Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. What is this fascination with beauty products all about? Because let's face it, it was there long before I became interested in mindful living, and long before the words "green" and "organic" started to be part of my vocabulary, infused with special meaning. It could have been my subconscious that led me here, having had to deal with some seriously bad rashes as a kid, and acne when I was older. When your skin goes through ups and downs it is only natural to want to look after it, and it really does go beyond vanity and looking good. Yet this is still only part of the story, there was a time when I was more interested in individual products, and if the rest of the brand wasn't as clean, I didn't really care (as long as what I was using fit my ingredient standards). I still look at all the products individually, and I think it is a good model, however, what the brand stands for overall, has become increasingly more important, especially since my skin is no longer as problematic. I now have the luxury of choosing from a range of things that work, instead of sticking to that one cream that doesn't aggravate my skin.
Choice is really what it comes down to. Without realising it, especially if you tend to be pretty loyal to beauty products, you are inviting certain skincare products to be part of your life. You are applying them morning and evening, often in a rush, hoping for a particular outcome, sticking to the products if they achieve it and moving on to something else when they don't. What is it in the products that makes them work? Why do some blends seem to be akin to magic potions transforming our skin and others have no effect or even make things worse? If this question is asked of a natural or organic brand, the answer is somewhat obvious, it is all about the plants.
It is a rare brand indeed that can boast to be certified organic and to use plants grown on their own farm in their formulations. Herbfarmacy isn't just focused on botanical skincare, plants are the heart and soul here. After visiting their farm this summer and witnessing the making of Mallow beauty balm*, it brought a few things into perspective. The whole point of organic beauty is the quality of the plants and their properties. The plants are not going to have much to offer without healthy soil, so while picking up a pot of cream we might think "skincare and formulators", we really should be thinking "farming practises and formulators". There really are a lot of parallels between food and skincare. The best restaurants have not only talented chefs, they also make sure that the produce that they work with is of the highest quality. Similarly, the best skincare is not simply about the inventive formulations, it is about the quality of the plants, and all of it goes back to healthy soil.
Herbfarmacy farm is gorgeous, especially since when I visited everything seemed to be in bloom: marshmallow, mullein, calendula, echinacea, and chamomile, all contributing to a spectacular landscape. Yet none of it would be the same without Paul Richards, who's love for plants is evident every time I talk to him. It is clear that plants and their properties is what he is taken by, and I think this is why Herbfarmacy is so special. While you will find some essential oils on the ingredients lists, the plants grown on the farm are actually used as macerates and extracts. Most of the flowers, once picked (with calendula, each flower head is picked by hand), are dried, and then these flowers will go through a process of maceration, where they will infuse particular oils, before being used in final formulations. As you can imagine, this is a long process from farm to skin. The result is products that really put "care" in "skincare" (yeah, I had to go there).
About 40 minutes away from the farm, in Malvern, there is a place called Pure Hair Design. This is not simply a natural hairdressers, upstairs there is a treatment room and they offer organic facials using Herbfarmacy products. The therapist referred to Mallow beauty balm* as "skin food", and it was the true star of the facial. She used it as a first step cleanser and a nourishing mask, also employing a lymphatic drainage technique using brushes, somewhere in the course of the facial. The whole experience of having these gorgeous products used in a facial made me truly appreciate the delicate scents, and how soothing the formulations are on the skin. Mallow balm* not only smells like flower nectar, the star ingredients, marshmallow root and mullein, have fantastic skincare properties. Marshmallow holds and attracts moisture to the surface of the skin, and mullein has antiseptic properties and helps with redness, making this balm my personal winter favourite (to be perfectly honest, since it is a multipurpose product, I tend to use it all year round, but during colder months I reach for it more often).
The 30ml pot of Mallow beauty balm* is like a super hero, even if all you have is this balm, muslin cloth and access to warm water, you can still have a pretty fab nourishing pamper session. Use it to cleanse your face, like you would any other balm cleanser, taking time to massage the skin and removing it with a warm damp cloth. Follow by a generous layer of the balm, applied like a mask, place a hot cloth on top to deepen the effects, leave on for 10 minutes. After removing it all, you can apply a tiny amount to damp skin to seal in the moisture. It really is that versatile, the key is in how much and what way you are applying it.
This year Herbfarmacy is celebrating a pretty big anniversary, 10 years! Since it is such a momentous occasion and the holiday season is upon us, we have teamed up to give away 10 pots of Mallow Beauty Balm. Yep you got that right, there will be 10 winners. I decided to split it up a little, I will choose 5 winners from people who enter here on the blog, and 5 winners from Instagram entries. You are welcome to enter both here and on Instagram, I will make sure to choose 10 different people so no one walks away with 2 pots, but this way you double your chances. The giveaway is UK only, it will close on 31st of December 2016. Winners will be announced on 2 of January 2017.