There are certain changes you should make to your skin care routine as the seasons turn, and this fall you have more options than ever to choose from — no matter your age, gender or skin care needs. Four impressive new skin care lines just launched this year, and they range from a farm-to-table formula to a super-fancy unisex brand from a Kiehl's heiress. I tried them all and chatted with their founders and brand representatives — here's everything you need to know about the new potions you'll be seeing this season.
Farm-to-table has been all the rage in foodie circles for a few years, and now that concept is making the jump to skin care. Farmacy co-founder Mark Veeder, who also owns a publicity and special events firm in NYC, started cultivating a plant called Echinacea GreenEnvy once he found it growing in his Upstate garden. A compound in this echinacea has some potent effects on collagen, so it's been patented and is the star ingredient in a new line of skin care, which just made its debut at Sephora and QVC. The company works with local farmers in New York and beyond to cultivate and harvest the echinacea and other botanicals used.
While the packaging (there's lots of plant imagery) suggests that it's a "natural" line, the company doesn't want to be pigeonholed as such. (And please remember: the "natural" label is meaningless anyway.) Farmacy's tagline, "farmer cultivated, scientist activated" pretty much says it all. The range includes lip balms in interesting flavors like strawberry basil, a powder exfoliator and both day and night creams. A serum, called Invincible, is incredible, but the star of the line (in my opinion, anyway) are the coconut gel sheet masks, which are more pliable and stick better than hydrogel — they also feel less slimy than cotton masks. The company worked with Korean experts on the masks, but used its own skin care formulas to infuse them. Prices range from $16.50 for the lip balms to $65 for the serum.
Jessica Herrin, who founded the wildly successful direct-to-consumer jewelry company Stella & Dot, is an entrepreneur several times over, and her latest venture seems on track to be just as lucrative. Herrin just launched a skin care range called Ever, and it's sold via the same model as Stella & Dot: direct-to-consumer online and using home-based associates — the traditional Avon and Mary Kay model, in other words. At a launch for the brand, Herrin called it "social selling." "What is powerful about the specialist is they're sharing their own before and after [pictures]," Herrin said. "Nothing is more compelling to a friend than saying, 'Wow, OK, what have you been doing lately?'"
The range consists of about 20 items, and while the packaging is chic and appealing, the products really mean business: I was impressed by the quality and functionality. There's an oil-based cleansing balm, a divine nighttime face oil, several shades of tinted moisturizer with SPF and lactic acid infused peel pads. Prices range from $26 for a lip treatment to $88 for the oil and serum.
In case you weren't aware, guys are into skin care, too. In 2013, for the first time ever, men bought more toiletries than shaving supplies. This interest in looking good via products is probably not a surprise for any woman who shares a medicine cabinet with a modern male. To answer this desire for good skin care, but also to appeal to a woman who appreciates minimalist design and a darn good formula, a new unisex skin care line, Context, was born.
The brand, which popped up backstage at the Public School show, has a fashionable pedigree. Founder David Arbuthnot previously held executive positions at Christian Dior, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein before launching Context. "Today most beauty products are still marketed toward either women or men, but I think consumers are looking for a new message and are choosing brands which speak directly to their sensibilities," Arbuthnot said via email. "I found I was often buying women's prestige skin care products for myself. While they were great products, they were too heavily fragranced for me and usually expensive. I thought, Why not use the same ingredients, present them in a modern simple design aesthetic, at a price point which is more accessible to a broader demographic?" The line includes the necessities for people who like a no-nonsense approach: a cleanser, exfoliator, toner, moisturizers and an eye cream. Prices range from $30 for a cleanser to $45 for a night cream.
Everything about Retrouvé screams "fancy," from the heavy glass bottles, to the type face to the price tag. (Products cost between $450 and $520 each.) The four-product range was conceived by Jami Morse Heidegger and her husband Klaus Heidegger, and was introduced in Europe in 2013; it's newly available stateside at Bergdorf Goodman.
Heidegger has an impressive beauty pedigree. Her family bought Kiehl's in the 1920s, and she was involved with the brand for many years, including during the sale of the company to L'Oreal in 2000. This latest line is a more personal brand, and, like Context, is meant for unisex use. (Heidegger says currently 25% of the line's customers are men.) "I believe that the differentiating criteria for appropriate product selection should be based not on gender, but, rather, on skin type, also taking into account specific concerns and/or preferences, of course," Heidegger said via email. "At this point in time, when gender is so fluid, it seems arbitrary to designate products as specifically and solely for a man or for a woman. Skin is skin!"
The ingredients are top notch and include all the things you need in a good cream: Stem cells, antioxidants and moisturizers. The packaging process is elaborate and engineered to keep the ingredients airtight, since air can degrade them and ultimately affect efficacy. The combination of luxe textures and a high-tech ingredient approach (sort of) help to explain the eye-watering prices. To note, it's also a line that's meant for a consumer who's over 25. Heidegger developed it to help deal with her own skin when she turned 40, so expect rich textures and high concentrations of active ingredients.