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Our Roots

We like to think of ourselves as pioneers. Today awareness and interest in natural remedies, skin and body care are on the increase. But when we opened our first shop in Covent Garden, we were one of the few pushing against the synthetic chemical approach to skin and health care that had been adopted by much of the industry. Our vision was to bring the expertise of the apothecary and our holistic approach to health and beauty to local people and their communities.

Apothecaries had a deep knowledge of herb-based remedies, establishing their own Worshipful Society, way back in 1617. One of the distinctive features of their trade was the blue bottles filled with herbs and potions that lined their shelves. Call us old fashioned but we felt that much of their time-tested knowledge was being lost and the world could do with a strong dose of what they used to offer.

What matters to us are people, their health and their happiness. We’re obsessed with discovering and delivering natural ways to improve health and wellbeing through our outstanding natural and organic skin and body care products. We also believe passionately that our environment is of vital importance, both in its own right and as the source of many of the plants and herbs vital to our wellbeing.

Milestone

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Why Choose Organic

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The skin is the body’s largest organ, an active interface between our bodies and the environment? It’s been well documented that what you put on your skin ends up in your body (just think of nicotine patches), so we believe it’s really important to be fully aware of what’s in the products you use.

Over the last 50 years, tens of thousands of new chemicals have been developed, most of which have never been properly tested on humans. We are absorbing a vast array of these new synthetic chemicals from our food, our toiletries, and our immediate environment. Surely it can be no coincidence that over the same time period, the incidences of illness such as eczema, allergies and even cancers have greatly increased.

We may not be able to avoid all of these chemicals, but we believe it makes sense to do what we can to minimise contact wherever possible.

What does organic mean?

When we talk about organic, we mean only those ingredients, and certified organic products made from those ingredients, which have been grown and processed under a specific and strict set of ecological regulations. It is important to recognise that ‘organic’ does not apply to natural ingredients which have not been grown: clay, salt or water.

Organic farming methods work with natural ecosystems rather than trying to dominate, recognising that our world relies on a complex, delicate balance. By encouraging wildlife biodiversity to act as a natural pest control, and by building up the nutrients in the soil to grow strong, healthy crops, reliance on synthetic chemicals is avoided.

 

How do you know if organic really is organic?

Certification means that a product has been independently approved as meeting a specific standard. For organic foods the basic standard is set by European law, so no product can be labelled or marked as ‘organic’ unless it complies.

When it comes to health and beauty products however, there’s no equivalent regulation, so the term ‘organic’ can be misleading. Just because the product is labelled ‘organic’ does not guarantee that it contains even a speck of natural ingredients produced from organic agricultural methods. So rather than relying on brand names, look for certification logos, or check that organic ingredients are clearly and individually indicated on the ingredients list.

 

Why is organic better for you?

By using organic ingredients on your body, you are reducing the amount of chemicals residues that are absorbed by your skin.

We firmly believe that it’s just not necessary to use such synthetic materials. The body benefits hugely from simple, natural ingredients, and a good diet will do more for your complexion than a host of synthetic cosmetics.

 

Why is organic better for the environment?

Organic farming severely restricts the use of artificial chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This reduces the volume of pollutants released into the environment.

Organic farmers rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops. They also create a diverse habitat to encourage beneficial wildlife. Animals are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive livestock farming.

What is the Soil Association?

soil-association-logoThe Soil Association is a charity set up in 1946 following concerns that the intensive agriculture practices being introduced after the Second World War were unsympathetic to natural eco-systems, and would ultimately end up damaging our environment. Its aim is to research, develop and promote sustainable farming and processing practices to protect our health and the environment.

 

What do the Soil Association’s organic standards guarantee?

Maximum content of certified organic ingredients are used Restriction on the percentage content of non-organic ingredients No genetically modified ingredients (GMO) Product labelling is clear and honest Ingredients must be environmentally friendly (biodegradable) Minimal processing

 

Why aren’t all our products certified?

Most of our products contain a high proportion of organic ingredients. But above all, our aim is to make products that are effective and pleasant to use. So we won’t adjust a formulation to achieve organic certification if it means compromising on benefits effects.

 

Why aren’t all our ingredients organic?

Organic sourcing is always our first choice, but there are several reasons why it’s not always possible.

 

Wild Crafting

We believe that wild is the ultimate organic – plants grown in their natural ecosystem are the healthiest and most vibrant. However, we always work to ensure that wild-crafting – harvesting plants from the wild – is done in a sustainable manner. Frankincense resin, for example, is collected from wild growing trees in Somalia and Kenya. Because the trees don’t grow on privately owned land, the resin hadn’t previously been certified. However one of our suppliers has worked over the last couple of years to overcome the legislative obstacles in order to gain organic wild crafting certification. Each of the nomadic tribes people who collects the resin has even had to add their thumbprint to a document in order to complete the certification requirements. We’re really excited about bringing you this great oil in the near future!

Availability
We need a constant supply of raw materials to ensure the quality of our product remains constant. It’s not always possible to find a reliable organic supply, but as the organic market continues to grow we’re able to source more and more of our ingredients organically.

Quality
We are adamant that the quality of our plant materials must reach certain standards to be effective and safe. All our raw materials are tested before being accepted to ensure that they contain the necessary levels of the active constituents to make them work. If we can’t get organic ingredients of the best quality, we won’t use them.

 

Safe Cosmetics

safe-cosmetics-logoWe believe that what you leave out of a product can be as important as what you put in. This logo includes just a few of the ingredients you won’t find in any of our products, and why:

  • No synthetic fragrances – many contain chemicals that are harmful to health
  • No silicones – they coat skin, and impede its natural function
  • No mineral oils – derived from petroleum, and have a tendency to block the skin
  • No parabens – these are linked to hormonal imbalances
  • No GM ingredients – not enough is known about possible long-term implications
  • No phthalates – it’s reported they have toxic impact on humans and animal life
  • No propylene glycol – derived from petroleum
  • No animal testing – unnecessary and cruel
  • No DEA – associated with known carcinogens
  • No EDTA – (powerful metal chelator), and doesn’t biodegrade readily
  • No acrylates – derived from petroleum
  • No nano – not enough is known about its long term implications
  • No BHT – linked to breathing and lung impairment