Anahit and Ara Markosian

Nairian Makes Armenia’s Nature Take Center Stage in Organic Skincare Line


SAN FRANCISCO and YEREVAN — Many upscale skin care and cosmetic brands now tap into the power of nature, leading to the creation of many creams and potions that not only are gentle on the skin but provide real benefits and smell fresh, without harmful chemicals.

Now, an Armenian brand, Nairian, has jumped into the organic, all-natural, cruelty-free market, and it is aiming for worldwide reach.

Ara Markosian, the CEO and co-founder of Nairian, along with his wife, Anahit, recently spoke more in depth about his latest endeavor. Both he and his wife grew up in Armenia before moving to the US, and both have backgrounds in science.

“The inspiration for Nairian came to my wife when we were taking a family road trip through Southern Armenia. Anahit was very impressed with the biodiversity of the native plants that grew abundantly across the countryside, and thought it was a shame that no one was utilizing this natural treasure. At first the idea to start an all-natural cosmetics company in the highlands of Armenia was voiced jokingly, but the proposal very quickly grew more serious. Then in 2012, it really took shape when we set up an experimental lab in Yerevan where we began a three-year research and development process, trying to understand if the line of cosmetics we envisioned would really be feasible. In 2015, we officially launched the Nairian brand and opened our first store in Yerevan,” Markosian said

“The decision to move back to Armenia was not hard to make. Both Anahit and I had been working as engineers in the tech industry for over 20 years, and we felt it was high time for some change. Since Anahit has a background in physics, the research involved with developing formulas and building a lab was not hard to make. Both Anahit and I had been working as engineers in the tech industry for over 20 years, and we felt it was high time for some change. Since Anahit has a background in physics, the research involved with developing formulas and building a lab was like second nature to her. During my career, I had launched several startups in Silicon Valley and had always worked to build teams in Yerevan to support those initiatives. The opportunity to do this again, to explore a new field that is unusual in Armenia, and in a totally different sphere of business for me, was quite an exciting proposition. I should also add that since both of us grew up in Yerevan, the move was actually a kind of homecoming.”

He added, “In that sense we are a very Armenian brand, we try to source locally as much as possible. In fact, over 70 percent of our ingredients are sourced from within a 100-kilometer radius of our eco-farm, located among the highlands of the Kotayk region in Armenia.

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People in Armenia clearly know what to do with herbs when it comes to cooking. It is unusual and interesting to see those delicious herbaceous scents in Nairian soaps, with the scents of tarragon, lemon and basil and thyme.

Nairian products, while smelling good, need to perform, Markosian said. “All of our essential oils are active ingredients in our products, meaning that we never use an oil just for the sake of its smell. Every essential oil is added to a product in order to provide specific benefits to the skin or hair, and react in a specific way with other ingredients. This is achieved by doing GCMS analysis of our essential oils to find out their component structure and make choices based on rigorous scientific research conducted by our scientists with health and natural beauty in mind.”

“In terms of what ingredients go into which products, that research is done at the lab, headed by Anahit. As a rule, Nairian never uses any chemicals, parabens, synthetic fragrances or dyes. Our ingredients are always natural, and most of the essential oils that we use in our products have been distilled on our eco-farm from herbs and plants that we grew ourselves, or commissioned from other local farmers.”

According to Anahit Markosian, on the brand’s website, “Our lab is run by a skilled team who come from various fields, including chemistry, physics, biology, horticulture and aromatherapy. We’ve found that the best results are obtained through a marriage of science and nature; therefore, each of our formulas is designed to bring out the full potential of its ingredients, promote health, and enhance beauty.”

And the products are never tested on animals.

“We sometimes joke that our products are not tested on animals, but on friends and family. We have a pool of volunteers who test any new product before it actually becomes a product. Most of our products are also vegan, while we use beeswax or honey in a select few,” Ara Markosian said.

Nairian’s farm was set up two years ago, based on research toward the use of specific plants.

“While we have yet to receive our organic accreditation — we are preparing for that process this year — everything on our eco-farm is grown organically, and also as sustainably as possible. We grow many of our ingredients on the farm or in the company’s neighboring fields, which we are always expanding,” he said.

Fields harvested for Nairian products

He added that the lab is on the premises of the farm, “so we don’t waste energy on transporting ingredients here and there. Pretty much everything—from growing ingredients and developing formulas to packaging bottles—is done at the farm in Aragyugh.”

He encouraged customers to visit the facilities anytime between May and October to get a feel for how the products come together.

While the biggest market for Nairian is Armenia, they have started exporting to the United States, Russia, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

“Every country that we work in requires its own unique approach. In Armenia, we sell through our own Nairian boutiques, including the one which is located on the Nairian premises next to the lab on our eco-farm. In the US, we have a warehouse from which we ship worldwide. You can order our products at The ability to ship worldwide is very important to us, because when tourists visit our lab, get acquainted with our processes, and buy our products, we want them to have the opportunity to access our products in their home countries as well,” Markosian said.

The best-selling item for the brand is the night serum, part of the anti-age line, made with apricot kernel, sea buckthorn, rosehip and coconut oils.

Markosian was exuberant about the product. “It really smells like heaven! This product was also spotted at the Cosmoprof Las Vegas International exhibition and was selected as one of the top innovations in skincare by top influencers. In terms of popularity, the Night Serum is followed by our Hand Cream that features Geranium and Ziziphora essential oils, the Rose Toner, and some of our hand-crafted soaps. The Nairian Anti-Age Night Serum is very unique in that it is solid until it comes into contact with the skin — at that point it melts into a wonderful liquid serum that seeps into the skin effortlessly. Our formula was developed using rosehip and sea buckthorn oils, for their extraordinary anti-aging properties, coconut oil, that strengthens and restores dry and flaking skin and apricot kernel oil for its vitamin A and E, which helps to moisturize and nourish dry, maturing skin.”

Because of the product’s success at the Las Vegas cosmetics expo, importers from South Korea heard about it and have started importing it. South Korea now plays a dominant role in setting the tone for cosmetics and skin care globally, exporting hundreds of brands with cult followings to the US and Europe as well as the rest of the world.

“Korea is home to many cosmetic brands, and is a huge exporter. At the same time, Korean customers are very conscious about the quality of their products, and the ingredients that are used in their cosmetics. We think that this awareness opens up a lot of opportunities for Nairian, which is a brand that is dedicated to quality and natural ingredients. The distributor that we met at the Cosmoprof event this summer very much appreciated the quality of our products, as well as the packaging and the brand over all. Before putting in large orders, they took their time to test our products and evaluate their quality, so we are confident that our products fit the high expectations of this very knowledgeable and demanding market. Actually, we just shipped the first full batch of products to Korea, and we are eager to see what the response will be like to our cosmetic lines,” Markosian noted.

For the Markosians, it is not just crafting a luxurious skincare brand that matters. Rather, the endeavor puts Armenia and many villagers on the map, they hope.

“I would say that Nairian products represent a couple of things. On the one hand, each product is an embodiment of the wonderful nature of Armenia, and is meant to celebrate the natural wealth of our home. On the other, every phase of production in our company is carried out with dedication to quality and community. From farm to bottle we control the entire production process, so that we can ensure the final product is spectacular. Moreover, through this process of production, we bolster an entire village community in Armenia, and work hard to provide as much opportunity for the local population as possible. I would hope that when our customers buy a Nairian product, that they are aware of what they are investing in—which is so much more than just natural skincare—and feel engaged with the many important processes that are necessary to the functioning of our company,” Markosian noted.

And just what is next for this young brand? “There is so much to do! We have to confirm and consolidate our brand in the markets where we are already present, and also explore new opportunities—we are very open to all types of collaboration. At the same time, we are going to extend our product portfolio and develop more anti-age products. In later plans, we want to make grooming products for men, as well as baby products. We are also extending our agricultural activities: this year we planted a whole field of damask rose, and still want to expand,” he concluded.

To check out the products, visit In Russia, it’s; in Japan, In Hong Kong Nairian is represented on another online commerce platform: Aside from online sales in the US, Nairian goods can be found at a luxury spa in New York called RISEbyWE, an offshoot of the WeWork brand. They are also actively pursuing more spas and salons.

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