"My name is Wendy Stirling. I launched Botanicals in 2004 after one of my daughters suffered a severe skin reaction to a natural-sounding 'herbal' shampoo.
"I tend to be a careful shopper, preferring to buy organic products where possible. The label on this shampoo said it contained 'high quality ingredients derived from pure renewable plant sources', as well as 'herbs grown under certified organic conditions - no petrochemicals or pesticides’.
"I was so concerned by my nine-year-old daughter’s reaction, that I took a closer look at the ingredients list on the label. At the time, it read like a foreign language, so I did some research, and bought the book; “Don’t go to the cosmetics counter without me”.
"I was so incensed by what has since become known as ‘green-washing’, that I became absorbed in the subject – visiting trade events, researching regulatory compliance and developing and testing my own natural products. This all lead a year later to the launch of Botanicals.
"All these years later, our multi-award winning products are still made with love and care in small batches – I believe that mass production would destroy the active botanical properties that make Botanicals products so different and which deliver such amazing results."
Read the back of a label of any high street skin care product - like I did in 2003 - and it's unlikely you’ll recognise many of the ingredients - apart from water (which typically makes up around 70% of what's in the jar).
Our constant quest to turn back the clock and have flawless skin has fuelled the creation of a multi-billion pound cosmetics industry. All promising to make us look beautiful and youthful. But all using the same synthetic chemicals - from solvents to preservatives, and synthetic fragrance to nano-particles.
Most of these synthetic chemicals were only invented within my life time. And little was known until recently, about their potentially harmful side effects. It was one of these side effects - suffered by my daughter - that inspired me to seek out alternatives.
Modern science can be thanked for some miraculous achievements - where would we be without penicillin and anaesthetic? But when it comes to looking after our skin, maybe synthetic chemicals - created in a laboratory - are not such a wise choice.
Women have always strived to look beautiful. Beautiful skin and hair are powerful mood and confidence enhancers! So one of the first questions I asked when researching modern-day cosmetics was; how did women look after their skin before the days of cosmetics counters? This began a journey back in time to discover the types of ingredients that were used to make skincare products in the bygone days.
Prior to the twentieth century commercial beauty products weren't available, so women had to rely on family recipes - handed down through the generations - to boost their complexions. Victorian ladies were admired for their flawless skin, which they often managed to preserve well into old age. This was largely due to the handcrafting of herbal creams and lotions - using home-grown ingredients from herb and flower gardens.
Some of the most popular recipes found in old Victorian archives, are for 'lavender hand salve', 'pelargonium (geranium) night balm', 'rose water & glycerine skin tonic', rosemary shampoo, 'rose and rosehip facial cream', 'chamomile flower water' and 'green clay and herbal facial masque'.
The science of ingredients used in these preparations was largely unknown, but we've since discovered that these herbal wonders have incredible benefits for the skin. Certain plant components have the exceptional ability to destroy free radicals (which attack collagen - resulting in loss of elasticity and the onset of wrinkles). Essential oils like rose and geranium can help regenerate skin cells and boost circulation. Lavender and rosemary are natural antiseptics, and rose hip soothes, heals and restores skin texture.
Taking inspiration from these old herbal recipes, but incorporating modern methods, a year of experimentation began - resulting in Botanicals bespoke formulations and the launch of a business that puts people and nature first, and profits second.
What began in in a garden outbuilding is now part of an eco-revolution to change the way think about skincare, and it's impact on health, wellness and the environment.
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