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Alûstre, adding diamond lustre to your beauty rituals

The Alûstre lipstick range

Less than a year after its launch, the Copenhagen-based company Alûstre won the “Best New Danish Beauty Brand 2024” at this year’s Danish Beauty awards. What makes them sparkle? Let’s ‘cut’ to the chase!

“I think we caught the other brands by surprise,” its CEO, Hans Hornemann told us. The brand, launched in March 2023, set out to be a “disruptor”. And it certainly has made quite a splash already, some might even say waves, thanks to an unorthodox marketing approach.

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Hans Hornemann, Alûstre’s CEO © Alûstre

A scintillating range of products

Alûstre introduced suspended cosmetic-grade diamond particles in nail polish, makeup and handcare products thanks to their patented signature Alûstre DiamondInfusedTM technology.  The range also includes 11 gender-neutral fragrances, hypoallergenic makeup brushes, and candles, incorporating diamonds in some way. There are no diamonds in their fragrances, for example. While scents might not seem an obvious choice for a cosmetics brand that is just starting out, Hornemann says “If we, as a brand, would have only developed nails first without the perfume, we would be considered a nail brand […] we built a conscious bridge into the perfume world to actually talk to all customers across the world.”

Scents made in France

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Their “one-of-a-kind aromatic compositions” are crafted in Grasse in the South of France. They work with world-renowned French nose Bertrand Duchaufour, who has previously signed scents for Acqua di Parma, Comme des Garçons, Givenchy, and Christian Dior. However that’s where comparisons end. Alûstre has swept convention aside and launched eight perfumes at once, where the industry norm is one per year…

The six figures describe the fragrance’s colour essence © Alûstre

While there are no gem particles in Alûstre’s scents, diamonds did inspire them, and not just the packaging. Analysing the smell of a diamond led to their first scent, Spectre 596 – 154. The – again unconventional – naming process is born out of gemology, with the six figures describing the top and base notes’ colour essence.

‘Illuminate your beauty’

The company’s credo drove Alûstre’s move into colour cosmetics, a natural progression for the brand. It intends to continue to apply the DiamondInfusedTM technology to other categories, “with the goal of being the best in every category. For us, it’s not the width of our portfolio but the depth. We do everything with intention,” says the former International Retail Director for Cartier.

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For the Dane, it’s all about the 3 Ps – performance, precision and passion. “We have an immense amount of passion about what we do. I didn’t know that a guy like myself could be so passionate about a lipstick that we’ve developed. But if you’re really passionate about what you do, it actually drives performance.” Also, he uses the products, considering that “it’s really important to know what you’re talking about.”

The immediate product pipeline includes an eyeshadow palette, an everyday buildable mascara and an eyeliner before the end of the year.  

Each nail polish bottle contains natural diamond crystals © Alûstre

As for nails, the DiamondInfusedTM technology means each nail polish bottle contains natural diamond crystals, which the brand claims “impacts the longevity of our products, improves ease of application, drying time and so much more.”  The team believes that applying their slogan ‘Illuminate Your Beauty’ to new products, the sky’s the limit in terms of expansion.

Research and unorthodox marketing

It’s not all about diamonds though. A lot of research, both technical and human, including interviews with 2,634 end users from the US, UK, France, Korea, and China, has gone into the brand since the get-go. Customer testing led to their first cosmetic shades, and even to the brand’s own nail polish brush, deemed the best of 26 different applicators. The overall conclusion was that people are more interested in product quality than a brand name or a price tag. 

As Hornemann said in a recent interview: “Our goal is to be a new kind of luxury brand. Everything we do has to be the world’s best quality and that’s a very humbling starting point when you look at the competition we’re up against, particularly in colour cosmetics.”

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“We don’t want to be overdistributed,” he adds, but discussions are under way with partners in China, which he considers will be “a massive market” for the brand.

Relying heavily on distributors for almost all customer-facing activities, the company is creating an app to communicate with its ‘Allûminators’, as the sales staff are called, and an Academy to train them on the product lines. Nevertheless, Hans Hornemann’s management style is decidedly hands-on. He says, “All brands would perform better if their CEOs spent time on the shop floor.” Which he does. “We all take turns … [in Copenhagen]. I’m on duty this Thursday from 3 to 6.” There is “no pressure to buy,” people are welcome to come in and experience the brand. Manicure, pedicure and other services are free, only the products are for sale. Needless to say, the word is out and these sessions in the Copenhagen store are solidly booked. 

Environment and ethics

The diamond industry doesn’t have the best CSR reputation, but Alûstre is keen to stress its own environmental credentials. Its CEO told us, “We collaborate with partners and share commitment to sustainable innovation […] All our packaging is made from recycled paper. The mill in Sweden plants more trees than it actually uses. All of our plastic is 70% PCR.”

The nail polish (base coat, colours, top coat) is vegan. The nail nurture and care gels and oils are 100% natural origin ingredients, as are the hand care products. The makeup brushes are latex-free, 100% vegan, Rand SPO-compliant. The range’s three scented candles are 100% vegan. Made by a top Swedish manufacture from rapeseeds, they are low in salt and leave no residue material.

As for the diamonds, they are “cosmetic grade and ethically sourced from highly experienced suppliers situated in countries that are part of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.” Alûstre only uses diamond remnants from other industries. Their suppliers help make sure that only diamonds from responsible sources, of the proper quality and right colour are upcycled. Once upcycled, the diamond particles are suspended in the products before undergoing extensive testing.

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Where to buy

With ateliers in Copenhagen and Mykonos, Greece, and 49 points of sale at present, the physical outlets are confined mostly to Europe, Scandinavia in particular, but products are also stocked in the US, Canada and Mexico plus seven countries in the Middle East and Europe. An additional 200 locations are set to open by end of 2024. The plan is to have full market presence in North America, Europe and the Middle East, due in large part to its dynamic distribution network. The brand also has a stylish online store. Alûstre is particularly keen to tap into the travel retail market, as witnessed by a 3-month pop-up outlet at Copenhagen airport, where travellers can discover the product portfolio – including the newly-launched colour cosmetics range – and enjoy flash makeup services and free manicures. The idea being to transform waiting time into a quality ‘me time’ experience for travellers. Another couple of pop-ups are in the works. And the brand is going live with a number of cruise ships, both for the Mediterranean and for Caribbean.

We asked Hans Hornemann the question that is no doubt on your (soon to be DiamondInfusedTM?) lips: are there any plans to open a store in Monaco?  He answered, “We have a very long wish list of locations that we want to go to. Monaco is definitely on that list.”

And if Alûstre can maintain its upward trend, perhaps it can prove that diamonds are indeed forever. 

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Alûstre is through a partnership a client of  MAGI Capital Group, an independent global investment advisory firm based in Monaco and Geneva that offers bespoke wealth management and investment solutions.

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Article authored by Sheila McCarron

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