If you read our last blog, you’ll have journeyed with us through the 1980s to the 2000s as we looked back on our organic milestones and told the stories behind them. Now, we’re back with the second instalment of our organic evolution, covering the decades where we spearheaded the way as organic beauty began to boom.
When we opened our doors in 1981, we joined a group of forward-thinking businesses based in a quiet corner of London’s Covent Garden called Neal’s Yard. We all shared a similar vision, pioneering values of sustainability, natural ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, value, equality, community and upcycling. These beliefs are etched into our brand’s ethos and have been adopted by many others over the years. So, as we approach Organic Beauty Week, we’re looking back at our organic evolution from the 1980s to the present day, celebrating the milestones and sharing the stories behind them.
The 2010s was a radical decade for certified organic beauty, with the term becoming more mainstream and organic skincare brands on the rise. A booming market propelled the need for certification in the industry – to help customers better understand and spot trusted organic products without legal standards in place (like food does, for instance). Throughout the period, we worked hard to certify as many of our existing heritage products as possible.
At the turn of the decade, we became increasingly aware of the threat posed and the decline of our pollinators, worsened by the proliferation of neonicotinoid pesticides. In 2011 we launched a campaign to save the bees and our limited-edition Bee Lovely Hand Cream, with a donation from its sales going to bee-friendly charities. We also launched a hugely successful petition with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, lobbying the government to ban neonicotinoids, and gathered 117,000 signatures. In 2013, the EU banned three neonicotinoid pesticides.
Our Bee Lovely Hand Cream garnered such a faithful fan base that we not only kept it but grew the Bee Lovely range and have maintained our charity contribution, donating 3% of sales from the collection’s sales to bee conservation. So far, we’ve helped raise over £250,000 and save over 50 million bees, benefiting many communities worldwide.
In 2014, we launched our clinically proven, certified organic Frankincense Intense™ Age-Defying Cream. This new formulation was made with cutting-edge active ingredients and sustainably sourced botanicals, a modern twist on our original frankincense range. Argan, macadamia and baobab oils work to nourish and protect the skin. At the same time, antioxidant-rich turmeric extract brightens, and a synergistic blend of gardenia plant stem cells meets a tripeptide complex to smooth and plump the skin.
Following the success of our Frankincense Intense™ Age-Defying Cream, our Frankincense Intense™ Lift Cream was born in 2017 to target second signs of ageing. This certified organic formulation uses lifting technology and sustainably sourced herbs with a zero-waste story. First, we distil our Boswellia sacra (frankincense) resin for frankincense essential oil. Then, we use the waste from step one and extract the remaining antioxidants using an enzymatic process to create our Frankincense Active Phyto Complex – exclusive to Neal’s Yard Remedies – which won the Sustainable Beauty Awards in 2017.
In 2019, we launched our certified organic Sensitive Skincare collection, a solution-based range to hydrate and soothe the skin supported by clinical trials. Loved by many, this collection is formulated with a soothing blend of organic borage oil, aloe vera, edelweiss flower and liquorice root extracts to help skin feel refreshed, cooled and conditioned.
In 2021 we launched our Wild Rose range, evolving the collection using our antioxidant-packed wild rosehip seed oil. This FairWild ingredient helps support a remote Serbian community, is sustainably sourced and is a zero-waste ingredient. Among them is our Wild Rose AHA Toner, which uses Australian caviar lime with high levels of natural AHAs to refine skin texture by gently lifting off dead skin cells. Wild Rose Eye Brightener is our first product using light-reflecting mineral pigments, which diffuse light improving the appearance of dark circles. That year, we were crowned Best Organic Brand in Glamour’s Beauty Power List.
Over the years, we continued to work with the Soil Association, and the approved ingredients list for organic cosmetics expanded, allowing plant-derived ingredients that adhered to green chemistry (that avoid using toxic and non-biodegradable substances, especially where sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives exist.) This meant we could start making products like our Wild Rose Beauty Serum, using active ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, derived from corn and certain tripeptides, to create products targeting skin concerns.
We’re always working on ways to be at the cutting edge of organic health and beauty while supporting nature-positive initiatives. We continue collaborating with the Soil Association to review and expand the list of approved ingredients for certified organic health and beauty formulations.
Watch Tipper Lewis, our brand ambassador and Naturopathic Herbalist, talk about our organic evolution through the decades and what she thinks the future holds for organic health and beauty.