With the high street paralysed in lockdown, handmade skin care brands have found a new and growing audience online. They are filling a gap in a niches that, for decades, have been dominated by global big hitters. The anti-ageing market, for one, faces disruption from artisan manufacturers lovingly churning out everything from eye serums to moisturising soaps.
Often advocates of all-natural ingredients, their growing presence in the marketplace is being propelled by a desire to support small businesses. Even the giants of ecommerce have recognised the benefits of throwing a spotlight on handcrafted beauty products. And consumers are lapping it up. In fact, they are driving change with a sharp shift in buying preferences. In the same way that ready meals have been replaced by home cooking, skin care has taken on a more wholesome theme. Women, in particular, are turning away from synthetic products, favouring those formulated with organic ingredients such as natural butters, frankincense, vitamins and essential oils.
A gradual shift from physical retail outlets to online stores has been amplified beyond all expectations as a result of the pandemic. In 2019, it was estimated around 20 per cent of purchases were made through the internet. That percentage has spiralled over the past year, with Internet Retailing reporting the figure increased by 28 per cent in February 2021 alone.
So, who are these brands and what makes them stand out from the crowd?
Founded by a woman who first developed her own plant-based skin care products to combat psoriasis and dry skin, Olivia Carter focuses on chemical and perfume-free creams made from unrefined organic ingredients. With a strong emphasis on product safety, the range promotes healthy, glowing skin – and has attracted a staple following from those who want to know exactly what they are putting on their face.
One of the brand’s stand-out products is a hand-blended eye cream made with organic Shea and mango butter with Tamanu and essential oils. Described as ‘lightweight’, it nourishes and soothes while hydrating. Olivia Carter is winning plaudits for its use of proper brown glass to preserve potency.
The Clovelly Soap Co.
Based in Devon, this family business doesn’t just produce handmade soap. It is making waves with a natural deodorant, shampoo bars, bath products, candles and even a skin care range for dogs. Ethical, this is a company committed to sustainable, traceable and all-natural ingredients.
Its Handmade Patchouli Soap Bar is impressing even seasoned reviewers. Cold pressed and moisturising, it is packed with a remarkable glossary of ingredients and is suitable for vegans. With more than one product range on offer, The Clovelly Soap Co. is one of those artisan brands worth discovering before the high street beckons.
The Ilex Wood
Based in Nottinghamshire, this brand is all about taking skin care back to basics with simple, uncomplicated yet effective formulas. Founded by Holly, who tired of big brands making ‘miracle’ promises with expensive products and long-winded ingredient lists, she handmade her own using expert knowledge of plants. The Ilex Wood concentrates on environmentally-friendly skin care – and everything is made by hand and by Holly herself. She is passionate about using natural products with benefits consumers understand.
The vegan product range includes herbal salves, balms (including cleansing balms), face oils and creams. Impressing reviewers is a 60ml anti-ageing Rose and Frankincense Face Cream. It is made from all-natural ingredients and no water. As well as rose and frankincense, it includes geranium and lavender oils.
Made in Brighton, Remnant Beauty products are handmade using ethically sourced ingredients and sold in amber glass jars. Founded by Michelle, its signature product is a tallow balm – devised to heal cracked skin following a personal illness. The skin care range has expanded to moisturisers, night creams, cleansing oils and butters, and even a sunscreen.
Popular is the Night Cream with Lard. Suitable for those with dry, sensitive skin, as well as eczema and rosacea, it is an anti-ageing barrier cream that repairs and moisturises in one hit.
Today’s note to readers: It is fantastic to be throwing the spotlight on artisan UK skin care brands. There is certainly an appetite for products with all-natural ingredients and, it seems, small businesses are really rising to the challenge. For mature skin, this is great news – products that are less likely to irritate the skin!