by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

How Scandinavian Skincare Brand NUORI is Redefining the Concept of ‘Fresh’ in Beauty

With a serious commitment to freshness, NUORI founder Jasmi Bonnén set out to create a skincare line that would not compromise on its ingredients.

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We first heard of NUORI through our interview with beauty guru Mandy Madden Kelley, who was using one of the brand’s bestsellers — the Vital Foaming Cleanser (SGD59). Launched in 2015, the Scandinavian skincare brand consists of all-natural products that are fresh and effective. The brand’s promise is to deliver the most active ingredients you can find in natural cosmetics today while maintaining a 100% natural ingredients list. 

When they say fresh, they mean it. All NUORI products are freshly blended in small batches every 10-12 weeks and quickly shipped to their retail partners. This ensures that all NUORI products are as fresh as they possibly can be and can perform to their fullest potential as the active ingredients did not suffer from time-related breakdown.

The line consists of skincare, body and hair products; each product is stamped with a batch number, as clear proof of the optimum freshness and efficacy of the formula.

We caught up with NUORI founder Jasmi Bonnén to gain insights into the inspiration behind the brand, what sets NUORI apart from an oversaturated beauty market, and what fresh skincare really means for the skin.

What were you doing before NUORI and what inspired you to start the business? What motivated you to develop these industry-changing products?

I was born in Finland but spent my childhood living in various countries. As a young professional, I moved to Denmark where I started my career as a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Co. I quickly found out that some of my favourite areas are pharma, consumer goods and marketing. I ended up working as a Marketing Manager for the L’Oréal Paris brand. Before starting NUORI, I was the Senior Partner and Managing Director at Danish design agency Kontrapunkt for several years.

The idea for my own skincare range came to me while I was working at L’Oréal. This was over 10 years ago, and at the time we were implementing the new EU rules for the labelling of cosmetics. One of the new requirements was that all cosmetic products should have a visible expiry date. But there was an exception to this rule: If a product has a minimum durability of more than 30 months—that is 2.5 years or more—it doesn’t need to have an expiry date. Not surprisingly, products that could last longer than 30 months very quickly became the industry standard for shelf life.

When I became aware of this fact, I started looking for information about the effect of time on cosmetics. I was surprised to find several studies showing that commonly used active ingredients, such as vitamins, start losing their beneficial properties in just a matter of months—and not years—after blending because of oxidation. The products also contain many synthetic preservatives and other additives, which are needed to preserve and stabilise the formulas over time. 

I became more and more convinced that there was a need for a fresh skincare alternative on the market. Six years ago, I finally gathered up the courage to quit my comfortable corporate job and take the frightening leap into entrepreneurship.

“NUORI was born from the ambition to bring the ideal of freshness into skincare. This ambition sets the bar for all aspects of our concept.”

— Jasmi Bonnén

What makes NUORI unique from other skincare brands and what is the meaning behind the name?

Our philosophy is called “Fight for Fresh”; the whole concept is built around the simple fact that freshly blended skincare gives us the unique opportunity to create not just ‘clean’, but all-natural formulas that deliver real, proven results:

1. Our products can be kept both all-natural and highly concentrated, as no synthetic preservatives or additives are needed to prolong the stability and shelf life of the products.

2. The efficacy of any given NUORI formula is higher since active ingredients are not weakened by time-related breakdown.

NUORI actually means “young” in Finnish and the word also contains the Scandinavian word “nu” which means “now”. I thought this was a nice way of combining my Finnish heritage together with the concept of time — both in terms of us making the freshest skincare on the market but also in terms of appreciating the moment we are in right now.

What frustrates you the most about the beauty industry and how do you plan to change that?

First, of course, is the matter of artificially prolonged shelf lives of cosmetics. The reason for this is economies of scale. The larger the number of products a company produces in one run, the lower the unit cost. But the downsides are clear: long shelf lives are possible because of the use of extensive synthetic additives, and we already know that the performance of products deteriorates over time. 

The economies of scale thinking also leads to another problem: overproduction. Even with the help of synthetic preservatives and stabilizers that can make these products last several years, it is far from certain that these companies can sell the huge number of products they have produced, and a significant portion of products end up being scrapped. This is a topic that is very rarely discussed in our industry because it is generally hidden from consumers. But the truth is that no matter how “sustainable” your packaging or manufacturing is, overproduction is still extremely unsustainable.

This is why we at NUORI developed our manufacturing cycle of small batches every 10-12 weeks. This allows to make the freshest products on the market and only produce what is needed.

Second, “greenwashing” and the vagueness of “clean beauty” is really frustrating for both consumers and everyone in the industry. Despite the huge growth in consumer interest for natural cosmetics, there is still no official international definition of “natural”.

“Many brands label themselves “natural”, but if you study their ingredient lists, they might use just a few natural ingredients in otherwise synthetic formulas. ‘Clean’ does not necessarily mean natural.”

Many self-labelled clean beauty brands also use synthetic ingredients. Secondly, clean does not necessarily mean safe. Some brands use what they call “safe synthetics”—again a term that is not officially defined—others don’t even make this distinction.

Image via @floortjelouise

What are the key ingredients in NUORI’s products? 

Our philosophy is that there is not one wonder ingredient. Rather, we look for innovative, natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to deliver visible results. We then formulate a combination of ingredients that gives us the desired end result.

To give you an example, we use the first true natural alternative to retinol in our Infinity Bio-Fusion Serum. Several studies have proven this ingredient, a highly-refined bakuchiol extract, to be as effective as retinol, but without any of the negative side effects of retinol (such as peeling, redness and photosensitisation). Our ingredient improves skin firmness, elasticity, as well as reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Unlike retinoids, this natural alternative can be used during the day as it is photochemically stable and is safe for pregnant women as well. 

NUORI products are made fresh in batches and the products are sold worldwide. How do you handle the time to market internationally? And where does your production take place?

To ensure freshness, our NUORI products are blended in small batches every 10 to 12 weeks in Denmark. We promptly deliver the fresh batches to our retail partners around the world. We encourage all our customers to place smaller, more frequent orders with us, instead of the common industry practice of large “minimum order quantities”. Although our formulas are free from synthetic preservatives, they are effectively preserved using natural ingredients. In fact, all our formulas are stress-tested in an independent laboratory to ensure they live up to current industry standards of microbial stability, so they do not need to be stored or handled differently from any other skincare products.

Image via @ashica

For you, which NUORI product was the easiest to formulate? And what was the most challenging?

I am very proud of our Supreme-C Serum Treatment (SGD202) because it is very difficult to formulate a really great Vitamin C product. Pure vitamin C has been shown to be one of the most effective antioxidant actives, but it is also a very unstable ingredient in cosmetic formulations. In fact, Vitamin C starts breaking down immediately once it has been mixed into any formula containing water.

That is why we decided to offer the NUORI Supreme-C Treatment in an innovative packaging solution. It keeps the vitamin C separated from the serum base and allows you to mix the product just prior to its use. This product has truly transformed my skin and is a must-have for anyone wishing to brighten their skin tone, treat hyperpigmentation and boost collagen production.

None of the products has actually been easy, but we sometimes get lucky in the lab and produce a great final result after only a few rounds. This was the case with our latest launch, the Clarity Mask. This product has already sold out once, and it is because it’s such a unique concept: a clay mask that both purifies and hydrates. Usually, clay masks are better suited to oily or acne-prone skin because they dry out the skin. Our formula, on the other hand, leaves the skin both detoxed and deeply hydrated.

What are your personal favourite products in the range?

The product I have used every day since its launch is NUORI’s Vital Foaming Cleanser (SGD59). It is really an amazing formula because it is completely sulfate-free and still has this luxurious, creamy foam. The fruit enzymes gently remove dead skin cells, while natural glycerin and oat kernel extract leave skin feeling soft and hydrated. You really feel and see the difference in your skin.

I also love our Supreme Moisture Mask (SGD138). It is a highly-concentrated formula with natural hyaluronic acid, soothing betaine and skin-perfecting niacinamide. The mask turns transparent after a couple of minutes, so you can wear it all night, for that perfect glowing, dewy skin in the morning. It’s also perfect for long-haul flights or after a day on the beach.

Images via and @moikobeauty

What’s next for NUORI? What can we expect from the brand?

This summer we will be coming out with two new, all-natural sunscreens with proven anti-ageing results. I wanted us to do the impossible: create truly natural sun formulas that offer the same level of protection as chemical sunscreens, while also delivering real anti-ageing results. And of course, our sunscreens should be a pleasure to use and be the safest on the market for both humans and the environment. After three years of research, development and testing, we can now declare mission impossible accomplished!

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