Your complete guide to natural beauty

 

Here's an outline of our key products and the materials we use, broken down into the three classic stages of any beauty regime: 'cleanse', 'tone', and 'moisturise'. Some things appear in more than one section - and that's because natural skincare products are, quite, simply, magical …

 

CLEANSE …

To cleanse your skin you can go for a water-based option, an oil-based option - or an emulsion of the two, giving the best of both worlds for everyday use. The most beneficial exfoliant for skin health is fine-grained natural sea salt, since it enhances the cleansing action of water, and also replenishes the skin's mineral content as it cleans.

You can choose to cleanse to remove the natural build-up of daily pollution, sebum and sloughed-off skin cells (ie, for ordinary everyday skin health), or to remove a heavy layer of waxy make-up and/or moisturising product. Whichever of the two you want to achieve, choose the right cleansing formula for the job, and you'll find your skin stays healthy and soft - whatever else you might do to it in the meantime!

For deep cleansing of built-up skin cells, product waxes and sebum, an occasional salt scrub is the ideal solution. And a luxurious sea salt soak is the ultimate therapy, helping to keep your skin's pores working efficiently at the same time.

Believe it or not, for quick daily facial cleansing, one of our moisturising handmade olive oil soaps is both effective and enjoyable to use. Don't listen to the anti-soap lobby! They've probably only ever used the horribly denatured, harsh and caustic, modern 'milled' soaps.

To remove make-up and oily material from the face - even hard to remove materials like mascara - our completely natural Classic Cold Cream is an absolute dream. And you can cut down on dressing-table clutter, too, since once you've wiped away the dirt of the day, a light application of the same magic cream will nourish and revive your skin overnight.

In short, we have the perfect solution to every cleansing conundrum - and all completely natural,  too!

SEA SALT SCRUBS AND SOAKS

There is nothing more delicious than bathing in a proper sea salt bath. It's deeply relaxing – and has in fact been shown to measurably lower blood pressure.

It's also fantastic for helping the skin to stay healthy, deep-cleansing the pores and killing off any bacteria or yeasts that have been lurking in broken or unbroken skin.

Dead Sea salt is universally acknowledged to be the best you can get for use in the bath. In fact, it's utterly unique, in that the Dead Sea (actually a saline lake) lies 422 metres below sea level. This makes it very much saltier than water which lies at or near sea level, with salinity at more than 30%. Your common-or-ocean sea water, by contrast, is a comparatively weedy 3% – so Dead Sea water is fully ten times more saline than the stuff you ingested at Polzeath last year …

The water is placed in shallow pans at the lakeside to evaporate naturally – and the resulting salt has a mineral content very different from that of ordinary ocean water. In fact, it features significant amounts of three trace elements which are essential for human health.

Whereas the dry matter content of normal sea water is about 97% sodium chloride, the mineral content of the Dead Sea is far more interesting, with roughly: 14% calcium chloride, 5% potassium chloride, 50% magnesium chloride – and only the remaining thirty or so percent as sodium chloride.

Additionally, the concentration of bromide ions in the Dead Sea is the highest found in any body of saltwater on earth. And why should that be so significant? Well: apart from being mildly antibacterial, bromide is a famous sedative agent – which only serves to make that Dead Sea bath even more soothing …

Regular bathing with Dead Sea salt can help with eczema, acne, dry skin, cellulite, arthritis, wrinkles, stress and psoriasis. But please note: if used when skin is broken, it will not only help with healing - it will also really sting!

We also add wonderful things like oats, honey, bladderwrack and Epsom Salts to our salt products. This is unusual purely because these extra-special ingredients are expensive! But use any of our salts and you'll see exactly why we go to the extra trouble. Epsom salts are famed for their ability to draw deep-seated toxins, sebum deposits and bacteria from the skin, opening the pores and restoring the skin's natural ability to breathe. Bladderwrack, oats and honey all help to deep-cleanse and nourish the skin, also supplying the essential trace elements that help to keep it in tip-top working condition.

All our salt products are made from certified kosher Dead Sea salt. The bath soaks feature chunky, large grains, while the fine salt scrubs are perfect exfoliants; ideal for the shower, safe for use on the face, and a quick and easy way to enjoy the skin-conditioning benefits of a long and lazy Dead Sea soak.

HANDMADE COLD PROCESS OLIVE OIL SOAPS

Ours are, quite simply, the finest olive soaps you'll ever find!

With a rich, creamy lather, and fragrances composed of nothing but the very best aromatherapy-quality oils, these lovely soaps will soothe and care for your skin, leaving it without any hint of dryness.

The secret is partly in the ingredients, partly in the process - and partly in the care we exercise in creating every single handmade batch.

We use around 62% olive oil, acknowledged worldwide to produce the very finest soaps. We then add amazing natural materials like melted whole honeycomb, goat's milk, dried herbs and flowers - plus our complex blends of aromatherapy essential oils, always selected with an eye on their benefits to the skin as well as to the nose.

We only use RSPO certified palm oil from Columbia, and have also recently made a small investment in Equatorial Palm Oil Limited, a pioneering company presently engaged in renovating the extensive oil palm plantations in Liberia, laid waste during the course of the war there. We're huge fans of Nobel prizewinning President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female premiere, and we're proud to be playing our small part in helping this very special African nation get back on its feet. One day the palm oil we use in our soaps will come from there.

The 'cold' process is the most ancient and ecofriendly of all soap-making methods, using only as much energy as it takes to melt the solid palm and coconut oils before processing. Once the main ingredients are blended, nature takes over, and during the course of a couple of weeks the fatty acids in the oils completely combine with the alkaline 'lye' solution and are converted into a salt - the soap.

A cold process soap batch is a temperamental creature, its behaviour uniquely affected by changes in temperature, air pressure - and even, we suspect, the mood of the maker. Even today, no-one - not even the general biochemist - has a complete understanding of the whys and hows of this incredible process, and that's one big reason why we're still in love with the job - even after something like ten years of doing it! Compared to milled, or even hot process alternatives, a cold process soap retains the maximum amount of natural goodness - and this means that it's extra gentle and nourishing for your skin. And each one of our bars is individually hand-cut, keeping it as close to the soaps of a hundred years or more ago as it's possible for them to be.

Our soaps are so gentle that we've found they're fantastic for use as a daily facial wash, and in combination with occasional deep-cleansing with our Classic Cold Cream and salt scrubs, are all you need to keep your skin soft, beautiful and spot-free.

CLASSIC COLD CREAM

We were asked to create a powerfully nutritious night-cream – and we immediately thought of this. Galen was an ancient Greek physician, and ranks with Hippocrates as one of the fathers of modern medicine. In fact, he eventually became personal physician to several Roman emperors as his fame spread throughout the Mediterranean basin – then known as 'the world'.

Galen's original cold cream – made by melting beeswax and olive oil with rose water and vinegar – would certainly have benefitted the skin; but we couldn't resist updating it for the modern world. We've also added a Northern European twist, by substituting organic cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar Galen would probably have used.

We've used 100% certified organic extra-virgin olive oil, famed for its nourishing and antioxidant properties. We've added to that just a touch of jojoba, which is the only known vegetable source of naturally plumping collagen (all other sources involve the death of a thousand molluscs). And we have seen our wrinkles genuinely disappear!

We've used the finest Bulgarian rosewater, together with Rose Absolute, to provide the clarifying beauty benefits of roses. These include a high vitamin C content, which again is a powerful antioxidant and combats those irritating free radicals. And vitamin A and polyphenols, which are reputed to boost the skin's own natural collagen production and so – again – guard against wrinkles.

The organic cider vinegar we've also included not only adjusts the pH of the formulation so that it's easily absorbed and helps to maintain the skin's important acid mantle, but it also brings the huge range of health benefits for which the material is famed.

Whole books have been written on this subject, so we'll keep our eulogy on cider vinegar brief: it contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, all of which have a beneficial effect on the skin. Key among these are potassium (cleansing), calcium, beta carotene (a powerful antioxidant, counters free radical damage), acetic and malic acids, plus a complex of amino acids.

The acetic and malic acids give an acid pH to match the natural pH of your skin, and also inhibit fungal and bacterial activity – which helps to prevent all sorts of difficult skin conditions, most notably rough patches, blocked pores and spots.

But it's the amino acids which are the really interesting bit: Nadine Baggot's maddeningly nebulous 'pentapeptides' are in fact chains of five amino acids, held together by something called 'peptide bonds'. So dear old Nadine is actually being paid to tell us that it's the mortar we should find delightful – not the mighty cathedral it's holding together! And amino acids combined make protein – and protein feeds the skin.

This wonderful cream, in short, has everything. Simple, natural, and so gorgeous – yet still overflowing with 'the science bit'.

To use it for cleansing and removing make-up, simply apply generously, leave for a few minutes, and then wipe away with a hot damp cloth or cotton wool.

A NOTE ON ESSENTIAL OILS FOR CLEANSING

Lavender (inci name: lavandula angustifolia), eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) and peppermint (mentha piperita) are all famously cleansing, refreshing and deodorising oils.  Lavender, along with thyme (thymus vulgaris), sage (salvia officinalis) and rosemary (rosemarinus officinalis), has a powerful antiseptic action, so any product containing good quality extracts of any of these should quickly kill off those stubborn colonies of odour-producing bacteria, fungi and yeasts - leaving you smelling as fresh and fabulous as you feel!

Citrus oils are good to look for if you suffer from oily or spotty, clogged-up skin - but use with the utmost caution! They strip out natural sebum, and if overused can leave your skin feeling dried-out and sore. Lemon (citrus limonum) is of course the most effective cleanser of all the citrus oils, and mandarin (citrus reticulata) one of the gentlest. Our products contain these oils in small amounts, so should be perfectly comfortable to use for anyone, whatever their skin type.

 

TONE …

There are many natural ingredients to choose from when it's time to tone your skin. But what do we mean by 'tone'? Well, basically, it's a less harsh version of what happens when a chap applies his super-astringent, super-bracing aftershave. The key unifying factor in toners is that they wake up the skin, close up the pores, and that they're never oil-based.

The principal toning ingredients to be found in nature are nearly all what we call 'floral waters', hydrolats, or hydrosols. They're produced by distillation, a process in which the water and oil elements of plant material are separated. Apart from floral waters, alcohol (where plant materials are fermented and then distilled) and mucilages (water-based infusions of selected plants, yielding a slightly gloopy material), and home-made herbal teas are other toning ingredients.

With a little study, you can pick a natural toner to perfectly suit your skin type. Very oily, open-pored skins demand the most powerful toners, these being alcohol and witch hazel (hammamelis virginiana). Spot-prone 'normal' skins will enjoy the antibacterial properties of lavender water, maybe with a touch of witch hazel added to help close the pores. If you're lucky enough to have good, healthy young, strong skin, a splash of cold water is probably all you need - though you may want to go for lavender water again, just to guard against the yeast and bacteria which will love to live on your skin.

Delicate and older skins will enjoy the gentle, soothing effects of toning with rose water (rosa damascena or rosa centifolia), aloe vera gel, or home-made calendula or chamomile teas. Bladderwrack (fucus vesiculosus) and oats (avena sativa) can also be used to make your own mineral-rich home-made facial toners - or simply use our fine salt scrub every so often, and get their amazing benefits that way. If you do make your own toning waters, keep them in the fridge, and make a fresh batch weekly.

 

MOISTURISE …

Despite the importance of cleansing the skin to keep it healthy, moisturising the skin is where all the action is! This is where the amazing range of natural plant oils really come into their own - and where the range of possible ingredients is most exciting.

Briefly, the drier your skin is, the richer the oils it needs to stay healthy - and in some cases, the balance of oils and waxes to water-based ingredients becomes critical too, especially if you are bed-ridden, suffer from eczema, or your skin has some other extra problems making life harder. If your skin has had a hard life, or there is some other reason why it's exceptionally delicate, avoid all compounds with a water element completely, since the water helps to weaken the skin, making it more prone to mechanical damage and microbial attacks.

Vegetable oils are incredibly varied in their strengths and special properties. Who would imagine, for example that jojoba oil is actually a wax which happens to remain liquid at room temperature - or that it's the only naturally occurring vegetable source of skin-plumping collagen?! The following list gives a quick guide to which oils are most beneficial for which skin types:

Dry but strong - use products containing apricot, avocado, jojoba, extra-virgin olive oil

Dry, papery, under stress - apricot, avocado, calendula, carrot,  jojoba, starflower, extra-virgin olive oil

Normal - sweet almond, plus all the foregoing dry skin oils in smaller amounts

Oily - sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, plus all the foregoing in tiny amounts

All skin types benefit from all of the above oils, but the amounts of each one they need will vary hugely. You can tell if an oil is too weak or too rich for your skin because the time it takes to absorb increases the less you need it - and, conversely, speeds up the more your skin does need it. All skin types also benefit from the amazing properties of whole natural beeswax, cocoa butter, and the many other nutrient-packed butter type ingredients.

ROSE LOTIONS

Our rose absolute lotions are simply the most wonderful nourishment for face and body.

Both contain our fabulous organic lavender hydrolat, whole English beeswax and cocoa butter, and with their complex of soothing, moisturising and calming ingredients, make marvellous aftersun lotions. They're also great for use after exfoliation or shaving.

Rosa Plena is the richer of the two, made with apricot kernel oil, rose absolute, clarifying lemon and real sandalwood. Recommended for more mature, drier skin, and perfect for use by Rose Orange regulars when the weather turns less than gorgeous …

The lighter Rose Orange lotion features sweet almond oil, rose absolute, and sweet orange oil to help clarify the skin. It's ideal for use in warmer weather or on younger, less dry skin.

COCO BELLE ORGANIC CHOCOLATE LOTION

Made with Green and Black's organic cocoa powder, this is the closest thing to real chocolate made for the skin!

Underlying the rose-based essential oil blend you can really smell the sultry fragrance of the cocoa – and when you feel how smooth and soft it makes your skin, you'll marvel at the skin-kind power of this most unlikely ingredient!

AVOCADO CUSTARD

A super-rich skin food containing ingredients acknowledged to aid in protecting against free radicals, oxidant damage, UV B and blue light, Avocado Custard is a rich, creamy mousse suitable for use on any part of the body in need of a serious boost. Principal ingredients include unrefined cold-pressed avocado fruit, starflower, sweet almond and British beeswax. Customers have reported excellent results on eczema, psoriasis, dry and aging skin - and skin suffering from any kind of environmental stress.

It’s based on barely processed avocado, an acknowledged superfood bringing you a potent cocktail of over 25 essential nutrients including vitamin E, potassium, B-vitamins and lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid pigment, which filters out some UV B, and as much as 90% of blue light from the spectrum. Blue light is close to UV in the spectrum but penetrates far deeper into the layers of your skin, and has been shown to cause ‘oxidative stress’ in the dermis (the bottom, generative layer). Some studies have suggested that antioxidant lutein may help to counteract free radical damage – and in fact, in 2006, the first such study showed that taking a daily 10mg of lutein internally increased skin hydration, elasticity and lipid content. Lutein can’t be produced by the body, so applying or eating it is the only way to take advantage of its incredible properties. The other key ingredient is starflower oil, the richest natural source of Gamma Linonucleic Acid (GLA) fatty acids. It actually contains between 20 and 25% GLAs – an enormous amount! These have an all-round beneficial effect, helping to control metabolic processes to ensure that the body performs as well as possible. One of the strongest reputations starflower has is for combating eczema and psoriasis; all essential fatty acids contribute to cell membrane function, and are also key ingredients for the synthesis of hormone-like substances called ‘eicosanoids’, which are constantly active in repairing cells as they age or suffer environmental damage. Most starflower oil is UK-produced, too!

References: The Lutein Information bureau; Morganti, Palambo et al: "New Evidence for Efficacy of Lutein/Zeaxanthin in Skin Health" (Beyond Beauty Paris 2006 Conference Abstract).

POT OF GOLD

A superior substitute for ‘Vaseline’ or petroleum jelly, Pot of Gold is lanolin, water, paraben and petrochemical free.

Provides an effective and nourishing barrier, protecting skin from moisture - and from ambient infection. Even better, since it's generously laced with extracts of soothing calendula, repairing carrot and antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal organic vodka and lavender, it actually helps skin to heal while the protective layer is in place.

It's so amazingly versatile, customers have reported great results in all sorts of applications. We've heard of it being used to great effect in combatting things as diverse as bedsores in the elderly, and bites and scratches sustained while walking in Namibia!

We've also learnt that some wise oncology nurses are using it to protect their hands against the million-zillion handwashes and antiseptic wipe-overs they are subjected to daily.

In brief, then, this amazing product is ideal for any and all sore patches, chapping, damage, and – perhaps most importantly – nappy rash and mothers’ nipples.

Happy customer Kate McDougall told us:

"Pot of Gold is the only thing that stops my daughter's backside erupting!"

Thanks for that, Kate!

CARROT CUSTARD

Ideal for hands that do gardens, woodwork, logging, washing up, fettling … you name it: if you know some hands that do it, they will love this stuff. It’s not only a rich conditioning and moisturising cream, but it also contains ingredients including sandalwood, carrot and calendula to actually help the skin repair itself, plus lavender extract to kill any bacteria that might be hanging about. Use just the tiniest amount for quick absorption - it's so incredibly rich! And you’ll notice its amazing effect up to 24 hours after applying it – even with frequent washing!

ROSE BUTTER

This creamy and luxurious hand and nail butter is simply packed with nourishing and conditioning ingredients. With pure rose absolute, frankincense, and a host of other beneficial oils, it's also heavy on the cocoa butter and English beeswax too.

And of course, it smells quite delicious too …

Use sparingly as required, massaging well into cuticles to soften and condition. For best results apply at night so that the beneficial ingredients can soak well into the skin.

CLASSIC COLD CREAM

Please see the entry under 'cleanse', above, for full details on this amazing cream; here though are edited highlights of its wonderful moisturising and nourishing properties:

100% certified organic olive oil is famed for its nourishing and antioxidant properties. Jojoba is the only known vegetable source of naturally plumping collagen. Rose Absolute provides the clarifying beauty benefits of roses, including a high vitamin C content, vitamin A and polyphenols, which are reputed to boost the skin's own collagen production - so further guarding against the wrinkle menace. Cider vinegar contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, principally potassium, calcium and beta carotene. Other key features are acetic and malic acids (which help with absorption of mineral nutrients, give an acid pH to match the natural pH of your skin, and also inhibit fungal and bacterial activity), and a complex of amino acids, which together provide the skin with an easily absorbed form of nourishing protein. Quite amazing!

A NOTE ON ESSENTIAL OILS FOR MOISTURISING

Top of the list are all rose extracts, particularly the incredibly expensive rose absolutes (rosa damascena or rosa centifolia). It takes something like twelve thousand flowers to make a teaspoonful of rose absolute - and it's simply packed with vitamin C and other antioxidant, conditioning substances. Sandalwood (santalum album), cedar (cedrus atlantica), petitgrain (citrus aurantium), patchouli (pogostemon cablin) and geranium (pelargonium graveolens) also help skin of all types to stay in top condition, while one or two very special oils, most notably frankincense (boswellia carterii) and fennel (foeniculum vulgare), actually help to reverse the aging process and assist the skin in rebuilding itself.

 

WHAT WE MAKE - AND WHY

All our in-house skincare products and toiletries are created by us from scratch on our own premises, and made according to our own exclusive recipes. These are drawn from more than thirty years' research into the natural materials and technically exacting methods which have been used to keep people looking and feeling good for many centuries.

'The Still' brand has its origins in the specialist still room of the Elizabethan manor, and is also a respectful nod to The Still Room, the once-glorious natural skincare business out of whose ashes CL Leavey & Co and Retro Metro Co have grown.

People sometimes misunderstand our ethos, thinking that our reference to original historic recipes is all just marketing puff - and they may even suspect that we actually follow many other skincare brands, in buying huge drums of factory-made, chemical-laced 'base' products and then adding a bit of something interesting to make them smell good. In fact, we only ever started making our uniquely special skincare in protest against exactly that kind of degraded industrial product being shamelessly marketed as 'natural' - when it transparently wasn't.

Everything offered under The Still's name is handmade in small batches from natural raw materials. We're not going for volume - we're going for quality, and for user enjoyment. We make these products for ourselves, and we're just glad that we can make them in sufficient quantities to share our love of authentic natural skincare with you too.

If you see a material listed in the ingredients for a particular product of ours, you can rest assured that it's of the highest possible quality, is certified organic wherever the extra cost can be justified, and that it forms a significant proportion of that product.

You'll see on our lotions' labels, for example, that they contain 'lavandula angustifolia' (lavender) and 'aqua' (water). In fact, this actually means that nearly 50% of their volume is a single liquid called 'lavender hydrolat'. The certified organic hydrolat we use is made from hand-pumped natural spring water, slowly distilled in an English field together with freshly hand-picked organic lavender. But sadly, because of the prohibitive cost of achieving organic certification for the finished product - and because of the way EU rules dictate we must label things - the ingredients list ends up looking a lot less romantic than it actually is!

 

© 2012 Claire Leavey. Not to be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, in any territory worldwide, without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

 

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All Content © Claire Leavey 2014-16

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