BeautyTalks with Alexandra Kraemer, CEO at Chiaro Zurich
What inspired the name Chiaro Zurich?
We searched for a name that best identifies with our product line - something which is clean both in detail and ingredients. We really liked the meaning behind the word clear, however, we didn't like the way it sounded in either English or German, therefore we decided to go with its Italian translation (Chiaro) as this is one of the four languages spoken throughout Switzerland. The use of Zurich is simply a nod to our hometown and our dedication to delivering high-quality Swiss standards.
How did Chiaro Zurich come to be?
Chiaro Zurich came to be after a group of friends and I went on a hiking trip together in the Swiss Alps. As you can imagine, we spoke about a wide range of topics throughout our trip and one of those happened to be skincare. It was from there that we each started to discuss our enthusiasm for clean beauty and our preference for products containing healthy, natural ingredients. The importance of this conversation really seemed to hit home as we were surrounded by some of the most serene-looking environments you're likely to ever see. I mean this place would have been a photographer's dream!
To cut a long story short it was this conversation that led us to eventually discuss the potential of utilizing ingredients from the Swiss Alps within skincare. We also noticed that whilst there may be other premium Swiss brands on the market, there weren't really any which focused on only using those ingredients which were pure, natural and vegan. Hence why Chiaro Zurich was born!
In what ways is Chiaro Zurich a new approach to skincare?
In short, we wanted to take natural elements of the Alps and combine them with Swiss-made craftsmanship to create that luxury touch and feel for our customers. Our aim was to achieve this in the cleanest possible way, which meant formulaically as well as environmentally. We know that natural cosmetics have recently been growing in appeal, however, when we started there really wasn't anything on the market which offered all of these things together. We even took this a step further by consciously minimising our desire for overconsumption. To do so we came up with our easy 4-step routine which only focuses on our most fundamental skincare needs.
"We wanted to take natural elements of the Alps and combine them with Swiss-made craftsmanship to create that luxury touch and feel for our customers"
What is your go-to Chiaro Zurich product?
This is a hard one, but if I had to choose then it would probably be our 24-hour facial cream, as this tends to blend in really well with my makeup. I can't help but notice that it gives me a very healthy moisturized-looking complexion when applied. This is directly opposite to the uneven mess that I've sometimes experienced in the past. It also helps to know that it keeps my skin hydrated for longer, plus it protects me from blue and infrared light radiation.
This may be cheating but I also have to give a special mention to our Pure Infusion Eye Pads as they are truly a godsend at helping me get rid of puffiness and dark circles. I can honestly say there would have been times when I would have been reluctant to leave my house if it hadn't been for these.
Explain skinimalism to us! How does Chiaro Zurich incorporate that?
Skinimalism (skin + minimalism) is a marketing term we use which describes reducing our skincare routine to a healthy minimum and focusing on the essentials. We couldn't help but feel just a little bit overwhelmed by all of the different products and routines which are available out there today. Whilst these certainly have their benefits, our approach was to simplify this process by concentrating on the basic skincare needs in a much more comprehensive manner. This led us to create our popular 4-step routine, with each step addressing a separate vital point.
How does Chiaro Zurich source their ingredients?
Firstly, it was very important to us that we sourced everything from right here in Switzerland. This not only enables us to have much more quality control over what goes into our formulas but from a logistical standpoint it helped keep short our supply chain - which turned out to be a huge blessing during the pandemic.
We also wanted to take great care in sourcing our selection to ensure we stayed as respectful to nature as possible. This was achieved through local collaborations with specialised plantations that cultivate our active ingredients specifically for use within skincare products. We were also incredibly fortunate enough to live right by the Matterhorn Glacier, as this gives us water which has a skin-friendly ph level thanks to a natural filtration process that's taken place over many centuries. That is why you'll notice we use glacier water in most of our products today.
Tell us about the blue light protection facial cream!
As you can imagine, creating a skincare line consisted of working countless hours - many of which were spent in front of our computers and mobile devices. We then thought about how much the world had changed over the last 20 years and how that might impact skincare. We are very much in a time where most of us grew up as digital natives, yet we're only now really starting to understand the negative effects of spending so much time in front of screens.
That is why we created our blue light protection cream with special ingredients to help fight against HEV (blue light) and infrared light exposure. Our cream contains not one, but two factors to protect us from radiation - Niacinamide and Infraguard. Each ingredient has been shown to significantly reduce events such as oxidative stress and free radical formation which would otherwise pose risks to our skin health. The good news is that you will also benefit from using this cream even if you do not spend a lot of time in front of screens. That's because both types of radiation are also emitted from the natural sun and unfortunately, most sunscreens only cover us against UV light.
"Each ingredient has been shown to significantly reduce events such as oxidative stress and free radical formation which would otherwise pose risks to our skin health."
How important is sustainability to Chiaro Zurich?
Sustainability is very important to us, however, I will be honest and say there is a lot more we want to achieve. We are already exploring our options when it comes to our plastic packaging, which would see us transferring over to post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic for our next production. We've already forgone the use of any plastic foil as we saw this as both wasteful and unnecessary - we much rather allow our beautiful packaging to breathe!
We are also focused on respecting nature through our cultivation methods, which is why we went against depleting natural resources and instead chose to harvest our ingredients from private plantations. Another one of our priorities was to produce everything here in Switzerland both for quality control purposes, but also to help reduce our carbon footprint.
Share with us the hero ingredients that go into Chiaro Zurich products.
Everyone knows that having the right foundation will allow other things to come together more cohesively. That's why one of the most crucial stages of our development came down to choosing the right type of water to form the basis of our formulas. Our Swiss glacier water is full of natural trace elements and minerals and is sourced directly from the Matterhorn mountain - Switzerland's most iconic landmark! We knew that our brand was going to focus on clean beauty and therefore using the purest water source available to us was a non-negotiable.
Another common theme within our formulas is the use of Alpine rose extract. The leaves of this flower produce highly effective antioxidants that have been proven to protect our skin's proteins from environmentally induced oxidative stress. This process can often lead to unrepairable concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles. The good news is here we have an ingredient that can starve off the carbonylation of cutaneous proteins, which basically ensures our skin is kept resilient for longer.
Lastly, I want to touch on snow algae, an anti-ageing powerhouse. These microscopic freshwater algae are generally found accumulating on top of snowy or glacier surfaces high up in the Alps. Although they're hard to reach they can be spotted from a long distance due to their intense red pigment, which is why you'll also hear them being referred to as watermelon snow. Scientists have now figured out a way to develop this ingredient into a useful powder form that can slow down the skin’s ageing process by boosting the self-protection and repair functions of cells. There are also clinical studies available that have shown how snow algae powder significantly reduces collagen loss and improves skin hydration and elasticity.
"Our Swiss glacier water is full of natural trace elements and minerals and is sourced directly from the Matterhorn mountain - Switzerland's most iconic landmark!"
What has been your most memorable moment with Chiaro Zurich?
The most memorable moment for us so far would have to be landing our partnership with SKINIC in Zurich. Led by Dr. Dan Iselin, this self-proclaimed rejuvenation center now uses our products in preparation for their client's treatments. However, stay tuned, as we have some big plans for the future and are currently finalizing the details on other partnerships which would see us have a much greater global presence. So watch this space!
Run us through your night-time routine!
I'd say the most important thing for me is ensuring my face is squeaky clean before I sleep. In fact, there’s nothing worse for our skin than when we go to bed with traces of dirt and make-up still left behind.
So what I normally do before sinking into my sofa and throwing on some Netflix is a nice thorough cleanse. For the first step, I use our Chiaro Zurich Cleansing Milk. I love to apply it using either a wet sponge or cloth, as this really helps to rub all of the ingredients into my skin. I can't express enough how easily it removes all of the oil and muck which has been built up throughout the day - I just love how soft and silky my face feels afterwards. Once I've washed off the Cleansing Milk I then apply a generous amount of our Micellar Water onto a cotton pad before using it on my face. This product acts like a magnet by drawing out those stubborn leftover dirt traces which get stuck deep inside our pores. I then round off my nighttime routine with our 24h facial cream. This not only nourishes my face with some much-needed hydration after cleansing but also enhances its repair mechanisms throughout the night. Overall this routine is super easy to use yet effective, which leaves me with more time to do other things that I enjoy!
What are some challenges you had to overcome with Chiaro Zurich?
Launching the brand during the midst of a pandemic was clearly not the easiest thing to do, nor is it something we would typically recommend. Multiple press and influencer events we had scheduled needed to be cancelled last minute due to sudden and ever-changing Covid restrictions. We also had struggles with getting deliveries out to certain regions. However, although there were many learning curves along the way we never stopped working hard and believing in our brand! Our founders come from various professional backgrounds, and so it's been even more satisfying to see the positive reactions we've received considering we've built everything ourselves from the ground up.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not working, I'm spending most of my free time with my beloved 3-year-old daughter. We love exploring the woods close to our home, plus Switzerland has lots of fun parks and playgrounds! Sometimes we'll even stay home and do arts and crafts together. I also try to stay fit and so I like to hit the gym whenever I can. But honestly, there's nothing better than a little nap in my free time (other moms will relate). However, I admittedly have even less time for naps these days as I've recently begun learning how to disk jockey, which has always been a dream of mine. 😊