I’ll just come right out with it: Birkenstocks are an insult to granola. I admit to making my own — granola, that is — but I wouldn’t be seen dead in Birkenstocks. Despite many attempts at becoming a fashion trend, the brand has largely confined itself to areas like Berkeley and parts of Vermont. Thankfully, you don’t see too many of these sandals shuffling around on my home turf of New York City.
Then, suddenly, I glimpsed a headline claiming this purveyor of ugly footwear is dipping its toes into my world — the beauty business. Intrigued, I hopped online immediately to do my research. Turns out, Birkenstock Natural Care is launching with an anti-aging line called Naturally Ageless. Okay, so those dreadful sandals that look as if they have been around since the Last Supper could be said to be timeless, but as brand extension goes, this is a stretch.
What connects Birkenstock’s potions and lotions to it’s footwear is, believe it or not, cork. Natural cork is the raw material used as the key component of the original shoe insole. So its only natural that it should be the foundation of Birkenstock Natural Care, too. It is featured as the base of the packaging, which is not pretty but far better than I feared, and it is also the key active.
Cork bark extract turns out to be rather interesting. It contains something called suberin, which is mostly a form of alpha hydroxyl acids. There was a study on cork’s effect on skin which demonstrated that it is a quick fix for giving the surface a smoother look. After two hours, participants in the study whose faces were smeared with cork bark extract saw reduced skin roughness.
There are a couple of other nice ingredients that Birkenstock has chosen for its signature actives. These include baobab, an African tree with antioxidant properties, and moringa, regarded as highly nutritious and detoxifying. For some reason, I assumed that a Birkenstock cream would be militantly vegan. Right? Well, I was surprised to find that while the sandal-maker refuses to use “ingredients from dead animals,” it is okay with those from live creatures, such as milk and honey.
I’m not sure I’ll be lining up for Birkenstock Naturally Ageless, but if Manolo Blahnik was to come up with skincare line…well, that’s a different story.