Budding British brand Votary has a tagline on its website that reads:Transform your skin with natural plant oil skincare. It is the vision of Arabella Preston, a former make-up artist who set up the brand. “My mantra as a make-up artist was ‘skin first’,” she says. “I was obsessed with healthy and radiant skin and started using an oils-only routine myself – a cleansing oil to remove my make-up and then facial oils to moisturise. I saw the results on my own skin and started using the same steps on clients; that led to making my own oils at home.”The reason for the success of this routine was thanks to these plant-derived products’ affinity with the skin. “Natural plant oils are bio-identical,” explains Preston. “Your skin recognises them and lets them absorb properly. A 100 per cent natural plant oil doesn’t need the preservatives or stabilisers used in most creams.” In this sense, the transparency of Votary products is second to none. The brand makes everything in small batches in the UK, using fresh plant oils and no man-made mineral oils, petrochemicals or preservatives. The cleansing oils are becoming Votary’s hero products. Still, ‘cleansing’ oil is a concept that we in the West are still getting used to. “A natural plant-oil cleansing routine prevents breakouts by not allowing the skin to get dry and tight; it speeds up the recovery of blemishes by keeping damaged skin hydrated, reducing the chance of scarring,” explains Preston. You use a cleansing oil much like any other cleanser but with a little more ritualistic flair: Preston recommends warming three to five pumps of oil in the palm of your hand, rubbing it all over your face, then laying on a clean face cloth dampened with warm water. The steam will penetrate your pores, and then you use the cloth to gently rub away the oil and make-up. For sensitive and/or hormonal skin, Votary has developed its Super Seed Cleansing Oil, while the Rose Geranium and Apricot Cleansing Oil is a great, lightweight all-rounder. Stateside, Vermont-based Tata Harper is a brand similarly dedicated to the use of natural, botanical ingredients in its skincare, but with a more-is-more approach. “Natural ingredients are the most powerful ingredients in the world,” Tata Harper says. “Synthetic ingredients are, in many cases, cheaper and more predictable versions of natural ingredients created in labs to simplify the manufacturing process.”
So Harper sought out leading botanists and chemists to help her develop her own formulations and process, which resulted in a type of bio-engineering technology to create her signature Complex Formulas, grounded in the philosophy that more ingredients equal better effects. “We deliver clinical anti-ageing results without a single synthetic chemical,” says Harper. “Our customers can take pride in knowing that what they’re putting on their skin every day is truly natural and non-toxic.” One of the brand’s hero products is the Elixir Vitae Serum, which comprises 38 botanical ingredients engineered to be a natural solution to Botox. “We use natural flower extracts that inhibit facial muscle contractions in the same way as Botox would,” explains Harper. Joining Harper’s hero serum line-up is her new Resurfacing Serum, a product borne out of the popularity of the brand’s Resurfacing Mask. This smart formula contains carotenoids from tomatoes, which aid complexion colour correction and absorb UVA and UVB, as well as super-fruit Kakadu plum, which is known to be a major source of fruit-based vitamin C (which Harper cites as being critical for slowing down the signs of ageing). Ever the innovator, Harper is on a constant quest to see where botanicals can take us next. “Nourishment for the skin using prebiotic and postbiotic ingredients is an interesting area of technology,” she says. It seems that, much like a healthy gut, a healthy complexion relies on a careful balance of our skin microbiome. One plant-loving beauty brand doing things a little differently is Previse DermApothecary skincare, which launched in the UK earlier this year. Previse uses dermatologists to develop its plant-based innovations, which are all about serious protection, prevention and rescue. “Our approach is a labour of love,” explains Previse founder Sean Patrick Harrington. “We take information from our clients, patients and physicians, and through this we craft recipes that are clinically evaluated for their efficacy, while offering dermatological assurance.”
Harrington’s interest in the clinical side of things came from the fact that he wanted to develop a brand that offered scientifically robust formulations free from unnecessary irritants or chemicals. The brand sources sustainable, eco-certified ingredients, avoids petroleum and adheres to a Zero Fragrance policy, thereby bypassing the potential 3,000 petrochemicals used in artificial fragrances. Previse’s new Ozone Defense Nutrify, for instance, is a protective formula developed to shield the skin against myriad aggressors. Cynaropicrin from artichoke extract is a naturally occurring phytochemical that can help prevent damage from environmentally ageing factors such as pollution; while green tea extract contains polyphenols that have antioxidant and antibacterial benefits. Meanwhile, a couple of innovative products in Previse’s range are great as twice or thrice weekly treatments: the Marine Granules Skin Brightening Botanical Scrub contains fossilised algae and jojoba to buff the skin and stimulate cell renewal, while the SOS SkinRescue Healing Salve provides potent and powerful hydration through vitamin E and chamomile. If this innovative trio of brands is anything to go by, it seems that the future of skincare is, most certainly, a triumphant and verdant green.