Odylique: Your Questions & The Answers from brand founders Abi & Margaret Weeds
What was the catalyst for starting to formulate skincare?
Margaret: When I left school in the 1960s I approached Boots for a job as a trainee cosmetic chemist. I was told that there was “no future” in such a career and so pursued other things, including my passion for natural medicine. I trained in aromatherapy and herbal medicine, then in the early 1980s motivated by the lack of products suitable for my own reactive skin and my daughter Abi’s eczema, I began researching her own skincare formulations.
Shocked by the harsh chemicals and “dead lifeless petroleum oils” that formed the basis of most commercial preparations - and seemed to be accountable for a rising incidence of skin allergies, I formulated products from scratch, using pure plant oils plus biodynamic herbs grown in my own garden. Endeavours gathered pace, as clients and friends asked for remedies to treat various ailments, including a shampoo for scalp psoriasis. This led to the birth of ‘Gentle Herb Shampoo’ which was the first ever organically certified shampoo in the world.
Why are you launching Odylique after 10 successful years of Essential Care?
Essential Care has been a great success among organic consumers since we launched in 2003. With Odylique we would like reach out beyond the most eco-conscious, to all women with sensitive skin. Odylique retains our exceptionally high organic standards, but through beautiful new packaging design and our sophisticated product design we can introduce a greater range of consumers to the ‘genius of nature’. Over the past ten years there has fortunately been a lot written about the dangers of certain cosmetic ingredients and the mainstream public are so much more interested in clean skincare.
What does the name Odylique mean?
‘Odyl’ broadly means “a force of, or the power of nature”. Odylique is thus a very fitting name for what we create: truly effective high-performance skin care that reflects ‘the genius of nature’.
What is your favourite product in the Odylique range?
Abi: My favourite is the Superfruit Concentrate as it gives an instant boost to levels of moisture and radiance anytime you need a healthy pick me-up. It is an extremely clever yet simple formulation: Five 100% organic concentrated super-fruit extracts produce a synergy of five Omega fatty acids and vitamins that target all aspects of skin ageing. It is simply an astonishing amount of goodness crammed into one bottle.
Margaret: It is difficult to pick one as so much love has gone into each! I have a particular soft spot for Repair Lotion (which is what I originally developed as a natural eczema remedy) and Gentle Herb Shampoo because they have helped so many people over the years. But I also couldn’t be without Coconut Candy Scrub as it embodies our sentiment that skincare ingredients should be good enough to eat - and this product even tastes good.
Are there any new products within Odylique?
Yes. We have an exciting new makeup remover/ facial cleanser called ‘Silk-Touch Cleanser’. This is an example of how sophisticated and magically brilliant natural formulations can be. You apply to the skin and then as you rinse it away it turns to a light milk that sweeps away even stubborn dirt, but leaves your skin moisturised; the texture of silk. It is completely free from preservatives and ideal for highly sensitised skin.
Our frequent customer surveys have been the inspiration for many of our launches over the years and this is the case with our new body butter; the Toning Fruit Butter. It contains a super concentrated extract of sea buckthorn for skin elasticity and leaves the skin with a beautifully moisturised, but non-greasy feel.
What about Essential Care products that haven’t been brought into the Odylique range?
All of the skin care products will become part of the Odylique range in a second phase launch in spring 2014. Our makeup and mum/baby products will remain as Essential Care for some time yet.
Why do you believe in organic skin care?
Certified organic beauty products are free from ingredients that many consumers want to avoid like artificial fragrance, parabens, SLeS, petroleum and mineral oil. Over the years we have become convinced that this is a wise step for those with sensitive skin. But what we’d really like to underline is that organic beauty products can bring even greater benefits from what they include rather than what they exclude.
There is now a wealth of research that proves the efficacy of plant extracts in skincare, whether that be healing, anti-inflammatory, regenerative or anti-ageing effects. Going organic makes a big difference: Studies are increasingly showing that organically grown plants have more of the beneficial nutrients, particularly antioxidants (that help fight against age-related skin damage) than those grown with pesticides and artificial fertilisers. This is because organically grown plants have to fight for their own fight for survival rather than rely on nitrogenous fertilisers and produce more protective antioxidants in response.
But we began using organically grown ingredients even before this great research existed; we believe organic is the only sustainable form of agriculture.
Why do you place an emphasis on organic certification?
At the moment there is no law to stop brands calling a beauty product ‘organic’ when it only contains a huge number of synthetic chemicals and a tiny amount of organic ingredients. We believe this is wrong and have campaigned vociferously for better consumer protection and education. Every person who buys a beauty product should be making an informed choice and know what they are putting on their skin. From day one we certified all of our products with the Soil Association to give an independent guarantee that we really are organic, and are free from harsh ingredients.
What do you feel differentiates Odylique from other organic brands on the market?
Our products are organic through and through, but ‘feel’ more like ‘conventional’ skincare. Margaret has used her passion for perfection in working with high quality natural ingredients, the latest in naturals technology and 30 years of feedback from real users to ensure high performance and sophisticated textures that meet the demands of 21st century living. Secondly, most of our users have sensitive skin and this has led us to focus on using just the best parts of nature, leaving aside even natural ingredients like wheat, common allergen tree nut oils, soy or dairy derivatives. We don’t believe any other brand is as hypoallergenic.
We’ve also become increasingly unusual in that we manufacture all our own products - including makeup - from our own production facility (in Suffolk). This means our formulations are really unique – not an ‘off-the-shelf’ natural formulation - and that we have complete control over product quality and freshness.
What have you changed on your packaging?
An aim of Odylique is to make natural skincare more understandable for all. To that end, our new design is quite unusual in that we highlight the main actives and explain what they do. We also list ingredients in plain English to make clear exactly what is in the products. For customers with allergies we’ve added information about what they are free from – e.g. no wheat, common allergen tree nut oils, dairy or soy which was always the case, but isn’t something we’ve flagged up in the past. Likewise we highlight that all products are of 100% natural origin.
Aesthetically, there is a gorgeous palette of colours to differentiate each range and each product has a beautiful drawing of one of its botanical actives by talented artist Merle Goll.
We’ve also made technical improvements to the packaging. For example, shampoos and lotions now come in either a pump bottle or tube for easy dispensing for all ages and dexterities. And the Superfruit Concentrate now has a beautiful glass pipette bottle for precision dosage.
Sustainability has always been important for you – why is this?
Environmental degradation and waste is neither beautiful, sustainable nor necessary. We have always had an active commitment to the care of the environment which includes supporting organic farming methods, widely acknowledged to cause lower pollution from sprays, produce less carbon dioxide & dangerous wastes and benefit wildlife. We choose raw materials which are locally-sourced where possible, fairly- traded otherwise, and are from sustainable and renewable resources, and are either recycled or can be recycled safely. Much of our packaging is made in the UK, and with Odylique we have further reduced our packaging’s carbon footprint.
What are your projects for the future?
After the launch of Odylique Phase 2 we will continue to innovate - our aim is to keep raising the bar in what’s healthy, eco-friendly and efficacious in beauty. We would like to be the world’s most trusted brand of clean health & beauty products, providing high-performance skincare that’s a joy to use on sensitive skin.
Do any celebrities use your products?
We are touched that public figures including Elizabeth Hurley, Denise Van Outen, Helen Baxendale and Amanda Seyfried, are known to have discovered the benefits of our products.