From the misty peat bogs of Ireland to the seaweed-strewn shores of Scotland, the wild landscapes of the British Isles have long been a source of inspiration for creativity, not to mention those in search of some therapeutic intelligence.
Some of the country’s best artisan wellness brands are raiding the larder of natural ingredients sourced from the rural lands of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. It’s a hyper-localised approach to clean beauty, which has its origins dating back hundreds of years.
Moss of the Isles, Ireland
Irish brand, Moss of the Isles, has its roots in the spa industry and was founded by three leading wellness industry experts – Fiona Byrne, Maria Herrera and Nigel Franklyn. “Moss of the Isles is built on the belief that natural remedies are the key to wellness,” says Nigel Franklyn. “It is inspired by age-old therapeutic elements and landscapes of Ireland and the British Isles.”
He continues: “Showcasing the heritage of wild-crafted plant alchemy, we sustainably harness our land’s locally-sourced and most powerful elements to create hand-crafted, cruelty-free, small-batched products as well as wellness experiences. These are inspired by natural remedies and blends that have been used for centuries to heal, sustain and quieten the mind and body.”
Products – such as the Cleanse Body Oil, Plant Seed Oil and Quiet Bath Salts – are created using powerful plant-based formulations, blended in small batches. “We use locally sourced, potent ingredients to deliver wellness experiences that transform the skin and create moments of restorative mindfulness,” says Nigel.
Seeking out artisan, local suppliers and harvesters, who share the brand’s vision of sourcing the highest quality, sustainable raw ingredients from across Ireland and the British Isles, the company gathers a smorgasbord of ingredients to create its products. There’s Carrageen moss from the south and west coasts of Ireland, peat from Ireland’s raised bogs and horse chestnut from Wales. Marigold flowers and dandelions are sourced from growers in Surrey, England, while heather is found from the Scottish moorlands. Scottish dulse seaweed, meanwhile, is sourced from Mara Seaweed, the renowned family-owned company, which has a license from the Crown Estate to harvest a 40km stretch of seabed around the East Neuk of Fife.
As well as the products being 100% natural, cruelty free and vegan, Moss of the Isles also seek to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, with packaging using sustainable beech wood, recycled card and glass.
At Monkey Island Estate in Bray, UK, guests can tap into the traditional rituals designed by the company at the quirky Floating Spa a spa boat moored on the River Thames. You can drift off with the Moss of the Isles Floating Massage, where massage, using pain-relieving essential oils of arnica, ginger, and rosemary, eases muscles as your body is cradled on a specially-designed aqua-cushion treatment bed – giving you the sensation that you are floating on water.
In the private spa at famous golf club The Old Head of Kinsale, in County Cork, on the Atlantic coast of western Ireland, there’s a choice of Moss of the Isles treatments on offer. Located on a unique headland, which reaches out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Quiet Time Massage offers a serene retreat from the rugged landscape.
isgha, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Spa brand ishga, created by marine biologist Malcolm Macrae and his wife Joanna, a beauty expert, was founded on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Its name means ‘water’ in Gaelic and its products and treatments capture the natural goodness found in Scottish seaweed.
“The coastal waters surrounding the Outer Hebrides of Scotland are recognised as being amongst the most pristine in the world,” says Malcolm. “To reflect this, they have been given the highest quality classification available. This is where we sustainably harvest our seaweed, so we can be sure it is of the highest cleanliness and quality.”
“Hebridean seaweed extract is the cornerstone of ishga,” he continues. “It’s extracted directly into Hebridean spring water using a low temperature extraction process, which protects the beneficial compounds and enzymes. Rich in polyphenols the extract provides protection against environmental damage to the skin by neutralising free radicals. The mineral-rich extract is then blended with organic ingredients and essential oils to create each individual product.”
Cucumber extract, macadamia, jojoba, thistle oil, Hebridean sea salt, aloe vera and lemon peel are some of the many natural ingredients used, which nourish, hydrate, heal and protect the skin. In addition to Hebridean seawater, ishga utilises mineral spring water, containing a potent mineral content of potassium, magnesium and sulphates, sourced from a healing spring on the Isle of Lewis.
As well as a line-up of 26 products – from the hero Anti-Oxidant Marine Cream to Organic Seaweed Capsules (a clean skincare supplement) – isghga treatments are also available at leading spas such as The Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park in Ascot and Fairmont St Andrews in Scotland.
AMLY, East Sussex, England
Tapping into the untamed nature found in wildflower meadows, ancient woodland and hedgerows, AMLY is inspired by England’s botanical heritage and has a ‘farm to face’ ethos. Based in rural East Sussex, founders Lisa Smallpeice and Kerry Moore came together in 2015, “to channel our enthusiasm for the natural world and our knowledge of holistic therapies”.
AMLY is in fact the name of the wildflower meadow that flourishes on Lisa’s organic farm – Hawthbush Farm – where the brand is based. On discovering a source of pure silver-rich spring water flowing deep beneath the ancient meadow, she knew she had the perfect beginnings for a unique beauty and wellbeing line “that would be alive with the energetic vibration of the land”.
“As I walked the green and fertile fields, passing abundant hedgerows and flower-filled meadows, the land drew me ever closer, sharing its scents,” she says. “I became finely attuned to fresh and bright top notes, soft floral middle tones and warm earthy base notes. This led to the creation of the first AMLY Face Mist, inspired by the scent of the organic wildflower meadow just after the warm summer rain scattered across the land.”
Lisa’s ‘nose’ now leads the way with each formulation, connecting the user to the abundance of healing and restorative botanicals found within the grounds. From farm to face, the brand says “every care is taken to protect and maintain this purity right through to the first droplets to touch the skin”.
As a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, Kerry brings another skill-set. “The deeply intuitive and open approach of my profession infuses AMLY with the energy and dynamism of the land’s botanical treasures,” she says.
Each of the products also give the user details of little rituals to gain the most out of them. “These AMLY rituals are infused with my working practice,” Kerry explains. “From holding your face with an intentionally light touch when you’re using the bio-essence range to taking a moment to pause and breathe as you spray the AMLY face mists. These actions will calm the nervous system and allow space for the body to enter a state of rest from which healing can emerge.”
The brand itself is also influenced by ancient English customs. “So much of what we do at AMLY is inspired by a re-kindling of the old ways,” says Kerry. “For instance, when we first discovered an ancient ritual ‘The Festival of the Dews’ we were mesmerised. At dawn, in the spring and summer months, country maidens would gather to collect dew from wild flowers. The dew was considered potent with healing properties and the women would splash it on their faces to promote youthfulness.”
This sparked the idea for the brand to launch a range of flower essences, to capture the unique essence of their own healing lands. Also within the plant-based range are face mists, serums, oils and balms – all designed to balance out fast-paced and hectic lifestyles.
“At AMLY, we tread carefully. We make our products slowly and thoughtfully. The wildflower meadows, the hedgerows, the ancient woodland and the spring waters are our resource and we want not only to preserve them, but to shine a light on their conservation. As the custodians of this precious land we believe it is our responsibility to do more than simply sustain the environment; we aim to enhance it. We are returning cultivated land to the wild, and taking care while we share its goodness not to deplete it.”
For those who want to truly become immersed in the AMLY way of life, there are also a collection of cottages on the farm available for holiday rentals, a perfect way to be immersed in the lifestyle. Tucked away down a long farm track, the cottages have been converted from an old cowshed and granary to offer eco-friendly accommodation in a beautiful countryside setting. Painted in organic clay paints, inside there’s stripped floorboards, vintage furniture and fabrics, and large French doors, bringing the outside in.
Wild Beauty from Rhug Estate, North Wales
Wild Beauty from North Wales was founded by Lord & Lady Newborough, who have championed organic and sustainable farming at their Welsh Rhug Estate for many years, resulting in a Royal Warrant.
The collection of products are made with ingredients foraged on the estate with the provenance of each able to be pinpointed to an exact location. The collection also contains other ingredients sourced from the estate such as organic oats, honey, bees wax and spring water. Where ingredients are not available at Rhug, they have been sustainably sourced from environmentally friendly producers, ensuring the security of provenance and 100% traceability of ingredients.
The small, but covetable, line-up of skincare and bodycare has a long heritage behind it, with the Newborough family having resided in North Wales since the 11th century and with Rhug – now the family’s main home – coming into the family in 1637. As an organic farming pioneer and sustainability advocate, Lord Newborough has championed the highest standards of organic and sustainable farming for many years, protecting and enhancing the environment for future generations.
He comments: “With an abundance of natural and organic plants growing all around Rhug, and a recognition that organic and natural ingredients can deliver positive benefits for the skin, the idea came to create a luxurious skincare collection using wild foraged ingredients from the estate.”
Made for Life Organics, Cornwall, England
With nurturing and healing products made from local herbs and flowers, using an artisan method of capturing solar and lunar energy during a unique ‘maceration’ process, Made for Life is truly embedded in the lands of Cornwall. From the Daily Radiance Facial Cleansing Balm to the Restorative Body Balm, the soulful products are rich in botanicals, sourced from ingredients such as nettle, carrot, chamomile and rose – and also work well to uplift the mind as they do with the body.
Originally developed from an orthodox medical background nearly 20 years ago, the products have been enhanced by combining research and dermatological science with the purity of botanicals. Free from parabens, formaldehyde, petroleum waxes, SLS and microbeads, they are also kind to the environment. Many of the ingredients are sourced in collaboration with artisan British companies including the Organic Herb Trading Company, based in Somerset,
“We tread lightly,” says founder Amanda Winwood. “And we believe in healthy and wholesome living. We are committed to minimising the impact on the environment, using recycled glass bottles and jars with aluminium, not plastic, lids. We also limit the journey of the botanical ingredients. The packaging is all sustainably sourced and 100% recyclable.”
The brand is also certified by the Cruelty-Free International Leaping Bunny programme and is a Certified B Corporation® – the first British spa brand to achieve this. B Corps™ are companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy and meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
“I love that Made for Life comes from the heart of Cornwall,” says Amanda. “It is a destination offering a simpler lifestyle. Cornwall, to many, is a place of unspoilt beauty, but is also has strong links with a sustainable way of life.”
“All of these factors are the inspiration behind the brand, and have been for nearly 20 years now, since our inception. We source beeswax from local beekeepers and many of the herbs and flowers we use – from the humble nettle to lavender – grow in Cornwall. More recently, we carried out research with Plymouth University on a Knowledge Transfer Programme and are exploring growing more of our own ingredients here.”
“I love walking the coastline and Cornish beaches for inspiration, and our BCorp certified ethics of ‘People, Planet and Health’ are always at our core,” Amanda reveals. “We produce beautiful organic skincare, slowly and carefully. At every stage – from our plastic free, recycled glass containers to the slow harvesting and blending of ingredients – we reflect the nature and rhythm of Cornwall.”
She continues: “We are also an ambassador for the Cornish-based charity, Cleaner Seas Project, which campaigns for the reduction of micro-plastics, and we also work with Jill Stein, co-founder of Rick Stein to create her Porthdune natural candles and skincare range. Our links to community are strong. Life in Cornwall is about ‘catching your breath’ and that is what inspires Made for Life skincare.”
As well as creating a series of spa rituals – available at leading spas such as Seaham Hall in Durham, Archerfield House in Scotland and St Michael’s Resort, Cornwall – Amanda has also developed Cancer Touch Therapy training courses, which helps ‘to open’ spa doors to people with cancer. Her team train therapists to offer safe treatments using the Made for Life products proving to be the every essence of kind beauty.