Skin is the largest organ in the human body, and many people are becoming increasingly aware of what they put into their bodies.
There are a variety of potentially harmful elements found in many skincare products, such as toxic pesticides and preservatives, potentially harmful chemicals, and products that are bad for the environment, so making the switch to something natural could make all the difference.
We’ve spoken to the owner of a Sheffield skincare business who is helping people take care of their skin whilst also making positive steps to reduce harm to the environment.
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Megan’s journey into the skincare industry started in 2001 when she studied Herbalism and Aromatherapy at Sheffield College, and after gaining her NVQ 2 qualification, she set about using fresh herbs and essential oils to make creams, lotions and other skincare products that went down a treat with family and friends who urged her to sell them commercially.
Megan said: “There are not many people that are doing fully natural products. A lot of people put natural on things, and then when you look at the ingredients, it's not completely natural. We don't have to add any preservatives to our products as they are all self-preserving.”
The former teaching assistant got her big break back when in 2015 when she was offered a shop on Crookes High Street, which she says was one of her proudest moments.
She added: “Opening the shop was one of my proudest moments. Going from just having a website and selling at little craft fairs and things like that to actually having a physical shop where people can come and try things was amazing. It gives you a chance to sort of meet people in the community because Crookes is a very community-based area, and it's nice to have regular customers that come in.”
Since founding her business, Megan has spent many hours in the kitchen melting, mixing, stirring and testing to create only the finest natural products.
When it comes to production, there isn't a machine in sight as all products are handmade in small batches - Megan says the process is similar to cooking.
She said: “Once you’ve got enough knowledge and understand how to make a specific base with the correct proportions of liquid oil, it goes from there.
“It's very much like cooking once you know what goes together.
“It's also down to what you want the product to do. If you wanted to make a sort of natural deodorant or something like that, you'd have a look for particular essential oils that were good at deodorising - something like lemongrass is quite good for that. If we’re making something very nourishing, we might add a nourishing butter like avocado butter or hemp butter or something like that. We usually start by noting down what product we want to make and then look around for some recipes and adjust or tweak them slightly for what we want it to do.”
Sheffield Skincare Company’s product line is 100 per cent natural and includes everything from body, face, and hair products to makeup, home scent, and a range of detox teas.
Around 80 per cent of the items available are also suitable for vegans.
The majority of the products are named after local Sheffield sayings and iconic places around the city to keep the brand unique and centred around Sheffield.
Speaking about her most popular products, she said: “There are different things at different times of the year. Particularly this time of year, our bath salts and truffles are very popular.
“The truffle is basically like a bath bomb. It's got the same ingredients in, but we put a lot of cocoa butter in it as well, which then sort of melts into the bath and adds a bit of moisturisation. So in wintertime when it's cold, those are really popular as are our essential candles.
“Our makeup range is popular all year round, that's always good, and our shampoo and conditioner bars are doing really well at the moment."
“For the shampoo and conditioner bars, you don't need a bottle. It's a little oval-shaped bar in a cotton bag, and you can get a good 40 sort of washes out of each one.”
In the new year, a brand new collection of items will be released, including bath and body oils as well as an all-new facial oil range and beard oils for men.
Over the last few years, the company has turned its attention to reducing packaging and sourcing packaging that is plastic-free, biodegradable, and recyclable or free from packaging completely.
They use recycled card for all their soaps and gift sets, and their men’s range comes in recyclable aluminium bottles, jars and tins.
All their natural accessories are now packaged in Eco bags that are biodegradable.
These bags are made with potato starches and plant cellulose and will degrade over the period of a month when placed on a compost heap.
For items in plastic packaging, they have a recycling scheme that allows customers to return empty pots for a reward stamp; the pots are cleaned and reused to prevent any wastage.
If customers do not live in Sheffield and wish to return empty pots by post, they can send them to 243 Crookes S10 1TF with a name and email address and will be sent a gift code, or 50p per item returned to take off their next order.
Megan said: “We do have a few plastic bits such as the pump tops on some of our bottles, but you can choose to buy with or without these. Once you've got a pump top, you can just keep putting it on new bottles, so you don't have to keep getting a new one each time, and we take those back as well.
“Our packing peas are made from biodegradable corn starch as well, so you can reuse these, pop them in your normal waste, or if you put them in water, they will completely dissolve because it's cellulose-based.
“Even down to the tape we use for our parcels, we use recyclable tape on all our orders. So we're trying to cut back as much plastic as we can.”
Looking ahead to the future, Megan says that she is keen to open another store in Sheffield.
The 43-year-old said: “I’d definitely like to open another shop. It was something that had been in the pipeline before Covid, but unfortunately, that kind of got in the way. Again, it would be in Sheffield, but we’d maybe look at a different area in the city, so that might be something for the future. We are also looking towards bringing out some new products and finding new packaging and more sort of eco-friendly ways to present products and things and get rid of as much packaging as we can really and start looking at some more sort of naked alternatives. So that's where we're heading.”
If you’d like to visit Sheffield Skincare Co head over to the shop on Crookes High Street or browse online at sheffieldskincare.co.uk/