I spent many of my formative years in Moscow, so I’ve been drawn to European skin care from an early age. Fortunately for me, that’s also made it easy to find clean beauty products. In Europe, 1,328 harmful ingredients are banned from beauty and cosmetics products, and brands abide by a strict law that prohibits animal testing. In America, only 11 ingredients are prohibited. With this statistic in mind, I’ve always preferred to buy products made in Europe.
I also want my skin care to be rooted in some sort of science. I’m not one to slather a fruit or vegetable on my face just because someone, somewhere said it was good for perioral dermatitis. Throughout my studies and life as a beauty editor, I’ve found that my favorite results-driven product lines have all been founded by doctors and specialists of various fields. Upon inventory, most of them are made in Germany.
For your convenience, we put together the best clean products that are made in Germany.
This German queen of skin care was after blood. Dr. Barbara Sturm started her medical career as an orthopedic surgeon. After pioneering research on platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and its effects on fast cell-turnover, injury recovery, and chronic pain, the mother of two decided to transition her research over to skin care. The well-known “Vampire Facial,” or micro-needling with PRP, was Dr. Sturm’s own creation. After building a cult celebrity following, she made her skin care accessible to all (with big budgets, anyway). After seeing her skin up-close and personal, I made a vow to use her line for the rest of my life, even if it meant moving into my car to do so. Priorities, right?
Dr. Timm Golueke is a board-certified dermatologist in Germany and in America. His German doctoral thesis focused on autoimmune diseases of the skin. Dr. Golueke has patients from all over the world fly to Munich for his clinic’s expert opinion. In 2015, Dr. Golueke launched Royal Fern, a skin-care collection that is free from parabens, mineral oils, sulfates, and detergents.
The products harness the power of one special plant ingredient. You guessed it—the fern. This well-known houseplant was actually the first plant to come from water and grow on land; ferns have been around for over 400 million (!) years. Ferns are highly resistant to sunlight and have been studied for their extrinsic skin-healing powers and anti-aging benefits. All hail the power of the fern.
Even if a pterodactyl flew over New York City, I don’t think it would cause as much commotion as this cream has caused in the last two years. Biomedical scientist, medical doctor, and stem cell expert Dr. Augustinus Bader has spent much of his life studying and understanding how the body heals itself after trauma and inflammation. His cream works with the skin’s intrinsic restoration cycle and triggers the healthiest environment for repair and renewal.
The list of famous faces that swear by this cream is longer than a line forming outside of a swimsuit sample sale. German beauty Diane Kruger says it’s resolved her longtime battle with rosacea. “I’m prone to rosacea on my cheeks and often experience flare-ups when I travel or the weather changes,” she told me. “Since using Augustinus Bader, I haven’t had a new flare-up and my skin generally has improved in appearance and plumpness.”
Long before “The Iceman” Wim Hof became famous for cold therapy, German priest and holistic practitioner Sebastian Kneipp wrote Meine Wasserkur (My Water Cure) in 1886. In addition to details about treating his own tuberculosis with cold-water experiments, it includes a chapter on herbal medicine and topical remedies. Soon after, and with the help of a German pharmacist, Kneipp developed and produced pharmaceutical and cosmetic products based on his own formulas and studies. Now, Kneipp is a staple plant-based drugstore line in Germany famous for its bath remedies. Stand-out product: Arnica Mineral Bath Salt ($16) for joint and muscle pain.
In 1921, German scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner and Dr. Ita Wegman collaborated to create synergistic products that reconnected the body with its natural rhythms. They were founders of the biodynamic agriculture movement (a method in which vitality is added back to the soil through farming) to harvest their active ingredients, and they planted the history’s first consciously organic gardens. Today, Weleda is one of the world’s favorite clean beauty brands. Honestly, though, who doesn’t love Skin Food ($19)?
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