How did you decide to specialize in Pharmacognosy and where did the idea of creating your range come from?
Whilst in Indonesia in the island of Sumba, on a research station. This was my first experience of working with people who had no access to medicines, but who used tradition plant remedies instead which had been tried and tested and passed on from generation to generation. It was here I realized that most of the world’s population rely on plant-based ingredients as their primary healthcare. The notion of manufacturing a skin care range came much later really from my need to create a natural product that I would use myself using ingredients that were both efficacious and of the highest pharmacopeia grade extracts.
You have recently been in Sub-Saharan Africa, working with local healers, shamans, and indigenous plants. How important is it for you to support local communities and how are you able to help them through your range?
It is key to my business as we produce products not only for the international market but also for local markets. That is why we set up the Natural Product Community which is a foundation set up to channel a percentage of profit from Dr Jackson's Natural Products towards continuing research into medicinal plants and supporting indigenous cultures in the country of origin where a percentage of after tax profits goes towards conservation education projects.
What makes your range different from other natural skincare brands?
I bring to the table my knowledge of plant-based medicines and expertise as a Pharmacognosist. I have developed a skin care range using plant ingredients that have been tried and tested traditionally by indigenous cultures for centuries. These have also been proved to be efficacious after rigorous scientific research and testing. My key ingredient and a plant species that I have carried out major research on is Kigelia. Kigelia is a tree found in parts of Sub Saharan Africa. Traditionally extracts from this tree have been used by tribal women to ensure a smooth, blemish free complexion and as a skin and breast firming remedy. The fruits from the tree are used to treat many other skin problems. Isoflavones and steroid saponosides present in the fruit are known to have a firming effect on the dermis, skin drainage and a restituitive effect, restoring elasticity and firmness and napthaquinones which have long been known to have a brightening effect. I also feature Baobab in my products: Baobab seed oil contains almost equal measures of palmitic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid as well as some small quantities of stearic and cyclopropenoid acids, it is prized as a moisturiser,. The fruit has six times as much vitamin C as an orange, is a plentiful source of antioxidants and it combats skin aging by improving skin firmness and strength by boosting the elastic quality of the skin and encouraging cell regeneration.
If you were to choose one favourite ingredient or product from the range, which would it be?
As from above you will see that my specialism is in Kigelia and therefore my favorite ingredient. My favorite product to date is my 02 Skin Cream: this has been formulated using natural extracts of Kigelia, Baobab, Frankincense and Mango Seed Extract. Kigelia is traditionally used to repair and ensure blemish free skin, Baobab helps to alleviate dry and damaged skin, improve skin tone and elasticity, Frankincense for its reputed anti-inflammatory and skin healing capabilities and Mango seed extract for its superior moisturising properties.
Winter is not an easy time for the skin: any tips for using the range during winter?
I think that blending and layering products is a great and effective way of treating your skin in harsher climates. I recommend blending with say, my 02 Skin Cream with a little of my 03 Face Oil. From our Asian friends we have learnt that oil is great for sealing the skin and holding in moisture. Again it contains Baobab oil which is a great natural defense against our cold and windy weather which can cause dry and damaged skin. I also recommend my 04 Organic Coconut Melt: this Coconut oil is great for cuticles, hair and lips an all over everything balm. I think that it is good to experiment with oils and creams but at the end of the day, we all know what best suits our skin type.
Have you come across any simple natural remedies or indigenous ‘beauty rituals’ from your travels to try at home?
Well, speaking personally, you can create your very own Spa experience in the comfort of your own home by putting a few drops of Lavender and Ylang Ylang essential oil in a bowl with some boiling water - it is very relaxing and sensual. This accompanied with a simple tea made with some chopped slices of fresh ginger with honey and boiling water (calming and anti-nausea). There we have it! The perfect Home Spa after a long day in the office.
Your quest for the best indigenous ingredients has taken you across all continents – what would be your most memorable expedition so far?
Oh my! So many to recall from the Amazon Basin to the archipelago Islands of Indonesia. But I must admit that my best expeditions are to the Zambezi region on our annual Tree-Planting project. This is an Educational Conservation Program that we have set up as part of the Natural Product Community to support local communities to plant indigenous plant species that can in some cases be wild-harvested. Our aim is to promote Trade and not Aid and cultivate a culture of independence and social enterprise for local communities. We view these communities as our business partners going forward and we also highly value the knowledge and wisdom that they impart to us. This is a very exciting collaboration and always a very exciting expedition.