Alex Carro: the new skincare brand to Ireland is one to watch
For those who take their skincare seriously this outlier brand focuses on care and utility
This skincare line of just five products, chicly packaged in black has no obvious claims to a particular gender
The heart of a beauty writer is a jaded, murky lagoon populated by cynical saltwater crocodiles. These crocodiles subsist on a diet of garish orange tanning creams, brown mascara and eyeliner that claims to last twelve hours, but doesn’t. While the job is one of the most wonderful on the earth, and cannot be considered hard work no matter how you look at it, a few years on the job are enough to buff away, like a good exfoliating acid, that top layer of trust and naivete which you will carry in with you on your first day.
Everything, with only the very rarest exception, is a version of something you will have seen before. A small proportion of brands, products and individuals are seeking to do something different, possibly ethically, and a very chicly attired bandwagon of other brands and products will dance along in their wake, lovingly copying and repackaging old ideas, or roaring spurious claims to eternal youth and immortality at you as they pass.
The industry is swimming in snake oil and style will usually rise above substance somehow, despite being denser. To become cranky and cynical to some extent is the only way that a beauty journalist can truly keep the readers’ best interests to the fore of their mind.
I tell you the above because it is the context in which I examine and then test every new product I come across. Of course, the joy is still there. The promising sight of a Chanel lipstick or a Clinique cleanser will still set my moribund heart aflutter, but the cynicism is always there. It is the counterbalance to claims like ‘X cream doubles perception of radiance by four per cent on a full moon when you are facing Leitrim’.
This was my mood when I encountered Alex Carro, a skincare line of just five products, chicly packaged in black, with no obvious claims to a particular gender, and no big blowsy promises. I knew at once that it was either very honest or very clever, and have been heartened to discover that it is, in actuality, both. The products look pragmatically put together, and have a ‘take me as I am’ confidence to them – simple, unfussy, and designed to be mixed together in any combination that the customer most enjoys and finds effective. I was intrigued.
I met with Alexandra Nodes, the woman behind Alex Carro, and found her to be the sort of woman that most of us wish we had the courage to emulate. With a background in arts management, Nodes decided to leave her museum-based, hurried London life behind to move with her husband to Barcelona, where she did not have friends or family at the time. Once there, her primary hobby of concocting skincare from natural botanical plant and herb extracts and essential oils became a business.
The result – years later- is a carefully curated brand built the way a brand should be; it was a slow burn of trial and error, revisiting ideas and reformulating products over and over again, until they are right. In some ways, Nodes is a complete outlier in an industry populated by huge brands which know their customer and their business only through market research.
Her product is made in Barcelona, where she lives. The chic, minimalistic grey boxes her products come in are also made there, as are the bottles and tubs that house her products. Anyone familiar with the beauty industry will know how uncommon this is – she could certainly source them more cheaply elsewhere, but chooses not to. Nodes knows her suppliers by name, and they know her.
The resulting products are the outcome of care and a focus on utility – a Facial Cleanser (€45), Exfoliating Powder (€48), Face Cream (€78), Balancing Face Oil (€69) and Multi-Use Balm (€23) – can be combined in any way to create a customised product. I enjoy mixing sumptuously the fragranced oil and rich moisturising cream for a nourishing weekend mask, or the gel-to-oil-to milk cleanser and the gentle exfoliator for a quick-fix brightener when I need to look quickly presentable.
The packaging makes the range particularly appealing to men, though I think that this is more due to the lack of obvious gendering than any inherent masculinity in the black finish of the products. For those who take their skincare seriously, and want reliability, efficacy and honesty over the impossible promises we have all grown accustomed to, this a brand to watch. Alex Carro is available exclusively in Ireland from Fetch Beauty (fetchbeauty.com)