Wendy Stirling, Founder of Botanicals Natural Organic Skincare
Wendy Stirling, founder of Botanicals Natural Organic Skincare, tells us how it all began and what organic means at Christmas.
How Botanicals Began
I’ve always loved the great outdoors, the beauty of the UK countryside and the wealth of nature that surrounds us. I’ve also been fascinated by nature’s larder and the wonderful natural remedies that can be used for our health and wellbeing. However, it wasn’t until 2003, when my young daughter had an alarming reaction to a shampoo that claimed to be natural, that the thought of starting my own natural organic skincare company came into being.
Up until then, like most people I had trusted what was printed on beauty product labels. The shampoo had ‘herbal’ in the name and clearly stated that it contained ‘herbal ingredients grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals’. However, because of the severity of my daughter’s reaction, I tasked myself with finding out what she had reacted to and soon realised that, whilst the shampoo’s herbal ingredients may well have been grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals, the shampoo itself was full of them.
The more research I did, the more astonished I became at what brand owners can include on their packaging. By using clever wording, they can make blatantly misleading claims without falling foul of trading standards or advertising standards. We now call this ‘greenwashing’. My passion for this cause led me to research the market for authentic, natural and organic skincare brands, but at the time, there seemed to be very few available. I therefore decided to create my own range and in 2004, Botanicals was born.
The Botanicals Ethos
Based in rural Leicestershire, we research, formulate and hand-make a full range of products for face and body that use the pure power of plants to promote health, beauty and wellbeing for both the consumer and the environment, and by using certified organic ingredients to do so.
All Botanicals products are developed using strict performance and ethical standards, offering ecological products derived solely from sustainable, natural resources, free from artificial colours, fragrances and petrochemicals, including parabens. Botanicals products also smell divine, are aesthetically pleasing to use and produce clearly visible improvements in the look and feel of the skin.
I also believe there is a real need for artisan produced skincare products, particularly for those with skin sensitivities. Botanicals products are made in a very different way to commercially produced skincare products and this is reflected in the results they achieve. For instance, all Botanicals’ products are made fresh, in small batches, to preserve their active botanical properties. Our processing methods also ensure the vital life-force of the plant isn’t destroyed by heating or over-processing.
I’m also extremely proud that Botanicals has won many awards and industry accolades over the years, and is one of only a handful of companies specialising in skincare products to have its entire range certified by the Soil Association. We chose to become a Soil Association licensee because we are not prepared to compromise, either with the integrity of our brand or the ingredients we use. We also believe Soil Association accreditation gives our customers the reassurance that Botanicals is not greenwashed and is serious about its natural credentials.
So, why did I choose organic? Quite simply, natural and organic beauty products are better for our health, as well as the beauty of our skin. Although everyone can benefit from using the pure power of organically-grown plants, it’s particularly beneficial for those with skin sensitivity. Especially since sensitive skin is particularly susceptible to the effects of man-made chemicals, found in many conventional skincare brands.
Recent studies show we absorb as many toxins through our skin as through the foods we eat. Daily cleansing, moisturising and deodorising can mean a cocktail of hundreds of different chemicals being absorbed by the skin, directly into our bloodstream. It makes as much sense to choose skincare products made with natural and organic ingredients, as it does when choosing food. However, there's a real difference between the regulations governing the labelling of food and those for personal body care products. 'Natural' and 'organic' are misused terms in skincare. Unlike food, there's no legislation governing these terms. Products labelled 'organic' can contain as little as 1% of ingredients derived from natural or organic origin. This means that products that are legitimately marketed as natural or organic are competing with products that are being marketed on the basis of a 'natural' image, rather than actual ingredients.
Authentic organic beauty products benefit from being free from pesticides, genetic modification, hormone-disrupting chemicals and other toxic chemicals. Additionally, the latest study by the Soil Association found that organic crops, fruit and vegetables have up to 60% higher levels of anti-ageing antioxidants present than their non-organic counterparts. The investigation, which looked at 343 studies, also found that organic crops contain significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals.
The Botanicals Range
The Botanicals range includes face care products with varying skin types, including the ‘Nourish’ range for dry and mature skin and the ‘Gentle’ range for normal, combination and sensitive skin. There is a whole range of products to care for hands, feet and body, as well as bath care products, massage oils and our ‘Raw and Pure’ products including cold-pressed oils, essential oils and our flower waters. The range also includes a full collection of gift sets.
Rose and camellia is at the heart of the Nourish face care range, and mandarin and chamomile at the heart of the Gentle face care range. Other key ingredients include rosehip, avocado, apricot kernel, coconut, sesame seed and evening primrose oils, as well as certain extracts and essential oils including lavender, lemongrass, chamomile, ginger, ylang ylang, tea tree, green tea, marigold and palmarosa, to name a few. We also use wild rose and lemongrass in our body care products.
We take great care to select ingredients that are rich in anti-ageing antioxidants, as well as nourishing and nurturing benefits for skin. Shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba are also commonly used. In fact, shea butter is my favourite ingredient we use, as its wonderfully healing and nourishing to the skin, and also incredibly versatile. I love the fact that it provides much needed work for women in Africa, where it’s sourced. Shea butter finds its way into most of the products I formulate.
What It Means At Christmas?
I love everything about my job. I don’t really see it as a job, more an expression of who I am. My favourite part is creating formulas that make people feel good and that make a difference. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear people’s stories about how my formulations have helped them feel better in some way.
Each year, we take great care to bring together the best of Botanicals in an exciting range of festive gift boxes. Our beautiful boxed Christmas gifts containing our best-selling natural organic skincare, for example: the Fabulous Five Hero Collection, Himalayan Infusion, Lemon Refresher and Trio of Rose gifts. All are guaranteed to stimulate the skin and the senses.
We’re a small dedicated team at Botanicals and from now until Christmas, that means all of us coming together to get the festive gift boxes ready. It’s an extremely busy time, but also a happy time. We’re very much a family at Botanicals and this time of year always reminds me of the importance of family and how it requires a collaboration of all our efforts to make everything possible.
It also brings me great delight to think Botanicals has such a loyal customer base - people who are returning to Botanicals year after year, as well as those new customers that might be receiving a Botanicals gift this year and who’ll hopefully be helped with our beautiful natural organic Botanicals formulations. Happy Christmas!