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Herbfarmacy: Pure Herbal Skincare from Seed to Skin

Herbfarmacy create gorgeous organic skincare products, packed with pure herbal oils that are grown on their very own farm. We caught up with founder Paul Richards to find out how the company is doing.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Herbfarmacy by Antonia Parker.

We discovered Herbfarmacy in issue 9 of Amelia’s Magazine, and the brand has grown considerably since we last caught up with founder Dr. Paul Richards. Time to hook up with Alexandra, their new marketing guru.

When we first met you in 2008 you spoke of plans to build your brand, what has happened since then?
We have been very busy expanding our organic skincare range: growing new herbs, exploring and researching new products. Doing everything from seed to skin is quite a commitment and something of a labour of love. We have added at least ten new products to our original ten, which we sell in our ‘neo-herbal apothecary’ in Hay-on-Wye and on our website. We also supply other shops both here and abroad – including in Hong Kong, where our products have proved very popular! The Hay-on-Wye shop sells herbal tinctures (under the Postlethwaite’s label), our skincare range and holistic beauty treatments. We also support the work of local artists, and we are currently showing the photographs of Jan Sedlacek from harvest time this year.       

Herbfarmacy2 by KavanStudio  
Herbfarmacy, illustrated by KavanStudio.
How big is your team these days, it sounds as though it has grown? And are they as talented as they were when we last met them?
Yes, our team is made up of very talented and busy people: Rupert manages the land with Paul, and also does gardening and general maintenance work. Gabriel and Jayne (who has just left Herbfarmacy to take a degree in Photography) record music and make bespoke yurts. Our neighbour David has helped out many times over the years and he has finally given up his public sector work to join us full time, all for the love of herbs! Carol, Paul’s wife, runs the shop and teaches the Barefaced Yoga exercise sequence that we have on the website. Our two beauty therapists help us to develop products from a therapist’s point of view and one of them, Natalie, also holds a degree in fine art and print-making. I have recently joined the team to help promote the brand, so we are an ever expanding team of interesting people…

Herbfarmacy by KavanStudio
Herbfarmacy, illustrated by KavanStudio.

Why the change in packaging design?
We listened to the feedback from our friends and customers who thought our original packaging was too earthy and masculine. The new labels are much cleaner, conveying the idea of freshness and beauty alongside information about the key herbs. To convey Paul’s vast herbal knowledge we chose the tagline ‘Fresh from the Fields of Paul Richards’ and his signature appears on all the labels. Packaging is kept to a minimum, and we must be doing something right because we were finalists for Best New Packaging Design at The Natural & Organic Awards 2010.

Michelle Urvall Nyrén Herbfarmacy Paul
Paul Richards gathering Mullein flowers, by Michelle Urvall Nyrén.

Are there any particularly hard aspects for Paul, as a man working in the beauty industry?
Paul: I don’t have any problem understanding the active properties of herbs but – not being a devotee myself – I have had to learn more about the mysteries of face masks and advanced skin cleansing operations so that I can get a handle on what ingredients can best contribute to an effective product. I also help out in the Hay-on-Wye shop on Saturdays when I can. Though I have no problem with our herbal remedies and skincare products I find working in the organic and mineral make-up section a bit out of my comfort zone!

Why should men spend more time on skincare? What do you recommend for the unwilling metrosexual?
Whilst men are generally less interested in looking after their skin than women that should not stop them thinking about the health of their skin. A simple cleansing and moisturising regime for the face is sufficient, and we have two creams popular with the male gender – the Starweed Face Cream, which has a more neutral fragrance, and Just Face Cream which is fragrance-free. For those working outside and with heavy physical jobs it is important to moisturise hands, feet and other exposed body parts. The Meadowsweet Muscle Balm is an excellent stand-by for knocks, aches and strains.

Herbfarmacy by Karina Yarv
Gathering herbs on the farm, by Karina Yarv.

What are your favourite flowers and why?
It’s very difficult to choose because we love them all! But I know that Paul has a soft spot for the Marshmallow and Mullein flowers (there’s a photo of him harvesting mullein on the website) – Mullein is a beautiful vibrant yellow flower that makes a lovely oil. Carol loves the visual impact of a field of deep orange Calendula flowers, which produces an oil of a similar beautiful colour.

Do you make any products on the day of harvest?
Our tinctures are made on the day of harvest, as are some of our ingredients. Hypericum (St John’s Wort) and Starweed (Chickweed) oils are made from fresh herbs. All other herbs are harvested and dried immediately in our purpose-built Drying Shed.

Can you tell us a little known fact about any of the plants that you use?
Burdock – which features in our Whole Body Lotion and of course the Dandelion & Burdock tincture – is grown widely as a vegetable known as gobo in Japan. In fact we grow a Japanese variety, and we have occasionally had enquiries from Japanese restaurants about growing burdock for them.

Echinacea by Lisa Stannard.

How is the organic and ethical skincare industry changing? What have been the most obvious shifts over the years?
The organic and ethical skin care industry has matured rapidly over the last two or three years with the expansion of the use of recognised symbols that guarantee the organic, natural and ethical integrity of products. However, the term ‘organic’ still has no legal status in skincare as a trade description – the result is that a number of high profile brands have appeared with pseudo organic names that exploit this loophole, and through using cheap ingredients they are able to give the impression that you can buy organic products for next to nothing. The organic industry is working hard to tackle this and I would emphasise the need to read labels properly and check the authenticity of products.

Herbfarmacy by Matilde Sazio
Herbfarmacy by Matilde Sazio.

Top tips for living a “balanced, not boring” lifestyle?
Paul: Balance is definitely the key – eat a balanced but varied diet, keep your body hydrated and well exercised, and make sure you take time to nurture mind and spirit. But forget a fanatic adherence to strict regimes that creates obsessional behaviour which is a long way from balanced.

What are your current favourite products and why?
One of Paul’s favourite products is the Mallow Beauty Balm – the pure herbal oils melt into the skin to give ultra-rich moisturising with a fabulous aroma. We have recently introduced Mullein flower oil into this product to smooth fine lines – and are also in the process of adding this oil to a new lip balm to help soothe cold sores. Carol’s favourite products are Just Face Cream, which is a great everyday moisturiser that suits her (mature) skin and Skin Rescue Balm. She loves the pungent aroma of Marshmallow, Calendula, Chickweed and Comfrey when she use it on her cuticles and as an intensive treatment to prevent dryness and cracking on the heels of her feet.

Herbfarmacy try-me pack
Herbfarmacy try me pack face
The Try-Me GIft Pack contains beautifully packaged pots of Organic Rose Oil, Whole Body Lotion, Luxury Foot Cream, Working Hands Cream and my personal favourite – Starweed Face Cream. Since Christmas is soon to be upon us I asked Herbfarmacy what they recommend as ideal presents:

For The Boyfriend – the Basic Maintenance Pack for Men contains everything a man could need: Nourishing Body Oil, Luxury Foot Cream (winner of the Natural Health Beauty Awards 2009, Working Hands Cream and handmade Herbfarmacy soap.

For Mums and Aunties – we recommend the Divine Face Pack or Replenish Gift Packs which each contains the full works for the face. For a smaller gift try the Complete Skin Cleanse Pack, which offers everything to cleanse and tone the skin and includes a Dandelion and Burdock Tincture, which is a great internal cleanser for the liver and kidney tonic - ideal for the Christmas season!

For an Active Girl – the Totally Balmy pack is a great rescue kit for after the gym – featuring a great after-shower moisturiser, a muscle balm for any aches and pains and a skin rescue balm.

For Grandad - try our Meadowsweet Muscle Balm which is gently warming, along with our Just Face Cream, which can be used after shaving and to combat the effect of cold wintry weather on the skin.

Some of the gift packs are exclusive to the Herbfarmacy shop and our website… so please do visit us!


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