How often do we think about our skin - and the many elements to which it’s exposed - on a daily basis?
Especially when working outdoors and on-farm, we are putting ourselves in contact with pollutants and Ireland’s highly changeable weather elements.
While many are habitual when it comes to a skincare routine, it might be worth thinking about swapping out your more generic products for something made closer to home.
‘Less is more’ sums up Elaine Kennedy’s approach to keeping your skin healthy. Based near the shores of Lough Carra in Kilkeeran, Co Mayo, Elaine runs Hawthorn Handmade Skincare on her family’s suckler farm.
The use of natural ingredients is very important to her business.
I use sustainable ingredients and recyclable packaging
“Shea butter has become a key ingredient in my products,” she says. “It’s the ingredient I keep coming back to as it’s renowned for its rejuvenating and healing properties.”
That said, being environmentally responsible is of equal importance to her business.
“I use sustainable ingredients and recyclable packaging,” Elaine explains. “I avoid synthetic ingredients because I know everything that we put on our skin ultimately goes into the waterways.
“Using natural ingredients with established qualities and properties goes hand in hand with living a more sustainable lifestyle. My choices, in terms of skincare and the products I make, reflect my concerns for the environment.”
Hemp seed oil is highly nourishing
Elaine believes synthetic products make the skin work harder and strip it of its natural oils; while natural ingredients can help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier.
Regarding waste, she always recommends face cloths and reusable cleansing cloths instead of the disposable alternatives.
She is hoping to launch new products this year; using Irish-produced oils such as hemp seed oil.
“Hemp seed oil is highly nourishing, [it’s] made of essential fatty acids and antioxidants,” Elaine says. “It would give an opportunity to people like me to start using Irish oils in my products and support local farmers.”
Maria Morgan runs her homegrown skincare business from her dairy farm in Co Louth. As well as carrying a natural skincare range, Maria is a trained aromatherapist and bio-energy therapist.
Maria seeks inspiration for her business from the farm, with her products being made of rich, natural butters, carrier oils and essential oils.
She likens our skin to a sponge, and encourages people to be conscious of what products they incorporate into their skincare routine.
“Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is very important to understand what you’re exposing it to,” she says.
Maria has always been interested in skincare.
Natural skincare products are kinder on the environment
“I have always been careful about what I put on my skin as it’s very sensitive,” she says. “When I started using natural products – like shea butter and mango butter – I really noticed a difference.
“Natural skincare products are kinder on the environment and I try to use all organic ingredients where possible,” she continues.
“I source from reliable suppliers with the same ethos as myself and deliberately avoid excessive packaging to reduce waste. We should all try to do the simple things right in protecting the environment.”
Maria believes consistency is key when looking after your skin. “Keep it simple and remember: a little goes a long way.”
Claire Williams established her farm-based skincare business in Tinahealy, Co Wicklow, when her son Dylan was born. As a new mother, she had concerns about what products she should be using on his dry, sensitive skin.
Her interest in skincare grew, and she started making simple homemade balms for her family - which soon evolved into a business. All of her products are made from natural oils, butters and essential oils.
She says that the roots of her business are in the use of natural ingredients, as well as leading a sustainable lifestyle.
“As farmers, we’re very interested in the environment and the ethos of Meadows Skincare is about pure, fresh, sustainable beauty,” she explains.
Little baby steps can make a big impact on the planet
She advises not to over-cleanse your skin as this will strip it of its natural oils; effectively drying it out. She tends to avoid products which are petroleum-based or have parabens.
Claire feels everyone has a responsibility to protect the environment.
“I would be fearful for the planet we’re leaving our kids and I think we all need to look at how our businesses can be sustainable,” she says.
“Little baby steps can make a big impact on the planet.”
She says these changes can begin at home and, this year, Claire and her family are planning to install solar panels to generate their own electricity for their home, dairy farm and her skincare business.