To kick off our Great British Beauty focus for June and July we are super excited to have the exclusive launch of London's very own completely natural, raw skincare line, AMBRE. Made by hand in small batches, AMBRE focus on using 100% fresh, pure, natural source ingredients and nothing else. Founder Mira Ambre describes this approach as 'true natural'. We chat to Mira about the ethos and ingredients behind the brand....
HOW DID YOU COME TO CREATE YOUR NATURAL SKINCARE LINE?
I have lived most of my life in cities, but I grew up in the Europe's most beautiful and wildest mountains, living with my grandparents. My grandma had only three beauty tools - lipstick, a plant encyclopedia and her enormous garden.
Anything that ever touched her skin, or our plates was grown and prepared by her own hands. Her larger-than-life notebook contained hundreds of simple recipes - each made up of just a few, fresh, natural components, catering for all her skin care and healing needs. She was the most amazing, radiant, beautiful, life-loving, healthiest and happiest woman I have ever known.
I didn't just inherit her beliefs, recipes and methods; I took them to the next level.
While life in a city like London doesn't offer me a big garden where I can grow what I like, it does offer incredible choice and access: my collection of more than two hundred plant extracts includes items that are grown and sourced from all over this planet. This fascinating and inspiring variety has really broadened my horizon. Learning about and experimenting with the qualities and the practicalities of each plant and its extract, I've figured out how to take the best from different plants, formulating various combinations where different ingredients could achieve their best result working together. There are a few challenges in producing completely natural skin care product, but, without modesty, I can say that when you work with passion, understanding, knowledge, respect and strict principles - there is nothing you can't achieve.
When I got the results that could turn my skills and knowledge into a trade, I looked around and realised that my products will have plenty of competitive advantages.
There are only a few, small private producers of honest, 100% natural skin care, a tiny drop in the ocean of synthetic chemical products. Large corporates, trying to tap in to the "organic and natural" trend, mostly come from the synthetic chemical era and one can see how difficult it is for them to move away from their heritage.
I believe that demand for 100% natural skin care is growing with plenty of people out there who would like to use all natural products. Unfortunately, on the current market, everything wants to look natural rather than be natural and it is easy to be misled and it might be hard for someone to make the right and informed choice. That's why I think that to produce and sell natural skin care is not enough - our mission should be educating customers about the difference as well. I hope to make education a big part of what I do with AMBRE.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO USE RAW SKINCARE INGREDIENTS?
When your ambition is a product that is only a step away from its actual plant source, to use raw, unheated ingredients, is the only way to ensure the plant's fragile composition successfully survives the extraction, the production processes and remains intact, - so that the final product maintains each ingredient's potency and active vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidant-rich nutrients.
YOUR PRODUCTS DON'T CONTAIN WATER. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT HOW THE WAY AMBRE PRODUCTS ARE USED?
Massively! The active, nutrient part is not diluted and present in full, therefore the products are rich and highly concentrated - consequently it lasts much longer than conventional products. It's important to adjust the portion - you will only need a little every time you use it. It is also better applied on slightly moist, warm skin and should be massaged into the skin gently and sparingly.
WHICH ONE PRODUCT DO YOU RECOMMEND PEOPLE NEW TO AMBRE, TRY FIRST?
Try my hand cream - it will provide a very good AMBRE experience, giving you a feel for the textures, concentrations and aromas. It is made from Mango Butter - an excellent moisturiser, extremely rich in texture and vitamin content, it gives the skin a soft, emollient feel.
The second main ingredient here is Carrot Seed Oil - bringing all that carrots are famous for - beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. This oil is a good healer; it soothes and relieves dry skin. While carrots don't really smell, this seed extract has an extremely powerful, earthy aroma and a thick, viscous texture. I realize that this type of smell might not be to everyone's taste, but I almost feel sorry to interrupt it with the essential oils blend. I designed this hand cream to be used before bed so that it could work its full power during the night. This defined the choice of essential oils - I use Clary Sage, Lemon and Lavender - this blend has a calming effect and will help you to sleep well.
WITH PASSION FOR 100% NATURAL SKINCARE, CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE SKINCARE TIP?
I know it might sound too oily and natural for some - but give it a try - take your skin on a pure natural holiday.
Buy a couple of pure vegetable oils and butters: say, Rosehip for face, Avocado for body and Shea Butter for hands. Use all of them for your evening skin care procedures. Apply sparingly, give a time to absorb, if there's any excess - remove it if you like. You don't need to store oils in the fridge, but don't leave them in the sunlight either. Also make sure no water drops into the bottles.
Use them for a couple of weeks and compare the result to ones you get from your usual creams and lotions. You might never look back.....
A few tips to make the experience a successful one: the Avocado oil you need would hardly be selling in the supermarket - it has to be "cosmetic grade", that is unrefined and cold-pressed. Look for it in the specialist natural health stores. The same applies to Shea butter - there are refined and unrefined variations available on the market - make sure the one you are buying is unrefined. Try to find Rosehip Oil that is preserved with an antioxidant such as Tocopherol (Vitamin E) - unless preserved it has a limited shelf life due to the high fatty acid content.
I have combined all the oils you need for body in my Thirteen Fresh Oils Extra Nourishing Body Oil a blend of Avocado, Apricot Kernel, Sweet Almond, Sunflower, Hazelnut, Hemp and Jojoba Oils. While the Luxurious Oil Blend Face Serum contains everything you need for the face! tart with this to make life easy!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PRODUCT IN THE RANGE?
That's a really hard question, but if really pushed, it will be my Pumpkin and Kokum Face Cream. The Pumpkin Seed Butter, one of the main ingredients, simply mesmerises me. The gentle texture, the powerful aroma and the tender colour - there is nothing quite like it in the vegetable ingredient kingdom, not even a pumpkin itself. I'd love to talk about its qualities as well, but this may take us another whole interview - although you can always invite me for one!