Russian Beauty Just Landed in the U.S., and It’s Really Good

Russian Beauty Just Landed in the U.S., and It’s Really Good featured image

When Alicia Yoon and Charlotte Cho launched their massive K-Beauty presences in 2012—Peach & Lily and SokoGlam, respectively—many of us had no idea what a mainstay Korean Beauty would become stateside, and how its rituals, ingredients and innovative packaging would become embedded in our routines forever. Fast-forward nearly 10 years, and there’s a new ecomm beauty destination hitting the scene, but this time we’re traveling more than 4,000 miles from Seoul to Moscow: meet Rumore Beauty, the first-ever U.S. store dedicated to Russian beauty specifically.

The Backstory

The idea was the brainchild of Maria Karr, a beauty publicist and friend of mine for many years, who was born and raised in Russia, but has been living in the U.S. for the past 14 years. “New York has been a perfect place to explore what other cultures had to offer—food, fashion, art, clothes and beauty products. I’ve been working in the beauty industry for a while, and I’ve been fascinated with global beauty trends and newness that was appearing on the shelves of my favorite stores. Every year, more and more innovation from around the world was becoming available to U.S. beauty lovers, from Australia to Iceland and everywhere else in between. While I loved seeing and trying all those products, it made me wonder about beauty products from my home country. I felt that I’ve seen so much about global beauty, but there hasn’t been anything said about Russian beauty.”

However, it wasn’t until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 that mainstream beauty products even became a thought for Russians, who Karr says were still primarily making skin-care remedies using ingredients from their own backyards. “When I left Russia back in 2007, the beauty scene there wasn’t something that could’ve interested a sophisticated beauty lover from abroad. Very few Russian-made products that were available were the living remnants of the Soviet past—think creams in plain aluminum tubes and harsh soaps—with not enough options or the appeal of modern-day beauty products. Manufactured beauty products weren’t widely available to most of the population, and the products that were on the store shelves were limited, especially in small towns and villages, and they were expensive, making people turn to natural recipes and making them a part of their lifestyle. People in larger cities had access to some European brands, but they were in high demand and were selling out fast, despite the expensive price tag. So, I became curious: ‘Was the lack of information about Russian beauty the sign of lack of actual products available or was it something else? What was the beauty scene in Russia like these days?'”

In 2019, Karr decided to investigate during her then-upcoming trip to Moscow. “I stopped by a few local beauty stores, and to my surprise, in addition to seeing familiar global brands, I also discovered many Russian-born and Russian-made products that I hadn’t heard of before. Driven by my curiosity, I couldn’t resist squeezing all of the tubes and twisting jars open to try the formulas. I was in disbelief with everything I was seeing, and what I’d found exceeded my expectations. I was looking at a broad variety of natural beauty products that looked amazing, smelled great and felt wonderful on the skin. I became instantly obsessed, and that left me even more puzzled as to why no one in the U.S. was talking about them.”

When Karr got back to New York, she started paying closer attention to the global beauty conversation. “I thought, if no one was talking about it, I should start this conversation and share these gems from my home country, because they truly deserved the attention. That’s how the idea of Rumore Beauty was born. My husband Max loved the idea of reconnecting with our Russian heritage and bringing Russian skin care stateside, so he joined me on this international beauty journey.”

Russian Beauty Rituals

“When I was growing up, I remember my mom and grandma had a natural remedy for literally everything,” says Karr. “During summer months, our garden turned into a platform for endless beauty exploration: fresh cucumber slices were used to de-puff and hydrate the skin around our eyes, and strawberries were mashed into a puree, and with help of fresh local sour cream, it became a nutrient-rich face mask.”

In the summertime, Karr recalls it being very common to go into the forest to gather berries—wild strawberries, stone bramble and cranberries—as well as mushrooms and potent herbs. “Those herbs would be dried out and stored for winter to use in homemade remedies when nutrients and vitamins from fresh plants, fruits and veggies were in short supply. I remember as a child I had some issues with the skin on my fingertips, so my mom prepared homemade soaks of oak bark decoction to strengthen the skin, followed by chamomile decoction to soothe and calm irritation. Many of these and other natural homemade remedies were widely popular because of the deep connection with nature and the abundance of natural resources. Many of the recipes were passed down from generation to generation and are still used today.”

Rumore Beauty

Karr says it wasn’t until about 15 or 20 years ago when the Russian beauty industry started to emerge, giving a fresh start to modern beauty brands. “Unlike their Soviet ancestors, they were created with a consumer in mind: products you would be excited to buy and look forward to using on your skin. These newly emerging brands were using high-quality ingredients inspired by Russian nature and traditional beauty recipes, and they took a holistic approach to formulas and a modern, sustainable approach to manufacturing. Many products in our assortment come in glass bottles and jars, and are vegan and cruelty-free.”

These days you can’t really surprise anyone with natural ingredients, says Karr, as many global beauty brands are turning to all corners of the earth for the next skin-care miracle. “Natural ingredients because they are great for your skin and overall health, but high dependence on nature has been an essential part of Russian culture and lifestyle for centuries, a part of our DNA. So, it makes me happy to see this connection reflected in beauty products, truly speaking to the actual roots of Russian beauty, connecting our heritage with modern innovation.” Some of the more popular ingredients in Russian culture are sea buckthorn; black, red and white currant; yarrow; burdock; nettle; and cornflower.

Product Picks to Try

Karr has been trying and testing everything she can get her hands on from these Russian brands over the last two years to curate the best of the best—54 products to start (and everything is less than $32!)—for her store. She also sent me some to try, and the natural ingredient story really shines through. When I asked her to pick her favorites, she said it’s tough to name only a few, but these are the four she’s been enjoying the most lately:

mi&ko Ginger Hydrophilic Cleansing Oil ($20)
“While cleansing oils are old news, this hydrophilic cleansing oil is very special. It’s made with 75-percent organic ingredients and features a cocktail of soothing, anti-inflammatory and nourishing natural extracts. Also, it’s a hybrid between a cleansing oil and a cleansing balm—it has a soft, melted butter texture—that emulsifies upon contact with water and helps with completely removing your makeup while nourishing and softening the skin.”

Hydrolate – Clary Sage & Hyaluronic Acid ($17)
“Something I’ve discovered in Russia, but haven’t seen much of in the U.S. are hydrolates. In short, they are much gentler relatives of essential oils that are made through the process of steam-distilling plants. Despite their simplicity and the fact that hydrolates usually contain only one main ingredient, they’re fascinating multitaskers. Think toner, lotion and mist in one bottle. And you can also use them for your face, body and hair. This clary sage hydrollate is also infused with hyaluronic acid for extra hydration and moisture retention. It feels very refreshing on the skin, almost like walking into a natural oasis with its herbal aroma in the middle of the day.”

Face Mask for All Skin Types ($16)
“This mask is 100-percent organic and has been my go-to for at-home spa days. It comes in a form of a dry powder, powered by nutrient-rich spirulina and nourishing oat kernel flour. You can actually see all of the ingredients as they are—talk about natural products! With this mask, you’re fully in charge of the final texture, as you can mix it with water, warm milk, cream or sour cream. And the bright emerald green color upon application is very special, too!”

Innature Face Mask with Lifting Effect ($23)
“This mask is made with black currant puree and leaf extract and has a rich, yogurt-like texture. That natural berry scent brings back memories of my grandma’s (babushska’s) garden. We had lush bushes of black currant and have been spending our summer days picking berries off the branches to eat fresh and make homemade preserves for the winter and picking leaves that we would steep in hot water, making a delicious tea. I love how this mask nourishes and hydrates the skin, making it look and feel more supple and radiant.”

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