Margaret and Abi Weeds of Odylique by Essential Care
Today marks the start of Organic Beauty Week, a whole week dedicated by the Soil Association to championing those brands that carries it's certification. Although this blog has never been 100% organic, mainly due to the sheer quantity of brands and products featured, championing organic brands has always been something lose to my heart. Today I have the absolute pleasure of starting the week with an interview with Abi Weeds, Director of Odylique by Essential Care. Odylique is one of a handful of brands that are Organic Pioneers, Margaret Weeds has been creating products for over 30 years, but in 2003 she joined up forces with her daughter Abi and so Odylique was born.
Odylique have an extensive range, covering everything from skincare, mother and baby to the only make up collection to be certified by both the Soil Association and the Fairtrade Foundation. The attention to detail and ingredients standards that you find in these products is exceptional, after reading many many ingredients lists I often come back to them as tried and true. Odylique cares deeply about customers with Ezcema, psoriasis and allergies and has created many products in the range that are perfect for anyone with these conditions. I personally have many favourites, so hang on to the end of the post for my Odylique top five essentials!
AGG: Why did you decide to create Odylique (formerly known as Essential Care)?
It was partly out of passion – a love of and belief in the power of nature – and partly out of need – our family has very sensitive skin and a tendency to eczema. Conventional skin care tended to increase irritation and prescription products didn’t provide a good solution. Through her experience of herbal medicine since the 1980s, Margaret came across more people searching for alternatives – such as a shampoo for psoriasis of the scalp and a soothing plant-based moisturiser – and little by little the range grew.
Margaret was also shocked at the price tag of some creams whose ingredients (mostly ‘dead’ petroleum oils and water) would literally have cost a few pence. Our aim was to create a company that formulates effective natural products based on proven highly active botanicals whilst giving our customers exceptional value for money.
AGG: You have chosen to be certified organic as a brand by the Soil Association. Why do you think organic certification is important?
For us it was important to have certification from the very beginning. Since we founded the company in 2003, there has been an increasing trend towards products inspired by nature, but many are not as natural as their label suggests. Honesty and trust are fundamental to our brand and certification goes hand in hand with that, giving customers an independent guarantee of quality, purity and freedom from potentially irritant synthetic chemicals. Certification was and still is entirely voluntary for beauty products. That’s not the case with food where certification is a legal requirement if you use organic on a label. Because of that people expect a certain quality from organic and very often they are misled.
AGG: I know you are passionate campaigners against greenwashing in the cosmetics industry and have rightly highlighted that shampoo in particular is a category where the variety in standards can make it hard to navigate. What should consumers look for if they want genuinely organic products?
There’s no real alternative to looking for the genuine logo of an organic certifier like the Soil Association or Ecocert and no justification for brands making use of the word ‘organic’ without proper certification. As a tiny start-up we made the effort to become certified – it isn’t as expensive as some tout it to be, but it is understandably strict and quite challenging to meet S.A standards in particular. Unfortunately there are a lot of brands that fashion their own ‘logos’ to look like organic certification symbols, so it’s a bit of a minefield.
AGG: Your make up range has some of my favourite products and it is fairly unique in that it is also certified organic and palm oil free. What was the inspiration behind the range and do you have plans to expand it in the future?
Thanks Ana! As with many of our products, the inspiration behind the makeup mainly came from repeated customer requests. There was so very little true natural or organic make-up available and it was the logical extension to what we do. It was the greatest formulating challenge to date and as usual we set the bar very high - caring and high performance, zero synthetics, European-made packaging and both organic & Fairtrade certifications. The whole project took us 3 years in all but as always, the lovely comments make it all worthwhile (including a comparison to MAC for our Praline/Nude Lipstick!). We’ve even had some touching testimonials from people unable to use lipstick for years (possibly due to carmine or heavy metal contaminants) who can wear ours with no problem. We’re hoping to add a tinted moisturiser and a couple of new lip colours to the range in 2016.
AGG: What are some of the benefits and challenges of formulating products to an organic standard?
Certification is quite hard-won as every ingredient, formulation, product label etc. has to be approved on the basis of its organic, clean, green, sustainable, non-GM, non-nano etc. status – an ongoing and time-consuming process. This drastically reduces the number and range of ingredients available for formulating, but importantly gives us and our customers, total assurance that our products contain none of the huge array of potentially harmful or irritant chemicals currently permitted within the cosmetics industry.
Having a narrow palette of premium ingredients fits well with our aim to create dynamic, high performance formulations with the help of the ‘genius of nature’.
AGG: What do you feel are the main benefits to the consumer of organic cosmetics?
We believe that whatever you’re looking for, well-formulated organic skin care gives better results! It has been shown that organic plants and oils contain the maximum nutrients and their natural vitamins and antioxidant content are key to neutralising those ‘free radicals’ providing natural anti-aging skin protection. For those with specific skin concerns like eczema, the right botanical extracts can offer some pretty exceptional results. It is well-known that many synthetic ingredients found in conventional skin care and cosmetics like fragrances, dyes and preservatives etc. cause adverse skin reactions, especially in those with sensitive skin. These and many other potential irritants are not permitted in organic products.
In addition to any skin benefits, supporting organic agriculture helps sustainability, the environment and animals.
AGG: The industry is rapidly changing at the moment. What do you think will be the main challenges for the future?
Large cosmetic companies are now buying up naturally inspired ranges, so as an independent company it is an ever increasing challenge to raise brand awareness without costly advertising which raises costs to the consumer.
Hopefully there will be an ever growing loyalty to innovative British brands like ours dedicated to providing excellent products, personised service and value.
AGG: How are Odylique getting involved in Organic beauty week?
We’re offering £5 off every order from our website in September to celebrate Organic Month. The week after Organic Beauty Week is National Eczema Week which is also very significant to us, so we’ll be offering a few gifts for that too. Plus we’ve got some great partnership competitions with some of our favourite organic brands throughout the month.
My Odylique top five! And yes it was hard to narrow it down:
- Odylique Mineral lipsticks (£18) Are a brilliant choice for anyone searching for a beautiful natural and organic lipstick that doesn't compromise on ingredients. As well as being organic these are also palm oil and carmine free, two ingredients I know many like to avoid but it is not always easy. I am very excited to hear there will be more colours on the way, my top pick would be Praline a nude that would suit everyone.
- Timeless Rose Moisturser (£21 for 50 mls) The Odylique moisturisers deserve far more hype than they get in my opinion, whilst both are a great choice, I love the Timeless rose moisturiser for being soothing on sensitive skin, never too heavy and the perfect base for make up. One of my most repurchased products and one which I don't say enough about.
- Coconut candy Scrub (£25 for 175 mls) Is by far one of the most delicious body scrubs I have ever used. The soft coconut scent along with the gentle but effective sugar grains and poppy seeds make it literally good enough to eat. If you are looking for somewhere to start with this brand, look no further.
- Mineral concealer (£17.50) This mineral concealer comes in a convenient stick format and is perfect for brightening under the eyes. The formula is nourishing without being too heavy and application is a breeze. Comes in two shades and I would love to see more added in the future.
- Mineral eyeliner (£12.50) For most people a good eye liner is a make up essential and for me this one from Essential care is one of the first I able to use that didn't irritate my eyes! The formula stays put well and doesn't drag when applied as well as being nice and black, a worthy addition to anyone's make up bag.