With a brand ethos dedicated to providing honest, sustainable and ethical products, Skin & Tonic are one of the latest #GreatBritishBeauty brands to emerge on the green scene. Providing a range of uncomplicated, handmade, natural and organic skincare, predominantly sourced within the UK and formulated in their Hackney studio – Skin & Tonic’s range of unisex, multi-use, functional products are not only beneficial to our skin, but to the planet, environment and all those involved in the process of production too.
This week we caught up with founder Sarah to chat about her conscious and creative formulations, why less is always more and their must-have products we all should be stocking up on this season.
How did you come to create the Skin & Tonic brand?
I started looking for simple, organic skincare about 4 years ago when I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. I decided to cut out all synthetic chemicals from my skincare regime as some are known to be endocrine disruptors. However, I found the natural beauty industry to be a minefield of ‘green-washing’. Many brands lacked transparency; the excessively long lists of synthetic ingredients, the big promises and the blatant gender discrimination drove me mad! I wanted to use minimal, sustainable and organic skincare products that were also stylish.
Back then I was still working as a super stressed TV exec. I gradually realised that my career and lifestyle were making me very unhappy. What I really wanted to do was launch a sustainable skincare line and one day it dawned on me that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t do something about it. So, I quit my job and used my savings to retrain in aromatherapy and skincare formulation. I started making very simple, organic products in my kitchen and within no time, a severe case of dermatitis had cleared up and my skin started to look great.
The creation of Skin & Tonic, though, has been a truly collaborative process: my boyfriend, Josh, left his job earlier in the year to co-found the business with me. We both love working with people and get a real buzz from their ideas and inspiration. Together, we worked closely with friends, family and old colleagues to develop a very British, sustainable and organic skincare brand.
We love your ‘less is more’ ethos; explain how you came to decide that 7 ingredients would be the maximum contained within each product?
Aw thanks! I believe skincare can work on the same basis as good, home-cooked food: there’s nothing like a home cooked meal, right? Simple, organic skincare has the same principle: simply formulated products that use therapeutic, raw plant based ingredients feel incredible on your skin as they are naturally assimilated with our bodies and can aid both our physical and mental wellbeing. In my opinion, cheap fillers, mineral oils and synthetic preservatives have no place on the skin.
We select our ingredients very carefully by insisting that they have therapeutic properties. After some experimentation with our launch offering, we decided that any more than 7 ingredients would simply be too much (especially for those who suffer with sensitive skin). After all, it is vitally important to us that our customers clearly understand exactly what they are putting on their skin and how the ingredients benefit them.
With a carefully selected number of ingredients used within each product, a lot of thought must go into what is included. Can you describe your selection process?
Well, first of all, the ingredients must be organic and sustainable. Secondly, they must aid both the mind and the body, as we believe the two are totally interconnected. We then look to ensure that the ingredients are as effective and multi-dimensional as possible; like our products themselves. Lavender and Chamomile, for example, are not just anti-inflammatories for the skin. They also have sedating properties so that they calm your mood, they are cytophylactic so they heal scar tissue, they are great at soothing tension headaches and aching muscles and, best of all, they are grown and distilled in the UK!
Skin & Tonic prides itself on really knowing its organic suppliers, tell us about some of the organic suppliers you work with both locally and internationally and the part they play in the Skin & Tonic brand.
We are 100% committed to conducting our business in a sustainable way. With this in mind, we keep our products as local as possible so that we reduce our carbon footprint and we support small, local producers wherever we can as investing in our community and environment is really important to us. This philosophy also lends itself really well to the British aspect of Skin & Tonic: our Borage, Thistle and Marshmallow Root oils are all organically grown and distilled in the UK and our Oatmeal, Calendula and Cornflour are sourced from wonderful small producers around Britain.
We also work closely with an incredible producer of essential oils who has built a chalet distillery high up in the southern French Alps (it is literally heaven on earth and the air is so clean and crisp). He distills on site from wild harvested ingredients, creating the purest essential oils I have ever come across. You can really feel the potency in our products, which comes down to the unique growing conditions achieved at such altitude and with all that beautiful sunshine!
With ingredients like Shea Butter or Coconut Oil, that simply cannot be found locally, we source from fair-trade women’s co-operatives in Ghana and Sri Lanka. This guarantees quality while enabling women in societies less advantaged than our own to earn a fair income to help support their families. It is imperative that we know where our ingredients have come from, how they were grown and how they have impacted people along the way.
How do you suggest we use the Skin & Tonic range as part of our daily skincare regime?
We’ve designed our products to be as multifunctional as possible. Here’s what I recommend as a daily face routine:
1. Start with our Steam Clean. This incredible cleansing balm removes dirt, impurities and even make up. Massage a pea-sized amount onto your face and then wet our organic cotton cloth with warm water and place it over your face; this activates the oils and opens your pores. The Spearmint and Eucalyptus oils are reviving and clearing as well as antibacterial and antimicrobial. This is a great way to clean your skin and awaken the senses.
2. Follow cleansing with a splash of cold water or use an alcohol-free toner and then go for our Gentle Scrub. This soothing scrub is perfect for all skin types; it can be used daily or if you need a serious detox, leave it on for 15 minutes as a face mask once a week. The scrub is in powder form, made with French Pink Clay, British Oatmeal and crushed Rosehips (so we don’t have to use preservatives). You just add 1/2 teaspoon of water to make a paste. If you fancy a change, add honey or yogurt to create a nourishing, hydrating mask.
3. To moisturise, add a couple of drops of our Brit Beauty Oil to the palms of your hands and massage onto your face in upward strokes. This serum is made from gentle, lightweight British oils that are packed full of omega-3 and omega-6, both of which encourage cellular function. You can also apply a couple of drops to the palms of your hands, cup them over your nose and breathe in the uplifting Neroli; perfect to calm the spirits after a long day! (If you use a moisturiser, you can add a couple of drops of Brit Beauty Oil when you need a hydration boost; particularly good during the winter months when the skin can become dry and irritated).
Our ultimate wellbeing product, the Calm Balm, is an everyday handbag/rucksack essential! I take one with me everywhere and can’t function without it! It’s incredibly versatile and soothes both your skin and your mood. Here are a few uses:
- Massage a small amount into your wrists and temples then breathe in deeply to help calm your mood in moments of stress.
- Apply to dry, delicate or cracked skin for a hydrating moisture boost.
- Massage into your muscles pre and post yoga sessions to help deepen your practice.
- Apply to sore, dry lips.
- Add a small amount to your mineral powder and apply as a foundation, creating a dewy, fresh look.
- Combine with our Gentle Scrub to make a nourishing hand and foot exfoliator.
- Apply to palms then cup over your nose, take three deep breathes before bed to help lull yourself off to sleep…zzz
We love the Skin & Tonic mantra ‘people, planet and THEN profit’ – what are some of the practices the brand uses to ensure this mantra is fulfilled?
- We started this business because we believe everyone deserves to know exactly what they are putting on their bodies, where it comes from and who it impacts. This commitment to honesty and transparency is at the very heart of Skin & Tonic.
- We hand craft all our products in our Hackney workshop and plan, as we grow to create jobs for people in our local community.
- We are committed to supporting small, organic and fair-trade farmers and producers who go about their business in a positive and responsible way.
- We donate 10% of our profits to the amazing Charity Water (www.charitywater.org) who provide clean water and sanitation to those who need it most.
- We use recyclable packaging and offset our carbon footprint by planting trees in the Suffolk countryside.
- We do not test on animals (we like bunnies way too much!) and will not do business with any company that does.
SHOP THE RANGE: We have a lovely launch offer for you. Shop the Skin & Tonicrange during Organic September Beauty Week (Sept 8th – 14th) and spend £35 or more and you’ll receive a gift of a Gentle Scrub. While stocks last and limited to one per person.