Europe’s Buzzy Indie Skin Care and Wellness Brands to Know in the U.S.


PARIS — A spate of European indie skin care and wellness brands have not yet made it to the U.S., but are ripe for the stocking by retailers there.

Consider indies as the mice that roar, and the numbers prove their bite.

Indie skin care sales last year in the U.S. were especially strong, equaling $9.1 billion, a 14 percent year-on-year increase. That followed on from 11 percent growth in 2022. Meanwhile, unit sales in 2023 against 2022 grew by double digits, according to Circana.

“In this current digital age, indies have quickly risen to be a strong segment in beauty, representing $30.5 billion in sales and capturing a 32 percent dollar share of the category,” said NielsenIQ in its report titled “The Rise of Indie Beauty,” out in September 2023.

Nielsen IQ found that indies’ sales outpace those of the total beauty and personal care market in the U.S., increasing 15.7 percent versus 9.9 percent, respectively, in 2022.

Indies’ upside growth is ongoing in the world’s largest beauty market, where a strong product offer tinged with a zesty je ne sais quoi has allure.

Here is a diverse selection of Europe’s buzziest indie skin care and wellness brands.  

Avea

Avea

A product from Avea.

Avea literally encapsulates two rising trends in the beauty space today: longevity and ingestibles. 

The Zug, Switzerland-based longevity supplements brand silent-launched its first products — including the NMN and Booster, together called the Vitality Bundle — at the end of 2021. Then the official marketing began in March 2022.

Sophie Chabloz, chief scientific officer of Avea, cofounded the company with three others. They formulated and launched more products, with some addressing specific issues related to healthy aging, such as the Stabiliser, to balance blood sugar levels, and the Mobiliser, to support joint health and flexibility. “We are currently working on a gut-brain axis type of product,” said Chabloz. 

Another grouping of Avea products optimizes cellular processes, and there is the saliva-based DNA & Bioage test using epigenetics to help people improve their biological age score. Altogether, Avea has six products, with prices ranging from 49 euros for Essentials vitamins and minerals to 229 for the test.

Avea’s core markets are Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The brand is also available elsewhere in Continental Europe and the U.K. In Asia, it just entered China.

Avea last year closed an extended seed funding round, led by its biggest investor Maximon, for a total of $5 million.

La Rosée

La Roseé's sun stick.

La Roseé’s sun stick.

Courtesy of La Rosée

Nine years ago, Coline Bertrand and Mahault de Guilbert — two pharmacists friends from university — launched La Rosée, which has built a cult following. 

“We wanted to create a brand with ultra-natural products — up to 100 percent of natural origin — eco-responsible and ultra-healthy, without controversial ingredients,” explained Bertrand. Other important elements from the outset were having a universal range with affordable price points. Today those average 14 euros.

La Rosée is a dermatology-cosmetics hybrid, which launched with five products and now has 40, including baby care. In January, it introduced a new category: hair care. La Rosée’s deodorant and sun care stick are its bestsellers. 

The brand first entered 300 pharmacies in France. Fast-forward to now, and that number has bloomed to 9,500. “We are the sixth brand on the market in all segments combined [without antiaging] and the fourth brand in our segments,” said Bertrand.  

La Rosée has subsidiaries in Belgium and Spain, and it is distributed in Switzerland, South Korea and the French overseas territories, representing altogether more than 10,000 doors. Next steps could be toward Morocco, Canada and the U.S.

FG Bros, the Belgian family office of Ségolène Frère and Ian Gallienne, acquired a reported 20 percent of La Rosée in August 2023.

Respire

Respire

A deodorant from Respire.

Flaminia Reposi

Respire is digging deeper into the French pharmacy channel.

Following a health scare, Justine Hutteau teamed with Thomas Méheut to launch the Paris-based natural and organic personal care brand, starting with a roll-on deodorant in May 2019.

That product has become a runaway success. The brand said in 2023 its deodorant became the largest contributor to the deodorant category’s growth in French pharmacies and parapharmacies. It is also the third top-selling deodorant brand in the channel, up from sixth last year.

Respire’s lineup today includes 30 different products, including skin care, body care, shampoo, sun care and toothpaste. All the products are vegan, sustainable and made in France. A bar soap is 5.90 euros, while a roll-on deodorant goes for 10.90 euros and a dry oil for 22.90 euros.

The brand first sold direct-to-consumer, then entered brick-and-mortar distribution. Its main market is France, where Respire is stocked in 3,000 sales points, including 2,000 pharmacies. By yearend, that number is expected to swell to 5,000. The brand is carried in 12 other European countries through Sephora, as well.

Rowse

Rowse

Rowse

Rowse pares down traditional skin care routines into natural raw ingredients. 

It was introduced online in November 2018 by Spanish lifestyle influencer Nuria Val and French beauty executive Gabriela Salord. “Everything is toxic-free and made of plants,” said Salord, who serves as Rowse chief executive officer. 

From Day One, she and Val, Rowse’s creative director, have committed to finding natural alternatives to highly sought-out cosmetics ingredients. The brand is heavily focused on skin care, including for mature skin. 

Its 30-plus product line comprises cleansers, toners, boosters, day serum, night serums, eye-contour serum, body oils, solid shampoos and a body balm. In January, Rowse launched a sleeping mask with melatonin made from grape plants. It will introduce a capsule collection with two scrubs, a solid soap and candle in May. 

Rowse’s bestsellers are the All-Day Hydration Serum with niacinamide and the Eye Contour Serum with natural hyaluronic acid, which sell for 60 euros and 30 euros, respectively.

Rowse, a direct-to-consumer brand, in February opened its first brick-and-mortar store, in Madrid, where company headquarters is based. The brand is in about 40 doors in Europe altogether.

Experience matters to Rowse, which will organize yoga and Pilates retreats with hotels. Rowse is also launching an amenities line for the channel next month. “We’ve always been more of a wellness and lifestyle brand than just a beauty brand,” said Salord. 

Sān Wellness 

San Wellness

Sān Wellness’ Foundation product.

Sān Wellness is positioned as a premium African ethno-medicinal wellness brand.

The brainchild of Nomshado Michelle Baca, it launched direct-to-consumer in spring 2020 in the U.K., under the name A Complexion Company and with one product: The Organic Moringa Beauty Superpowder. 

Baca’s mission from the outset was to provide women mastery over their health through Africa’s ancestral knowledge.

In early 2021, Reckitt invested in the London-based brand through the group’s Access VC venture branch, and then there was a pivot. The brand’s moniker became Sān Wellness, with “sān” coming from the Khoisan tribe from the Kalahari Desert.

“I changed the name to focus more on wellness,” said Baca. “Because wellness encapsulated what I was trying to create for Black women.” 

With Reckitt she coformulated a new product, Foundation — The Black Woman’s Daily Multivitamin, which contains 14 essential nutrients and high-potency ingredients.  Baca characterized it as “the first singular supplement that treats the most common nutritional deficiencies amongst Black-identifying people of color.” The bespoke formula is billed to help with immunity, skin and hair health, sleep, energy and fertility support. 

Foundation launched in April 2022 in the U.K. A bottle of one month’s worth of capsules is priced at 54.99 pounds.

Seasonly

Seasonly b57151

Seasonly’s oil to combat skin imperfections.

Seasonly describes itself as “clean beauty that works.”

Fany Péchiodat founded it in 2018 in Paris. A pioneer, she created a standard for clean beauty, focusing on ingredients bad for people’s health and the planet. “We ban all those ingredients from our formulas,” said Chloé Renard, Seasonly’s CEO.

Seasonly now has a range of about 40 products for hydration, glow, antiaging and anti-blemishes, costing 9 euros to 100 euros, as well as accessories. 

In September, the brand launched Huile Tensiolift, an oil with effects mimicking Botox that swiftly became Seasonly’s bestseller. Three new Tensiolift products are due out this year.

“We offer alternatives to invasive techniques for antiaging, thanks to massage, facials and our products,” said Renard, adding the desired end-result is glowy- and healthy-looking skin. 

Hands-on is key. In 2019, the brand’s office building was transformed into a skin studio for quick, efficient facials. A second location followed in Paris, then a third, in Galeries Lafayette there. Sephora approached Seasonly in 2021, asking it to develop an even faster in-store protocol. Seasonly is now sold in more than 400 Sephora doors, some of which boast Face Glow Bars, and 35 other retailers in Europe.

France is the brand’s largest market. Up next geographically are Vietnam, China and an acceleration in Europe, with India, South Korea, the U.S. and Canada in Seasonly’s scopes.

Unbottled

Unbottled

Unbottled’s solid shower gel.

 “The goal is to free bathrooms from all plastic bottles,” explained Benjamin Legros, who cofounded Unbottled with Sarah Pouchet. Together, they noted a dearth of solid cosmetics. So they launched a solid shampoo, body wash and face wash online in June 2020.

A B Corp company based in Paris, Unbottled aims, too, to propose an offer that is convenient, efficient and pleasant to use without water or plastic bottles. The hygiene and cosmetics products come in eye-catching colors, such as eggshell blue, pink and orange.

 “We found our market pretty quickly,” said Legros. 

Unbottled includes shampoos and conditioners; body, face and intimate wash; makeup removers; face and body scrubs, and deodorants. There are accessories, and more product categories are yet to come. The brand’s prices range from 9.90 euros for a solid shower gel to 29.90 euros for a set of three products.

 “We’re not dark green, we’re light green,” said Lagros. As such, Unbottled is sold in Sephoras in Continental Europe and the U.K. and some concept stores, which altogether represent about 1,000 doors. The brand is launching into French pharmacies this year. 

“We are also building our own retail stores,” said Lagros. One already exists in Paris’ Marais district, and that number will grow to seven France-wide this year.

Legros and Pouchet have bootstrapped from the start. “We’re profitable from Day One,” he said.

Yepoda

Yepoda

The Bubble Double from Yepoda.

Berlin-based Yepoda sets out to make K-beauty accessible to the Western market. 

The brand was launched direct-to-consumer in 2020 by Veronika Strotmann and Sander van Bladel, who develop clean and vegan product formulas created in South Korea. 

Yepoda’s product lineup, focusing on skin care and the Korean skin care routine, today includes cleansers, serums and moisturizers ranging from 8 euros for a single sheet mask to approximately 30 euros for a cream. A cushion foundation, merging skin care and color cosmetics, is the brand’s newest launch.

Yepoda has been popular on social media, which helped spark its rapid growth across Europe, where its core markets include Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

In November 2023, Yepoda closed a series A funding round led by JamJar Investments and involving former Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. executive Chris Good. He joined Yepoda as an adviser. 

On Dec. 5, 2023, Yepoda opened its first brick-and-mortar location, a pop-up in Milan. Strotmann said it was well-received. So there will be another pop-up, starting March 26 in Rome that will run for two months.

“Now we are exploring a bit more what we can do in the retail space in the future,” she explained. “We really want to focus on the experience.”



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