Naomi Furgiuele of Nuria Beauty: “Be Honest”

Be Honest — Consumers are smart, and they deserve to make informed decisions for themselves. Brands that are transparent, that inform their customers about every aspect of their supply chain, from ingredient and package selections through product use, have been successful because they build trust and confidence with their audience. Lack of transparency always catches up with […]

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Be Honest — Consumers are smart, and they deserve to make informed decisions for themselves. Brands that are transparent, that inform their customers about every aspect of their supply chain, from ingredient and package selections through product use, have been successful because they build trust and confidence with their audience. Lack of transparency always catches up with a brand, and it just isn’t the right way to conduct business as a modern beauty brand.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Naomi Furgiuele, Founder, Chief Strategy Officer & Chief Curator of Nuria Beauty.

For nearly two decades Naomi Furgiuele led product development and scientific teams for some of the world’s biggest global brands in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer products. As part of her work, Naomi met women from all over the world, learned about their families and their health, and became intrigued by each woman’s unique skin health journey. Inspired by these women, and her travels, Naomi created Nuria to distill this global beauty wisdom into clean, effective skincare products that support girls’ education.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Prior to launching Nuria, I led product development and scientific teams for some of the world’s biggest global brands in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer products. Most recently, I was the Vice President of Face and Sun R&D at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., leading a global team to create award-winning products across Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, and more. Before leading the Beauty R&D team, I led the development of medical devices for global businesses in pain, allergy, oral care, and diabetes care.

Nuria was born out of my experiences traveling the world and speaking with women about themselves and their families. I found that women around the world really connect over their skincare and I wanted to work to help make that a positive connection. They recognized their skin health was a reflection of their lifestyle and environment, not a static skin type. Whether they faced rough skin due to Europe’s cold climates, or dullness due to environmental stressors in Asia, these women turned to time-tested, local, plant-based ingredients to create their own solutions based on what their skin needed to be healthy. These skin problems are truly universal, and I knew women everywhere could benefit from these gems of skincare wisdom.

At the same time, I also frequently confronted the reality that many women lacked equal opportunities within their culture, often stemming from a lack of education and professional development early in life. In 2018, I founded Nuria with a mission to connect women globally, to share our skincare wisdom with each other, and to help girls achieve their full potential. As a part of my mission, I am proud that Nuria donates a portion of every sale to She’s the First, a non-profit that fights gender inequality by providing education to girls.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was traveling in Indonesia, visiting a family a few hours outside of the city of Semarang. We were talking about the healthcare challenges they face in their village due to a doctor visiting only once a week and an unstable power supply. A few minutes into the conversation my hostess started chuckling because I was sweating, my makeup was running, and my face was bright red, while she managed to look flawless and comfortable. She pulled me over to her bathroom and started to show me her routine for maintaining her skin beautiful despite the intense heat and humidity, including rice water made from their family’s crop. We laughed and bonded and I learned so much about her family, her challenges, and the small ways she carved out time for self-care. That feeling of connection and the worries and aspirations we shared as women and mothers has stuck with me. I think of her often and she inspires me to strive to be a part of the change to ensure that all women have the same chance to realize their full potential. This experience also reinforced the dynamic nature of skin and how it is always changing in response to your environment and lifestyle. And that’s when I had the epiphany that our skincare routines should also adapt to match the situation and conditions we’re in. So many women adhere to a strict routine of products designed for a single skin type and in the process, they can deny what their skin needs to be healthy. This experience helped me see the possibilities of creating a skincare line focused on skin needs, not types, and using this line to give women everywhere the opportunities to create their own future.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

The tipping point for me came when I realized that I just needed to say yes to opportunities. No job looks perfect at the outset, no team is in perfect shape when you step in, but the important point to realize is that you have to take a risk and say yes. You never know what you are fully capable of until you push yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always feel comfortable or glamorous, but it doesn’t need to be comfortable or glamorous at first, just say yes! I also made a lot of mistakes as my career progressed and watched other people do the same, and I found that owning those mistakes and learning from them was far more productive than trying to cover them up. As an entrepreneur, you have to keep a close eye on what doesn’t work and pivot quickly, so I am really glad I learned that lesson early in my career.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

People often talk about mentors, but about halfway through my career I learned about sponsors — people who not only offer advice but also advocate for you. As a Chemical Engineer, I was in a male dominated field, both in school and then at work. Six years into my career (and two kids later!) I met a woman, also an engineer, who had become a senior leader at Johnson & Johnson. She was honest, caring, and tough. I would go to her for advice, and when she asked me a question that I couldn’t answer, she would send me away to think. She was an incredible role model, and years later I realized how many opportunities she opened up for me — she was really my sponsor, not just my mentor. She certainly had an impact on my career, but she also changed the way I developed others, so her impact was much further reaching.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

Nuria, meaning brightness and light, is a clean and effective beauty brand designed to make your inner radiance shine. Unlike other clean beauty brands, Nuria’s beauty products are scientifically formulated with generational wisdom from around the globe and ingredients that give your skin what it truly needs without the stuff it doesn’t. So many women use products for a specific skin type and don’t realize that they are often denying their skin the nutrients and care it needs to be truly healthy. The truth is we each have different, dynamic skincare needs due to ever-changing factors like seasons, hormones, stress, and our physical environment. Nuria’s good-for-you skincare is designed to go beyond skin types so every day can be a ‘good skin’ day. Nuria combines the power of antioxidants, nutrients, and modern science to keep your skin as radiant, glowing, and full of life as you are.

With Nuria, you don’t have to compromise on anything to get great results. Beyond busting the myth of skin types, some of the things that set Nuria apart from other brands are that Nuria products are not only cruelty-free (Leaping Bunny certified), vegan, allergen-free, effective, and safe, but also carbon-neutral! We have offset the carbon footprint of every product over its entire lifecycle, from raw material extraction and manufacturing through product use and recycling. So you can confidently use Nuria products and know that you are taking great care of yourself and the planet, while empowering the next generation of women.

The great thing about the digital age is that it allows us to have close and meaningful relationships with our consumers, and we love hearing their feedback. So much of the inspiration behind our innovations comes from Nuria’s fans and what they like to see from the brand. Mostly recently, in September 2020, we launched our Calm Collection, a fragrance-free product line, to help calm and soothe even the most sensitive skin.

As a scientist, my goal with Nuria is to always lead the market through innovation using the best clean ingredients to create effective, carbon-neutral products. As a whole, all of our products are designed to be mixed and matched across the product collections, so you can adapt your routine to your skin’s daily and changing needs. We have some really exciting skincare launches coming in early 2021 that I am excited to share with our consumers.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

I love that consumers care about what they put on their skin and that they are focused not only on the benefit that they will see, but also on the longer-term impact of these ingredients on their skin, their overall health, and the environment. Consumers are calling for more transparency in the beauty industry, pushing companies to disclose what is in their formulas beyond the INCI lists, including impurities and animal products, how products have been developed and sourced, and how products have been tested. This transparency is so beneficial for consumers because it helps them make educated choices.

I am so excited by the inclusivity of the modern beauty industry. For decades people talked about three skin types or brands marketed to one kind of beauty consumer, but we all know that we and our skin are far more complex than a few categories can capture. I think it is fantastic that our consumers are of all ages, races, and genders now more than ever. I’m also seeing a more diverse group of brand founders, and I love that the beauty industry is talking about and celebrating that diversity. I love being able to contribute to diversity in the beauty industry through Nuria, by bringing together and celebrating beauty wisdom from women around the world.

Finally, I love the close connection that the modern beauty industry can have with our consumers today. We have the opportunity to speak to our customers every day, they tell us what we are doing well and what we need to fix, we listen to their concerns and develop products to meet those concerns, and we create communities that are positive and supportive. That immediate connection is so powerful when used for good.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

I crave changes in the industry that help the consumer better navigate the category to find what works best for each individual’s skin.

  1. Greater Attention to Research: At Nuria, we test every single product to ensure stability, safety, and efficacy. We share this with our customers so that they can be 100% confident that our products are safe and effective from the moment you open the product to the last drop. We only make claims that we can support and that comply with cosmetic regulations. I am concerned that because this rigor and transparency are not legal requirements in the US, consumers don’t know enough about products’ safety and performance to make informed purchasing decisions. Our consumers are smart, and they deserve to know exactly what they are using, where it’s from, and that it can be trusted to be both effective and safe.
  2. Boosted Consumer Confidence: There’s a lot of noise in conscious beauty caused by trends, influencers, and lack of attention to research. Consumers have been told they have “one skin type” which would imply one set of skin needs. In reality, skin needs evolve daily, driven by factors such as weather, seasons, hormones, stress, diet, and pollution. Because it’s impossible to isolate the variables affecting transition skin, a lot of women buy products that don’t meet their needs, leaving them skeptical and frustrated. Our goal with Nuria is to turn down the volume. We want to empower women to listen to their skin and to feel confident addressing its holistic needs. Each of our product lines is designed to complement each other so consumers can mix and match to create the routine that is perfect for their lifestyle.
  3. Transparency About Allergens: Since the U.S. does not require skincare products to meet EU safety regulations and list the 26 allergens considered harmful for the skin, you have to trust the transparency of a brand and look for brands that overtly make the commitment to these standards. Allergens are a common cause for dry and irritated skin as well as accelerated skin aging — when your body reacts to an allergen, inflammation occurs, and this inflammation can increase the signs of aging by causing collagen and elastin to break down as well as by inhibiting new collagen and elastin production. Inflammation can also cause damage to the skin barrier, which results in higher water loss and dry skin, as well as can change the population of bacteria on your skin, which could result in breakouts that are either more frequent and/or more severe. The first step is to pick products that don’t contain any of the 26 EU allergens, and a good second step is to buy from brands that you know conduct clinical safety testing on all of their products to ensure that the combination of ingredients, at the dosage in the product, have been clinically shown to not irritate the skin. One challenging ingredient to scrutinize is fragrance — in the U.S. there is no requirement to disclose the components of a fragrance or list allergens that may be hiding in the fragrance, and sometimes brands tout that they have “all natural” fragrances but those naturals pull in allergens. Without a disclosure requirement in the U.S., the consumer has to trust the transparency of a brand and look for brands that overtly make the commitment to be allergen-free and to safely test their formulas.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Toners are so under-appreciated! They help prep the skin to receive moisture, which is critical to having a healthy skin barrier. If you think of your skin as a dried-up sponge, it cannot absorb much until you moisten it, and by first using a toner, you soften the skin and your subsequent treatment steps will be absorbed more easily and therefore be more effective. Toners can also help restore your skin’s natural balance, which can be thrown off when cleansing, especially if the cleanser is more alkaline. Basically, toners are an underrated step in a beauty routine that can benefit everyone!

The question I get most often, though, is “what is the best anti-aging product?” And the answer, hands down, is to wear sunscreen every day. Nothing helps prevent skin aging like the regular use of sunscreen. In fact, a yearlong clinical study of women who wore sunscreen every day showed a decrease in the signs of aging, simply from protecting the skin from the sun! It’s why I am so excited about the sunscreen we are developing for launch next year. We want to create a product that consumers will love to use because the best sunscreen is the one you use every day.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

Listen to your consumer — Consumers are an amazing source of wisdom and innovation. Just by listening, you can build a brand that meets a true need and doesn’t get lost in the beauty industry noise. Listening can also help you pivot quickly, make changes that are meaningful.

Be Honest — Consumers are smart, and they deserve to make informed decisions for themselves. Brands that are transparent, that inform their customers about every aspect of their supply chain, from ingredient and package selections through product use, have been successful because they build trust and confidence with their audience. Lack of transparency always catches up with a brand, and it just isn’t the right way to conduct business as a modern beauty brand.

Think Globally — Being connected to the global beauty community is so important. Not only because you reach more customers, but more importantly you learn from a more diverse audience. A challenge or an idea from someone in Korea may resonate with a consumer in the United States. By thinking globally and reaching consumers in multiple markets, you unlock amazing innovation, have the opportunity to make connections, and can create a diverse community that makes your brand even stronger.

Use your voice for good — Consumers want to support positive change even as they spend on self-care. But a brand has to be authentic in their passion for driving positive change. Consumers can tell the different between lip service and real commitment to making a difference.

It Better Work — There is so much noise in the industry, and lots of brand try to exploit trends and check boxes like “clean” to attract customers. But in the end, the products need to work. While this isn’t a new key to success, I think sadly efficacy has been lost in the noise of new ingredients and trends. In the end, the products you use have to work and make you look and feel good.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

All women should have the same chance to realize their full potential. I want to help create a world where every single girl finishes high school. That might sound ambitious, but I don’t think that’s unreasonable. It is unacceptable that, in 2018, 63 million girls worldwide didn’t have the opportunity to get a high school education. Once a girl is given an education, she has experienced irreversible growth, and this cannot be taken from her. In 2017, Project Drawdown published the top ways that we could combat climate change. In the top 5, higher than plastics recycling and electric cars, was educating women and girls. Educated girls realize higher wages, contribute to economic growth, and improve health outcomes for themselves, their family, and their entire community, and all of these improvements lead to lower emissions and improvements in global climate change. Providing the support for every girl to finish a high school education would truly change the planet.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” — Warren Buffet

I love this quote because it keeps me focused on the impact and mission behind what I do, while also reminding me to be appreciative of all of the work that came before me.

How can our readers follow you online?

For more information about Nuria, please visit and follow @nuriabeauty on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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