Homework, Soothing Skincare Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Avocado shampoo barCourtesy of Homework

The south London lifestyle brand creates soaps, bath soaks and essential oil blends, all inspired by the “healing power of nature”

  1. Who is it? Homework, a London-based skincare brand selling soaps, bath soaks, candles and essential oil blends
  2. Why do I want it? The simple, deliciously aromatic range draws its wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine, as well as the “healing power of nature”
  3. Where can I get it? On the official Homework Store website

Who is it? Homework was started by Stephanie Hannington-Suen, a former graphic designer and art director based in London. After years of working in design studios across the capital, she began to feel herself burning out: the long hours and difficult clients, teamed with the blurring boundaries between work and home time, saw her grow increasingly despondent. “I would do in-house design work for some big brands that weren’t really aligned to my beliefs,” she recalls. “But I’d always been fascinated with skincare.”

This fascination with skincare stemmed from her parents, who ran an acupuncture and herbal medicine clinic when she was growing up. Hannington-Suen began to revisit their methods, which were rooted in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the power of plants. “The whole philosophy of TCM is about finding balance,” she says. This includes mental and emotional balance, as well as physical and spiritual. For Hannington-Suen, this ancient practice made her also reassess the volatile imbalance between her home and work life – a focus that ultimately led to the name Homework. “That’s how it’s all linked together,” she adds. “The ethos of our brand is all about balance, about making time for yourself and for self-care.” After experimenting with crafting her own soothing scented candles in January 2019, she began to take the brand more seriously – launching officially, with bigger ambitions, in October that same year.

Why do I want it? Homework specialises in delectable, earthy aromas. Its hero products are its essential oil blends and its sustainably packaged, toxin-free scented candles (which range from smoky sandalwood and Chinese cedar, to transportive blends of green leaf, tobacco and clary sage). The brand has also started to branch out into skincare, releasing a range of soap bars, shampoo bars, and bath salts – all of which are based on TCM wisdom. With an emphasis on high-quality botanical ingredients and minimalist packaging, Homework aims to pay tribute to the natural world. “I think people underestimate how powerful nature can really be,” says Hannington-Suen. “I always consult with my parents whenever we create a new product and find out what they recommend. We actually developed our Dandelion soap bar with them – dandelion is great for people with psoriasis or eczema – and they send it to their patients now. It’s considered a weed in western society, but it’s actually a very powerful remedy.”

All the products are formulated and manufactured in south-east London, by hand, at the Homework studio. To stick to their sustainability principles, and to fight the trend for overconsumption, Hannington-Suen opens up the space and offers workshops to the public so they can see how the products are made – and so they can learn to formulate the products for themselves. Currently, this comes in the form of a natural perfume oil workshop, but she has plans to expand the program in the future. “I really like the idea of teaching people how to make these products at home,” Hannington-Suen says, hopefully. “Further down the line, I would like to teach people that they can make their own moisturisers, and that they don’t always need to buy costly [products] with lots of packaging off the shelves. I would really love to do that.”

Where can I get it? On the official Homework website.