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Natural Reactions
Health and beauty
December 2016
Reading time 5 minutes

The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion pound market, but we’re increasingly shunning the standard chemical concoctions in favour of natural remedies that are better for our body

The UK cosmetics market is big business, worth £17 billion in 2015. But with big money comes big risk to the environment, and even our own health.

Lee Heads’ son had terrible eczema when he was a baby, and none of the standard solutions – either over the counter or prescribed products – offered any relief. ‘It’s because the manufacturers add things that aren’t necessary, like artificial scents, that irritate the skin,’ she explains. So she subscribed to a course in natural skincare in London, and learned how to make her own products. Now, she runs Bria Organics, a Newcastle-based company specialising in eczema and natural skincare products. Her recipes dip back into old remedy books, some several hundred years old.

Sometimes old wives’ tales work best, Lee reckons, and a broad range of customers who buy her products agree. But some people still shun natural remedies when they have different standards for other parts of their lives. ‘It’s the same thing with food: you’ll spend money on decent quality food, so why not on your skincare?’ Part of the reason is that chemical cosmetic products are cheaper than their natural alternatives.

‘The easy route to preserving cosmetics is using chemicals,’ explains John Davidson, Director of JHA Associates Ltd, which owns Skin Salve, a natural skin care company. In the past that’s been an acceptable burden for beautiful skin. But technology has advanced, and with it intolerance to synthetic mixtures when natural alternatives exist. ‘When you consider what you’re putting in contact with your skin, you’re repeatedly exposing yourself to chemicals,’ says John.

‘We’re surrounded by and consume a lot of products that contain artificial ingredients, John adds. ‘Overall we’re creating more allergies and problems for children, which are going through to adulthood.’

Others concur. Skin Salve – based in Felton, Northumberland – has produced an Active Lifestyle Muscle Balm, which contains no parabens, synthetic fragrances or sodium lauryl sulphate (a common ingredient in personal care products that can irritate the skin). Since releasing the balm, John has fielded a number of requests to stock or use the product, including from a national cycling team.

‘A lot of muscle balms are very vigorous, damaging the skin,’ he explains. ‘There’s always been ladies making stuff in their kitchen and selling it on market stalls, but it’s become a lot more professional and has a lot more investment in it now.’

There’s a huge demand for naturally-made products, says John. His company makes a complete line of skin conditioning products, and has even expanded into household laundry products.

Aside from your wellbeing, there are other reasons to embrace natural remedies. Sue Brind, an independent consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies, which was set up in 1981, believes the turn towards the natural while shunning the artificial is due to a simple reason. ‘It’s the ethical side of it,’ she says. ‘Neal’s Yard is one of the few companies that declare all their ingredients.’

She came to natural cosmetics and toiletries a number of years ago. ‘It was great when all these new products came out, but I began to realise the impact it had on me. I didn’t like the idea of chemicals on my skin.’ In her grandmother’s day, there were not many soap options – ‘and she survived’, Sue points out.

Natural Remedies

Bria Organics
This company began in 2008 as a mother’s way to treat her baby son’s eczema. It has since become an award-winning beauty company. Its collection of balms, skin creams and baby oils are 100 percent natural and customers swear by its effectiveness.

Founded in 2014 by Dr Fei Wan Lee, this Darlington-based business harnesses more than 15 years of experience in toxicology, skin research and botanical extracts. Feisc’s range of products – including hydrating day lotions, rinse-off cleansers and hand and body lotions – are designed to give softer, smoother skin naturally.

Forever Living
Aloe vera and bee-based products are the forte of this global company. Its Relaxation Massage Lotion is jammed full of aloe vera, sunflower seed oil and cucumber extracts. Gently massaging it into your body is an ideal way to end a relaxing evening bath.

This Suffolk-based company specialises in producing skincare products sourced from the surrounding area. The company’s products are paraben free and 100 percent natural and vegetarian friendly. Their Massagical Winter Warmer cream is ideal for the colder weather.

Rhodes to Heaven
Annabel Rhodes and Penny Walker have enviable CVs, training with Neal’s Yard Remedies and skincare expert Eileen Malone. Their products, made since 2002 under the Rhodes to Heaven brand, were one of the first to be free from parabens and petrolatum.

Skin Salve
John Davidson’s Felton-based business has grown to encompass a wide range of products, from non-irritating moisturiser to body wash, shampoo and laundry powder. Their eczema treatment soap locks in the skin’s natural moisture, preventing flareups.

‘We’re surrounded by and consume a lot of products that contain artificial ingredients’

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