This Under-the-Radar Skincare Line Is Plant-Based, Unisex, and SO Good

Victoria Hoff

Call me a cliché of the Instagram generation, but aesthetic is a driving force behind how I buy products. Don't get me wrong: The formula itself had better back up the curb appeal. But I love having a vanity littered with pretty jars and vials, and I even have a habit of keeping the empty remains around if the packaging is particularly gorgeous. (Whatever, Marie Kondo—this clutter brings me plenty of joy.)

With all the new products that make their way across my desk on a weekly basis, I'll admit this mind-set often dictates which ones I ultimately try out as well. Case in point: When I received a delivery from a new skincare brand called Context last fall, I was intrigued from the moment my gaze fell upon its sleek, minimal packaging. The interest grew to a fever pitch when I learned that the line was plant-based and paraben- and sulfate-free. And as soon as I put those products to use? Sold. I've been using them ever since on a near daily basis. (You'd probably have to see my embarrassingly large skincare collection to understand how significant this is.)

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that Context was created with discerning (demanding?) people like me in mind. "I was inspired by the minimal Swedish design aesthetic during my frequent travels in Scandinavia, not only in beauty products but in fashion, food, and home design as well," said CEO David Arbuthnot, who founded Context after building his career in luxury fashion at Gucci, Dior, and Gant. "I knew when I created a brand, I would take a similar design approach. I wanted to create a curated edit of essential products."

This streamlined approach is perhaps most reflected in Arbuthnot's decision to make the line unisex. "I found I was often buying women's prestige skincare products for myself," he said. "While they were great products, they were too heavily fragranced for me and usually high priced. I thought, why not use the high-quality ingredients [and] present them in a modern, simple design aesthetic, at a price point which is more accessible to a broader demographic? I really wanted to create products that both men and women could experience and share." Thoughtful formulation also falls under this MO. "Our main ingredient focus is on healthy, vitamin-rich antioxidants; rich botanical oils; and natural herbal extracts," he added. "We love fresh citrus scents, which smell summery and refreshing."

In the mere months since its launch, Context has already built a following on its core skincare collection and is starting to expand beyond that category—first with candles this spring and, most recently, with lipstick colors, which arrived this month. And Arbuthnot insists that this is just the beginning. "We are loving working with color," he said. "Developing the lip colors was really fun, and we are working on a nail lacquer line. Of course, we will continue to develop new unisex skincare products and plan to expand our candle collection." It might be time to finally clear out my vanity in preparation.

Keep reading to see which Context products I'm currently loving most.

Have you tried any of Context's products? What under-the-radar brands are you loving lately? Sound off in the comments below.

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