True story: Out to dinner with a director from a creative agency, a rep for some major beauty brands. There’s wine, and the following topics arise: work, advertising, skincare, beauty. “It’s all storytelling,” he spits. “The products won’t perform the miracles they claim. They’re all made of the same stuff. It’s big business.”
We all kind of know this. The beauty industry is big business, billions upon billions big. That business is dominated by a few large corporations, which produce products with names like Maybelline, Kiehl’s and Lancôme, all part of the monster L’Oréal Group. Beauty advertising manufactures desires and insecurities and promises to fulfill and remedy those through the purchase of manufactured products. But, as I told the creative rep: “I believe in my products!”
Malin & Goetz, a new American hair and skincare company, is part of a long tradition—from Roman rosehip and olive oil ointments to Cleopatra’s milk and honey—of treating our physical selves with products of the earth, in order to feel and look better. Malin & Goetz products are designed, from natural ingredients, especially for sensitive types, as effective treatments for real skin and hair care concerns. This is a truly local company. New York-based, all Malin & Goetz products are developed and manufactured in Manhattan and available for sale at their various apothecaries (the first family owned and operated apothecary opened in Chelsea in 2004).
Transparency is the word when it comes to their products. They tell you what’s in their wares and why. The packaging reflects this ethic: clean and effective, like an attractive prescription product, it’s all typography with the product’s name, ingredients, intention, and instructions on the front. Most of the product blurbs use the terms “unlike” or “without,” as in, “unlike traditionally harsh detergents that can be drying, stripping and irritating…” and “without weighing down hair or irritating scalp.” The people behind Malin & Goetz, founders Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, whose backgrounds are in beauty and cosmetics and architecture and industrial design, respectively, understand the schlock that’s out there, and want to produce salves that will actually make a difference.
The most striking aspect of Malin & Goetz products are the scents. With mass market cosmetics, we’ve come to expect certain smells. Malin & Goetz products smell like actual sage, like real grapefruit, peppermint, and bergamot. Many of the scents are part of the treatment—the Eucalyptus in the Eucalyptus Deodorant is naturally antibacterial; the grapefruit in the Grapefruit Face Cleanser is known for its naturally cleansing, exfoliating and anti-bacterial properties. All the line’s treatment products also use natural scents to enhance the experience of the product—peppermint as a mood enhancer, bergamot is calming, and so on.
I’ve been trying to get myself off cancer-promising antiperspirants for years. Malin & Goetz’s Eucalyptus Deodorant does not give me the two-day coverage that my aluminum drugstore stuff did—sometimes I have to reapply it 2-3 times a day—but, unlike tradition antiperspirants, its clean scent blends deliciously with my own, doesn’t clog my pores, and the packaging is so nice, I’m happy to tote it around in my clear plastic handbag. This stick took three years to develop. Other notable products include the Sage Styling Cream, which makes for light, shiny locks you can manipulate, and the Peppermint Shampoo, which tingles the scalp and stimulates the mind, seriously. Also recommended are their candles. In subtle scents like Tobacco and Dark Rum and Rose, the candles make for a great gift.