Photos Courtesy of Organic PharmacyI have a deep and passionate love of skincare. Never mind that I have more lotions, oils and serums than any one person could use in a lifetime, I’m forever stocking and testing, searching for an elusive holy grail of skin products. I’ve gone through more bottles than I can count, rarely finishing or repurchasing any of them, convinced there’s always something better out there. While I’ve found a few favorites, there’s nothing aside from my Japanese masks that’ve quite left me stunned and amazed. But this time I think I found one. The Organic Pharmacy offers a full line of skincare products ranging from sun care to health supplements all with organic, safe ingredients. And while the founder, Margo Marrone, started the business out of her love of homeopathy and desire to give women a healthy way to take care of themselves, it’s her Carrot Butter Cleanser that earns a permanent place in my skincare regimen.
When Marrone was young, she knew there was only one thing she wanted to be when she grew up. The fascination with health began at a young age and her interest never slowed. “I had my first job at 15. I was a girl at my local pharmacy. I loved the whole old fashion-ness of it in those days, where the pharmacists still compounded things for people—usually based on natural ingredients” she said, explaining to me where her passion started. After six years of school she graduated and began work in a pharmacy, specializing in natural medicines and well-being before she started to study homeopathy as an extension of her field. “It was whilst I was studying homeopathy that I first came across the whole concept of organic, and before that I had never heard of it…I thought than an apple was very healthy until I found out it had been sprayed sixteen times with different pesticides, herbicides and poison.” Stating this as a major turning point in her life, the English entrepreneur took it upon herself to study all she could about organics, carcinogens and contaminants that were in the foods people ate and beauty and skin products that they used. “We’re talking about 20 years ago, so in those days, trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial flavors, all sorts of horrific things were routinely added to our food” she laughs, “we didn’t have anything like Whole Foods.”
Making conscious decisions to better her health with the things she ate and put on her skin, she made efforts to live organically and follow the guidelines her studies had preached. But when she found out she was pregnant, as any woman would, she started to make bigger plans. “Everything I wanted to use on myself and my baby would be clean of toxin and chemicals” she decided, and she began to draw up a business design with her husband to manufacture a line of products and treatments that would allow her the healthy lifestyle she desired. “As a homeopathy, I wanted to practice being a homeopath, and as a mother I wanted to be free from all the chemicals that were used in cosmetics, and as a person I wanted to be as healthy as I could.”
In 2002 Marrone opened her first The Organic Pharmacy clinic on swanky King’s Road in London. The treatments and products work in tandem to help customers with not only their skin and beauty, but with a better sense of well-being. Wanting the clinics to serve as a place that would be therapeutic and informative to people she believes in a full open door policy, “in each one of my stores, I always want to be able to give free advice. You can call or walk in and speak to a qualified homeopath or pharmacist and get really great advice.”
As this was over ten years ago, her brand was one of the few to offer these kind of healthy alternatives, “We’re the first organic brand in Barney’s which I find shocking.” While organic skin care and beauty is more widely spread now, her brand is still making an impact on the lives of individuals; she excitedly tells me several stories of people that personally thanked her for the impact her products and treatments have made on their lives, and “that’s exactly what I always wished for,” she says happily. For Marrone well-being and beauty go hand and hand, and with all her studies of homeopathy and organic compounds she is a true believer in working on beauty from the inside out. “Looking at beauty—if you’re not healthy then it doesn’t matter what you put on your skin. You have to be healthy from within, so I always look at beauty as, first let’s treat the inside and [then] the skin will glow.”
Products were originally created as a way of solving the issue of continuing their treatment in home, “I always found it quite frustrating that after a treatment you have to send the client to 6 different places to get the things they need, so my vision was always to be able to customize things for them.” So for all of us that can’t jet out to London or Beverly Hills we can take care of our skin with her products in the comfort of our own home. While most beauty products have only one or two active ingredients, The Organic Pharmacy has at least ten to fifteen, making it some of the more transformative skincare on the market. “We work very closely with two farms, one in England and one in France where they specifically make the raw materials for us according to the pharmacopeia so we know we’re getting a minimum active level in each of our ingredients.” While most of their supply comes from these locations, they source specific botanicals like rose hip from Chile and Iran, for what they believe to be the most active roses on the market, “it just depends where different ingredients are native to.”
As The Organic Pharmacy was started because Marrone wanted to have products to use that were clean of all the toxins and carcinogens that are so common today, she takes a very personal approach in creating and brainstorming for new beauty products and treatments. “Usually I start by thinking ‘what do I want my outcome to be?’ I think of what I want the product to do and what I want it to achieve.” So after formulating the correct ingredients and creating an in house sample product she has her entire staff try it out. “We test it first on ourselves, the office including myself, my husband, we all test the product to make sure it performs as it should….My philosophy has always been, if it’s not good enough for me, then why would I sell it to my customers?” Maybe it’s just her British charm, but that seems like some of the most honest, straightforward thinking I’ve heard.
While her products are designed to work to drastically improve the skin over time, I can’t help but think they’re little bottled miracles. “My favorite product is the carrot butter cleanser,” she told me, “that’s one I cannot live without. It’s a balmy cleanser, very different to what most American women are used to; it just leaves the skin glowing and polished, really fantastic.” So I gave it a try. As I was slathering what looked, smelled and felt like actual carrot butter onto my face I was beginning to have doubts (I’m American so maybe that was the problem). I normally have very dry skin, but even this thick greasy consistency would surely be too much for my skin. And then I took it off. To say that I was grinning goofily at my reflection would be an understatement. I was in shock and awe as I admired my smooth fresh skin; she was right—I was glowing, and with no greasy residue, my skin was clean. I gave some anti-aging skin serums a try (even though I was hesitant to touch my pretty skin), and though I can’t speak for any long term benefits, I must say they sink into the skin surprisingly well, with no pilling under makeup while still being highly moisturizing. And just for nostalgia purposes the Rose Brightening Complex smells exactly like Sweet Tarts candy.
If you aren’t near Beverly Hills or living in the UK, don’t worry, Marrone is planning on expanding to several other countries and continents, with locations planned for Seoul, Moscow and Abu Dhabi. “That was always the dream,” she said, “that Organic Pharmacy would be available in every country as a concept because it really is life changing and the products are so amazing.” While the market of organic products is constantly changing and growing, Marrone hopes to stay consistent with her initial goals and being healthy alternatives to women. “We’ve been very, very careful to expand, and we want to make sure we do it properly because we don’t want to lose all the service and the quality of everything that we do.”
The Organic Pharmacy products are available online and in-stores at The Organic Pharmacy and Barney's New York. Services in-clinic range from ?45/$65-?230/$300 and skincare products range from $33-$318.