This article first ran in the Fall-Winter 2018 issue of NewBeauty, available on newsstands until January 15, 2019.
Enid Fernandez, spa director at The Peninsula New York, is discerning when it comes to skin care; her customers—glowing-complexion devotees who don’t pause at paying $1,000-plus for signature facials and stockpile Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 in all sizes—admittedly, more so.
Yet in a setting where only the best is served, Fernandez felt there was a “missing link” in the spa’s offerings when she reevaluated the menu last spring. “Many of our guests were seeking products that produce even greater results for pre- and post-surgical treatments, such as facelifts and other enhancements. Then there were the guests who wanted higher-grade medical ingredients in their everyday, anti-aging skin-care regimens.”
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After exploring, examining and testing what she describes as “a ton of options,” the spa selected German-based brand Medical Beauty Research (MBR) to add to its small portfolio. “The line covers all of guests’ requests and needs,” Fernandez says. “In fact, their products have the highest grade of medical ingredients acceptable for any type of spa use.”
The line isn’t new (it was founded by a group of plastic surgeons and dermatologists in 2001) and it’s not cheap (the star product, the Liquid Surgery Serum, retails for $1,750), but it is the latest beauty induction that’s part of what can only be described as a “German beauty boom.”
“I have been saying for the past few months that German beauty products are slowly taking over,” says Rescue Spa’s Kim Zimmerman. “We’ve been carrying MBR for a bit now and the products are phenomenal—they’re medical-grade, organic and offer truly incredible results.” Zimmerman—she’s probably best known as the world’s de facto P50 expert and a bit of a French skin-care connoisseur—also sings the praises of other German brands. “There’s Dr. Barbara Sturm and, of course, now there’s Augustinus Bader, who is a professor and a leader in epigenetic, anti-aging skin care. Then there is Susanne Kaufmann, who is technically in Austria, but I have to include her because it’s so close and so good! All of the brands are undeniably effective. I can’t think of any other category that’s so trendy in skin care right now.”
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Paula Derrick, vice president of MBR, is also a believer. Derrick, who previously worked with German-based Babor, describes the beauty products currently coming out of the country as “deeply steeped in medical.”
“I can only speak on behalf of MBR, but there are endless hours and resources dedicated to seeking out the latest discoveries in the field, and that means constant quality and proven results. We have many patents and buy patented ingredients, which sets us apart,” she says. “As a whole, German skin-care brands are really science-oriented; they work on all layers of the skin.”
Beyond the science and medical tie-in, Dr. Timm Golueke, founder of Royal Fern, says there’s also a strong spa connection, something he attributes to the focus on clean ingredients.
“For a very long time, countries like France and Italy were considered to be skin care meccas, but, more recently, the German market has developed a reputable practice in skin care with its spa treatments. German spa towns have become the go-to destinations for wellness. People travel from all-over to experience these specified treatments and that’s a big reason why the skin care care is one step ahead—it’s because the products have trustworthy and clean formulas. From sourcing the ingredients to product production, the entire process typically takes place in Germany, which offers a transparency of quality to the consumer.”
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Dr. Barbara Sturm is also a fan of the “clean” focus. “German skin care stands for the provision of non-harmful, nontoxic ingredients. Formulations are strictly controlled by the government and will never contain carcinogenic ingredients. For example, the EU law bans 1,328 chemicals that are known for their carcinogenic effects, while the FDA has only banned 11 of those chemical ingredients.”
Like Derrick, Dr. Golueke sees an edge when it comes to manufacturing. “Although German products tend to be more expensive, the quality is never compromised. If you look at the manufacturing process, you’ll see that many products are made by small companies and only produced with the highest-quality ingredients.”
And then there is the ampoule: those small, sealed vials containing a high concentration of serum—BABOR also considers the delivery system the cornerstone of the brand—that Dr. Golueke says makes for a very “distinct application.”
“Post-treatments ampoules are commonly offered to patients in dermatology in Germany. They are able to choose the ampoule that best suits their skin, allowing for customers to take their skin care needs from the treatment room to their home.”
The non-medical brands also agree with the effectiveness mantra.
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“We’ve heard about this commitment to excellence from big German auto and pharmaceutical companies of course, but it true for skin and body care companies, too,” says Katie Pretti, director of marketing for Kneipp U.S.“The German skin care products do not use any filler ingredients because all of that is just stuff—stuff that typically makes the product cheaper. Every single ingredient in the products have a working purpose, and they are carefully tested and recommended for their quality and compatibility to our skin.”
Pretti also points out that, at Kneipp, a company that has been making products for more than 125 years, efficiency comes first, but it is always on the basis of natural ingredients and scientifically founded teachings.
“There is a long-standing tradition in German culture that whenever something is created, it comes with exceptionally high-quality. Even when it comes to skin care, there are no shortcuts.”