Neal's Yard Remedies is an award-winning natural health and beauty brand based in London, England.
Founded in 1981 by Romy Fraser the company is known for its commitment to sustainability and was the first high-street retailer in the UK to be certified carbon neutral.
At a purpose-built eco production facility in Devon they formulate 100% natural and up to 95% organic skincare. At present the range contains cleansers, toners, moisturisers, masks, scrubs, serums, oils, lip care, eye creams, sunscreens, bath foams and salts, haircare and personal hygiene products.
I spoke to Susan Curtis, the Natural Health Practitioner at Neal's Yard Remedies, about sourcing the best ingredients, supporting ancient tribes, and what's next for NYR.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AS NATURAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER ENTAIL?
My background is as a practitioner of natural medicine – I trained as a homeopath and naturopath in the 1980s – and I look after everything to do with natural health. This includes product development, training and education, writing books and articles, legislation, and, most fun of all, visiting many of our suppliers all over the world. In the past couple of years I have been fortunate enough to visit a women's cooperative in Morocco where we get our argan oil, the Samburu tribe of northern Kenya where we get our FairWild certified frankincense oil, and a fair trade plantation in Madagascar where we source several of our exotic essential oils such as ylang ylang and vetiver.
WHY DO YOU FEEL IT'S IMPORTANT TO USE NATURAL INGREDIENTS?
Our bodies absorb 60% of what is applied to the skin. Unlike mineral-based synthetics, which can block the pores and impede the natural function of the skin and contain thousands of toxic chemicals that are now proven to be dangerous, the body can utilise natural ingredients so that their effect is nourishing, purifying and rejuvenating.
FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?
The essential oils and herbs come from all over the world: some, like English lavender and peppermint, are grown close to home; others, such as ylang ylang and palmarosa, need a tropical climate to grow. We always try to buy organic when available and ensure the ingredients are harvested sustainably and traded fairly. We are the first beauty company to achieve Fair for Life certification which demonstrates our commitment to fair trade and ethical products.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PRODUCTION AND PACKAGING PROCESSED ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE?
The aforementioned Fair for Life certification means that our practises are inspected annually to ensure that we conform to the correct standards. We are also proud to have won a 100/100 rating from the Good Shopping Guide. It's tough, though, to ensure that every single activity is as good as it can be so we put a lot of resources into checking things against our policies and are always trying to constantly improve.
YOUR FAVOURITE PRODUCT IN THE LINE:
I have two. As a tennis player, I love Arnica Muscle Salve as it solves any aches and pains I pick up after a match. And I have become completely addicted to our age-defying Frankincense Intense Cream because I have been lucky enough to visit the amazing Samburu women who collect the Frankincense resin from the bush in Northern Kenya and it really works!
WHAT'S NEXT FOR NYR?
For over thirty years we've believed in offering our customers products for both skincare and well-being – including herbs, tinctures, superfoods, supplements and therapies – but recently we've seen our customers' understanding of the relationship between inner health and outer beauty grow; well-being is no longer a trend, it's a way of life. This is really exciting news, and it is our hope that Neal's Yard Remedies will become seen as a one-stop-shop for health and well-being.
THE SECRET TO RADIANT SKIN IS...
Eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water and use only natural skincare products; it all pays off in the long run.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
I've always enjoyed cooking and good food and eat a really wide range of things – you can't afford to be fussy when you travel as much as I do. I base my diet on whatever vegetables are available and I eat a little meat and fish when I trust its provenance.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
I believe that if you live your life with passion and a sense of purpose most health challenges can be resolved along the way – it's a constant process really. I do have a stressful job and I find meditation, calming herbal teas and regular acupuncture have been really beneficial in helping me to find balance.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Life has its ups and downs but I have a wonderful family, friends and a job I love – I've been incredibly lucky.