There’s no two ways about it: beauty advice can be fickle. Take pure coconut oil for example. One minute it’s being heralded as the cure of all beauty evils, as suitable for smothering on our hair overnight as it slathered over our faces; the next, it’s deemed too heavy, way too concentrated and a one-way ticket to clogged pores. In other words, not ideal. But for all the toing and froing, there are a handful of beauty brands that are settled and go without saying. Firstly, there’s the whole not going to be with make-up rule, then there’s the importance of the good ol’ cleanse, tone and moisturise ritual and lastly, you can add the importance of going natural with your skincare to that list too.
Okay, so our beauty kits are brimming with the likes of Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Clarins but quite in the same way that we all know that eating local, non-GMO, pesticide-free foods makes sense health-wise, the same applies with our skincare.
As beauty editors, we essentially try products for a living. A significant portion of what we do each day is trying the myriad of products out there all to inform you about exactly what’s worth handing over your credit card for and trust us when we say, natural skincare products always come up trumps. From Miranda Kerr’s incredibly high-performance range to the much-loved range from Burt’s Bees, we’re crazy about it all things natural beauty so it was only a matter of time before Balance Me was on our radar.
Co-founded by the formidable Rebecca Hopkins, Balance Me is essentially your go-to for results-driven natural products that actually do what they’re supposed to. It’s not a new brand either. This year marks it’s ten year anniversary and Rebecca is pretty much a walking phantom of knowledge on everything you need to know about beauty, from the best natural products to use, through to the best of the mainstream brands, thanks to years spent launching the beauty lines for the likes of Giorgio Armani during her time at L’Oréal. Ina bid to get the full 411, we picked her brains on her own beauty routine and the products that have got her stamp of approval.
I studied French at University and during my third year in Paris I wrote to L’Oréal HQ and asked if I could work for them for a year. I was given an internship in their international marketing and corporate communications division and my passion for beauty was born!
My sister Clare and I co-founded Balance Me in 2005 because we spotted a gap in the market for natural, results-led beauty products that promoted well-being, were aromatherapy-inspired and that we could make in the UK. Clare’s background was operations and finance and mine was marketing, communications and the more creative side of things from working on brands such as Giorgio Armani Beauty, Lancôme and L’Oréal Paris. I was able to work in both the Paris and London head offices. It gave me a great insight as to how beauty businesses were run on both a local country level and also from a global perspective, and also great contacts that I could then use to support the launch of Balance Me.
Between our corporate jobs and Balance Me we retrained in the holistic field. I am a qualified reflexologist and Clare a yoga teacher and these additional skills inspired us to co-found a well-being events business, Balance Being which offered bespoke ‘pampering’ packages to a number of corporate clients including major retailers, city lawyers and TV companies. We would make natural beauty products in our kitchen as a thank you for clients and allow them to take a ‘slice of our well-being’ home with them at the end of each event. Topshop asked to buy 200 foot polishes to give to their VIPs and press when they launched their shoe emporium in London.
We started off with a pop-up shop at Topshop and this us to be spotted by a major John Lewis who wanted to take us nationwide in their stores. From the very beginning in Topshop we were challenging what it means to be a natural brand. We proudly state our natural percentage on the front of our products and our range has always been free from sulphates and parabens –something not many natural beauty brands could claim back in 2005! We attracted a huge amount of editorial and a feature in British Vogue led a big Danish company to contact us. We’ve been working together ever since.
My role as director means I am still heavily involved in all aspects of the business, although my focus remains on heading up the creative, marketing and communications side. Any given day could include meeting with beauty editors to share our most recent launches, talking to magazine publishers to secure exciting partnerships, attending reader events to connect with our customers and listen to their feedback, through to researching to developing new products, signing off packaging and campaign ideas and mentoring my team.
We’re currently celebrating 10 years of Balance Me. In September we’re launching some beautiful limited editions of our two hero products: Super Moisturising Hand Cream, which heralds from our first capsule collection, and our best-selling Radiance Face Oil. I am also very excited about our new and improved Anti-ageing Face Serum as it contains Bidens Pilosa extract, which works to plump and firm the skin by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. I can’t live without the Restore and Replenish Face Cream – it literally future proofs youthful skin. I had a minor panic attack last weekend when my pump ran out, it’s a real must for me with a full-time business to run and two daughters aged 11 and 8!
If the last ten years has taught me anything, it’s that happiness comes from a fulfilling work-life balance and remembering the importance of health and well-being. We have learnt over the years how to be time efficient during the day, so that when we go home we can switch off and relax with our families, so that we don’t miss any precious memories of the children growing up! I have a Vespa scooter, which helps me to whizz around London, to accompany my children to school (they scoot alongside on their non-motorised versions!) and still be in the office before 9.30am for a full day of work.
Unsurprisingly, my beauty routine starts and ends with Balance Me. In the morning I cleanse with our Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm, treat my skin with Radiance Face Oil and then complete the routine with our Collagen Boost Restore and Replenish Moisturiser, which contains a powerful natural peptide complex to smooth, firm and increase collagen synthesis. Each evening I cleanse with our Collagen Boost Restore and Replenish Cream Cleanser as it removes make-up with ease and I moisturise with our multi-tasking Stellar Beauty Balm. This provides just the right amount of moisture from morning until the evening so I don’t have to worry about reapplying later on in the day.
I think skin that is radiant and glowing naturally looks much more youthful. The key to achieving plumped, lustrous skin is to keep it as hydrated as possible. My skincare rules are simple. First and foremost, always cleanse with a cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Balance Me offer 3 natural cleansers, which solve specific skin concerns without creating others due to their ability to maintain the skin’s natural moisture levels. Our Pure Skin Face Wash balances oily skin and banishes spots, our Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm treats and prevents dry skin and our Restore and Replenish Cream Cleanser deeply hydrates and boost collagen synthesis. The next rule is to always wear eye cream. The skin around the eye area is very thin, meaning it finds it hard to retain moisture. Using a rich yet lightweight eye cream takes two seconds of your day and minimises fine lines, puffiness and dark shadows. Finally, make sure to use a 100% natural face oil. Apply face it before your moisturiser to give skin an extra hit of hydration.
I was part of the launch team for Giorgio Armani Beauty in the UK and their Luminous Silk Foundation is still the best on the market. I love Tom Ford Beauty, especially their nail polishes and they have a wonderful ability to produce the most exquisite colours and textures. My Charlotte Tilbury Sophisticate eye shadow palette and Laguna Nars Bronzer are never far from my side and I have also discovered Little Mix Liquid Liner, thanks to our Digital Assistant who is a very talented make-up artist, so I’ve perfected just the right amount of flick. The three pieces you’re bound to find in my make-up bag at any given time is a Lancôme mascara, our natural perfection BB cream and a Chantecaille Zinnia lipstick.
We just launched our Protect and Shine hair care range, which contains a natural shampoo and conditioner duo, packed with naturally cleansing (and gorgeously scented) grapefruit oil and nourishing argan oil. The blend cleanses the hair without stripping away its natural oils, so I find that I don’t have to wash my hair every day for it to look glossy and fresh. I have my hair cut and coloured by Ian at Willie Smarts in South West London and Toni Jade, beauty therapist to the A-list, is a very dear friend and we do swaps so I get beautiful feet in return for reflexology!
WELL-BEING & EXERCISE
I have always been a big believer in well-being and healthy living. It was my quest for a better work-life balance, which spurred me on to create Balance Me. I have a personal trainer each Monday morning, which is a great way to start the week. It is hard to get up early, especially after a busy weekend but I feel really rejuvenated by 7.30am and ready for the week ahead. I also practice Iyengar Yoga with Tom Logan. He is an amazing teacher and very inspiring. I then try to run twice a week on the common near to my home as it helps me think clearly and work things through in my mind. I try to make sure I work my fitness around family time as my family is my priority and we have a very busy home! I also think that finding time for relaxation is very important for a clear, healthy mind. I love burning Neom’s ‘Moment of Calm’ candle in my home when I get home, and we use their ‘Feel Refreshed’ reed diffusers in the office as the team find it helps to keep them energised throughout the day.
The key thing is to make time for yourself. It just requires some juggling –first thing in the morning in the week or a Saturday morning at the weekend works best for me. It is a discipline and worth every bit of the time investment that you need to put aside. You will perform much better, think more clearly and live a little longer!
Photographs by David Nyanzi for The Lifestyle Edit with art direction by Naomi Mdudu