With the death of natural and sustainable beauty pioneer Horst Rechelbacher a couple of weeks ago, it is only apt to look at the transformation of how this once niche market has come to the mainstream light.

As an innovator that helped lead the recyclable packaging, aromatherapy, Fairtrade and organic movement, Horst changed the face of the beauty industry. Horst believed beauty could be found using safer and healthier methods and ingredients to lead a more balanced lifestyle. An outspoken icon, he founded botanical skincare brand Aveda Corporation in 1978 with a vision of producing plant-based products, propelling a whole new beauty movement. Selling the company to Estee Lauder in 1997, the biggest sale of its kind, Horst continued to grow his findings and went on to being twice awarded Vanity Fair’s most influential environmentalists award. Dying at the age of 72 after a fight with pancreatic cancer, Horst leaves behind a budding feel-good industry.

 If it weren’t for influential people such as Horst, the British beauty industry would be shaped a lot differently today. Alongside Horst, UK companies such as LUSH and The Body Shop have gone on to wave the flag for natural ingredients within our day-to-day and special beauty regimes. No longer are they the most expensive or hard-to-come-by products, but a new way of seeing what beauty really is, and how we should source it.

LUSH cosmetics was founded by Mark and Mo Constantine in 1994. The married couple started inventing products in the 80’s using herbal and natural elements and offering treatments to consumers, who sought products less harsh on their skin, in their first shop. From this original store in Poole, Dorset a whole empire has been built. In 1995, LUSH opened two stores in London. This sparked the start of a vast following resulting in stores cropping up all around the world. You don’t even need to read or hear about their use of natural ingredients – you can smell it lightly touch your nose as you walk past one of their 80 stores in the UK. Honeysuckle, lemon zest, seaweed and avocado – just a mere selection of the multitude of fresh ingredients lovingly placed into their nourishing facemasks, bath bombs and beyond.

The Body Shop is another international ethical beauty brand. It opened its first store doors 26th March 1976 in bohemian Brighton,  with its five core values being; Support Community Fair Trade, Defend Human Rights, Against Animal Testing, Activate Self- Esteem, and Protect Our Planet. These principles are visible in action in its natural sourcing of ingredients from all around the world and its dedication to keeping produce as clear and simple to their consumer as possible. Known for products such as sensuous cocoa butter Body Butter, Tea Tree Blemish Gel and Hemp Face protector, The Body Shop uses raw ingredients to combat anything from dry skin to blemishes.  LUSH was once the The Body Shop’s largest supplier but today, both companies spearhead the high-street market campaign for no animal testing, more natural ingredients and sustainable packaging at affordable prices.

With more ‘raw’ ingredients on the market, consumers are increasingly aware and responsible when it comes to what they are putting onto their skin. The response to this has been a rise in brands coming to the UK from abroad with their new and exciting fruits, vegetables and vitamins.

Australia’s wonder PAW PAW balm is due to be released in stores nationwide from the end of March and boasts a concoction of Papaya and Manuka or ‘mircale’ honey – both known for their healing properties. The Body Deli – a Californian brand – has recently launched in the UK and calls its products ‘superfood skincare’ using raw superfoods, concentrated enzymes and probiotics to rejuvenate the skin.

Although some may question whether natural ingredients are on the upsurge due to their fashionable status, without pioneering brands and inspirational innovators such as LUSH, The Body Shop and the late Horst Rechelbacher we would all be a lot less knowledgeable when it comes to making educated beauty choices. Regardless of the sceptics, customers are continuing to buy into the concept that avoiding synthetics and chemicals in your cosmetics has a better long-term effect on both your skin and the planet. This movement can only and should only get greater – and Horst would be proud.

Written by Kimberley Ho-A-Shoo. Images © and courtesy of LUSH.