Pioneer, homeopath, teacher, writer and co-owner of Neals Yard Remedies, Anabel Kindersley, has been at the forefront of the organic and sustainable beauty movement for over 20 years. She talks to us about building a business, protecting the bees and of course, her top beauty tips.
Neal’s Yard Remedies are the pioneers of organic and natural skincare, what have been some of the milestones and challenges in building the business?
Neal’s Yard Remedies started life in 1981 as a herbal apothecary in a small corner of Covent Garden with other likeminded businesses wanting to do things differently. Our family took over the business over eighteen years ago as passionate advocates of organic farming and sustainability. For us, it’s always been about championing ethical and sustainable organic health and beauty, and this is still very much the driving force behind everything we do. We were the first health and beauty brand to be awarded organic certification by the Soil Association, and the first Carbon Neutral UK high street retailer in 2008, when hardly anyone was talking about carbon neutral.
There have been many challenges along the way, but we’ve overcome each one of them, and they’ve made us who we are. We are vertically integrated, meaning we make over 90% of our products in our eco-factory in Dorset. We have absolute control of our product development and what goes in each and every bottle and jar that we make. Being involved in every step of the way, from sourcing ingredients, making the products and selling them in our stores has its complexities, but it does also make us quite unique. And though we often face challenges, we are true to our word and never cut corners. Over the years we have helped our growers and suppliers attain organic certification, initiate regenerative projects, such as with our Omani Frankincense, and have funded stills and solar water tanks in the communities that grow the ingredients that we use.
NYR is famous for its blue bottles. How did they come about?
Our iconic blue bottles not only look beautiful, but the blue pigment protects against sunlight, helping to protect and preserve the natural ingredients inside. It says a lot about our brand, it’s not only about how we look, it’s about what we do! I love seeing how our customers give their bottles a new life after the product’s finished – they make elegant vases for buds or wild flowers. In my kitchen my ecover washing-up liquid is decanted into one of our bottles!
Do you think it’s possible to combine luxury and sustainability?
Absolutely, and I do believe that this is very much the future. In fact, we’re seeing a shift in mindset across industries towards the idea that sustainability is in fact, the new luxury. Our planet’s natural and precious resources deserve to be treated as a luxury. For us, it’s about combining the highest quality organic and natural ingredients, that are ethically sourced, and creating efficacious products with clinically proven results. Our Frankincense Intense ™ Age-Defying Overnight Mask is clinically proven to firm, lift and recontour skin, reduce the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles after four weeks, when used three times a week. It’s an innovative and luxurious blend of bacillus ferment with botanical adaptogens such as ashwaghanda extract and turmeric root, as well as, of course, the therapeutic aroma of frankincense essential oil. It’s also certified organic, so is proof that luxurious, high-performing products can also be sustainable, treading carefully on the planet. This is what we have been on a mission to prove for the past 20 years.
Tell us about the Stand by Bees campaign and why it’s so important to you.
Our Stand By Bees campaign launched in 2011, out of a necessity to help protect our precious pollinators from harmful pesticides. This is a cause that I have always felt passionate about; without pollinators, our entire ecosystem would be affected, from the food we eat right through to the beauty industry and beyond. In 2013, we delivered our petition to 10 Downing Street with 117,000 signatures, which helped pass the ban on a class of toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. However, last year, the government lifted the ban on a certain neonicotinoid, against the advice of their own scientific advisors. To put this into context, just one teaspoon of a neonicotinoid is enough to be a lethal dose to 1.25 billion bees. That’s four lorry loads of dead bees. We simply cannot let this toxic pesticide continue to be used in our farming so I didn’t feel I had a choice but to stand up for bee. So for the past year I have been leading a coalition of over 90 British businesses and organisations with our ‘Stand by Bees’ campaign, asking government to cut hazard pesticides and promote nature-friendly farming. The work is certainly not over, and we can all do our part to help biodiversity by choosing to buy organic which supports farmers who adopt nature-friendly farming methods.
If there’s one thing we can do to help with the campaign what would it be?
Write to your local MP! Show your support by using one of our pre-made templates on standbybees.co.uk.
You’re a practicing Natural Health Practitioner, how has your experience as a therapist helped in running the business?
Well, I’ve had to pause practicing as campaigning for bees and running our business have taken centre stage, however, my experience in Natural Health is integral to every part of running our business from understanding the fundamental proposition of being a wellbeing brand, and the concerns that our customers have about their wellbeing. But more crucially the health and wellbeing of our teams who work within our business. I obviously still do practice on my family and friends – I love to be able to help those around me.
What are your current favourite Neal’s Yard Remedies products?
That’s a tricky one! It’s so hard to choose a favourite when we have so many that are super-effective. Right now, I’m most excited by our brand new Skincare Boosters, which have just launched – certified organic and vegan, the boosters are a brilliant way to easily customise your skincare routine without completely overhauling it. I love adding the Hyaluronic Acid booster morning and night to my moisturiser, for an extra hydration boost. I’ve really noticed a difference, and I’m not the only one, in our panel 98% said they felt their skin instantly hydrated. We’ve added hibiscus extract to this formulation for even more intense hydration, which is what makes ours extra special. And of course, I love our Wild Rose Beauty Balm, also known as our ‘one-pot wonder’. It’s got cult-status in the beauty world, and is our number one bestseller. It smells divine, is super nourishing, and can be used as a mask, cleanser, eyebrow tamer, and is great for your cuticles. It’s my, and seemingly everyone else’s desert-island product!
What would you recommend for a pre or post festival treatment?
Pre-festival, I’d make the most out of home comforts. I’d start off by lighting our Balancing candle and then indulging in a long, relaxing bath – our Aromatic Foaming Bath is a firm favourite and fills the room with beautiful aromas. I’d probably use the Good Night Pillow mist too, to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
For the festival, our Organic Travel Kit is a must-have (in fact we originally made it as a festival kit) It has the essentials you need for the few days away, including a mini Wild Rose Beauty Balm which everyone needs at all times for your all-in-one skincare needs, and our natural Hand Defence hand sanitiser is a game changer at festivals. I like to make my own natural first aid kit plus, so for insect bites or nicks & scratches, I’d take some small tubes of our Calendula or Aloe & Lavender creams, and Arnica Salve is brilliant for sore muscles after lots of dancing.
Post-festival, a good soak in the bath using our Seaweed & Arnica Bath Salts, whilst giving your hair a bit of extra TLC with our Rosemary & Cedarwood hair treatment, which can be left on overnight, bringing back shine, body, and vitality to your hair – much needed after a few days when things have gone awry. For sore feet after lots of walking and dancing, exfoliate with our Pumice Foot Scrub and then use our Comfrey & Mallow Foot Balm to soothe and nurture. I’d also recommend visiting one of our many Therapy rooms around the country, get a massage or a facial or even visit a Herbalist and give your body that MOT it may need.
Can you give us a couple of your tried and tested beauty and healthcare tips?
I religiously use our Frankincense Intense Lift Cream, morning and night. Not only does it have proven results to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but the therapeutic aroma of Frankincense allows me a moment of mindfulness and self-care.
For an added bit of hydration, I am using our new Hyaluronic Booster, adding a few drops into my Lift Cream. And of course, not forgetting to take my make-up off, mostly I default to our Organic Eye Make-Up Remover. I love how gentle it is with rose and witch hazel, and it smells heavenly. It’s so effective that I often use it to take off the rest of my make-up too, but I’ve recently got back into a routine of using our luxurious Frankincense Cleansing Melt. It’s a gel to oil to milk cleanser which makes my skin feel divine. I also always recommend using a facial oil to give a true glow – our Rose Facial Oil is one that’s always on my bedside table, and often right before sleeping I use it as a little ritual of nurturing and balancing. It sits right beside our Goodnight Pillow Mist, which is a life saver if I wake up in the night, and literally sends me back to sleep in minutes.