The luxury Irish beauty brands you should know and the 12 p…

In Ireland right now, you can’t move for another home-grown beauty brand springing up beside you. Understandably many of them are mass market and are priced as such; Kash Beauty, Bare by Vogue, Blank Canvas Cosmetics and SoSu are just a sprinkling of the brands in that category. Celebrity fans, mass-market appeal and accessibility have led to them thriving — with some (such as Aimee Connolly’s award-winning Sculpted by Aimee cosmetics and skincare behemoth) edging their way into the aspirational “masstige” grouping of brands, which are mass-produced but marketed as prestigious to an aspirational audience. But at the higher end of the price scale, Ireland’s beauty industry is booming.

Triona McGinley is Brown Thomas Arnotts’ beauty buying director. Brown Thomas in particular is known for its luxury retail experience in the beauty sphere, with its Planet Beauty offshoot on Clarendon Street in Dublin hosting a huge selection of in-demand brands. Its “What’s Trending” section in particular combines TikTok virality with real-life beauty retail.

McGinley says that, in her experience, Brown Thomas and Arnotts customers happily support Irish where possible.

“There is an extraordinary line-up of recognised Irish beauty brands on the market that are at the top of customers’ lists of must-have products. Brands such as Seabody, Pestle & Mortar and Skingredients create exceptional skincare and top-tier, results-driven products,” she says.

Brown Thomas, McGinley reveals, is expanding its Irish stable of products further this September, with the addition of the health supplement brand Sisterly. “Many Irish female entrepreneurs in particular are enjoying continued growth and success in the international markets. Beauty brands coming out of Ireland have a strong reputation for high-quality products,” she says.

Great expectations

Higher consumer expectations means that high-end brands not only have to develop truly excellent products, but the buying journey has to be considered, among other things. Pamela Laird is a former finalist of the BBC TV series The Apprentice and is the Irish beauty industry entrepreneur behind the Moxi Loves brand. She says that trust is key when you’re asking for a significant shell-out from any customer base.

“Consumers spending more money are looking for an elevated shopping experience, whether that’s in store or online. Consumers are looking for trusted faces they know and recognise who have the authority to recommend or develop a brand. In Ireland, I think Skingredients does this well with Jennifer Rock at the helm. It’s a known voice in the skincare space, simplifying a routine with clever and sustainable packaging,” she says.

New and next

Among the most recent additions to the Irish high-end scene is Brow Aid, the brainchild of Kim O’Sullivan, who works from the Dublin Makeup Academy on Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2. O’Sullivan’s expertise and pedigree in brows led to the brand being on Brown Thomas’s shelves soon after launch. With prices from €28 for the double-ended Definer Brow Pencil & Highlight, it is at the higher end of the brow product pricing spectrum, and its products are created with quality and efficacy at their core.

Meanwhile, Stateside, the scalp care brand Act+Acre has recently become one of the first Irish brands to be stocked in-store and online at the beauty mecca Sephora. After a surge in growth, with sales spiking by 210 per cent year on year, Act+Acre is leading the scalp care corner of the market. Its scalp serum sells a bottle a minute, with a waitlist of 21,000 people at one point.

“When we started out no one was talking about scalp care — we launched Act+Acre not to create a brand but to create a category that focused on the root of hair and scalp issues rather than a quick fix,” says Helen Reavey, its founder. “Launching in Sephora means we’re one step closer to sharing the importance of scalp health with the world through our clean, science-backed solutions.”

True to form

One thing that Irish beauty brands seem to do well is market their authenticity. Instead of bandwagon jumping, trend harvesting and slavishly rushing to produce, produce, produce, they are taking a gentler approach, according to Julie Kirwan, a luxury beauty PR professional (

“We are seeing a trend of luxury brands slowing down and reinforcing their efforts to make authentic connections with their audiences,” Kirwan explains.

“In recent years, brands have jumped on newsworthy trends or tried to be part of every conversation in an effort to be relevant. I think now we are seeing brands taking a step back and trying to choose the topics that align with their brand ethos and values; especially when it comes to craftsmanship, sustainability and their impact on people and the planet,” she says.

Commitment to the planet

With measurable environmental goals, as well as clearly defined social and governance protocols setting them apart, Irish brands such as Seabody are showing their commitment to making a positive impact on culture and society as they grow and innovate in the luxury realm. As such, Seabody was recently awarded the Butterfly Mark, which “visibly validates luxury brands contributing to the future of the planet through an assessment consumers can trust”.

Dr Helena McMahon, co-founder of Seabody, said: “As one of the first brands to be accepted into the inaugural Positive Luxury Accelerator programme, we’re thrilled to be one of the first to complete it and the only Irish brand to now hold this certification.

“We’re honoured to join the ranks of prestigious brands like Tom Ford Beauty, 111Skin and Anya Hindmarch.”

Sustainability is a topic at the top of every brand’s agenda right now, but Laird explains why luxury beauty consumers don’t want to sacrifice lavish packaging and textures for sustainability, but are seeking both in tandem.

“Seabody achieving the Butterfly Mark I think is a really interesting strategy and fantastic for marketing. The brand is practising what it preaches and really owning its mission and values,” she says. “If the consumer can have that ‘I’m doing good’ feeling when purchasing a product then I think that’s hitting gold. Haumea Skincare is another Irish brand doing similar — creating luxury, high-end, salon-quality skincare devices. The products themselves, the experience and the branding really position Haumea in the luxury space.”

Quiet luxury

Other high-end skincare brands of Irish origin worth noting are Nunaia, Skin Formulas, Codex and the wellness label Ground Wellbeing by Peigín Crowley, a native of Cork. Kirwan notes the importance for brands such as these of focusing on “quiet” luxury, niche sourcing and a slower production pace.

“When it comes to communicating the sustainability credentials of a brand, there has to be a genuine commitment to implement eco-friendly initiatives across all areas of their business,” she says.

Kirwan works with high-end brands such as Cloon Keen, another Irish wellness label that has a luxury offering and a uniquely Irish perspective, which she says gives it a USP.

“The market has never been more saturated with beauty brands, so working closely with brands to identify, develop and communicate their point of difference is a challenge but also a huge opportunity for growth,” she says.

“Being Irish and living in London means that I’m always keen to share luxury Irish brands and introduce them in the market. There has been a real shift in the perception of Irish brands internationally in the past year, with an emphasis on quality raw ingredients, uniquely Irish storytelling and craftsmanship; and I believe we will see more brilliant luxury beauty brands launching in the near future.”

The products to try

1 Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum, €43;

2 Brow Aid Bundle, €98.50;

3 Skingredients Skin Protein Anti-Ageing Retinoid Serum, €55;

4 Act+Acre Cold Processed Hair Conditioner, €29.50;

5 Skin Formulas Mask Exfoliator, €37;

6 Ground Codladh Sleep Face Balm, €38.50;

7 Haumea Light Therapy Device, €149.99;

8 Seabody Luminous Prime SPF30, €59;

9 Codex Beauty Bia Facial Oil, €49;

10 Roads Afropolis parfum, €140;

11 Nunaïa Superfood Cleansing Balm, €59;

12 Cloon Keen Lá Bealtaine eau de parfum, €130;

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