Alison Astill-Smith is a director and co-founder of Metabolics Ltd, one of the leading manufacturers of pure nutritional supplements in the UK. She is also the creator of the Manna range of natural body care products.
A few years ago, my youngest daughter was suffering from bleeding Eczema. I was already aware that she had fairly sensitive skin but it seemed to be getting worse. As an osteopath and diplomat of applied kinesiology, I found that a lot of people were also coming to me with skin complaints for which they were seeking a therapeutic solution.
My daughter’s eczema was becoming quite bad, so I started doing a lot of research to try and find a solution. During my research, I found that a lot of people who suffered from skin complaints were actually very sensitive to a lot of the irritant chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and body care products. This was something that I was also familiar with as I had once suddenly had an itchy, allergic reaction to a shampoo I had previously been using regularly. It turned out that the manufacturer had changed the recipe and I was having an adverse reaction to one of the irritants in the product.
After identifying a list of chemicals that are known to cause skin irritation, I was surprised to find that these were commonly found in products that even claimed to be “child friendly” or “for sensitive skin”. Once I realised that it was difficult to buy any body care products that were completely free from irritants, I decided to build on the research I had done and produce my own in the hope I could produce something safe for my daughter’s skin.
I initially made my daughter a simple shampoo, conditioner and soap. I was amazed at how little time it took to see an improvement in her skin condition. When I told people of her improvement, many of them expressed interest in the products themselves. We were surprised to find how many people were already concerned by the irritants in the products that they used, there were a lot of people who didn’t want to use a soap that may irritate their baby’s skin or a shampoo that makes their head itch and we found that a lot of these people are frustrated by products that claim to be “organic” yet still contain irritant chemicals. I immediately started making larger batches and increased the variety of products we were making.
From there we have grown considerably and now have a complete range of irritant-free shampoos, conditioners, body butters, shower gels, moisturisers, cleansers, lip balms, soaps, hand creams, hand washes and even bath bombs. Although it’s nice that we have become quite popular, it is most rewarding when you see an improvement in somebody’s life. My daughter’s skin has completely cleared up, and many other people have had positive experiences using our products.
We visited the Mind Body Spirit exhibition in Dublin earlier this year where we were inviting people to try some of our products. Across the weekend there were two girls who wouldn’t try our products because they said they had tried so many “natural” products in the past and all of them had given them both an adverse skin reaction. One girl in particular said that she had spent a lot of money trying many expensive skin creams and all of them had brought her out in a rash; she didn’t believe ours would be any different so she initially refused to try them. After some time explaining the ethos behind the products, she reluctantly tried one of our face creams. Two hours later she came back to see us explaining how this was the first cream she had used that didn’t bring her out in a rash.
When you speak to people like that and find that you have solved a problem for them or improved their lives in some way, it’s very rewarding.
For more info, visit www.mannarange.com