In Conversation With: Skin Alchemists Apothecary
Skin Alchemists founder Theresa was born and raised on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. She comes from a family of renowned herbalists and grew up seeing her Aunt Mano – an alchemist and the most established herbalist on the island – blending botanicals from her garden, creating remedies, tinctures and harnessing the medicinal power of plants to help local people overcome all sorts of ailments and skin conditions. Theresa now draws from the teachings of aunt Mano to distill the most potent island ingredients into game changing skincare backed by aromatherapy.
We speak to Theresa about why she started Skin Alchemist and how her products are perfect for your night time skincare routine.
Tell me a little about yourself, and what inspired you to create Skin Alchemists
Hello and thank you for inviting me to share my journey with your readers. I’m from the Caribbean island of St Lucia, a mum and I call London home. The inspiration for Skin Alchemists came from my own selfcare needs. About 8 years ago my health and skin fell victim to the fast paced and polluted city lifestyle. It was during a holiday back to St Lucia when re-united with fresh organic foods and traditional health rituals, I observed an immediate difference to my wellbeing. I vividly remembered my childhood growing up at the feet of my grand aunt Mano, a renowned herbalist in the community, watching her use massage techniques and plant medicine to heal her many patients. She was an Alchemist. On my return to London I made it my mission to reconnect with my roots and learn all I could about the nutritional value of plants. During that research I found whilst I was feeding my body nutritionally dense food, I couldn’t find skincare which met those standards, not even in natural brands. This led me to blend my own products for myself, family and friends, then friends of friends and that’s how it began.
Who are your target customers, and why?
Anyone can use Skin Alchemists, all genders, skin types, conditions and age groups. It’s never too early or late to care for your body and skin. I’m creating nutritionally dense skincare for anyone who desires to feed their skin with fresh, natural whole plant actives.
What makes Skin Alchemists completely different to all the other beauty brands out there?
The care and attention we put into producing a nutritionally dense product. It really is slow beauty. We use whole plants and extract the actives through a process that takes months. Our oils and butters are organic or wildcrafted and always raw and unrefined to maintain the full nutritional benefit. Everything is blended by hand in intimate batches. We have not released a new product in over a year and that is because we won’t release a product just to stay current on the market. Before we launch a product we consider the skin need, what ingredients best address that need, can we source those ingredients ethically, sustainably and of the quality our customers expect. Our collection is vegan, 100% natural and cruelty free.
Can you talk us through some of the skincare rituals you follow/are inspired by to create your products?
I truly believe that beauty begins from within and that’s where your diet and wellbeing come in. Using nutritionally dense skincare will meet the topical need. My personal routine consists of always cleansing with The Humble Warrior and a muslin cloth for gentle exfoliation. If I’m wearing make-up, I will double cleanse and then moisturise with a pea size amount of The Lady Helen, dabbing a few drops of Sesenne over my cheekbones for a gentle highlight. At night, I will take a few extra minutes to practice facial massage techniques or gua sha whilst cleansing with The Humble Warrior. After removing with a warm muslin cloth my skin is moist and in the optimum state to receive 4-6 drops of Sesenne massaged in whilst taking in some deep breaths to release any of the days’ tensions.
How do you go about selecting ingredients and how do you make sure they work?/ What’s your policy on using synthetics and preservatives in your products?
There are plants which have been used for generations as plant medicines with great success. We tap into that ancient knowledge to select ingredients which have a history of successfully being used to treat the skin. Some or our ingredients have been scientifically tested for a proven effect. Example our Colombian Cacay oil has been proven in lab test to have a retinol like effect on skin and the highest level of Vitamin A and F in a plant. We do not use any synthetics period and our products are mostly preserved using food grade Vitamin E. That is not to say preservatives are bad. They keep waterbased products from developing bacteria and mould. Our amazing facial cream The Lady Helen, does contain preservatives because of the presence of rose water. In this instance we use a preservative which is a natural derivative of sugar. We do not use phenoxyethanol which a lot of natural brands use.
Of the products that we’re featuring on the website, what’s the best seller, and why is it a must-need?
It has to be Sesenne facial oil which is made from a base of Amazonian Cacay oil known as nature’s retonol. Closely followed by Sweet Dreams, our intensive skin treatment candles which was formulated to induce relaxation and sleep.
Where do you see the beauty industry in the next 10 years, with regards to products designed specifically to help move the sleeping process along?
There is already a shift towards recognising the importance of mental health, wellbeing and the part sleep plays in process. I think the beauty industry will capitalise on practices which help the mind relax such as aromatherapy.
Do you think there’s an up-and-coming ingredient or practice in the market that we should keep an eye out for?
There seems to be a shift in consciousness and consumers are becoming mindful of the benefits to using traditional methods of selfcare such as massages including facial massages, using ancient tools such as gua sha and jade rollers to stimulate lymph drainage. I think we will see more of these on the market.
And finally, a few pearls of wisdom from you! Run us through your recipe for great sleep, and some do’s and don’ts that we ought to follow in our pre-sleep schedules.
I have a one year old toddler so sleep is a luxury and at night when she is sleeping I capitalise on that time to get work done. Anything from house work to running my business, managing orders emails etc. It actually becomes very difficult to pause my thoughts and calm my mind to a sleep mode. I’ve always found practising a sleep routine signals to my body its bed time. That includes a warm shower with our Sweet Dreams treatment candle lighted, the scent infuses with the steam from the shower and creates a spa like – aromatherapeutic experience. After my shower I use the warm oil all over my body particularly the soles on my feet and enjoy some chamomile tea. From that time I put away my phone. Ipad etc till the morning.
What’s one thing you recommend we do with our night time routine for better sleep and better health?
Making ourselves comfortable and it may be by using aids which will signal our brain it is sleep time such as candles, comfy pyjamas and bed linen, comfy pillows.
Shop Skin Alchemists here