November 22 2010
Lucia van der Post
We’re long used to chefs sourcing their ingredients from close to home, carefully adding up the carbon footprints of their beef and their beans, but it’s rather newer for the white-coated chaps in beauty labs to flag it up. More usually, they like to cite obscure and far-flung rainforests, inaccessible mountain-tops and hidden valleys as the source of their unpronounceable plants and never-before-encountered nuts and oils. But here we have a British beauty brand, Mitchell and Peach (nice name, no? – so English, so reassuring), which declares that knowing where your materials come from is all, and even better is to grow them yourself.
So, down in Kent, right in the heart of the “the garden of England”, the small, family-run Foxbury farm has gone to enormous lengths to use ingredients such as wheat (its proteins and amino acids create a protective moisturising film on the skin and it is an effective pore minimiser), honey (a natural humectant) and lavender (long known to encourage the growth of new skin cells) – all grown in its own fields – in a small range of exceptionally attractive soaps, handwashes, lotions and creams.
It’s Jod Mitchell, the youngest son of the current owner, who is behind the initiative, and he’s been working for three years to come up with this utterly simple, lovely-smelling, natural collection of beauty products. Mitchell has worked with local artisans to develop them, using the farm’s aforementioned honey, lavender and wheat, together with its own violet root, rose and hand-blended natural fragrances. Vitamin E has also been added to some of the mixes.
These are utterly charming, beautifully balanced creams and oils that are a delight to use when something simple and divine-smelling is all one craves. The Dorchester Collection’s very grand country spa hotel, Coworth Park at Ascot, has a specially commissioned range of Mitchell and Peach miniatures in all its bathrooms. It’s an obvious fit for, as Coworth Park’s general manager, Zoe Jenkins, puts it: “Dorchester Collection’s vision for Coworth Park was to create a contemporary English country estate experience” and it ties in beautifully with its eco-luxury ethos.
The Luxury Bath Oil costs £39 for 100ml, the Luxury Handcream is £17 for 60ml, the Body Cream is £36 for 180ml, the Shower Wash is £20 for 250ml and, finally, the particularly delicious Triple Milled Soap is a £28 for a box of four. Nobody could call the world of beauty dull. What we have here is the beauty equivalent of the Slow Food movement and a nostalgic desire for things that are natural and simple, yet done with a certain sophistication – beauty, as it were, straight from the fields instead of the test tube.