By Karen van Ede (Cosmetics journalist - @karenvanede)
Hi! My name is Karen van Ede, and I’m a cosmetics journalist. You may know me from my pieces on beauty in ELLE, Elegance, and VOGUE. I have spent the best part of the last few decades exploring the ins and outs of cosmetics industry, in all its glory, its vibrancy, and its proliferation. I am forever in awe of the uninhibited creativity of the people who work in it – there is always something new to discover.
Right now, all eyes are on skincare. In the 1980s, skincare was something you were either into or you weren’t. If skincare was your thing, you had two options: you could get an average day cream from the drugstore or you had to head to a luxury perfumery, which sold eye-wateringly expensive brands complete with mythical backstories that claimed their products had medicinal qualities. They were status symbols; the products that women used to show to the world that they were spending money on themselves. In those days, wrinkles were still enemy number one, and anti-ageing was the mot du jour. That was later followed by pigmentation and sagging skin – all signs of premature ageing caused by the then ever-so-popular sunbathing trend.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some really good pharmacy brands and purely natural brands, but you had to go to health food shops to find those and they were a little on the primitive side. The products didn’t have a great texture, they were unpleasant to apply, they didn’t smell particularly nice, and the packaging wasn’t exactly what you would call glamorous.
Then came the new millennium. The first ten years saw quite a shift to more natural products that were actually pretty good. The rise of the internet opened up possibilities for smaller brands. And the internet and social media empowered consumers and forced the world behind the scenes of the cosmetics industry to become more transparent. The idea was that you don’t just put anything in your mouth, so why should you put just anything on your skin? Consumers started to read labels – the INCI list of cosmetic ingredients became a hit on Google. Some ingredients were even banished from use, as they were thought to be bad for your hormonal balance. There was a general shift towards a more plant-based, more animal-friendly, and more bio-degradable approach. Hurray!
High-tech anti-ageing discoveries made in the lab and claims that products would make you look ten years younger started to fade into the background. People in the industry itself were also starting to wake up, the often plant-based products were becoming more ‘fun’, and the textures were improving. Back at my office, my own archive of natural products grew exponentially within the space of just a few years. But at the same time, we started to ask ourselves the question: what is natural? When is something really made with respect for people, animals, and the environment, and not just greenwashing for profit? It was around that time that I started to pay more attention to eco-labels like NATRUE and COSMOS and the Cruelty Free bunny.
The coronavirus pandemic has made us all think a little bit more about self-care and choosing good products for use at home. In my articles, I also focused more on local cosmetics producers; –after all, why fly in products from far away if they are already here?
Over the years I have kept in touch with Anouk Geurts, founder of A/N/G Skincare, who I met a long time ago at a press event. She had taken over her mother’s cosmetics company and knew the industry through and through. Her mother had owned a salon and was a distributor of several salon brands. You could say that she was born into the world of cosmetics. She had also worked for some of those high-end brands that did so well in the eighties. But she wanted to be a pioneer, to join the new movement of the conscious consumer. We talked about skincare products that are made with care but that also impart a sense of luxury. Products that are created based on the skills and knowledge of salon experts and supported by a Swiss neuroscientist. Products that not only feel good on the skin, but that also have a real impact – unlike most basic natural cosmetics. Anouk wanted to make products that really benefited the skin, with a touch of urban elegance. She wanted everything about her business to be transparent. She wanted to use packaging made from recycled materials that also looks like a beautiful gift to yourself. She wanted eco-luxury. If the products were also certified, vegan and cruelty-free, not only would Anouk’s dream come true, but so would mine – and my readers’.
I think the first time I spoke to Anouk about her A/N/G Skincare plans was back in 2018 or 19. The fact that it took a long time to put the plans in motion is a sign that she really worked hard to do things properly. She sought and found expertise in Switzerland; a neuroscientist helped her select ingredients and formulas. Together, and also drawing on Anouk’s salon expertise, they designed a complete beauty routine. Smooth textures that are quickly absorbed, with a light, fresh fragrance and no synthetic perfume. She went to great lengths in her quest for environmentally friendly products. For example, she found the raspberry seeds for her scrub in residual streams from the food industry. Once she had refined and tested the formulas to perfection, the search for recycled packaging began. She managed to find post-consumer recycled plastic that also looks beautiful, and sustainably produced cardboard and bio-ink for the outer packaging – culminating in a mature, urban, and luxurious design.
All in all, it took her two years to develop the basis of her Dutch skincare line. And I use that word, basis, intentionally. Because as a woman with a background in cosmetics (Anouk used to work for Crème de la Mer, among others), her ideas about new products aren’t limited to PREP Essentials and cleansing products. More products will be added to the range in the future, if only because Anouk is committed to inclusivity and is serious about addressing all skin problems and conditions – especially sensitive skin.
With the launch of A/N/G Skincare, I think the beauty world just became a little more beautiful again, and more transparent. Anouk likes to share her knowledge, and to you I would say: make use of it! As a journalist, I’m often surprised by how insecure consumers seem to be, as they eagerly try out everything that’s the next big thing on Instagram. Yet, a sensible daily routine with the right products that are proven effective is by far the wiser choice. If you know what you’re applying, you’ll make fewer purchases you’ll regret later. Which means you’ll throw away fewer products and less packaging, and ultimately save water. By making fewer but smarter purchases, we cosmetics lovers can really do our bit for the planet.
So, my advice to you is this: make the most of A/N/G Skincare’s expertise. And that’s really very easy to do: just scan the QR code on the packaging and watch the user videos. You can also visit a salon that uses A/N/G Skincare to get your own personal skincare plan. Use the products for at least six weeks (this is the amount of time your skin needs for its ‘cycle’) and don’t expect miracles straight away – but do expect to see immediate improvements. In the long term, these organic, high-tech skincare products will really do wonders for your skin.
Or as Anouk says: ‘Give more, get more!’
And I couldn’t agree more!