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Imogen Wakerley, Bumi Naturals

Bumi Naturals - we speak to Imogen about ingredients and going natural

Imogen Wakerley shares more insight into the sourcing and benefits of the ingredients she used in her range, Bumi Naturals, as well as sharing tips on switching to natural skincare.

There are a lot of organic ingredients in your products, and you are replacing the plastic lids with aluminium ones too - what other changes have you made to become more eco-friendly?

Yes. I’m really happy to say that we are switching to aluminium, once we have used up our current stock of plastic lids. Although our initial decision was made around their durability, and the fact that you can re-use the plastic ones, we made the trade-off between re-useable and recyclable, and of course not contributing to any more plastic waste.

There are always ways to improve your operations to give more back to the planet. Even down to things like dispatching orders every few days as opposed to every day to save on carbon footprint. Or ordering periodically from suppliers as opposed to very regularly for the same reason.

In terms of how I live my life, my product choices and approach to waste have completely changed. I use all-natural cleaning products and have stopped buying plastic. Of course, we haven’t thrown out all of the old Tupperware’s because it’s best to reuse until it breaks, but making choices like buying fruit and vegetables from independent stores with no plastic wrapping is very important to me.

My partner and I have been using lockdown to create a beautiful garden, full of fruit and vegetables here in London. We want to be more sustainable in our choices, and of course, we aren’t using pesticides of any form of GMO in our garden - although I think I am going to have to give some beans away as we may have gone overboard!

Sourcing is important to you, can you tell us more about your process and why it is so important to you?

I started Bumi out of a little bit of frustration with ‘mainstream’ products and synthetic ingredients. I was and still am also frustrated with the use of cute animals to test chemicals, and that humans choose to synthesize chemicals that already exist on our beautiful planet. It just doesn’t make sense to me!

For these reasons, it is really of utmost importance to me that the ingredients I use in my formulations, and the companies supplying them, are on the same page. It takes a while to find ingredients that meet all of my criteria, but it’s worth it. Suppliers must have a declaration on (lack of) animal testing. The ingredients must be certified organic (unless I literally can’t find it – e.g. Honey). They must be unrefined as I want them to be as natural as possible - no bleaching for Bumi! Suppliers and ingredients must also have relevant certification where possible. For example, one of my suppliers holds fair trade, vegan, and certified organic certification on many of their ingredients. For me this is proof that they are on the same page as me.

Honey is an interesting ingredient, as it is not vegan and this can cause some upset depending on who you speak to, but it really does have some amazing healing properties and can recharge your skin. When I made the decision to include honey and beeswax in my formulations, I was very clear about my requirements when it came to the sourcing and quality of the ingredients. My honey supplier is based in the UK and has been labelled as one of the most ethical beekeepers around due to their practices and the respect they have for the bees. They practice ethical beekeeping by not clipping the wings of the queens or managing the bees, by giving them their freedom to feed on the crops surrounding the hive. Farmers enjoy having their hives in their fields as it increases their crop yields.

This will be a difficult question I am sure, but which is your favourite product?

That’s a tough one, because every single one is special to me in its own way. I think the Honey & Cinnamon Face Mask is still my favourite, though. I think it’s a really fun product, as well as being very potent and tasty, too! It changed my skin when I created it.

What natural ingredient do you think is an unsung hero of skincare?

Broccoli Seed oil! Wow! Although I do think it’s getting more and more press these days. When I launched my Night Repair, I had never used or seen it before. It’s a beautiful, green’y yellow’y oil that feels a bit like silicon – which is part of the reason your skin feels SO smooth after using it. It’s also full of vitamin K and Omega 6 & 9 fatty acids, which protects you from damaged caused by free radicals, as well as helps cell regeneration. I’ve always loved eating broccoli, which is why it truly delighted me when I realised that it was more than just a pretty face (so to speak). It’s also great for your hair!

Do you have a top tips for anyone making the change to natural skincare products?

Don’t try to replace your synthetic products like for like. You are potentially setting yourself up for failure. Enjoy how different and beautiful and rich natural products feel. You’ll have a much better time once you’ve got rid of those stereotypical views of products. For example, shampoo was a tough switch for me. I wanted the lather so badly, before realising that much of that thick foamy lather you get from synthetic products has no function… It’s also stripping your hair and head of their natural oils so you aren’t doing much good with it, either. 

Try not to buy a zillion products at the same time and throw out all the old. Making ethical choices is not only about going natural, but using products respectfully and mindfully. You’ll also get a better idea of what works for your skin type if you take it slow.

Check the label and research the ingredients to make sure you aren’t being greenwashed. There is nothing more disappointing than wanting to do the right thing, then realising you’ve been fooled by a brand who claims to be natural but isn’t.

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