Armed with a questioning nature and an inclination towards DIY projects, Karen Gilbert is tackling the Beauty Industry head-on by making her own products and teaching others to do the same. Having studied cosmetic science and aromatherapy, she was always wary of the synthetic ingredients and processes employed by big name beauty brands in the creation of their products. Read on to find out how getting your hands dirty can indeed make you beautiful.
What three words would you use to describe your work?
Simple, Honest, Authentic
What fueled your interest in natural cosmetics?
I have quite a questioning nature and was never happy to buy products based on marketing or sales copy. I always wanted to know what the ingredients were, why they were there and how they were put together. I dabbled with making my own products as a teenager and then went on to study cosmetic science and aromatherapy. Working in the product development team at Neal’s Yard Remedies, I learned so much about sustainability and natural ingredients, and was inspired to want to share this knowledge with others.
How were your products and book received by the general public?
I’ve had so many lovely emails and positive reviews for the book and my workshops. My aim with the book was to enable people to make luxurious yet simple skincare products at home that were just as good as those bought in a store. Many people resist making their own products because they think it is either too difficult or time consuming, or that they will not be able to create products that are as effective as commercially bought ones. I’m aiming to change this with my recipes.
Why go green when it comes to beauty products?
I think the choice of products on the market today can be very overwhelming for most of us and the information about cosmetic ingredients can sometimes be contradictory. Use good quality products with ingredients you understand and keep your routine simple. If an ingredient is damaging to the environment, chances are it’s not good for you either. We are all part of the ecosystem of the planet and I believe its important that we respect it and do our bit to keep it in balance.
What is your definition of beauty?
Someone who is happy, confident and comfortable in their own skin.
What does your morning beauty routine look like?
My routine is very simple: I do not use many skincare products. I always cleanse my skin with a massage balm cleanser and hot cloth at night to remove any make up so I just sweep over my face in the morning with a damp muslin cloth. I have quite oily skin that is prone to breakouts and have found that it is happiest if left alone, so if I am working from home I don’t even put moisturizer on. Since I always wear make up when I am out in public, its good to give it a rest at home.
What are some of your favourite green ingredients, and why?
Honey is my all time favorite, I use it in my cleansing balm, lip balms and also in scrubs and masks. Manuka Honey is especially good as it is very healing and antibacterial.
I like the lighter oils such as Thistle, as they are more suited to an oily skin and do not clog pores. Rice bran oil is also fabulous as a facial oil for an occasional treat.
What’s in the future for Karen Gilbert?
I’m currently working on some online courses for both beauty products and perfumery that will enable my overseas readers to participate if they cannot reach me in the UK workshops.
My simplest recipe is a honey based mask that can also be used as a scrub:
Mix 1 tsp honey with 1 tsp jojoba or almond oil and 2 tsp white or pink clay (or enough to make a spreadable paste). Smooth over the skin as a nourishing and cleansing mask.
You could also add 1/2tsp ground rice and a few drops of rosewater to turn this mixture into a simple but effective face scrub.