Scandi skincare is set to be the next big thing in beauty

Despite the piercing cold and biting winds dominating the Nordic region for much of the year, women there seem somehow to remain fresh-faced and ageless — yes, Helena Christensen, we’re looking at you.

But the exquisitely youthful-looking 52-year-old supermodel is no exception, with her Scandinavian sisters often boasting clear, glowing complexions, despite the fierce weather to which their skin is subjected. How do they do it?

The stresses of 2020 haven’t been kind to our skin, and now the freezing winter weather is turning our complexions raw. We want — need — some of what they are having.

‘We have a very holistic approach to health and beauty,’ says Tiina Isohanni, vice-president of research and development and Sustainability at the Finnish skincare brand Lumene.

‘It’s a question of a healthy lifestyle and balance in everything. Also, we have learned to change our skincare rituals according to the seasons.

Scandi skincare is set to be the next big thing in beauty, thanks to a raft of brands harnessing the power of the region’s nutrient-packed plants (stock image)

‘We have a philosophy in Nordic countries that less is more. We don’t have complicated skincare rituals — a couple of products, maybe in winter a little more — but we do it regularly.’

The main issue, says Tiina, is that harsh conditions dehydrate skin, particularly if it’s sensitive. She suggests a serum under day cream in winter to lock in moisture.

‘Finns have a close relationship with nature. We trust and value it highly and believe we can find healing and caring ingredients from nature,’ she adds.

Indeed, Lumene and other quality Nordic brands boast local ingredients such as cloudberry seeds, Arctic algae and wild bilberry seed oil.

Thanks to the climate, these plants offer concentrated benefits. ‘In Nordic countries, the winter season is very cold, and summertime is pretty warm,’ says Tiina.

‘During the summer we have light almost 24 hours a day, and during winter, for example in Lapland, there is almost four months of twilight.’

‘It means all the plants growing in these conditions, during the short, very light summer period, really absorb all the energy, all the nutrients, to be able to survive over winter. So they are rich in antioxidants and nutrients.

‘We have tiny strawberries — but they have a strong taste compared to big ones from southern parts.’

Here, we pick our favourite potent, hard-working skincare brands from Scandinavia, Iceland, and Finland — more than enough to see you through your New Year’s Day walk.

Super Facial Serum With Retinol 8, Verso Skincare, £95,

Super Facial Serum With Retinol 8, Verso Skincare, £95,


Super Facial Serum With Retinol 8, Verso Skincare, £95,

This is a gorgeous skin-strengthening cream from Verso, based in Stockholm, where in December, the temperature hovers around freezing, dipping to -3c (27f) in January.

It boasts a powerful dose of Retinol 8 (a soothing and collagen-boosting vitamin A complex), and contains amino acids that increase skin cell quality and renewal. (And after 2020 we all need that — I look as if I have aged in dog years.)

Its gentle fragrance reminds me of a frosty morning. My skin feels silky instantly, and with regular use, a brighter, glowing complexion is promised within four to 12 weeks. 5/5

Arctic Repair Cream, Skyn Iceland, £38,

Arctic Repair Cream, Skyn Iceland, £38,


Arctic Repair Cream, Skyn Iceland, £38,

This body and face cream is thick enough to fill pavement cracks, let alone resurface chapped winter skin.

It contains gooseberry extract — jammed with antioxidants and high in vitamin C — as well as mineral-rich Arctic algae to nourish and protect skin against the elements.

In Iceland, bilberries are known as aðalbláber (prime blueberry), grow wild and extensively.

This cream contains bilberry seed oil, rich in essential omega fatty acids, to provide intense hydration.

It is also blissfully unscented (in middle age, my eyelids puff if a product is fiercely perfumed). It’s non-greasy, sinks in fast and well, and comes in a generous 250g pot, so you can slather it on.

An active level of colloidal oatmeal (5 per cent) soothes and helps to reduce the appearance of redness. It took several days to see a difference but my skin felt less crackly and rough. 4/5

Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask ¿ Volition, £53,

Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask — Volition, £53,


Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask — Volition, £53,

You will buy this for a friend, then keep it for yourself. You might feel bad —but you will look great.

This nourishing gel mask has been thousands of years in the making.

It is derived from mineral-rich black silt from Finnish lakes full of bioactive compounds that de-clog pores and rebalance skin, including humic acids, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties and help soothe conditions such as rosacea.

I pat it on, leave it for five minutes as suggested, and rinse it off. Unlike clay, it doesn’t set, saving you from the sensation of your face feeling caked in cement.

There’s a mild tightness and I think uh-oh — but it doesn’t last, and later my complexion feels soft and supple.

The mask contains avocado oil, safflower oil and jojoba seed oil. It’s also infused with plant-derived squalane, a moisturising antioxidant that boosts cell regeneration.

Its delicate aroma of ylang ylang is intoxicating, so if you do want to gift this mask, don’t open the pot. 5/5

BioDefense Instant Recovery Night Cream ¿ Estelle & Thild, £41.90,

BioDefense Instant Recovery Night Cream — Estelle & Thild, £41.90,


BioDefense Instant Recovery Night Cream — Estelle & Thild, £41.90,

This is a bestseller in Stockholm and it’s no secret why. It’s a deliciously rich, naturally potent cream bursting with antioxidants including organic blueberry extract, white tea extract and rosehip oil.

As antioxidants reduce inflammation, they help skin to repair itself and correct visible damage or, as the brand poetically puts it, work while you sleep to boost hydration, recover radiance and help you wake to a more youthful appearance.’ Hooray!

If your skin is feeling especially parched, it can be blended with a face oil (such as BioDefence Nutrient Youth Oil). It’s not heavy and absorbs well, yet it feels substantial and protective. 4/5

Valo Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence ¿ Lumene, £29.90,

Valo Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence — Lumene, £29.90,


Valo Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence — Lumene, £29.90,

The plants that thrive in northern Finland, despite long months of unbroken winter darkness, produce potent nutrients and antioxidants.

This mid-priced clear serum is bursting with nutritious native ingredients: Arctic cloudberry, a wild fruit packed with vitamins C, E, and carotenoids (with antioxidant properties), plus omega fatty acids. Another unique ingredient is skin-friendly pure Arctic spring water. There’s additional bio-available vitamin C, all of which aims to enhance radiance, hydrate and even boost the complexion. (Yes please to all three.)

It has a fruity floral scent and feels protective and nourishing. My skin was looking patchy and cross, and this calmed it down. 4/5

Happy Honey Oil ¿ Sjo Skin, £42,

Happy Honey Oil — Sjo Skin, £42,


Happy Honey Oil — Sjo Skin, £42,

SJO SKIN is a mother-and-daughter business from Sweden, and their range is just two products — including this beautiful pink facial oil, which suits all skin types.

It contains squalane (your skin-moisturising, cell-rejuvenating friend), rosehip oil (improves pigmentation), watermelon seed oil (detoxifies and de-puffs), plus propolis, arnebia root and prickly pear oil (all with healing properties). It also has blueberry seed oil, an antioxidant, to hydrate, protect and improve the skin’s texture.

It’s unscented, light and easy to wear. My complexion acquires a pleasing sheen, and the following day, looks visibly plumper. Nordic women, your secrets are out! 5/5