Inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, I thought it would be fun to take inspiration from the novel’s title and do a little beauty-inspired world tour – sadly not in 80 products. I tried but it’s more likely to be ‘Around the UK in 80 Beauty Products’ with the collection of natural skincare items I’ve amassed (some of which I highlight in my Best British Beauty post). Food for thought for a future blog post… In the meantime here are 6 countries that know how to deliver great beauty products, from established cosmetics that debuted on stage to natural skincare.
France is famed for its elegant wines, delicious pastries and incredible heritage of highly desirable beauty brands. From Guerlain’s iconic Terracotta range to the internationally renowned Huile Prodigieuse from Nuxe, France is probably the most proliferous in terms of luxury beauty and well respected skincare brands (hello French pharmacy staples, some of which I reviewed in French Pharmacy Beauty Haul). Whether it’s the years of brand building, quality of ingredients (Grasse being considered the world’s capital of perfume) or the attention to detail in the packaging (those Chanel limited edition palettes), Gallic-made products enjoy a special place within beauty. With international presence and over 150 years of cosmetic expertise, Bourjois started life in the 19th century as a collection of thick grease paints aimed at theatre actors for their on stage performances. It has gone on to offer fun, colourful and affordable cosmetics, with its Little Round Pot having gone down in beauty history as one of the most iconic makeup products ever.
Whilst the UK doesn’t have the same heritage as France when it comes to beauty brands, British consumers certainly make up for it in spend: we blow on average £482.51 a year on beauty products, with Gen Z (the 16 to 24 year old age group) spending the most and using an average of 16 products a day. This makes beauty one of the most lucrative industries in the country and employs around one million workers nationwide (source: beautyresource.ork.uk) – although with the face of traditional retail changing so drastically, who knows what that figure will look like in a few years. A British brand that has stood the test of time and has come to represent true British heritage is Burberry. Known for its distinctive check pattern and iconic trench coat, it has translated these trademarks into a timeless makeup range inspired by its fashion know how and the, huh, British weather. Their Eye Palette is a beautiful example of this, with moody shades showcased in a metallic compact decorated with the brand’s classic tartan pattern.
Italy can boast a long history of beauty rituals with cosmetics used in Ancient Rome by – strangely – prostitutes and the wealthy. More recently brands such as Dolce and Gabbana have given us a masterclass in how to play your heritage in a modern way, harking back to the 1950s glamour but updating it with vibrant colours, bold patterns and celebrities du jour. Fashion and beauty have always walked (or shimmied) hand in hand and as well as holding a prime spot in every fashion editor’s calendar, Italy is also one of the main European manufacturers in make up products (source: premiumbeautynews.com). Luxury icon Bulgari encompasses all areas of beauty from fashion to jewellery and fragrance. Its Rose Goldea fragrance is an elegant and rich floral scent with the rose gold perfume bottle offering your dresser all the glamour of a bygone era.
The US drives huge volumes of whatever it consumes so it’s no surprise that the beauty industry there is worth a whopping $89.7 billion (source: statista). America’s beauty history is more modern than France’s or Italy’s but they’ve certainly made up for lost time: from Estée Lauder to Bobbi Brown, the US has seen the rise of many highly successful and world renowned beauty brands initiated and run by women. In the 1920s and 1930s two iconic beauty businesswomen, Canadian-born Elizabeth Arden and Polish-born Helena Rubinstein, were famous for their on going feud, which luckily didn’t over shadow the pioneering products they brought to market such as Arden’s cult classic Eight Hour Cream (I reviewed the lipbalm version in Desert Island Beauty Product). Today Benefit Cosmetics, founded by twin sisters Jean and Jane Ford in the 70s, brings fun and innovative cosmetics to loyal fans worldwide. Bestselling and award-winning bronzer Hoola perfectly represents Benefit’s tong-in-cheek approach.
Ongoing economic hardship has seen Russian beauty and personal care spend slow down last year (source: euromonitor), although the market is still worth an impressive £7 billion (source: statista) – OK nothing compared to the US. French cosmetics giant L’Oréal is the leading beauty company in this country, however the green beauty movement continues to grow with the rise of consumer awareness when it comes to toxic chemical ingredients. Inspired by the benefits of Siberian wild herbs, local botanical brand Natura Siberica offers natural and organic certified skincare such as the Sophora Japonica range featuring vitamin E-rich Siberian pine oil.
I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning South Korea. As one of the ten biggest beauty markets in the world and having shown consistent growth in the past 10 years (source: statista) this country is definitely a strong beauty player. K-beauty and its famous 10-step skincare routine has enjoyed huge success across the ocean with the US, France and Japan being big fans. Will the K-beauty bubble ever burst? Who knows, but in the meantime I’m trying out as many of their skincare products as possible, most lately in the shape of Olivarrier’s vegan and cruelty-free Fluid Oil Squalane.
Which country do you feel deserves a mention when it comes to beauty? Please leave a comment below to let me know.
Features PR samples