Organic and natural beauty often gets a bad rap for efficacy thanks to its perceived lack of scientific advances and active ingredients. That most actives tend to be sourced from bits of fruit, bark or leaves is rarely acknowledged even by the natural beauty brands themselves as a result of marketing strategies that emphasise the holistic and the pure. All this has meant that natural beauty brands have ended up being pigeonholed as a choice that’s pleasant for bath and body but not worth investing in as a serious skincare option. Dr Haushka and Natura Bissé are honourable exceptions but in both cases, success has been achieved by playing up backgrounds in dermatology and spa therapies respectively.
So where does this leave consumers looking for skincare that packs a serious anti-ageing punch but also has impeccable ethical credentials? The answer until recently has been high and dry with options limited to Dr Haushka and Natura Bissé plus one or two others. But with the recent UK launch of French organic brand Melvita and Canada’s Tata Harper, things could be about to change. The Ecologist put the twosome to the test.
Founded by beekeeper and biologist Bernard Chevilliat in 1983, Melvita began life as a company focused on creating soap, lotions, shampoos and other products designed with everyday use in mind. Initially based on honey, by 1993 the brand’s remit had expanded to include ECOCERT certified botanicals and active skincare. Although the original Ardeche bee farm has expanded into an ‘ecological factory’ complete with solar panels and a living roof; bee keeping and bees themselves remain a central part of the brand’s iconography with beehives located on the roof of Melvita’s Covent Garden store.
We say: If you combined Caudalie with Neal’s Yard, Melvita would be the result. Products blend science with herb lore and organic ingredients to create skincare that does a good job without damaging the planet. It’s well-priced too with prices ranging from £6 for a lipbalm to £32 for the Regenerating Serum. We tried the Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water, £12, and the Rosehip Seed Oil, £18 both of which were great for dry, sensitive skin. The Extraordinary Water isn’t as aqueous as its name suggests, being closer in texture to a gel, making it easier to apply. On its own, we found it wasn’t moisturising enough but did better under cream or oil. The Rosehip Seed Oil, on the other hand, was more than good enough as a moisturiser but left shiny skin behind, making it a better choice for night.
Star product: For anti-ageing, the standout product is the award-winning Naturalift Youthful Skin Cream, £30, which combines flavonoid-rich beech bud extract with free-radical fighting alpine buddleia. Also worth checking out is the Clarifying Cleansing Floral Bouquet, £14, which de-greases and softens skin without stripping it of healthy natural oils.
Melvita is available nationwide. See www.uk.melvita.com to find your nearest store or to shop online.
Unlike the French brand, Tata Harper is only a year old and was conceived as a response to its founder’s concerns about the chemicals found in mainstream products. With a focus on 100 per cent natural and non-toxic ingredients, many of the brand’s botanicals are grown on Tata Harper’s 1,200-acre Vermont farm. High end facial skincare forms the backbone of the business although a body oil and three aromatherapy treatments have been added to the streamlined range.
We say: Like Melvita, Tata Harper’s HQ is based on a farm but there the similarities end. While Melvita is mid-market, Tata Harper focuses on the top end with prices starting at £36 - £4 more than Melvita’s most expensive offering – and peaking at £120 for the Rejuvenating Serum. The smaller range of products is also at odds with Melvita (whose vast range has made standalone boutiques possible) but in terms of hard-hitting anti-ageing power, Tata Harper more than gives the French brand a run for its money. We tried the Rejuvenating Serum, £120, and the Restorative Eye Cream, £70, neither of which were cheap but which both had immediate, obvious effects. Two days into using the serum, our tester noticed fresher, better hydrated skin and smaller pores. The eye cream too proved effective with puffiness and dark circles instantly removed. While there’s no doubt Tata Harper lives up to its promise, the price could prove prohibitive for some.
Star product: Based on pink French clay, the Resurfacing Mask, £44, is a relatively inexpensive but effective weekly booster for dry, dull and blemished skin. Natural pomegranate enzymes zap dead skin cells while white willow extract soothes blemishes and puts paid to oiliness.
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