Who? If the Liberty beauty hall is a holy grail of skincare, then Votary, the all-natural plant oil-based skincare line founded in 2015, might be one of its crown jewels. The line was born out of make-up artist Arabella Preston’s discovery that prepping her clients’ skin with facial oils had a transformative effect; not only physically – “thick heavy creams actually sit on the surface of the skin, so when you go to apply your foundation and it sort of slips and slides it’s harder to get a flawless face,” she says – but also psychologically. “It was a really good place to start somebody’s session – if you massage a really good smelling oil into somebody’s skin they immediately relax,” she says. “I’d call it the ‘shoulder dropper effect’, you know – they’d say ‘oh, what’s that?’ then all of a sudden we’re talking about skincare, and it sort of sets the mood.”
The benefit of using oils applies to all skin types, be it rehydrating for those who suffer from dryness, or rebalancing combination and oily skin. Her appetite for oil cleansers was fed by a few other products – Shu Uemura’s iconic variations, for starters – but the addition of minerals, which can be clogging for the skin, or emulsifiers, which allowed them to be washed off, didn’t feel right to her. So she decided to make her own. “I didn’t have any training apart from being in the industry and having a certain knowledge base,” she says. “I sat down at my kitchen table and kind of mixed things until it suited what I wanted.” The label launched not long afterwards and now, a couple of years down the line, it’s a resounding hit.
What? Manufactured in England using the finest natural ingredients, Votary products, which range from its trademark oil cleanse – apply by massaging into dry skin before gently rubbing away with a steamy hot flannel for a mini-facial-at-your-bathroom-sink effect – to intense nighttime products, which allow you to wake up looking like you’ve slept for 12 solid hours, will completely change the role oils play in your routine. No longer to be halfheartedly slapped on before bed, Preston advocates rather for using them at every step of the way. “I always say to people it’s quite a lazy girl’s routine,” she says. “For me it takes off all my makeup, and it’s a one-stop-shop when it comes to cleansing.” The shift away from using water, though a slightly discomfiting one to make, is incredibly effective; soap manufacturers have taught generations of hygiene-obsessed Westerners that unless your skins feels tight and dry, it’s still dirty. Hence why, once you’ve pulled every drop of natural oil from the face in the cleansing process, you spend the rest of your routine trying to replace it. “We all wash too much,” Preston continues, “because actually contact with water is one of the most drying things for skin.”
The fragrances set the line apart from its peers, too. They range from the very mild for sensitive or ageing skin in the form of the Super Seed collection, to gorgeously fragrant Rose Geranium and Apricot, Neroli and Myrrh, or Jasmine and Calendula – and because they’re made from all-natural ingredients there’s no cloying artificiality to them either. Preston explains that many of her clients have abandoned perfume altogether after trying them. “Once you become used to the natural scent of oils they really smell quite different to synthetic fragrance. I find it very hard to tolerate now,” she says. And isn’t there something innately chic about the idea of adding a couple of drops of fragranced oil to the bathtub and letting the scent wear off the skin over the course of a day?
Why? With the onset of summer arrives Votary’s newly released body range, and it couldn’t come at a more welcome time. The collection comprises of both a Hydrating Body Oil, hand-blended using bergamot, mandarin, and plenty of rosehip to give the skin a healthy golden glow, and a more intense Body Treatment Oil, which includes luxuriously hydrating macadamia oil and a little salicylic acid to make it perfect for dry elbows and knees. Not only does it smell like angels – a fragrance which will run rings around anything else you could think of spraying on – but it also makes your skin glow as though you’ve just stepped into an expertly lit studio, which is an effect we’re hoping to replicate all summer long.