REN Skincare is a London-based producer of luxury skincare.
Founded in 2000 by Robert Calcraft and Antony Buck, the brand is renowned for its high-performance formulas, rigorous testing and commitment to using 100% plant and mineral-derived ingredients.
At present REN's expansive range contains cleansers, moisturisers, serums, exfoliators, masks, over-night treatments, BB cream, eye care, lip care, body washes, lotions, scrubs and oils, bath oil, hand wash, hand cream, shampoo and conditioner. With the exception of the Evercalm Anti-Redness Serum, Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser, Vita Mineral Lip Balm and the Vita Mineral Emollient Rescue Cream, every is suitable for vegans.
Each REN product I have tried has earned a place in my regular rotation – and, although I prefer to put value before cost, it should be noted that their line is infinitely more affordable than others of the same quality.
I spoke to Marielle Alix, leading facialist and REN's Head of Therapy, about the importance of effective natural ingredients, the secret to radiant skin and what will come next.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND REN SKINCARE?
"Chance happenings" can lead to big, long-lasting ideas. In this case, co-founder Antony Buck's wife happened to be pregnant and she reacted to all the skincare ranges she was used to. He and co-founder Robert Calcraft realised that the only choice consumers had was either high tech products full of chemicals or natural, low-tech skincare that tended to be on the pungent, oilier side. They decided to create high-quality, effective skincare stripped of chemical ingredients that felt and smelt amazing, too.
WHY DO YOU FEEL IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO USE NATURAL INGREDIENTS?
First of all, it's safer. A lot of what we put on our skin ends up being absorbed by the body and some synthetic ingredients can create allergic reactions or disrupt our hormonal and immune systems in the long term. As our wonderful REN pharmacologist will concur, there is also the fact that natural ingredients are better assimilated by our skin. Natural substances are recognised by the skin and therefore get to work faster where they are needed. Essential fatty acids repair the all-important cell membrane and reduce any lurking inflammation, natural peptides get to build stronger skin by boosting collagen or elastin. Natural fruit acids give you fabulously glowing skin without causing irritation. In the end any inflammatory reaction is skin ageing, so why create inflammation with synthetic ingredients? And we have learnt that the skin also has its own fauna and flora. Natural ingredients respect its fragile ecosystem.
FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?
Sources are varied. We like to use the most efficient bio extracts. In our V-Cense range, we use Egyptian Frankincense because it is reputedly the best in the world. Our amazing Bio Retinoid range uses one of Brazil's tiniest plants, White Beggar's Stick Flower, which acts as a retinoid analogue to help reduce wrinkle depth. And most people know about our signature fragrance, the Moroccan Rose Otto Oil, which comes from small farms just south of Marrakesh.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PRODUCTION AND PACKAGING PROCESSES ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE?
Keeping our production and packaging processes as ethical as possible has been part of our principles since day one. The great thing is that it's easier these days – recycled and recyclable containers, vegetal inks, even recycling everything in the office. And we choose our manufacturing partners carefully. It has to be a decision and a rule you adhere to. Our loyal fan base follows us for that reason, too.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PRODUCT IN THE RANGE?
I am known for being a fan of our Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil – over the years, I have seen so many people's skin transformed by it! Skin becomes more radiant and supple overnight, the itchiness and ugly redness of eczema disappears and even post-op scarring heals much faster. It actually contributed to my own skin healing for dermatitis. "Omega 3s from the inside out and the outside in" is my motto.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR REN SKINCARE?
Exploiting the latest technologies in natural ingredients is what drives us and the future looks promising. From eye serums that instantly lift and firm to oxygen-boosting mists... I can't say any more but there is plenty to look forward to!
THE SECRET TO RADIANT SKIN IS...
I'm a naturopath, so for me radiant skin is as much about what you put on it and what you put inside. A good foundation regime includes gentle but effective cleansing and proper moisturising and protecting with lots of fatty acids. And once these daily essentials are covered, I believe in regular facials. They boost oxygen and nutrients deep in the skin and you get that "back from holiday" glow. I am fussy; facials have to include proper massage to get rid of the tension we hold in our muscles.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
I'm what you'd call a flexitarian. My regular diet has to include lots of beautiful vegetables. I grew up eating the best ones ever – straight from the garden of my farming parents in Normandy. Even lettuce had a naturally sweet taste. I cook everything from scratch and love experimenting.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
Yoga is what helps bring me back to my centre. If I start blaming the world for everything that's gone wrong in my life, I know I need to get back to my mat pronto! I love hot vinyasa at Islington Yoga Haven and since I spend half my time in Paris, I have joined a beautiful studio there called 'Tigre'.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
A balance of time spent with loved ones and time spent in my own company, recharging my batteries – whether learning, reading, doing yoga or daydreaming.