‘Natural’. Everyone will tell you they are. But if they don’t tell you what they mean by it, you really don’t know what’s in your skincare.
So, when we say we use natural ingredients, we mean we use ingredients from one of only four sources:
Physically-processed ingredients - like cold-pressing avocado oil or steam distillation to extract rose oil. These time-honoured techniques are designed to release the delicate oils in their purest form.
Laboratory-processed ingredients - where we use water, glycerine etc to extract the ingredient from its natural source.
Naturally derived ingredients - where we take a natural raw ingredient – like coconut or olive oil – and process it to produce something that performs better than its natural form.
Nature identicals - where, in a very few cases, if a natural ingredient is too rare to be used sustainably for example, we replicate it exactly in a lab.
We think that what you leave out says as much about your business as what you put in.
The following is a list of ingredients we either avoid completely or use the minimum possible.
Synthetic colour and fragrance - Because some have been shown to irritate skin, we use only natural colours and scents. This is particularly important in the realm of scents, where essential oils and flower waters provide the beautiful fragrances our products are noted for.
Mineral oil - We don’t use mineral oil at all as it’s derived from petroleum and so isn’t renewable. Instead we use some of the many natural plant-based alternatives like jojoba.
Silicone - Many cosmetics use silicone to create a film that gives the skin an artificially smooth feel. Unfortunately, this can block the skin’s pores – which is why we use don’t use silicone at all. Instead we use olive and coconut oil extracts to make our products feel as smooth as silk.
Alcohol - We use only plant derived alcohol and then only where essential – since many people worry about alcohol drying their skin.
Parabens - Parabens are preservatives widely used in cosmetics and also foods and pharmaceuticals. Available naturally or synthetically, they prevent fungi, bacteria and mould. Questions have been raised over their safety so as a result, we stopped using parabens completely, replacing them with natural preservatives where possible.
PEGs and PEG derivatives - While they have a long, safe history of use in skincare, some still regard them as contentious. Wherever a suitable and effective natural alternative is available, we have replaced PEGs. We only use them in our bath oils and some cleansing products where we feel there is no pure natural ingredient that works as well.
SLS & SLES - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are both very widely used surfactants – ingredients that help foaming and lathering. We believe there are more gentle, more natural alternatives so instead, we use mild, plant based surfactants like coco-glucoside and sodium cocoyl sarcosinate. We also use Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate which although they start with the same letters are not SLS or SLES and are completely different in structure and effect to SLS & SLES.
Because we obsess about quality, we control every element of our products - from conception to manufacturing.
We have our own chemists, our own R&D and, above all, our own factory in Somerset meaning we control our own production facilities.
To do anything else would be a compromise.
Above all, ESPA formulations are created to be as safe as possible and not to irritate skin.
Every ingredient we use has a long, safe history and each formula has been screened and approved by a qualified safety assessor. You can find a full ingredients list next to each product with links to an ingredients glossary explaining what key elements of our products do.
In everything we do, we hope to make life a little more beautiful. But never at the expense of the environment, which is why we follow the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Cartons - Our product cartons are completely recyclable, biodegradable and are made from cardboard taken from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) forests.
Liners – Our liners are completely recyclable and biodegradable. Where possible, we have removed the liners in our cartons to reduce the waste. We only use them where we have concerns about items getting damaged in the post.
Leaflets - Our leaflets are completely biodegradable, recyclable and from FSC sources.
Shipping cartons and protective packaging – As standard we use cardboard boxes, reinforcement and paper wrap all of which are completely recyclable and biodegradable and in doing so have hugely reduced and restricted the use of bubble wrap and biodegradable chips.
Protective Shredded paper - Our shred is completely biodegradable, recyclable and from certified sources.
Glass - Despite the extra production and shipping costs, we have stuck with glass packaging because it is so much more easily recycled.
Caps – Our stone effect caps are made with materials from Natural Gas and also include 32% cellulose from sustainable plant sources.
Plastic - We use the minimum plastic possible, and then only in containers that can be recycled.
Tubes – Where possible, we have changed the specification for the majority of our tubed products to a single, more readily recyclable material.
Airless pumps – we have changed the specification of our pump bottles and caps so they are now made of the same material making them more easily recycled.
Professional use products – when developing professional products for use in Spas and Salons we have increased the use of larger pack sizes and the ease of refilling to minimize packaging.