The Rise of Scandinavian Beauty

Hydrated-focused and conscientious, Scandinavian beauty philosophies are more popular—and timely—than ever.

Top Scandinavian Beauty products including byredo and verso
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve been to Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, you know that Scandinavian street style is all about comfort and simplicity—and that philosophy translates to skincare, too. Scandinavian beauty is built around the principles of hydration at every turn (thank you, cold temperatures), sustainable packaging, and practicality—all of which can be appealing to those looking for the opposite of Korean beauty’s multi-step approach to skincare.

In recent months, Nordic beauty brands have made headway on the other side of the pond. There are myriad reasons for this surge, but one primary reason sits within the northern region's heritage. “Scandinavian practices are becoming more mainstream in North America because their heritage beauty principles are closely connected to the trends we have seen evolve after the pandemic,” says Maria Osorio, director of marketing and product development for Cosmetica Labs, a manufacturing company responsible for manufacturing top beauty brands around the globe. “Many of these trends began as stay-at-home habits but became staples in the consumer’s day-to-day while adapting to their new normal.”

To understand Scandinavian beauty principles, you must acknowledge that Nordic beauty is a lifestyle—it's more than a range of products and benefits. These principles fall into three factors: conscientiousness, nature-inspired, and hydration-focused. 

Scandinavian Beauty Is Conscious Beauty

A key principle within Scandinavian beauty is the usage of naturally derived ingredients from sustainable local sources. “As consumers become more educated and mindful of their product choices, hyper-localism is adopted to better control their supply chain and environmental impact, creating narratives that are aligned to their consumers’ values,” says Osorio.

Scandinavian Beauty Is Nature-Inspired

Scandinavian beauty is also rooted in nature, and American consumers are looking for products that deliver a natural glow with minimal effort. Ironically, the auto industry has adopted that same approach to clean, natural looks. “Scandinavian beauty brands don't use colors in their packaging,” says Cecilia Stark, senior design manager for color and material for Volvo Cars. “It’s very black and white with a big focus on nature and we take that same approach when designing Volvo cars, such as the new fully electric, Volvo EX90. The calmness and coziness of the outdoors inspires our design.”

Scandinavian Beauty Is Hydration-Focused Skincare

Take a walk down any aisle in Sephora or Ulta, and you’ll notice the rising demand for science-led products that deliver hydration—even in the sweltering summer months. “Hydration-focused products account for 80 percent of the skincare category as they are the base of an effective routine for any skin type,” says Osorio. “As Scandinavian countries have very cold temperatures, traditional beauty rituals have in turn revolved around hydration. Moisture-first ingredients are rising across the category winners." 

Ahead, we break down a few Scandinavian beauty products taking center stage on American soil. 

Deena Campbell
Beauty Director

Deena Campbell is the Beauty Director of Marie Claire where she oversees beauty and health content on all platforms. Deena joined Marie Claire after a decade-long career as an editor in print and digital media. Before joining the brand, she managed editorial content for L’Oréal owned and In 2015, she launched’s hair channel where she received Time Inc.'s Henry R. Luce Award, shortly before joining’s staff as Senior Beauty Editor. Along with her editorial positions, she also consulted on content and marketing strategies for beauty companies including DevaCurl and Dove, and has appeared at various speaking events and live television segments.