Irish beauty brands thriving amid pandemic self-care trend
Beauty, skincare and dental entrepreneurs focus on online sales to boost income
‘Covid-19 has given me the time and breathing space to bring the changes that we want to make to the forefront – particularly with our website,’ says Marissa Carter of Carter Beauty.
The shutters are still down on our beloved beauty parlours, hairdressers, nail bars and tanning salons. Fortunately, there are plenty of beauty business entrepreneurs supplying health and beauty products online to help us keep up appearances.
The extended lockdown has meant that many companies have adapted their brands to cope with a changing market where at-home self-care and DIY beauty treatments are in demand. The home-based beauty market is picking up steam as more of us are “giving it a go” by ourselves.
Catriona Coyle is an Irish entrepreneur who set up her Simply Natural company, which excels in organic hair potions and therapeutic products, back in 2010. With its emphasis on being natural and organic, the company has found a loyal customer base, which has expanded during the last 12 months due to an increasing awareness about the environment and the necessity of looking after hair at home.
“Once we went into lockdown in March 2020, things went quiet for a while as our customers are a mix of trade and retail,” says Catriona.
“Our hair salon trade dropped immediately, and I know that it was a huge shock for our retail clients not knowing how they were going to keep their business going at that point. However, we engaged in a lot of online training and education. We developed our own academy and started to run weekly online courses and workshops.
“We also set up an online course on how to help hairdressers increase their income from home with no investment – as it’s really important to have another income source in this very challenging environment.”
Sales for the Naturigin boxed hair dye have significantly increased online in the past year. The pandemic has inspired many women to find the courage to dye and condition their own hair for the first time, helping Catriona’s business to deal with the crisis. There is also a heightened awareness of green ingredients which are kinder to hair and the environment.
Catriona also stocks the Rymerce shower head which helps clean minerals out of the water whilst significantly increasing the water pressure.
“Our pharmacy and our online sales significantly increased in lockdown and are continuing to do so. I could see that people have more time on their hands to do extra research on healthier alternative products and with the nature of the virus itself, they have more of a focus on health and the planet and environment. We certainly gained a lot more customers via our retail websites.”
To help their online customers they have added videos and a frequently-asked-questions section to their website covering every aspect of home colouring from choosing and mixing colours to how to do a patch test, to the packaging used.
Ireland has two trailblazers in the bronzing trade – Marissa Carter of Cocoa Brown and Suzanne Jackson of Dripping Gold. Although tanning salons are shut, Irish women have taken to fake tan like a wooden fence to Ronseal paint and sales of these products are still rocketing.
Although times have been tough due to the closure of retailers like Penneys and other stores, the pandemic has given Marissa a chance to hit the reset button and concentrate on the online side of the business.
“Covid-19 has given me the time and breathing space to bring the changes that we want to make to the forefront – particularly with our website,” she said.
Marissa has also had time to consider the future of the brand with this pause. “Our team have the benefit of being able to go at a slightly slower pace. I’ve been running full throttle for nine years since Cocoa Brown began development – it’s great to have the time to slow things down and be more creative.”
Cosmetic dental care
Dr Bronagh Keane of Seafield Dental and Aesthetics is a young, progressive dentist who understands the importance of cosmetic dental care, especially during lockdown. Her Instagram account has been a great source of advice for those who may have postponed dental treatments as well as for those who wish to maintain their dental health during lockdown. By reaching out to her followers through social media and videos, Bronagh has managed to encourage more clients into her clinic as they take the time to improve their dental health or to consider anti-wrinkle treatments.
“Studies have shown that whiter teeth can often make you appear ten years younger,” says Bronagh. For many women, braces and teeth whitening can be a face-changer. According to Bronagh, there are three main ways we can achieve brighter smiles. These include professional whitening kits, over-the-counter whitening products and changing our diets. Using a professional dental tray and her clinical home-whitening products, her clients can whiten their teeth over a number of weeks for about €300. Botox at Seafield starts at €240.
“The best way to change the colour of your teeth with long-lasting results is using a professional whitening kit,” explains Bronagh. “They will give the best results with the least amount of sensitivity. Over-the-counter products like whitening strips and toothpaste can be super for an extra lift before an event, but using them on a regular basis will result in sensitive teeth through repetitive irritation.”
However, a quick trip to the Seafield dental clinic can deliver you the kits to whiten your teeth in the comfort of your own home.
Invisalign teeth braces have also been very popular during lockdown as they reduce the number of times you need to visit your dentist while your teeth are straightening out. They are popular with women and men who don’t want to get more noticeable metal train tracks. Bronagh’s Instagram also shows the remarkable before and after effects of clear braces and other procedures.
Mary and Chris Mitchell, who founded the Green Angel skincare and aromatherapy brand, have also been through a roller-coaster year.
“2020 was a year of change for the whole world,” says Mary. “Throughout the pandemic, the world watched as healthcare officials took their place in an effort to make the world safe again. As they worked endlessly, there was a cry out for supplies that would aid their efforts.”
Green Angel decided to make the temporary switch from manufacturing skincare products to producing hand sanitiser in a bid to join the global effort to minimise shortages.
The move was successful, and sanitisers were made available to healthcare workers, schools and the general public. It also gave Green Angel the opportunity to give back to the local community, partnering with Meals on Wheels to donate 1,000 bottles of hand sanitiser and Green Angel seaweed hand cream to those who needed it the most.
“We felt very lucky we could utilise our skills and keep the business afloat. It was a tough year and our strength was tested, but we are very proud of the massive teamwork of our staff and what we accomplished.”
With the second lockdown there were high levels of anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression, which have steered people towards self-care, comfort and wellbeing products.
Although Green Angel is stocked in more than 700 pharmacies nationwide, direct sales dropped due to restrictions, but their attention to online sales resulted in a tenfold increase during the lockdown as customers pampered themselves at home.
Green Angel products combine the ingredients of two ancient therapies – aromatherapy, using natural essential oils, and thalassotherapy, harnessing the healing qualities of the sea. A wide range of plant oils, including argan, lavender, chamomile and mandarin, deliver an uplifting effect.
Digital sales of their products continue to rise, and websites and social media platforms are becoming more prominent as people have more time to look at digital content and to dedicate to self-care.
“With working from home and wearing face masks, it has become less important to wear make-up, but skincare is benefiting from the self-care trend. The mere act of a daily beauty routine is both comforting and soothing as well as, of course, keeping your skin in great condition,” says Mary.
“Being stuck indoors has led to our Green Angel candles, diffusers and room sprays to become very strong performers. Our Green Angel aromatherapy scents certainly help to create a beneficial aromatherapy environment that adds to the overall sense of wellbeing. The Green Angel fragrances reach the limbic system of our brain and are both healing and calming,” explains Mary. “Our argan body oil is exhilarating when used as a massage oil and the eye gel with aloe is great for tired eyes, delivering a home-facial effect.”
“We also developed a seaweed powder that can be infused in your own bath and this is excellent for eczema and psoriasis or can be combined in our face mask series.”
These health and beauty entrepreneurs have made us all feel a bit better during these tough times. Their holistic home care brands have helped us to look more terrific rather than Neolithic – and more importantly – have made us feel psychologically better too.