With the UK’s first ever natural make-up range under their belts, Essential Care is an ever-growing organic and natural skincare brand who pride themselves on making the purest skincare on earth. We caught up with the brand’s Abi to discover more…
What is the ethos behind Essential Care?
Essential Care is on a mission to create the purest skincare on earth. But at the same time, we aim to create products that are a joy to use and are effective. We avoid artificial preservatives or fragrances, petrochemicals, sulphates or any other potentially unhealthy ingredients. Instead we use only the highest quality organic herbs and essential oils in therapeutic concentrations for optimum benefit. We source only virgin cold-pressed oils that have their full antioxidant vitamin-content intact to actively nourish the skin and protect it from premature ageing. And we have an active commitment to the care of the environment which includes supporting organic farming methods, choosing raw materials which are locally-sourced where possible, fairly traded otherwise, and are from sustainable and renewable resources. For example, many of our jars and bottles are made in the UK from 100% recycled materials.
What spurred you on to create the brand?
My mother, Margaret – a herbalist and aromatherapist – began making natural skincare over 25 years ago as a remedy for her allergy-prone skin and my eczema. I grew up with her making various lotions and potions. Then about 10 years ago when I was working in America, my skin got in a bad state and the only thing that helped was my mother’s products. They were just so good I thought that they deserved to be brought to a wider audience. Nothing was on the market at the time that was as natural. So in 2003, Essential Care was launched as one of the UK’s first ever certified organic brands.
Who do you see as the typical Essential Care customer?
We have a very diverse customer base. Originally we began as a brand for people with allergy-prone skin, but a recent survey showed that actually only half of our customers have sensitive skin and the rest buy Essential Care because they trust our environmental ethics and or just enjoy the products because they work.
How difficult was it to create the UK’s first organic and natural make-up range?
It was 3 years of hard work. Using mineral colours is the relatively easier bit, but creating makeup without any artificial ingredients (silicones, petroleum oils, synthetic preservatives) or even potentially problematic things like talc, is really difficult. It’s harder than making a natural moisturiser because you need to ensure good colour payoff and lasting performance. In addition we gave ourselves the challenge of using the most eco-friendly packaging ever. It was so hard to find good quality non-petrochemical packaging that wasn’t made in the Far East. But we did it – our lipsticks and eyeshadow applicators for example are made from vegetable plastic. And the makeup itself gets great feedback and has won awards.
Do you see more cosmetics company going down the organic and natural route?
It’s a growth market and there is a certain amount of jumping on the bandwagon. My hope is that companies have their whole products certified as organic (at the moment this is voluntary rather than compulsory) so that consumers are not duped by green-washing. – Very often one or two organic or natural ingredients are put in an otherwise synthetic product to pass the whole product off as organic. Consumers should always look for a proper certification mark like the Soil Association’s to be sure.
And what extra benefits do organic products have over their less pure contemporaries?
Genuine (certified) organic skincare and makeup bring real skin benefits. Essential Care for example uses virgin plant oils like olive and coconut that both moisturise the skin and replenish it with antioxidant vitamins. This is so much more beneficial than a ‘dead’ mineral oil or petroleum-based cream which offers no nutritional value to the skin. Organic products also use ingredients that are most akin to the human body – the body is most likely to react to a synthetic chemical that it can’t recognise. More and more scientific studies are showing the problems associated with synthetic cosmetic ingredients – like the paraben preservatives.
Which product are you most proud of and why?
I’d have to pick two! Our Gentle Herb Shampoo is amazing – it was the UK’s first ever organically certified shampoo (in 2004) and still is about the purest shampoo I’ve ever seen (and it makes your hair look and feel amazing!). I remember my mother trying to formulate it many years ago for a friend with psoriasis – it took a long time; she used to grate bars of olive oil soap and mix them with a stew of herbs from the garden. Then there’s our Organic Repair Lotion which has helped so many people overcome skin problems like eczema. When customers send in such good testimonials about it, it gives such a good sense of purpose to what we do.
Which is your favourite product and why?
Again I have two! I love our new black eyeliner, made with Fairtrade certified shea butter, which just feels wonderful and performs as well as any conventional eye pencil. Also our Rose Moisturiser which gives instant radiance, but its powerpack of 3 organic rose extracts is also very uplifting.
What’s next for Essential Care?
2012 will be an exciting year. We’re about to launch a new look for our body-washes and best-selling shampoo, but this year’s biggest project is to build our new super eco-friendly HQ. We’re trying to find land at the moment and get some drawings done. The aim is for the building is to be ‘zero carbon’, so it will create its own energy, recycle all water and be built from sustainable (re-used, recycled and local) materials. It’ll also have its own herb garden. I’d like it to be a great venue where we can promote sustainable architecture and organic living to schools, companies and other groups, as well as being the place where Essential Care’s products are made.