The new beauty collection from Rhug Estates in North Wales is inspired by foraged plants
PUBLISHED: 11:45 01 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 01 September 2020
Foraging for food is no new pastime, but foraging for beauty? Beauty editor and make-up artist to the stars Armand Beasley makes some exciting wild discoveries
Gazing into the distance, perched high on a Welsh hillside in a sea of vivid purple heather, the wind flicking at me while a fine mist of rain adds a soft-focus lens to the view, I feel as if I’ve stepped into a Brontë novel. My eyes survey the thousands of acres around me, seeking, seeking... Like Heathcliff, I am determined to find my passion and won’t be distracted. Materialising at my side is not Cathy, it’s not even Kate Bush, it’s Richard Prideaux.
Survival expert and Rhug Estate Head Forager, Richard is a great big bear of a man, the love child of Queen Boudicca and Brian Blessed. He yells: “That’s it!” and thrusts plant matter in my face. “Gorse. Latin name ‘Ulex’. We use two species of Gorse flowers in Rhug Wild Beauty, both are in the Ulex genus.”
I’ve been invited to the stunning Rhug Estate in Corwen, North Wales, to forage for some of the ingredients that go into the new organic skincare brand, Rhug Wild Beauty. There are currently ten face and body products in the collection, but more will be added soon. I’m a big fan of certified organic products, as independent certification bodies like Soil Association/COSMOS keep producers on their toes, doing spot checks and establishing criteria for people to adhere to, assuring high production standards with excellent environmental and animal welfare.
Rhug Wild Beauty is the brainchild of Lord Newborough. His family have resided in North Wales since the 11th century, with the Rhug Estate coming into the family, by marriage, in 1637. In 1998 he inherited the title and 12,500 acres of land from his father and decided to develop the existing farm and turn it organic. His passion for the environment and his innovative approach has created a flourishing organic enterprise that sees his produce sold all over the world. From grazing bison to renewable energy, Lord Newborough really has made the most of his inheritance, by nurturing the stunning flora and fauna that Mother Nature has gifted his family.
More recently his canny eye fell onto the beauty industry and his vision for Wild Beauty was realised in August.
It’s clear that a lot of time, money and passion have gone into developing this 100% natural skincare line. Many items in the line are Vegan Society certified while the whole range is either COSMOS certified Natural or Organic. One of the key points of difference for Rhug Wild Beauty is that some of the ingredients have been foraged from the wild areas of the huge estate, which is where Richard Prideaux comes in. Working closely with the formulator, he was tasked with mapping out the entire wild part of the estate and locating the various plants and shrubs that could be sustainably foraged for their skincare benefits.
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The delicate yellow flower of gorse, that Richard waved so enthusiastically in my face, has astringent properties that can help tighten and tone the skin, hence why it’s in the Purifying Cleansing Lotion.
The swathes of lilac, purple and pink heather that I was navigating through are wonderful as an anti-inflammatory, plus, as a source of tannins, it helps to protect the skin. These can be found in one of Rhug Wild Beauty’s hero products: Active Treatment Serum with Hyaluronic Acid. Another foraged active present in this stunning product is herb-Robert, a familiar looking plant that has small vibrant pink flowers and a pungent coriander-like scent. Often spotted at the side of roads this sprawling plant is quite the pest for some gardeners as it self-seeds and is exceptionally hardy. It’s the anti-oxidant and oxygenating benefits of Herb Roberts that are harnessed in the Active Treatment Serum.
Another foraged favourite that I discovered on the Rhug Estate was meadowsweet, a tall willowy stem with a cloud-like mass of small cream flowers. It thrives in damp meadows and especially loves riverbanks, which is where Richard and I found it in abundance. The sweet medicinal smell is quite appropriate for a plant that is a source for aspirin and has been used over the years for colds, bronchitis and heartburn. Meadowsweet is a source of salicylic acid, great for exfoliating dead skin cells as well as excellent at tightening the skin, which is why it can be found in both the Rebalancing Skin Tonic and the Nourishing Eye Cream.
A more unusual wild foraged ingredient out of the 10 used for the brand is nettle. I think this is one that we’re all familiar with – childhood memories of nasty stings and rashes abound. Stinging nettles are a great source of Vitamins A, C ,D, K and some B vitamins, plus they can help balance sebum production and have excellent anti-oxidant properties, which is why it’s present in the Rebalancing Skin Tonic and the Nourishing Eye Cream.
As well as foraged items there are ingredients like Rhug oat milk, honey and beeswax from the Estate that contribute to the impressive ingredients list of Wild Beauty, along with externally yet sustainably sourced skin saviours like rose otto, rosehip, neroli and arnica, to name but a few.
It’s been fascinating to identify, taste and touch raw ingredients that are often in abundance around us. Learning about the nutritional benefits as well as understanding the potential skin benefits can hopefully help us all to appreciate the journey of our humble skincare.
Visit rhugwildbeauty.com to learn more