Mamma Mia

22nd May 2009

Some of the finest natural and organic beauty products hail from that glorious holiday hotspot – the Mediterranean. Which, if you think about it is obvious, really, explains Mary Linehan…

Almost every beauty ritual dates back to the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and their use of indigenous flowers and fauna and foods. No environmental footprints in their old bathrooms! But what’s extra special about these products is their wonderfully evocative perfumes, that make using them a divinely uplifting experience to transport you to a delicious holiday reverie.

Greek by name and Greek by nature, Korres offers excellent skincare, haircare, colour cosmetics, herbal products and even nutraceuticals – teas, jams and energy bars – made from Greek Flora, medicinal herbs and homegrown food ingredients, chosen for their benefits and skin-compatibility. The brand has its roots in Athens’s first-ever homeopathic pharmacy, which still shows in its philosophy some 500 products later. Eschewing the use of chemicals and synthetics, and remaining as environmentally friendly as possible, even the packaging is a work of floral art!

Some of the gems of their range include Royal Jelly and Grapeseed Capsules (£30) – a facial oil that helps fight free radical damage and supports the skin’s natural defences. Apply the contents of one capsule to the face and neck at night.

The Wild Rose Mask (£16) is an instant brightener, made – of course – with wild rose, a natural source of vitamin C that helps repair the signs of aging. Herb extracts add brightness and radiance.

The Yoghurt Cooling After Sun Gel for Face & Body (£15) is based on a traditional remedy for sunburn and redness. Yoghurt works by increasing the water content of the top layers of the skin, and the Greek herbs are very comforting.

Mediterranean best-seller L’Occitane comes from Provence in the South of France. It was founded in 1976, by Provencal-native Olivier Baussan, who said, “The sun, the products of the soil and a love of nature are the essence of my Provence. It is this essence I want to share with the world. It is what inspired me to create L’Occitane.”

Every element of this brand pays homage to this splendid region of France – in fact each store is a little bit of Provence. Using traditional techniques, mostly local, each product has a traceable history and the company works only with producers who share their own exacting standards. L’Occitane formulations and products look to phytotherapy and aromatherapy for their efficacy and holistic benefits. Like Korres, L’Occitane has enviable social responsibility credentials, actively working to limit its environmental impact and investing in a variety of causes.

If you’re getting ready to jet off, then be sure to pack the Verbena Shower Gel (£12.50), a wonderful citrusy blend of verbena, orange, geranium and lemon, plus the Almond Delicious Paste (£23.50), a new addition to the virtuous best-selling Almond Pure range. Moisturising and nourishing almond butter and almond oil are infused with crushed almond shells and sugar to polish the skin. (The almond tree is one of the symbols of the Alpes de Haute-Provence.)

The Shea Butter Hand Cream (£16.50) is also worth having – a rich balm-like blend of 20% shea butter, sweet almond extract, jasmine and ylang ylang.

Other Med-like winners for holiday or home use include:

Marks & Spencer Ingredients Fig Shower Cream (£3.00) – Vitamin and mineral rich fresh figs have long been used for their restorative properties.

Lush Olive Branch Shower Gel (£3.67) – Olive oil, mandarin juice, vine leaf infusion and orange flower essential oil for a great reviving cleanse and tonic for the skin.

Body Shop Divine Calm Serenity Milk Bath Powder (£9.00) – A luxury bath soak made using French lavender essential oil and soya milk.

For stockist details:
Korres – http://korres.bathandunwind.com or 020 7581 6455;
L’Occitane – http://uk.loccitane.com or 020 7907 0301;
Marks & Spencer – www.marksandspencer.com or 0845 302 1234;
Lush – www.lush.co.uk or 01202 668 545;
Body Shop – www.thebodyshop.co.uk or 01903 844 554.

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