FROM LONDON, WITH LOVE: A BEAUTY GUIDE “MADE IN ENGLAND”, PT. III
Carla Valois Lobo
Our English beauty guide is finally completed with today’s part three. Six dazzling brands – Real Techniques, Balance Me, Liz Earle, Eve Lom, Merumaya and The Body Shop – are listed below but with this last instalment we also would like to ask you: of the 18 companies we’ve presented here, which one is your favourite?
Makeup artist Samantha Chapman recorded her first tutorial due to a friend’s request in 2008. She was then pregnant and living in Norwich after years of working in London as a freelancer. Soon her sister Nicola joined her, and their Pixiwooo channel in YouTube started to take off. Three years later, they already had over 30.000 subscribers. In 2011, Samantha and Nicola, in partnership with Paris Presents Inc., launched Real Techniques.
Since the first collection, Real Techniques’ brushes have been recognized by its high quality. They’re cruelty-free and manufactured with synthetic fibers, such as taklon. The brand offers makeup tools for creamy, liquid and powdery products and recently introduced a luxury line, called Bold Metals. Real Techniques are currently available in over 50 countries. As for Samantha and Nicola, they continue posting weekly videos on Pixiwoo – with almost 2 million subscribers at present.
Editor’s experience: I really, really enjoy Real Techniques’ brushes. My all-time favourite is the Expert Face Brush, which is perfect for blending liquid or cream foundation. I also have the Duo Fiber Collection, the Starter Kit and the Setting and Stippling brushes. In the UK, the brand is stocked at Boots.
Balance Me was founded by sisters Clare and Rebecca Hopkins in 2005 as a ramification of their previous venture, Balance Being. Clare used to work in management consultancy, whereas Rebecca was studiying in Paris and doing an internship at L’Óreal. They both decided to retrain – Rebecca as a reflexologist, Clare as a yoga teacher – and set up the previously mentioned Balance Being, which offered services to corporate clients. Meanwhile they were also producing aromatherapy products in their kitchen. Eventually Topshop requested them 200 body polishes to give as a gift in a launch event, which led to a pop-up shop in the retailer’s store in Oxford Street.
Thanks to the pop-up shop, John Lewis approached Clare and Rebecca, and Balance Me was officially born. Shortly after Sian Jones joined the brand, which now is stocked in Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods and Debenhams as well. It also offers delivey in over 40 countries via its website. Balance Me does not use parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, silicones, DEA, PEGs or artificial colours and fragrances, and its products are mainly formulated with plant-based ingredients, especially essential oils.
Editor’s experience: I first discovered Balance Me when I was researching brands to write this guide, and I should say I’m really satified I did. Balance Me has brilliant products, such as the Super Toning Body Polish that was recently featured on Morning Beauty’s Top 10 Best Body Scrubs. My favourite however is the wonderfully scented Radiance Face Oil, which is made with chamomile, rosemary extract and sweet almond, grape seed, jojoba, rosehip, moringa seed and camellia essential oils.
Liz Earle was already a successful author and TV presenter – she hosted programmes for BBC – when she decided to found its eponymous brand with longtime friend Kim Buckland in 1995. According to an interview to “The Telegraph” in 2008, her struggle with eczema and the subsequently control of the problem through the use of evening primrose oil was the main inspiration to the venture: “I had tried everything for it before, but after seeing the nutritionist and watching my skin clear, the penny finally dropped”, she revealed.
Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, which was conceived as a high-end yet affordable brand, initially had only four plant-based products and was sold via mail order. In 1996, it was launched on QVC – apparently its first product broadcasted was sold out within 30 minutes. Five years later the brand opened its store in Ryde, Isle of Wight, where the company’s HQ is based, and in 2002 it was introduced online. In 2006, its first store in London was inaugurated, located in Chelsea. Liz Earle currently employs over 600 people, delivers in more than 80 countries, and is stocked by Boots, John Lewis and Fenwick.
Editor’s experience: Liz Earle’s products are outstanding. They’re naturally-delivered and mainly produced with plant oils and extracts, yet they’re surprisingly affordable. My favourites are the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, the Instant Boost Skin Tonic and the Skin Repair Moisturiser Light but I also enjoy using the Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask and the Brightening Treatment Mask , which I try using once a week.
The brand’s body range is really good as well. I have the Nourishing Botanical Body Cream and the Orange Flower Botanical Body Wash. I’m now looking forward to testing the makeup range.
Born in the former Czechoslovakia, as a child Eve Lom used to help her witch doctor grandmother by picking up herbs, fruits and plants into the hills. “It stuck with me and I still use camomile in my facials today”, she told the Daily Mail in 2008. In 1968 however Lom, then 18 years old, fled to Paris as the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia, and there started working as a dancer. Later she married actor Herbert Lom and moved with him to the US, where she met facialist Georgette Klinger. Lom became a facialist herself and, when she moved to London, she set up a salon in 1983 and started mixing ingredients to make her own products. Two years after she launched her eponymous brand.
Lom’s marriage ended – though she kept her former husband’s last name –, and in 1994 the brand was stocked in Dickins & Jones. It became so successful, especially due to its award-winning cleanser, that years later was sold to Space NK. Nowadays Eve Lom’s products are available at Harrods, Fenwick, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis, Liberty, Selfridges and, needless to say, in all Space NK’s stores in the UK, Ireland and the US.
Editor’s experience: the first Eve Lom’s product I tested was the cleanser, which is amazingly good and smells divine (it was included on Morning Beauty’s Top 10 Cleansing Balms). I also have the Rescue Mask, the Flawless Radiance Primer, and the Kiss Mix, a lovely wax-based lip balm. Although they’re all really great, the cleanser, which is made with a blend of cocoa seed butter and chamomile, clove, hops and eucalyptus essential oils, is outstanding. It removes makeup and traces of dirt and gently exfoliates the skin as well.
The daughter of parents that came to London from Zanzibar and Tanzania, Maleka Dattu trained as a hairdresser – she never practiced it though – and with 29 years old began working for brands such as Clinique, Origins and Lancôme. She held positions in marketing, communications, product development and general management and in 2006 was chosen Achiever of the Year by CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women). In mid 2010, she started developing Merumaya Integrative Effective Skincare, which was finally launched in October 2012.
According to Merumaya’s website, its mission is to produce “evidence-based, anti-ageing skincare products that are valued for the active ingredients” the brand puts in, rather than the ingredients that are left out. Merumaya, which is also highly committed with the affordability of those products, is currently stocked in John Lewis and is also available through QVC UK. Interesting fact: Merumaya is a made up word. It came from the two first letters of Maleka’s father, mother and sister names plus hers.
Editor’s experience: I met Maleka Dattu a few months ago. We had a lovely chat at the Berner’s Tavern, where she told me her compelling story – she is very passionate when she speaks about Merumaya! Since then I’ve been using the brand’s Melting Cleansing Balm and the Iconic Youth Serum. These two products are really good and were previously featured on Morning Beauty: the Melting Cleansing Balm is on our Top 10 Best Cleansing Balms and the Iconic Youth Serum was recently included on our Top 10 Best Face Serums.
Dame Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in 1976 in Brighton. She then had only 25 products formulated but they were already all manufactured with natural ingredients and cruelty-free. The brand expanded very quickly, and two years later opened its first overseas franchise in Brussels, Belgium. By 1985, with stores in over 20 countries, The Body Shop became a public company in London Stock Exchange. In 2006, L’Oréal bought it for £652,3 million.
Although Roddick died the following year, her business legacy stays very much alive as The Body Shop nowadays has more than 2.500 stores worldwide and its ranges includes over 300 products. After L’Oréal purchased the brand – a controversial acquisition to say the least –, The Body Shop de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and was revamped, especially from 2012.
Editor’s experience: I really enjoy the brand’s body range, particularly its body butters and scrubs. I’m currently using the shea body butter, shower cream and scrub – the latter was featured on Morning Beauty’s Top 10 Best Body Scrubs –, the absinthe hand cream, the coconut lip balm and the Spa Wisdom Africa Shea Butter & Sesame Oil Body Balm.