Ditch your mainstream lotions and check out these botanical potions.

Are your beauty products loaded with confusing chemicals? Are they churned out by glossy, billion-dollar cosmetic companies? If you look around you, that needn’t be the case. Across the globe, the apothecary beauty scene is booming.

According to Forbes magazine, ‘The natural beauty market is currently valued at $11 billion and is predicted to grow to $25 billion by 2025.’

We are talking here about nourishing formulations created with meticulous care; small brands that use natural ingredients where possible; and, usually, enchanting, vintage-style packaging that you are proud to have on display.

Check out these brilliant apothecary-style brands that are taking us back to simpler times.

AS APOTHECARY


This one is a dream come true. Describing itself as a ‘small batch distillery’, AS Apothecary makes natural scents, creams and balms out of flowers, bark, leaves, roots, blossom and moss. The founder, Amanda Saurin, is a traditional apothecary, having worked with herbs and homeopathy for years before setting up the business. Its luxurious and sensual Grapefruit and Sandalwood Bodywash deserves a spot on every bathroom shelf. If you can make it to its HQ in Lewes, East Sussex, do treat yourself to an AS Apothecary Signature Facial.

IN FIORE


‘Perfumery as medicine’ is the strapline of this pioneering American brand. Its mission is to harness the power of plants to optimise skin function and stimulate healing. The passion project of modern-day apothecary Julie Elliott, it was founded in San Francisco in 1999. Forbes says: ‘Formulating skincare is practically a religious experience for Elliott. A student of healing modalities including Ayurveda, anthroposophical science, plant alchemy and energy medicine, she studies the correlations between botanicals, essential oils and their effects on the human spirit.’ When she started out – wanting to take ‘natural skincare out of the health food store and into the luxury department store’ – Elliott met with a lot of resistance. She stuck to her guns, though, through the five years it took the firm to make a profit. Now In Fiore is a favourite of natural beauty experts worldwide. We hear amazing things about the Firming Eye Complex.

EVOLVE ORGANIC BEAUTY


Set up a decade ago, Evolve Beauty is a British, artisanal personal-care brand. Founder, Laura Rudoe, says: ‘I believe it is time for beauty to evolve. Society is coming full circle and realising that choosing natural ingredients is better for us and our world. Together with a small team of artisans, I design and make each product carefully by hand in our small studio in Hertfordshire. This ensures the freshness of the precious antioxidants in the natural oils, butters and extracts.’ Its Hyaluronic Serum 200 gets rave reviews and has won several industry awards.

AUSTIN AUSTIN ORGANIC


Behind this glorious brand of bath products is the Norfolk-based father and daughter duo, Richard and Bessie Austin. They say: ‘We want every bottle of Austin Austin to be of exquisite quality, to be a canvas for artwork on the bathroom shelf and to be priced in a way that ensures that our products don’t become too precious to be properly enjoyed every day.’ The whole range is produced in East Anglia, tested only on people and comes is stunningly designed recyclable packaging. The branding – designed by the artist, Christian Newby – is smart, distinctive and thoroughly pleasing. There is nothing not to love. We feel sure that a bottle of the Bergamot & Juniper Shampoo would enhance our morning routine.

ILOVESKIN


This tiny label is all about simple, natural and effective ingredients. Founder Danielle Berends, a naturopath, makes everything in small batches and tests it on her friends and family before marketing it. The range currently includes two face oils, a serum and a scar oil. Unusually and wonderfully, sample sizes are available for a small fee. Packaging is minimal and each bottle or jar is recyclable and reusable. We predict this one is going to fly…

AESOP


A smart pair of Aesop bottles beside the basin is, these days, the mark of a truly fashionable house or hotel (some lock the bottles in place, such is their cult status). The Australian brand has come to be synonymous with sophisticated, modern and tasteful living. Established in Melbourne in 1987, Aesop is among the greatest gifts Australia has ever given us. Though its revenue is now more than £200 million, it has retained a very tangible soul. They say: ‘A sincere interest in intelligent and sustainable design extends to every aspect of Aesop’s workings.’ We say: buy us anything from the range and we will love you forever. A glimpse at the smart, clean, medicinal-but-chic bottles or a sniff of their exquisite contents makes you feel that everything is all right with the world.

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By Becky Ladenburg
January 2020