Skin wellness startup Forest Spa Finland takes ‘inside-out approach’ with adaptogens
Founded in 2020, Forest Spa Finland offered a beauty supplement made from a blend of adaptogens that targeted skin immunity and was set to launch an adaptogen face serum in March, this year. Both products used Nordic forest-sourced ingredients, including Chaga mushroom, Pine bark extract and Bilberries, with the supplement packaged in Finnish startup Sulapac’s sustainable wood chipping by-product pots and the serum set to launch in a glass bottle with an eco-friendly pipette.
Inside-out ‘equal hero products’ for skin wellness
Daniel Collins, founder and brand director of Forest Spa Finland, said keeping adaptogens central to the formulations was key for the brand, and there were plenty of potent actives to be sourced from plants growing in the often-harsh conditions and climate of the Nordic region.
“We know adaptogens is a term that’s used for a lot of different plants, but ultimately, they’re things that help how your immune system works,” Collins told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Adaptogens, he said, had great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that helped target lots of internal issues causing skin problems and were particularly potent in ingestible format. But Forest Spa Finland also saw great potential in improving overall skin wellness by combining adaptogen-containing ingestibles with adaptogen-containing topicals – taking an “inside-out approach to skin care” – which, he said, was by far the brand’s number-one unique selling point.
“Because we cusp on both of those areas, we’re able to draw on consumers in both areas (…) But I think storytelling is key – educating our consumers. People are fascinated by the Finnish side and those things give us a little bit of a boost in an area that is very busy with new products and new brands,” he said.
Once the face serum launched, Collins said Forest Spa Finland would also offer packaged sets of both products to encourage combined use, creating two “equal hero products” in the portfolio. “…It’s a great combination. People think about their skin care routines – cleanser, toner and moisturiser – and that simple, odd concept does work but when you really look at treating your skin, looking at the best skin you can have, you have to look at how those two [topicals and ingestibles] can partner.”
Efficacy trials and eco packaging push
Moving forward, he said the company wanted to conduct efficacy trials on the combined use of its serum and supplement, hopefully starting this year.
“I think it’s a real juxtaposition between the science and nature. A lot of people are doing one or the other; there are not a lot trying to play across both. We’re not scientists at all, we’re coming from it as product, natural and Finnish ingredients, but to cross over and add a bit of clinical is really interesting, so it’s definitely on our agenda.”
As consumers started to become increasingly interested in what was in a product, instead of just what was not in it that was being driven by the clean beauty movement, he said such efficacy and trial data would become more relevant.
Beyond this, Forest Spa Finland would continue to look closely at ensuring packaging remained as sustainable as possible, but also “simple and straightforward”, Collins said.
“The packaging story is going to become my number-two mission in life as we go forward. We’ve just made our first round of [serum] product, and we’ve had a lot of learnings along the way, but I’ve spoken to a lot of interesting people.”
D2C business versus non-traditional retail expansion
Forest Spa Finland launched as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business and Collins said that was an important aspect for future growth, but it would look at expanding via other channels as well.
“I don’t think it’s the only arm we can have in the business, but I think it’s the one we can continue to invest in and set us up for success because I think it gives us access to our home markets – the UK, Finland and the EU – but it will also help us accelerate internationally. And I also love the whole approach about talking directly to your consumer. It’s not going through a third-party. People can email me; I go on Instagram and answer questions all the time. I just love the closeness with the consumer,” he said.
In time, the company would look to secure international partnerships as well, he said, though likely in non-traditional beauty retail outlets like concept stores or spas. “It’s a bit of a developing concept but we’ve got some nice ideas.”
Asked who the target consumer was, Collins said: “We believe it is a non-gender, genderless brand because we think we would appeal to men and women equally, who are interested in wellness and skin. In terms of age, we look at 30+ but largely because our price point is a little bit more on the premium end, so I don’t think we have that accessibility to a younger consumer, although in Asia we would.”
Beyond this, he said the overarching trait amongst Forest Spa Finland’s target consumer group was curiosity and a desire to “try different things” for improving and managing skin health.
As the company expanded its D2C model and secured future partnerships, Collins said education would be important – ensuring consumers understood the impact stress had on the skin and body. “We’ve got to keep ahead of the game. I truly believe if you can talk to consumers and really help them to understand why your product is going to be good for them, what’s in it, and how that benefits them, that’s a fundamental part of winning the game.”
Growth ambitions in global skin wellness market
Over the next three years, Collins said Forest Spa Finland wanted to focus on expansion in the UK and Europe, especially Germany, and then look to expand into Asia afterwards – a market where the brand would be “an excellent fit” for the consumer.
“Not just retail-wise, but from spending time in Finland, it’s a big target destination with Asian consumers, so I think there’s some interesting pathways there for us. I would see that in probably two to three years, and obviously markets like the US and Australia I think we could enter them with e-commerce, based on our partnerships we already have with fulfilment.”
Financing this international growth, he said, remained a “bit of an open book” but the company was open to crowdfunding and/or investment opportunities.