Meet Maria Karr - the founder of Rumore Beauty - the first e-commerce platform dedicated to the discovery of Russian beauty brands in the US.
Rumore Beauty's curated assortment features natural beauty products that blend traditional and authentic Russian ingredients with the latest technologies and sustainable manufacturing practices.
Prior to founding Rumore Beauty, Maria spend many years as a PR, communications and influencer marketing executive at top global beauty brands (she knows her beauty!) and she even teaches a signature course of PR and Communications at Baruch College.
We were excited to chat with Maria about all thing beauty, natural ingredients, our shared Russian heritage and get some tips for how to take care of our skin!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in beauty and skincare?
I was born and raised in a Siberian town of Barnaul, Russia, and came to the U.S. 15 years ago with one suitcase and big dreams. Growing up, I couldn’t even imagine a career in the beauty industry (I didn’t know it was an industry back then!) but shortly after graduation I started working at a boutique communications agency in New York on their roster of beauty clients, from hair care treatments to indie skincare lines to dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
Although I didn’t know much about the beauty world, I learned quickly and fell in love with it. I was fascinated with the products that I represented and, more importantly, I loved putting brands, big and small, into the spotlight and spreading the word about them. A few years (and a few jobs at various marketing communication agencies later), I found myself in a dream job, spearheading PR and communications department at one of the world’s leading beauty companies.
In the years that followed, I’ve learned so much about global beauty and had an incredible opportunity to try the best skincare from even the most remote corners of the world, until I realized that I haven’t seen or tried anything from my home country, Russia. That made me curious about modern Russian beauty market, and I decided to explore it on my upcoming trip to Moscow. During my trip, I was beyond surprised by my discovery. I have to say that when I left Russia in 2007, there weren’t too many Russian-born beauty products available, so when I saw a broad variety of modern beauty brands born and made in Russia, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was puzzled – why no one in the U.S. knew about these products? Back then, I thought that I must have missed something, that Russian beauty was available in the U.S. but, for some strange reason, it has been escaping me. When I returned to New York, I was determined to find it yet there hasn’t been a single word or mention about Russian skincare. I felt that it was a miss, as the products that I tried in Moscow were phenomenal – the quality of formulas, natural ingredients, sustainability aspect and, most importantly, efficacy, were top-notch. I knew that beauty lovers here in the U.S. would not only enjoy but also benefit from using Russian skincare and if no one was talking about it yet, I should be the one spreading the word.
That’s how the idea of launching a platform dedicated to the discovery of Russian beauty brands came to me and a few months later, my husband and I built our e-commerce store, officially opening our virtual doors in February 2021.
Rumore beauty is a celebration of Russian heritage and Russian beauty. Growing up there, I remember such a reverence for natural ingredients, herbs and folk remedies. What are some natural and herbal ingredients that one can expect to see in Russian formulations and what are their benefits?
Nature is truly a part of our DNA. Historically, Russian beauty and wellness practices have been built on natural remedies and ingredients found in nature, such as medicinal herbs, mushrooms, berries and other botanicals. It’s truly fascinating that throughout most of the 20th century Russian people didn’t have access to manufactured beauty products. For political and economic reasons, there was a very limited assortment of domestic skincare that didn’t feel like beauty products or didn’t deliver on the results. Imports were hard to get and, even if you were in luck, you had to be ready to pay a hefty price for a jar of cream, a lipstick or a coveted bottle of French perfume. So, many people were turning to the efficacious ingredients found in nature to help take care of their skin and hair needs. Here are a few examples.
For example, sea buckthorn – a common Russian berry that is hard to come by here in the U.S., contains a very high concentration of vitamin C (10 times more than in an orange!), considered one of the richest sources of vitamins E and contains all four types of omega fatty acids. When it comes to skincare, it is a powerful antioxidant that brightens, hydrates, helps soothe inflamed and irritated skin and minimizes the signs of aging. Other popular berries used in Russian beauty products include blackberry, honeysuckle, black currant, raspberry and strawberry.
Burdock is an herbal ingredient that is often used in Russian skincare and haircare recipes. Growing in the wild, this herb is the powerhouse of nutrients, rich in vitamin E with its antioxidant properties and vitamin C, known for its brightening, skin-smoothing and firming benefits. It also contains folic acid that helps slow down aging processes and potassium that effectively hydrates and traps moisture in the skin. Nettle sage, echinacea and sage are among other popular herbs that have been used in homemade skin and hair remedies.
For Russian people, calendula isn’t only a bright pretty flower, but also an essential ingredient in many traditional Russian beauty recipes for radiant, healthy-looking skin. Powered by oleanolic acid, lupeol, quercetin, carotenoids, beta-carotene, essential oils, coumarins, saponins and sterols, it’s a treasure chest of elements that nourish, hydrate and pamper the skin. In addition, it’s rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, chromium, selenium and other minerals. Another popular flower used in Russian beauty recipes is cornflower. It’s known for its depuffing and hydrating properties and, therefore, commonly used for the undereye area.
Chaga mushroom that can be found growing on the trunk of birch tree (which is a symbol of Russia) is one of the most potent and popular mushrooms in skincare thanks to its multiple benefits. Chaga is richer in antioxidants than berries. It helps restore skin barrier, reduces signs of redness, strengthens capillaries, protects sensitive skin and shield against environmental impact.
How would you describe Russian philosophy when it comes to skincare and what makes in different?
While Russian women are known for their good looks around the world, the concept of glamour and vanity didn’t exist in Russia for most of the 20th century. Women were often strapped for time and money, balancing work, childcare and household chores, so it was essential for them to rely on products and remedies that could deliver results without taking up the precious time or breaking the bank. Value has always been important, so it’s not surprising that the “less is more” approach that is gaining popularity now with modern fans of minimalism was predominant.
The modern Russian beauty scene has much more to offer compared to the recent past, however, Russian women still follow the same philosophy, and many are using natural botanical ingredients and remedies as part of their routines. So, it’s only natural (pun intended!) that contemporary brands turn to nature with their formulas, combining the traditional beauty wisdom with the latest technologies.
Natural ingredients and natural beauty became the overused buzzwords in today’s landscape, but for Russian beauty “nature” is more than just a trend – it’s an essential part of our DNA. Many people still have jars with natural homemade remedies lined up on their vanities next to luxurious creams and shampoos from popular global brands. Personally, I don’t shy away from using herbs on my skin or hair and drink herbal concoctions as supplements. Sage herbal tea is my go-to these days and I pair it with a daily Clary Sage Hydrolate face spritz to hydrate and strengthen my skin.
We are currently in the Winter season. Are there any special rituals or ingredient recommendations you have for dealing with common issues often seen in Winter?
I am from Siberia, so I’m no stranger to extreme weather conditions. Our winters had it all, from strong winds to snow to frigid temperatures (sometimes they plunged to -20 -30F, and in some cities farther north they drop even lower, to -50s and beyond!), and when school was closed due to cold, it meant more time playing outdoors. When it comes to winter skincare, I’m a strong believer in a holistic approach. So, it’s not just what you topically apply on your skin, but also your lifestyle – your diet, physical protection (a hat and gloves to shield the skin that is exposed the most), workout routine and stress levels. All these elements contribute to the healthy, radiant look of your skin.
Speaking of skincare specifically, preparing and protecting your skin from the frigid temperatures starts with maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier. That includes gentle cleansing and exfoliation with nourishing and hydrating oil-based products that wouldn’t strip the skin and damage the barrier. Cleansing milk is a popular category in Russia – it cleanses effectively without the need to wash it off, reducing the irritation that comes with rubbing skin with water. Honey is a great natural exfoliator that not only helps get rid of dead skin cells, but also works in tandem with your skin, supporting its microbiome.
Using vitamin C – most of the traditional Russian berries contain high doses of it – has been essential to shield skin from external aggressors and give a boost of antioxidant protection. When it comes to a moisturizer, deep, long-lasting hydration is key during winter months. To protect the skin from the cold, it’s common to turn to richer, oil-based formulas that would create a protective layer on the skin.
What are some products that you recommend for someone to maintain healthy skin throughout the winter months?
Many of Russian skincare products are designed to support the skin in colder weather but here are a few that I consider true winter skincare must-haves and have been using them consistently myself.
Botavikos Delicate Cleansing Milk: This lightweight 99% natural cleansing milk is infused with argan oil, flaxseed oil, shea butter and arnica extract. Its gentle no-rinse formula helps effectively remove makeup and impurities, leaving skin feeling soothed, soft and hydrated while simultaneously protecting skin barrier. PETA Cruelty-Free and Vegan.
Innature Natural Concentrate Hydration and Radiance: This 99% natural face concentrate helps protect skin from negative environmental impact, brightens and hydrates. Powered by willowherb, vitamin E and lactic acid, it offers antioxidant benefits, evens skin tone, soothes, cleanses, and visibly refines pores.
True Alchemy Cream Emulsion Ectoin 2.06%: This cream emulsion is recommended for stressed, dry, aging dehydrated and inflammation-prone skin as it helps to visibly smooth skin texture and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. It contains ectoin – an amino acid that "attracts" water molecules, forms strong bonds with them, and builds a protective barrier on the skin. This layer helps protect skin against damage from environmental stressors. Products containing ectoin are clinically proven to improve skin elasticity and strengthen the skin barrier. Cosmos Natural certified by Ecocert Greenlife according to Cosmos Standard, Cruelty Free International, PETA Cruelty-Free.
mi&ko Aqua Balance Overnight Mask: This leave-on face mask delivers intensive hydration overnight, locking in moisture for long-lasting benefits. Perfect for urban dwellers, it protects and hydrates skin thanks to ectoin, natural trehalose, bamboo extract and squalene. It’s made with 100% natural ingredients and contains 20% ingredients from organic farming. Cosmos organic, certified by Ecocert Greenlife according to Cosmos standard.
Be Beautiful Inside and Out!