The Irish Beauty Brand to Know Now

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The Irish beauty mood – and the local gem that’s going places, here’s how to embrace 2021 beauty-wise …

Beauty’s coming home. My own shelf reflects the new focus: where designer labels once dominated, increasingly I’m using high-quality homegrown skincare – Irish gems. This has been increasingly the case, but even more so now – there’s no way we’re paying extra charges to ship in beauty stuff from the UK. And now that brilliant things are made right here, we have no need to look further afield. As industry insider Tracey Woodward notes, “Aspirational beauty will always have a place, but the future of beauty is local and conscious.”

There isn’t much that Woodward doesn’t know about beauty, with more than 30 years’ experience working with brands such as Aveda and Aromatherapy Associates. And she has just taken up a new role as Director of Strategy and Innovation at Modern Botany, the Cork-based brand run by Dr Simon Jackson and John Murray. If you’re tried its multitasking oil, or genius natural deodorant, you’ll know they come up with self-care products that are kind to both skin and the planet.

So why Modern Botany rather than another big international name? Woodward simply fell in love with what the brand stands for. “As well as exceptional formulations, it’s everything I believe in – it’s a brand for good.” Now, she says, we’re looking to brands that inspire us. “It’s about adopting ‘best practises’ to take care of yourself for longevity and quality of life. We need to think smarter about self-care – if you feel good, you look good,” notes Woodward. “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.”

The brand’s USP is simple: it was born from a “love and passion for the natural world”, as co-founder and Sustainability Director John Murray notes – “sustainability is at the heart of every stream of our company’s processes.” They aim to offer “a toolkit of 21st century living”. Other brands finding success with this simple, conscious approach include Peigin Crowley’s Ground at Brown Thomas (whose Sleep range in particular has been a sell-out since its launch). And as Woodward points out, rather than compete with each other, they can be supportive. “Together with brands such as Ground, we can change the dynamics of the industry,” she believes, with a focus on appreciating the power of nature, adopting best practises in terms of sustainability, and taking care of ourselves. We’re looking to brands that are inspiring. As the head of Italian family brand Davines, Davide Bollati, told me when I visited their amazingly eco-conscious HQ in Parma (a B.Corp) in 2019, “We want to be the best company for the world.”

Modern Botany’s pure and simple ethos, together with the founders’ knowledge of Pharmacognosy, the science of natural ingredients, makes it really stand out. “There is immense appetite for local, natural, vegan and cruelty-free in beauty – customers are a lot more knowledgeable about what they put on their skin,” says Woodward. Look out for lots of exciting new launches planned this year (we’re excited to see their take on sun protection) – for now, stock up on the natural deodorant, from €15, www.modernbotany.com.

New habits

I love Woodward’s tips for looking well – she is 55 but swerves injectables and costly treatments in favour of lifestyle changes and simpler solutions: cold water showers (a habit she swears by for glowing skin), body and face brushing, juicing, eating intelligently, with a focus on rainbow colours, and doing more than one type of exercise. Simple changes like stretching, attending to gut health and adopting a high-fibre diet cost only willpower. “Hope in a bottle is just a dopamine hit. I believe that skincare should be as natural as possible – we all want the glow, but you don’t need 100 products to get it.”

Treat yourself

We’re also learning that spas are now less a frivolous luxury, more a necessary focus on mental and physical wellbeing. As spa consultant Peigin Crowley notes, “Spas are becoming a safe haven for a digital detox. And there is a definite shift back to touch, seeking wellbeing and wellness through relaxation. Before, you might have waited for a trip or break to have a massage – now people are opting for programmes, signing up for a monthly treatment locally.” Treatments like reflexology, reiki and acupuncture are increasingly popular. Once spas reopen, we’re booking in…

Two to try: A day at EdenOne with a massage, facial and use of the splendid spa facilities plus lunch will set you back €195. See how the other half spa, and emerge feeling a million dollars. www.edeonone.ie. And don’t faff around with a fluffy facial. Instead, the Fire and Ice Facial, also known as the “red carpet facial”, is an intensive clinical treatment designed to give you a glow. At Velvære Medi-spa, Dublin 8, from €145. www.velvaerespa.ie

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