Back to Nature Beauty

I am going back to nature. This doesn't mean that I will swap my kitten heels for Jesus sandals, or that I will be crunching on mung beans rather than crisps. No, instead I will be taking a long, hard look at what I had previously slapped on my bo...

Therefore, I decided to scoot around Somerset's retail outlets for some beauty goodies with more innocuous ingredients.

Luckily for us, it is now possible to buy a wide range of beauty products, more sensitive to the balance of nature, right here in Somerset - unlike in the past, when you had to make a special trip to London and run the gauntlet of being embroiled in an experimental theatre piece, just to buy a decent bar of soap from Neal's Yard, in Covent Garden. Their frankincense nourishing cream (priced at £12 for 40g) is still a big seller. Frankincense is the aromatic resin of a desert-growing tree, and famously was a gift to the infant Jesus. This rich cream is legendary for its age-defying properties and there is a huge range of other luxurious and healing products, including calming oils and organic cosmetics.

Monty's Spa, at Charlton House Hotel, Shepton Mallet, which was founded by Roger and Monty Saul (of Mulberry fame), has introduced a new skincare range prepared by hand using natural, botanical products and using with the amazing spelt germ oil as the unique foundation ingredient. Spelt germ oil helps with skin elasticity, natural protection from the sun and the rejuvenation of cells. The range treats conditions like eczema, dry and cracked skin, prematurely aged skin, stretch marks, scars and burns and dull complexions in a natural way with organic ingredients.

It is surely unfair that a woman of my advancing years should still have to put up with the odd teenage spot, but since discovering Living Nature, a skincare system from New Zealand, I no longer bemoan the fact. Containing only natural ingredients, these products use a native oil called 'manuka' as their base, which is 30 times more effective against common skin bacteria than tea-tree oil and renowned for its healing properties. Just dab on some manuka oil and honey antiseptic gel (£11 for 60ml) and forget about it.

Now you no longer have to be 'A' list to feel like a star. The Dr Hauschka range, reportedly used by Madonna, Julia Roberts, Kylie and Gwyneth Paltrow, is a collection of skincare products which are preservative-free and completely natural. (It works for me!) Their Daily Face Care Kit is an ideal introduction to the range. It comes in a handy little tin, perfect for travelling and costs £15.

Babington House, that wonderful Somerset outpost of the Soho House, has their own naturally-based bath and body products. The Cowshed range was born in the hotel's spa, once a working cowshed. If you're after some fabulous gift ideas, or have a friend who needs cheering up, buy her one or two of the entirely natural and stylishly packaged Cowshed products: 'Pampered Cow' if she needs spoiling or 'Grumpy Cow' if she has a good sense of humour! Made from herbal infusions and pure essential oils, Cowshed's 'Udderly Gorgeous Indulgent Bath Foam' is particularly good for easing stress. Just reading the label raises a smile. BY JOANNA HAYWOOD



Cowshed Relax (members and hotel guests only) Babington House, near Frome; also stocked at John Lewis, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway; Prey, York Buildings, Bath

Dr Hauschka,

Stocked throughout the county, for stockists call 01386 791022

Living Nature,

Stocked at: Can Help Now, Pill, Bristol; Fresh and Wild, Queens Road, Bristol; Harvest, Walcot Street, Bath; Light Green, Fore Street, Castle Cary; Wild Oats, Lower Redland Road, Bristol

Monty's Spa,

Available from Monty's Spa, Charlton House Hotel, Shepton Mallet, and by mail order tel 01749 342008

Neal's Yard Remedies,

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Stores at: Northumberland Place, Bath; Whiteladies Road, Bristol

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