The “Common Sense” Skincare Line You’ll Want to Tell Your Friends About

MONTAMONTA Facial Cleansing Mask

Born out of a passion for plants and science, MONTAMONTA’s sustainably sourced products are travelling fast by word of mouth

  1. Who is it? MONTAMONTA, a London-based “common sense” skincare line creating products you’ll soon be addicted to
  2. Why do I want it? Plant and science-based skincare that is sustainably sourced and ethically made, and all the more pleasing to use for it
  3. Where can I find it? On its website, and in Liberty. 

Who is it? MONTAMONTA founder Montague Ashley-Craig didn’t set out to start a line of beauty products. “I had studied a masters in Cosmetic Science, and spent time formulating and developing products for other brands, when an old pal from Scotland asked me to help create a handwash for his cocktail bar – White Lyan,” she tells AnOther. “The bar was a bit of an anomaly, they didn’t use any ice or perishables, and he wanted something a bit different.” Having worked at Aesop, Ashley-Craig understood the importance of an excellent-smelling hand wash, so was happy to take the task on. Word soon spread, and before long she was developing products for a whole range of local products and bars: MONTAMONTA was born.

Now it’s a fully fledged independent venture producing a range of products – from evocative hand washes to body scrubs, facial oils, and cleansing masks – and while she describes the brand as “common sense skincare”, sustainability is at the heart of everything MONTAMONTA does, from packaging all products in glass (unless plastic is absolutely necessary for safety reasons) and offering refills (last year this system saved 400 bottles from the bin) to repurposing waste, such as spent coffee grounds, from other industries.

Collaboration is a key instrument for allowing the brand to function more sustainably, she continues: the brand’s newest launch is an all-purpose balm which contains beeswax produced by The London Honey Co. – a team of urban beekeepers who look after hives all over the city, including on top of the Tate, and Fortnum & Mason. “I loved working with that, as the raw material supply chain is usually so globalised that it’s hard to pin down the origin of most of the materials that you work with. Yet, here was this amazing smelling, low processed, nutrient rich beeswax that had come from less than four miles away from our lab!”

Why do I want it? “Being a trained scientist, I love working with technical ingredients – surfactants, emulsifiers, rheology modifiers, et cetera,” Ashley-Craig explains. “There’s a load of greenwashing in the industry which I think stems from a lack of education, both for consumers and marketers.” MONTAMONTA does formulate with a lot of plant-based materials, she explains, “but I often find myself defending the scientific ingredients most. I love being given the chance to explain what a surfactant is, and why you probably really do need a preservative in your formulation, and how ‘chemical-free’ is the most bogus claim on the planet.”

Ashley-Craig welcomes the opportunity to invite customers into the Haggerston laboratory she works out, she explains, whether somebody living locally wanting to pick up an online order, or to host workshops. “Often in the past, working in cosmetics development, you’re hidden away from visitors and only communicate with consumers through a wall of marketing,” she says. “I think that consumers are seeking more of a transparency in companies that they want to support and it’s really refreshing to be able to welcome customers to the space.”

Where can I find it? On the MONTAMONTA website, and in Liberty.

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