An increasing awareness of how different foods affect the body means that people are starting to realise that, in terms of beauty and health, it is what is inside that counts.
Alex Laird is a medical herbalist, and uses science and medicine to show how to use herbs and food to promote health and beauty.
‘There is a real understanding now of what foods do medicinally in the body, other than just giving us energy,’ says Laird. ‘People want to know which elements in the food stimulate your immune system, which keep your blood vessels clean and which improve heart function.’
The products that are most beneficial to health and beauty are the least processed. Laird believes the way to get the most out of food is to cut out refinements that strip ingredients of nutrients and health-giving properties.
‘For every cell to function well, you need the right nutrients. But you also need oils for the skin and for hormones,’ says Laird. ‘It is best to eat the foods we have been designed to eat over millions of years, and to have foods that are whole.’
Consumers are buying food and beauty products that emphasise their natural ingredients. They are seeking health and beauty products with natural properties rather than those that have active ingredients derived from chemicals.
‘There is a real hunger among people to reconnect with nature and plants – growing them, understanding how they work and eating something that is as whole as it can be,’ says Laird. ‘People understand that their food is becoming very de-natured. I think people want to enjoy the richness and delicacy of flavour that is in a good plant.’
Urban Physic Garden
Laird brings her expertise to the public through the Urban Physic Garden, a project that presents old herbal remedies in a modern context. The garden features medicinal herbs that are laid out in the form of a hospital, complete with ‘wards’ that can be used for different ailments.
Top five take-outs
1: Be natural. Use natural ingredients that have enriching properties.
2: Be wholesome. Reducing processed ingredients increases natural benefits.
3: Be transparent. Product ingredients can hide a variety of things, so emphasise your product’s provenance.
4: Be revivalist. Consumers are yearning to reconnect with the traditions and customs that link us to nature.
5: Go back to the source. Extracts are often used in products, but cut to the chase and use the original.