In the age of #SelfCare, skincare has become a cultish endeavor. No longer relegated to a private - and highly expensive - nighttime routine women in their mid 30s religiously practice to prevent ageing so their husbands don’t go off in search of more nubile flesh, it’s now considered something for people of all ages; it’s come to be regarded as a way of caring for yourself and nourishing your body, not staving off the effects of time.
So what exactly is it that gets you hooked on a brand or product? Is it the actual results? The perceived results? The packaging? The spokesperson? The fact that it costs more than a kidney, which makes you feel like yes, indeed, it must be doing something right? The latter may have been the case in the past, but it feels like what used to take precedence in the beauty world may have changed recently.
Niche cult brands – more hip, more affordable, more transparent, and minus the face of a high earning actress whispering about how their moisturizer makes her feel special – have risen to the forefront, challenging the usual domination of pricey powerhouse brands. One brand in particular has hit upon an enchanting combination; ARTISANskin blends 21st century bohemian whimsy, the deep-rooted authenticity of ancient Egyptian apothecary recipes, and the New Age lure of 100% natural products.
The Florida-based skincare line was founded by Egyptian-born Amal Elbahnasawy, who was inspired by her home country and heritage to create the line three years ago. “I was in Cairo on holiday reading The Alchemist and my thoughts just kept pulling me to 'make the old, new again'. I decided to create an all-natural skincare line rooted in powerful formulas, based on ancient recipes while mixing in modern techniques,” she recounts.
Most people don’t realise that what you apply to your skin can and will enter your bloodstream
With a background in beauty, having spent 15 years in the industry, the former spa director was no stranger to the business, with extensive training in essential oils, raw ingredients, numerous brand name product lines, and years of experimenting with formulas under her belt.
And so she delved into the old to create the new. “I started to research Ancient Egyptian techniques, which lead me to the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical papyrus in history,” she tells, “I was really intrigued by it because it was said to contain ‘magical’ remedies.” She eventually managed to get her hands on a copy and with that as her starting point, her vision for ARTISANskin began to take shape.
Armed with an initial – personal – investment of exactly $1000, she kick-started the brand, taking care of everything herself from product formation to marketing. “I was a one-woman show – I didn’t outsource anything,” Elbahnasawy says. Her way of doing things was not just the frugal, realistic option for a first time entrepreneur without funding, it also allowed her to create the brand exactly in the image she envisioned it.
Now, the quirky brand is practically the poster child for what a modern day, ultra boho beauty brand should be. It is achingly Instagrammable. They carry products like Vegan Body Oil and Fairy Dust. Their Vanilla Bean + Coconut Milk Bath comes in vintage milk bottles, with ‘There’s no use crying over it’ scrawled across the glass. Their feed is a kaleidoscope of pastel and neon. They team up with renowned yogis to create products. They now even sell a line of hot pink GI Joes in various yoga poses – sold by popular demand after their customers kept asking where they found the fun props they used to style photos. One imagines the women who use ARTISANskin leave a trail of unicorn emojis in their wake.
But the insanely hip aesthetic is just added value to the brand; its core intent is what they refer to as “the skin revolution”, a shift in the beauty world into organic and natural skincare routines, and moreover, the belief that skincare should be accessible to everyone and not just the few who can afford to splurge.
Half the time we don’t actually know what we’re slathering onto our faces with such gusto; no one knows what the hell Phenoxyethanol is – but it’s in your friendly neighourhood moisturizer.
“Most people don’t realise that what you apply to your skin can and will enter your bloodstream,” says Elbahnasawy. Half the time we don’t actually know what we’re slathering onto our faces with such gusto; no one knows what the hell Phenoxyethanol is – but it’s in your friendly neighourhood moisturizer. By contrast all of ARTISANskin’s ingredients are things we can pronounce. And their message is fairly simple: “Skin improvement is possible without synthetically created ingredients in a lab and yes, it can be just as effective.”
The focus on organic ingredients aside, many currently trending brands, like Glossier and The Ordinary, are also major proponents of lowering what can be exorbitant costs of skincare – which has become a significant part of their appeal. ARTISANskin’s most expensive product costs $36; Le Mer 2 oz. moisturizer costs $215.
ARTISANskin takes natural skincare to a new level of playfulness; we believe in minimalistic regimens, and the carefree spirit that translates into the lifestyle of our followers. Our brand is results driven, without having the air of taking ourselves too seriously.
It is at this intersection of natural ingredients, whimsical creativity, and affordability, that the line finds itself and its message. “New brands are a dime a dozen, so the main question I ask myself is what need am I fulfilling and how am I fulfilling it differently than others. It’s really about creating your own story that’s genuine to your brand’s mission,” says Elbahnasawy simply, “ARTISANskin takes natural skincare to a new level of playfulness; we believe in minimalistic regimens, and the carefree spirit that translates into the lifestyle of our followers. Our brand is results driven, without having the air of taking ourselves too seriously.”
And every element of the brand that makes it healthy for customers, also translates to something of importance for the founder herself. “I wanted a brand that lived an authentic mission of a sustainable lifestyle, which is why it was so important that my formulations and packaging didn’t leave a major carbon footprint,” she explains. From the glass milk bottles to the choice of largely vegan products, ARTISANskin carries that concept across.
The beauty brand is already available in various spas, salons, and yoga studios through out the States and now they’ve set their sights on the Middle East. They’re currently in the process of expanding to Dubai and Elbahnasawy’s hope is that she can eventually go full circle and bring it back to her home country. “I’ve wanted to bring my brand to Egypt since day one, and the aim is not only for the home office for the Middle East to be in Egypt but also the future greenhouse of ARTISANskin.”
Maybe it’s just us but given their track record, we’re imagining a greenhouse with a glitter machine that simultaneously shoots out organic rainbows, and that’s listed as an Airbnb experience.
You can check out their products on their website here or follow them on Instagram @artisan_skin.