There seems to have been a big renaissance in ‘slow’ beauty. Artisanal, hand made, small batch often using wild crafted ingredients. This kind of skincare always entices me. And just like my palate likes to go globe trotting with food, I do the same with my beauty products. Somewhere on my internet adventures, I discovered Alchemy Skin and Soul, created by a British ex-pat now living in the mountains of Andalusia in southern Spain. The line is made from 100% natural, raw ingredients, organic cold pressed oils, botanical extracts and wildharvested herbs and flowers.
Organic skincare can often be pricey so part of the charm of Alchemy Skin and Soul was the reasonable prices (everything is under €15). However with online you don’t always know what you’re getting so I decided to get in touch to find out more about the company and its ingredient sourcing. The owner Natalie was open and a pleasure dealing with so I decided a little Q & A was in order to share what I’d learnt about the line:
Why is the range called ‘Alchemy Skin and Soul’?
Alchemy is the science of life, of elements and of nature. Our own personal alchemy lies within our body and mind, our skin and our soul ☺
The choice of the name is quite a personal one I suppose, it represents so many things for me; the work I’ve done and the journey I have taken to this point…it´s stuck with me. I think it speaks for the philosophy behind my brand, taking a holistic view on the health of skin and soul together.
Why do you think it is important to ONLY use raw and natural ingredients?
In terms of formulating a product, the raw, natural and high quality ingredients are the stars of the show, they shine with their abundance of health giving nutrients and energy. If one is using such a material in their product, I think it is very important to use other ingredients which are ONLY natural and match the quality. It would be a shame to adulterate such a wonderfully pure product with something artificial and cheap such as synthetic fragrances. Adding a pure, natural essential oil on the other hand does it justice, adding natural aroma, character, and therapeutic benefits to the product.
Where are the ingredients sourced from?
I source personally all our ingredients. When I started creating the formulas for many of my products years ago, I generally used what was around me in our finca here in Spain, or I took inspiration from many local produce and mountainside traditions with herbs and plants. As my business started budding I have turned to contact local producers and seek out some of the freshest, high quality ingredients around.
Spain is rich in oils from seeds and nuts and fruits, as well as flowers and herbs in abundance, we are lucky here to have quite a few remaining family run businesses and organic co-operatives which we definitely want to support by buying from them. Some of our materials simply aren´t native to Spain so I we buy from trusted suppliers, who import from Co-operatives and certified projects. It´s important to me to avoid at all costs buying produce with unknown origin, as in turn one might be unknowingly supporting child slave labour for the produce of Cacao butter or buying oils at the cost of our rainforests.
As individuals we all have a responsibility on this planet to reduce our impact and help turn around the destruction that is taking place. As a business owner I think it is a huge responsibility as it really matters where significant amounts of money are travelling to, and what type of trade you want to encourage. It really is such a huge difference that I think if all companies would take responsibility we really could make a huge difference to the quality of life and nature on our planet.
Why do you think there has been a resurgence in handmade artisan skincare?
I suppose this continues on from where I left off in the last question, a resurgence in handmade and artisanal goes hand in hand with natural and eco-friendly movement that is taking place right now. As an artisan, or running your company in this mind frame, you rely on your hands rather than machines, avoiding big industry and in general keeping everything quite local with a strong human element.
As you´ve probably noticed I’ve got quite a lot to say on this subject as it is one close to my heart. I think in the end people really want to buy and support something that is not only useful, unique or quality workmanship but the story the object carries with it, an appreciation of craft and design that symbolizes many things, supporting traditions and ancient skills and knowledge, caring for quality long lasting materials, and sustainability. It’s the opposite of the throwaway society we have become. Thankfully it’s becoming more and more fashionable to be green and eco that it is almost a standard. I mean, even “Mc Donalds” changed their branding to green. I know it’s a horrifying comparison but I like to think that somehow there is hope ☺
Have you noticed any major differences (generally) between British and Andalusian beauty routines?
I really think this is something that depends from person to person. My mother has worked in beauty and facial treatments for many years, for brands such as Guerlain so I always had access (well, she might not always have known about it) to the highest quality cosmetics and skincare so I really got to test out a lot of stuff.
I can’t note any real difference in the routine, but they love their skincare here too. My boyfriend is Spanish so I have an insider’s peek with my mother and sister in law, I can confirm that they are “loco” for their creams but also love make-up too.
I think a main difference to be noted is that many Españolas protect their skin religiously from the sun, having more sunny days means beautiful tanned skin but can result in damage, “manchas” or hyper-pigmentation, so getting burnt here is a an absolute crime ( a law which I have broken a few times being very pale and freckly!) so I suppose “they always wear sunscreen.” (a natural one ☺)
What is your personal favourite product in the Alchemy range?
All my products have a story and I love them all equally. I think if I had to choose I would say “Shakti” which is our energizing body and hair oil. I use it every single day, after my shower, to nourish my skin but I also use it for scalp massage and on the tips of my hair if they are dry. It really represents the female force of energy and nature that is shakti. The essential oil synergy I used for this blend with rosemary, lavender and patchouli is heaven for me. It’s invigorating and smells of walks though the Spanish mountainside, when you disturb the wild flowers and they release their aroma around you.
What is your top (non-product related) skincare tip?
Always wear sunscreen 😛 Apart from that though I really believe that a healthy balanced diet (getting all nutrients you need) is so important. And… facial massage is a miracle, to relax, lift and increase circulation. It also makes your products work much better. Do a course or learn on google some techniques and do it for yourself. And lots of fresh air….lots of yoga… if all else fails use a clay mask.
I now really want to try that Shakti oil! I’ll be reviewing the products I do have in due course but in the meantime you can find out more at www.alchemy-skinandsoul.com (there is an Etsy shop with reasonable shipping to the UK)
Are you a fan of ‘slow’ beauty?