN luxe organic skincare is a favourite of mine. Fiona Carr is the brains behind this tiny micro-batch brand based on the west coast.
ADD TO BASKET: The Glistening Body Oil (€55) is a bestseller. It’s a multitasking product; try massaging through hair pre shampoo or apply to damp skin after a shower; and a few drops to the face adds extra glow.
NEED TO KNOW: The Blue Flower Face Serum (€75) is part of facialist Amanda Nordell’s gua sha treatment in Dublin (www.amandanordell.com). Rose of the World is a pure rose oil serum, an exquisite blend of organic, cold-pressed oils in a superior extraction that is wonderful for highly sensitive and oily skin (€105). Carr has also been teasing images of a jasmine-infused balm and an avocado cold creme – fingers crossed she might add these to her small, perfectly formed collection at some point … www.barechicskin.com.
12. NATURAL SKINCARE FROM TIPPERARY (VIA PERU)
Since launching back in 2018, Nicola Connolly’s NUNAïA has gone from strength to strength. Now with esteemed stockists nationwide, including Avoca and Brown Thomas, Nunaia’s thoughtful, careful, seed-to-skin ethos and naturally beautiful skincare products are adored by those who want both luxury and efficacy.
ADD TO BASKET: You probably have the Nourishing Oil-Serum by now if you’re at all interested in Irish beauty products. It’s simply a classic, and essential for dry, mature or sensitive skin. Treat yourself to a pot of the vegan, certified organic Superfood Cleansing Balm, rich in Sacha Inchi oil from the Amazon – it will last for ages (and it’s been a huge hit during lockdown, selling out). We can’t wait to see what Nicola does next … Read more at avoca.com.
13. BODY TREATS FROM THE IRISH COAST
ADD TO BASKET: The Green Angel Sunrise Magic Body Smoother (€39.50) is a natural oil and seaweed-rich body exfoliator made with Irish mineral salt and organic argan oil, plus carrageen and various seaweed extracts. For me it’s up there with Fresh’s Brown Sugar Body Polish – I love its salty, lemony scent and gentle skin-smoothing action. www.greenangel.com
14. ORGANIC PERFUME FROM WEST CORK
Joan Woods of waters + wild makes beautiful scents and skincare in Glandore, Co Cork – and her small-batch products are natural and vegan, made using the finest organic ingredients, most of them locally sourced.
ADD TO BASKET: It has to be the tuberose + frankincense eau de parfum, from €35. But it’s hard to choose just one of the certified organic scents.
NEED TO KNOW: The perfume discovery sets are much sought-after, and her website has expanded to include carefully selected gift items from jewellery to ceramic candle cups. www.watersandwild.com
See also Stories Parfums, from Northern Ireland via Grasse, for refillable fine perfumes that are unique and beautiful. First, book a fragrance consultations with founder Tonya Kidd-Beggs; samples are £5stg (free delivery). www.storiesparfums.com
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