“My dream was to create the Patagonia of beauty,” says Randi Christiansen, who co-founded Nécessaire alongside Nick Axelrod in 2018 with a line of minimal, “necessary” body care items
- Who is it: Nécessaire is an LA-founded personal care brand that wants you to treat your body as well as you do your face
- Why do I want it: The products looks great, the formulas are a pleasure to use, and the brand takes environmental responsibility seriously
- Where can I get it: necessaire.com and at Space NK in store and online
Who is it? Born and raised in Denmark, Randi Christiansen can consider chic Scandi minimalism part of her DNA, while 15 years working for beauty giant the Estée Lauder Companies has given her an encyclopaedic knowledge of the personal care industry. But it was when she met Nick Axelrod, whose publishing background includes co-founding Into The Gloss, that she was able to bring the two together.
“Nick came from the world of editorial, I came from products, and we both had sort of landed in Los Angeles. We were drinking green juices, green matcha, everything LA, and we were obsessed with skincare,” Christiansen recalls. “And we were like: you know, there’s nothing for [the] body. Skin doesn’t stop at the neck.”
The pair launched ultra-Instagrammable body care brand Nécessaire in 2018, through a desire to create effective products for the body using the same ingredients and technology afforded to facial skin care. Think of a deodorant that combats odour and minimises irritation with a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and niacinamide, or a body serum with five different molecular weights of hydrating hero hyaluronic acid, designed to lock in moisture from your neck to your toes. All “necessary” body care items (hence the name), but with superior formulations, ultra-chic packaging – “I like to think of them as furniture for your bathroom” – and with as minimal a footprint as possible.
“My dream was to create the Patagonia of beauty. A responsible brand that’s doing the work, but is not uber loud about it. Just calm and steady on that front,” says Christiansen. She points out that no personal care brand can claim to have zero footprint – "the only truly sustainable product is the one that’s not made, right?” – but has made great efforts to minimise Nécessaire’s. The brand has been climate neutral certified since year one, gives back 1 per cent of sales to environmental non-profits through its One Percent for the Planet partnership, and has recently become plastic-neutral certified via rePurpose Global. In fact, The Body Serum even boasts a bottle made from vegetable waste.
Why do I want it? For one thing, the packaging is beautiful. Christiansen – a self-proclaimed graphic design nerd – worked with Brian Roettinger on the brand’s type-based visual identity (Roettinger has previously worked with Nike, Jay Z and Childish Gambino). Next, design studio Actual Source was enlisted to collaborate on the packaging itself. The result? Sleek tubes and bottles in a palette of white, sage, olive and black, printed with clear, concise information on the front and more detailed information on the back. Paper outer packaging lists the active ingredients, their benefits, and how to use the product, as well as information like pH level.
“The way I see it is: the front is for your vanity, the back is for your information. Because these things are big, they take up space in your bathroom, so you want the chicness,” smiles Christiansen. “I like simplicity and directness in communication, and to respect the consumer. It’s practical rather than whimsical.”
This attitude tracks through the entire brand, which is all about swerving the superfluous, and focusing on what is indeed “necessary” in body care. “I like this idea of Nécessaire – the necessary – being a filter for everything we do. Is this product necessary? Is this ingredient necessary? Is the time we’re taking from our client necessary?” Christiansen says. “It’s become a backbone for the brand.”
Nécessaire is refreshingly straightforward in its messaging – flowery language is dodged entirely in favour of no-fuss product names such as The Body Oil, The Deodorant and The Body Wash – and the product formulations are similarly free of unnecessary flourishes. They’re anything but basic – look out for powerhouse ingredients like ceramides, peptides and exfoliating acids – but all products are available fragrance-free, with the only fragranced options (the wash-off products and the deodorants can be bought fragrance-free or fragranced) scented with natural essential oils such as bergamot and eucalyptus.
They’re a pleasure to use, too. The Body Wash is a luxurious gel that morphs into a rich foam, The Body Lotion a quickly-absorbed cream that feels instantly nourishing, and The Body Exfoliator a highly-effective blend of chemical exfoliators and tiny bamboo-charcoal particles, with the Eucalyptus scent offering a particularly heavenly shower experience. But while the products are already brilliant, Christiansen isn’t about to rest on her laurels.
“I think about our brand as having sort of an iPhone strategy, where there’s version one, two, three, four …” she says. “If something comes along that is better – whether that’s in terms of ingredient efficacy or packaging material – we’ll use it! But rather than adding a second body lotion, for example, we’d improve the first. It’s not a static thing, and we can evolve.” Because that’s what deciding what is necessary is all about. “We’re certainly not perfect. We have so much work to do, and in fact, I don’t ever think this work will be done,” she says. “But the work will continue to happen. For us, it’s a commitment.”