When it comes to countries known for their beauty products, our obsession has long since extended beyond the borders of France—even if we’ll always have a soft spot for a no-nonsense micellar water. While Korean lotions and potions like bubble masks and “selfie-ready” skin primers contained in quirky packaging continue to be among our top beauty imports, impressing beauty experts and novices alike, we think we may have a line on which country has the potential to be the next big market craze: Estonia. No, Estonians may not have the same deeply rooted history in the skin-care world as Asia or some of its European neighbors, but it sure is doing a damn good job making up for it.
According to a recent Euromonitor report from April, the beauty and personal care market experienced steady growth, which was largely supported by fierce competition between beauty players—most of which are global entities. This is all the more remarkable given the country's own declining population, making for a shrinking internal consumer base. Perhaps this is why Estonian entrepreneurs are bringing their incredible products and ideology to the global marketplace? Ahead, check out the five Estonian beauty brands you probably don’t know, but should. We’re convinced there’s going to be a new section at Sephora soon.
Behind every great brand is an even greater story and, boy, does Lumi have a goodie. The inspiration behind the brand stemmed from co-founder Märt Miljan’s personal journey. “My business partner Helen was battling with atopic dermatitis on her baby daughter, that led us to discover skin benefits of hemp seed oil,” says Miljan. “Growing hemp was banned for decades because of its association with cannabis, but it's recently had a renaissance as a superfood. We wanted to create a skin-care line that is gentle, yet very effective.” And they sure have.
Lumi means snow in native Estonian, and for Märt and Helen, it symbolizes purity and luminosity. The line combines fresh botanical ingredients and natural bioactive ingredients, like hyaluronic and lactic acid. The company uses cold-pressed oils and extracts so useful omegas, vitamins, or minerals can be optimally preserved. One of the best sellers is the all-natural Tundra regimen that focuses on problematic and acne-prone skin. The unisex line restores, renews, and battles inflammation with the help of AHA-BHA compounds, salicylic acid from willow bark, rosemary extract, and a proprietary oil blend.
The impetus behind founder Roone Roost’s brand was the discovery of a study that proved the peat grown in Estonia is of pristine quality, and should be incorporated into a luxury organic skin-care line. Or, in layman's terms: “What makes it the best is the sheer amount of bioactive substances in it, and the fact that it has been untouched by human activity for thousands and thousands of years,” says Roost. “Even today we take great care in the extraction process—it is only done by hand and making sure we leave the surrounding nature in the same state as it was before we went there.”
But not all Vestige Verdant products are limited to peat. In fact, of the three products thus far (there’s also a Rare Blend Oil and game-changing Infinity Eye Serum for fine lines), only the organic mask contains it. Other high-quality and organic ingredients include rare oils (neroli oil from Italy, patchouli oil from Indonesia, carrot seed oil from Nepal, sea buckthorn oil from Germany, and argan oil from Morocco), hyaluronic acid, and a variety of extracts.
Before skin care, JOIK began with founder Eva-Maria Õunapuu’s love of scented candles. After she perfected the process of creating high-quality, clean-burning candles that are true to the promised aroma back in 2005, she went on to create skin and body care that adopted the philosophy that a cosmetic product should be “effective, honest, as natural as possible, but should also offer pleasant emotions.” To date, JOIK is the largest and best-known Estonian home fragrancing and natural cosmetics brand and is sold in more than 20 countries worldwide. JOIK’s skin-care line includes a nice mix of cleansers, serums, moisturizers, masks, eye, lip, and anti-aging products, all made as natural as possible with high-quality ingredients and results-driven recipes. Everything is handmade and packed in Estonia in a production facility located on the outskirts of Tallinn. The JOIK brand finds inspiration from long-standing traditions and tries to use local ingredients whenever possible.
Capitalizing on the fact that peat is a large part of the Estonian landscape, Sirli Mangus—founder of Turbliss—began researching its balneological (bath therapy, basically) use and characteristics, only to discover that it had a positive reaction on various skin conditions. All of the Turbliss products have a high level of humic, fulvic, and hymatomelanic acids that penetrate deep into the skin to help restore cell function, while minerals, lipids, amino acids, enzymes, microelements, phytonutrients, and sulfur help to restore elasticity. Also impressive, the company digs, analyzes, and micronizes all of its own peat to ensure it’s of a high quality. While all of the mask types (from smoothing wrinkles and toning skin to reducing acne and curing eczema and psoriasis) are considered purifying, peat never gets tight and dry on the skin if used correctly. In fact, it helps regulate both sebum production and dryness to create a perfect balance.
Domina Elegans (D’Difference)
Leave it to an Estonian doctor (founder Ruth Oltjer, MD) and a group of biochemists and scientists to come up with the ultimate dream cream for damaged skin (think: extreme dryness, bedsores, scaling) for hospital use before launching a more sophisticated line of products for the everyday consumer in 2013. “As a doctor and as a woman, I have a strong desire to help others,” said Oltjer.” All of the products incorporate a patented emulsion that consists of safflower oleosomes and silk proteins to retain moisture and give the surface of the skin a silky finish; natural oils to nourish, moisturize, and protect; and more than 20 minerals from the Dead Sea which serve as natural preservatives. The award-winning brand is a market leader in Estonia and is favored by former Estonian president Toomas Henrik, who used to give the products to other heads of state as a gift. The D´DIFFERENCE line is divided into four categories: Natural Beauty. suitable for all skin types and ages; Cell Innovation, a powerful anti-aging line that took 13 years of scientific and medical research to develop; White Beauty, dedicated to fading excess pigmentation and spots year-round; and For Men, developed to help cityproof a man’s skin. All products are free of parabens, silicones, PEGs, mineral oils, and artificial color. Natural ingredients are never heated in the production process to retain their integrity. At the moment it is possible to buy their products in the States by contacting them by email at email@example.com.