The Jamie Oliver Of Beauty: How The Glow Creator Anita Bechloch Made Natural Skincare Accessible And Appealing
With the publication of “The Glow” in 2015, a German-language do-it-yourself cosmetics recipe book modeled on the simplicity of chef Jamie Oliver’s approach to food, beauty maven Anita Bechloch launched an omnichannel brand that reinvented natural cosmetics by making it accessible. Now, the mother of two is about to publish her third guide, has a television program on Germany’s Channel SIXX where she whips up cosmetics recipes and recently launched a skincare line. The line, The Glow Essentials, is positioned as pure, multifunctional and sustainable. It features five hero products made from untreated and cold-pressed organic and wildcrafted plant ingredients. Based on a modular principle, the products can be combined to allow “The Glow” devotees to customize skincare routines to suit individual needs.
With her burgeoning empire, Bechloch is creating a natural beauty business that succeeds where many of its German predecessors have fallen short. She’s liberated natural cosmetics from the bland reputation of green brands and shown that purity can absolutely be chic. Bechloch’s appealing style promotes her mission of building a brand that she hopes will one day be known for the finest high-quality skincare in the world. Beauty Independent chatted with her about the motivation behind her books, her new skincare launch and vision for the future.
The Glow Essentials has been on the market for a month and has already landed in three shops in Hamburg, Werte Freunde included. How did you do that?
We take a regional approach and intend to sell only in stores that stand for the same values as we do and where customers are given sound advice. I have known the owner of Werte Freunde for several years. She was impressed by the brand and agreed to include our products right away. Once one retailer supports you, then, of course, other stores become aware of you, too.
Do you have to do a lot of consumer education?
We already know to lead our customers by the hand, but we still must step up our efforts. On the packaging, on our website and via social media, we explain how the system works. Currently, we are also producing small video tutorials. It’s just a matter of intuition. As soon as you have the products in your hand and stick to the simplest guideline, you cannot do much wrong. We are training our sales staff, and we are currently developing a booklet that the customer can take along with her if she feels she needs to check something out.
How exactly does The Glow Essentials work?
The skin changes almost daily depending on the weather and hormone levels. It is impossible to have so many products at home to meet them all. The Glow Essentials is a very minimalist series that offers everything the skin needs. If you mix products with each other, you get new ones like a uniform you rearrange time and again. If you feel that your skin is dry and irritated, then you take more of the very moisturizing Floral Essence. You can simply adjust the amounts. It’s actually a simple and very intuitive system.
Customization is a hot trend right now. Why is that?
We are no longer used to being offered a standard solution these days. Every human being is an individual, unique and special. So is the skin. Why settle for off-the-shelf cosmetics when you can also have haute couture? If a cream works, great. If not, it is frustrating since the sales promise has not had the desired effect.
“You have to take care of your skin, get to understand it and listen to its needs. And no beauty brand and no dermatologist who can help you with that.”
Creams are something you may not offer.
The skin needs a blend of moisture and oil. Both ingredients are found in creams, but they are only available in the ratio intended by the manufacturer. However, this does not necessarily meet what one’s own skin really needs. It is much better to first moisturize the skin and, then, apply the oil or balm if your skin needs extra richness. You keep doing that until the skin feels good.
Do you believe every brand should provide customization?
Not necessarily. It will be particularly difficult when the manufacturer tells customers what type of skin they have and how they should use the products. You must take care of your skin, get to understand it, and listen to its needs. And no beauty brand and no dermatologist alone can help you with that.
Before you launched your brand in 2015, you studied journalism in London and worked as a broadcaster. How did you get into natural cosmetics?
As far back as ten years ago, I was producing my own facial care. It was also at that time that I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of creating it by myself and sustainably as well. It is so simple to do produce without the use of chemicals. So, I developed a kind of missionary eagerness. I wanted to tell the world on all channels how great and easy it is to make natural cosmetics from plant extracts. The decision to quit my job, however, was a slow process.
I realized that there are no really beautiful and advanced cosmetics recipe books analogous to those by Jamie Oliver. He has managed to make cooking a mainstream, modern and hip. Natural cosmetics needed that kind of new image. So, why shouldn’t I try it for myself?
You have taught yourself skills and learned a lot from your grandparents. What was the most important to learn?
They were self-sustaining and turned everything from the garden into cures. My grandma loved to put honey on her lips. She knew that it is moisturizing and has an antibacterial effect. The most beautiful thing I have learned is that it is so wonderful to care of your body using oils. It would have been beyond my grandma’s imagination to buy a bottle of body lotion.
Oils remain a controversial beauty product format.
I’m sad every time I hear people say that their skin can’t take oils. That is just because people use the wrong one. Each one has its own fat-acid pattern, which determines whether an oil suits one’s own skin or not and whether it rests on the skin, is soothing, rich or nourishing.
The Glow Essentials features oils from all over the world and many more natural ingredients like a botanical version of retinol. What makes the version of these ingredients you use better than their chemical counterparts?
Botanical retinol comes from the Indian mat bean. The way we use it has the same impact as 2.5% chemically-produced retinol contained in a cream, only without side effects. It doesn’t irritate the skin, make it thinner or dry it out. Hyaluronic acid is known and loved by everyone. What is important here, however, is the molecular size, which must always be a mix of low and high. Otherwise, hyaluronic acid has the complete opposite effect [of the desired effect]. The extract from the snow fungus spreads over the skin like a very light, supple film and gently moisturizes it.
You source fair-trade raw materials from indigenous farmers in the Amazon, and women’s cooperatives in India and Morocco. Did you have to find new sources for your skincare line?
When we were selling nothing but the raw materials online, it was simple: You need good quality proved by certificates of analysis. With our own line, we had to start all over again with the purchase of raw materials. We had to look for new sources and new ingredients that we had not used before because they were not suitable for home use. For example, the prickly pear oil.
What is your pricing strategy?
We have looked at many brands that are like ours and are on the American market like Tata Harper or May Lindström, for example. But I did not want to offer a balm for 180 euros because not everyone is able to pay for it. It is against my principles. Natural cosmetics should be a basic right that every woman can afford. We cannot sell our products for less, but we can make them cheaper and don’t have to artificially make a balm five times as expensive just to earn money.
How much was the first investment you recieved?
It was in a mid-five-digit range. One of the reasons [was we had a] high production run, [and] we did not want to cut back on raw materials nor on packaging. Otherwise, we would have needed only a third of the seed capital.
How do you keep your products affordable?
You must not get all the bells and whistles. It starts with the packaging: Ours is super, but made of standard, reusable glass bottles. The outer packaging is beautifully-printed, but not intrinsically more expensive. When it comes to design, there’s plenty you can do, but you pay for every extra. I did not want that, just because it ends up being thrown away. I would rather spend the money on the ingredients. We have been plastic-free right from the start.
Natural cosmetics are assocaited with a certain look, but you’ve pushed the boundaries of design.
Why can’t organic products can look and feel luxurious? The aesthetics should be ultrapure—and not look eco-green, stuffy or outdated. The design should be as pure as the ingredients.
“Having doubts is perfectly normal. They force you to review your concepts. They’ll let you grow stronger. You got to get through there.”
Shelf life is an issue with natural beauty products. How do you deal with it?
We are at 18 months shelf life now. We do not have to preserve our products because they do not have water. That’s why I didn’t want a cream in my product range, because I prefer to have water separated from oil fibres. Water and oil mixed in a cream give rise to the need for emulsifiers, stabilizers and consistency enhancers. If you separate the two, then you avoid the problem and don’t need ten other ingredients.
Did anything go wrong during the development of The Glow Essentials?
Our worst moment was when our manufacturer dropped out suddenly. It took me an incredible amount of time to recover from that. But it had its good side, too. Now, we have a partner who suits us much better.
Did the situation make you doubt yourself?
Of course! Sometimes you ask yourself, “Is it all worth it?” Having doubts is perfectly normal. They force you to review your concepts. They’ll let you grow stronger. You have to get through them to get where you want to be.