Net-A-Porter may not be immediately synonymous with beauty – but there’s a “yet” in that sentence. Since launching in 2000, the online retailer has established itself as a leading portal for luxury fashion, with a global audience well into the millions. But more than an online go-to destination for the sartorially inclined, Net-A-Porter is slowly but surely nurturing its beauty section, growing its fine curation of established names and niche, cult brands.
Headlining this section, which boasts yearly edits of more than 200 brands, is beauty director Newby Hands. In town for the first time to mark the milestone, the former beauty director of Harper’s BAZAAR UK blends her beauty know-how with an extensive editorial background. Dubbed “the woman who knows beauty”, Hands was previously content director at Feelunique.
Explains Hands, “With a magazine, you get to know what your readers are talking about and what they want. But being now on the commercial side, you see the difference between what women actually buy. It’s not always what journalists are writing about, and that’s a bit of a surprise. I still think we’re always looking for ways to hear of different products, whether online or in print, or from friends, but it’s interesting to see the reality and see where the two sides join up.”
As it gears up for five years of beauty, the online portal is launching exclusive limited editions, including specially curated beauty boxes and product collaborations, lavished in a signature black Net-A-Porter packaging. “We have about 20 brands who have done exclusives just for us, including the Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme or Leonor Greyl’s celebratory version of their classic hair oil,” says Hands.
Hands observes that five years has certainly changed Net-A-Porter Beauty. Though the portal has brought on board some of the bigger names, such as La Mer and Tom Ford Beauty, it has not neglected the smaller, niche discoveries. “After five years, we have a good knowledge of what our women want and like,” explains Hands. “There won’t be big dramatic changes in the next few years, but more of evolving what we’re doing now to strengthen the section.”
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Among the biggest is the debut of the Clean Beauty section, which Hands shares was a popular request from customers. Of the many beauty trends that have come and gone, Hands believes that clean beauty is here to stay. “At the moment, I think Clean Beauty is still ambiguous, but it will start to evolve in different areas. The biggest challenge now is clean beauty that works. In general, there’s been a lot of talk about personalisation in beauty, a lot of which hasn’t been achieved. I think that comes down to us doing that for our own beauty – what works for you.”
Says Hands, “Nowadays, you can see brands that are just marketed and they don’t necessarily have longevity. There’s a very big global conversation about the products we want to use. I think one of the biggest beauty mistakes is just doing what somebody else does. It’s great to be inspired, but you have to see if it works for you. For example, if you have very fine hair and find that it’s quite flat, condition before you shampoo it – that works really well.”
“I’m a huge fan of hydration,” she adds. “You don’t necessarily need oil or moisturiser, but every skin needs more hydration. I love Dr Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Ampoules and she does a serum as well. If your skin is very dry, go for the Ampoules. I think anything with hyaluronic acid is essential for any skin.”
As for absolute beauty must-have this season, Hands is currently “obsessed” with the Lixir Skin Vitamin C paste. She confesses to a particularly “quirky” beauty tip, where she likes to mix and layer her products – something Hands picked up through her own experiments, and from makeup artists.
She says, “I think it’s always using things in a different way. Sometimes I take my foundation and add a bit of hydration to it, or a tiny bit of oil. The number one thing is to always find out what works for you. If you’re going to do a sheet mask, put a few more things underneath it – vitamin C is great, for one.”
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