I can't really remember a time when I wasn't in love with skincare. I have a thousand childhood memories of sitting transfixed in front of Mum's dressing table, eyes dazzled by gilded Estee Lauder products as she got ready for an event in a haze of YSL's Rive Gauche, or of the fresh scent of Oil of Olay's Beauty Fluid on my Nana's soft cheek when she pulled me in for a hug. I remember clearly my first foray into 'grown up' skincare with a trip to the Clinique counter aged 14, and the feeling I got when I left with that bag packed with the promise of perfect skin.
Fast forward to 2006 and aged 24, and I moved from my Manchester home to London. I worked mere metres from Oxford Street, and trips to the beauty halls of Liberty, Selfridges, Fenwicks and John Lewis, and later, to smaller stores such as Content Beauty and the wondrous John Bell & Croyden became daily occurrences. It was all with one goal in mind: to find my perfect skincare routine. Around 2010, I discovered the burgeoning world of beauty blogging and I remember thinking that I loved beauty, and I loved to write, so why should I not combine the two and start a blog myself? The Beauty Hall was born that evening, and I was about to step onto a path that would slowly but surely completely change my life.
Within a few months, I found myself on beauty PR lists and I started to attend wonderful events and receive products to try. It was dazzlingly exciting and a little overwhelming (I still regret not being brave enough to talk to Caroline Hirons at an event!) and I couldn't quite believe that all the things I had previously spent my money on were now arriving in the post without a question asked. I enjoyed three fabulous years building up my little corner of the internet, but then like most things that seem like they are too good to be true, for me, it was.
I lived in a beautiful, bright Georgian flat in Crystal Palace, and I started to notice that, almost wherever I looked, there were beauty products and makeup. My bathroom shelf groaned with cleansers, my cupboards and drawers were packed with products I had never used and that my friends and family didn't want, and my dressing table glistened guiltily with what had once been the holy grail of my blogging experience: the serums that - combined - cost the same as my monthly rent and which I could never, in all conscience, recommend to my readers as they were just too expensive. How had things got to that point? I stopped writing (and I missed it dreadfully) but I could no longer continue to encourage people to pursue the things that I had fallen out of love with. I needed something to change, and that's when my friend Alison introduced me to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
I got to Al's house one evening and it immediately felt different. 'Have you decorated?' I asked. 'No, but come and look at my sock drawer' she said, smiling. Confused, I dutifully followed, and I spent the next 30 minutes enraptured by the perfect order I saw in front of me, and marvelled at how her kitchen towels miraculously stood up by themselves. Over dinner, we talked about how stifled I felt by the hobby that had outgrown me and we resolved that the only thing for me to do was to read the book and apply the KonMari Method for myself. I could never have accurately predicted just how much the resulting purge would change me, but let's just say I threw out 73 neutral eyeshadows and eight bin bags full of clothes that I never wore.
It took around six months to complete all KonMari-related activities and at long last, in my spacious, simple flat filled with only things that brought me joy, I revisited the goal I had set to find my perfect skincare routine. It took me mere moments to realise that there was only one product that I used consistently, and that it was something that I used just once per week. I hadn't found my perfect cleanser, moisturiser or mask, and I realised that all the beauty industry's marketing had worked on me: I was just another casualty on the quest for unattainable perfection. That was the end of my blog: I couldn't be part of the illusion any longer.
So, it became time for me to set a new goal, and to do that in a meaningful, mindful way. I started to think about what I actually meant by 'my perfect skincare' routine and a few things emerged that have formed the philosophy for The Noble Apothecary. I wanted to have bright, balanced, moisturised skin that felt neither dry nor greasy. I wanted to get rid of the blackheads that had dotted my t-zone since my teenage years. I wanted to do what I could to keep my skin at its best for as long as I could. I wanted to cut down on my plastic use, and I wanted to use plant-based ingredients, as I believe that some of the best things for our bodies come from the earth. I looked around at ingredients lists and I realised I didn't know what made up most of the products I applied to my skin, so I started to research. As I researched, I wondered how necessary most of the ingredients were, so in order to understand properly, I bought a selection of plant oils and butters, emulsifiers, waxes, and containers, and I started to experiment. That was five years ago, and I can say that - hand on heart - I have made every cleanser, toner and moisturiser that has been applied to my skin ever since. And now for the key question: have I found my perfect skincare routine? Well, the blackheads have gone, I never get breakouts (even my hormonal breakouts are a thing of the past), and my skin feels balanced and comfortable. Those who have used my products report the same results, and I hope you will experience the same.
If you are seeking simplicity, want products that are effective to use and beautiful to display, that are created with love and consideration for the earth and its resources, then I hope you will find what you are looking for here.
The Noble Apothecary's journey begins with Purity Gentle Cleansing Oil, and we will be launching the next steps in our simple skincare routine in early 2019. We look forward to sharing our minimal, natural, sustainable skincare with you.