Aiming for perfection in organic beauty cosmetics – an exclusive interview with Margo Marrone, THE ORGANIC PHARMACY
After having completed her 6 years studies for a degree in Pharmacy, Margo Marrone started her career as a pharmacist specialising in herbal medicine, nutrition and well being with a focus on natural medicine. It wasn’t until several years later that she discovered homeopathy, a form of medicine that completely changed her life and that of her family.
Margo Marrone: ”As a homeopathic pharmacist I was able to embark on a journey that has ultimately led me to create The Organic Pharmacy with my husband, Franco. As a mother of two, an entrepreneur and a wife I know how important it is to strike a balance and part of that balance for me comes from the very fact that The Organic Pharmacy is an extension of my own life and that of my family”
How do you think are organic cosmetics perceived nowadays, compared to a decade ago ?
A decade ago organic was perceived to be something from the hippie movement, bad packaging, ineffective, smelly and really not an option for the serious woman or man who wanted advanced skin care. We started our business a decade ago with the view to change all that and to create a range of organic cosmetics that were modern, effective and elegant. Ten years ago the most frequent question I was asked was why use organic cosmetics? Today more and more people understand the benefits of organic cosmetics and the benefit to their health as well as their skin and this consumer awareness has benefited the industry as a whole.
What are the main differences between the perception of the organic cosmetics products in the U.S. in comparison with the U.K. ?
Perception of organic cosmetics in the UK is quite advanced with more and more people choosing to go organic– almost similar to Germany, France and Scandinavia. The US is also advanced with LA having a great understanding of organic cosmetics and other cities catching up fast. The perception however is that most organic cosmetics do not match the efficacy of non organic cosmetics until they try The Organic Pharmacy!
How can consumers make sure a product is indeed made of organic ingredients especially considering different certification legislation is applied in different countries?
Whilst certification standards vary from country to country with the Soil Association generally accepted and the strictest, it is important for any brand that is organic to have certification in order to verify their genuineness. The only way for a consumer to ensure a brand uses organic ingredients and is strict about the non organic ingredients it is vital to choose one that is certified.
How do you test the effectiveness of your products? In your history have you changed the formula or ingredients of any product due to its ineffectiveness?
We follow the same system that a non organic brand uses- standard methods within the industry with independent consumer testing. No we havn’t changed any formulas due to ineffectiveness. When I formulate a product I consider the formula to be 100% active, that means that every ingredient has an active purpose. In addition to the fact that the origin of the skin care is from our clinic so the organic herbs we use are the the same pharmacopea standard and quality that are used in our oral medication so they are very high quality and purity and are used at homeopathic medicinal levels instead of tiny levels. They are also selected for their known action on the various conditions we are trying to rebalance. Even the essential oils I use have a purpose and are never used just for the smell but also for the activity. So we never use just one active.
Your pharmacies also provide full homeopathic scans and a wide range of homeopathic remedies. How critical is the association of a healthy wellbeing with your organic cosmetics products?
The Organic Pharmacy has already created signature SPA treatments for leading luxury hotels, the Four Seasons Park Lane, London and The Setai in New York. What is your upcoming SPA project ?
Our next project is Hotel Le Bristol in Paris where amongst some of our signature treatments I wanted to create a treatment that was French, luxurious and emptomised the palacial status of Le Bristol. The treatment uses Rose De Mai the most exquisite French Roses from Grasse and is really beautiful.
Many cosmetics companies have long claimed organic ingredients cannot replace some traditional artificial ingredients, especially when it comes to anti-aging, hair-loss, anti-perspiration.
When I first started looking at formulations 13 years ago one the main things I was told was it can’t be done, parabens cannot be replaced. Of course as a chemist I was able to ignore all that create a range that did not use artificial preservatives. What has surprised me most however is that due to customer demand more and more high tech natural and organic raw materials are available and it is now possible to create very effective and high tech anti-ageing, hair loss and deodorants all from a natural source. Of course its not easy and it is much more expensive but the finished result is much better, safer and healthier.
Do you have any plans to further expand your product range ? i.e. candles, aromatherapy etc
Our range is always expanding. Last year we launched our organic fragrances and this year we are launching 2 exquisite candles to match 2 of the fragrances.
At the heart of our brand is health. As a pharmacist and homeopath I spent my entire career trying to help people achieve optimum health and regain balance. When we opened our first store in 2002 the herbal and homeopathic dispensary was the centre of the pharmacy and our homeopaths and pharmacists were able to give advice over the counter on minor ailments . I also had an onsite clinic where more chronic and private ailments could be treated. It was from this clinic that I started to treat skin conditions and would make customised creams to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. Happy clients would come back and ask for more and would also ask for cleansers, masks etc. I used the same principle throughout out the skincare that I did for the medicinal creams. In addition the fact that we use no artificial colourants, perservatives or fragrances or any harmful ingredient means these harmful ingredients are not absorbed into our bodies. After all the skin is our largest organ and up to 70% of what is applied to it can be absorbed. We should be just as careful applying creams to our bodies as we are about what we eat.