This week I had a lovely visit to the Weleda HQ and herb gardens up in Derbyshire. Weleda was founded in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher, and Ita Wegman, a Dutch doctor. Science and medicine are very much behind Weleda but with the upmost respect and understanding for nature. Since their beginnings, their aim has been to maintain, promote, and restore human health, they believe that nature holds the key to this. As well as producing a huge range of products for health and beauty, the company also strives for things like sustainability, fairtrade, quality, research and development. Admiral values that make their products even more appealing.
On arrival, our first activity was harvesting some beautiful Calendula flowers. Calendula is fantastic for the skin and features in many of the Weleda skin products. We were then shown how the flowers, leaves and stems are made into a tincture. The plant is chopped up and left in alcohol for 14 days. The alcohol extracts all of the goodness from the plant but also stops any bugs or bacteria taking their hold. The mixture is pressed and filtered, this becomes the mother tincture which is then used in a variety of products – beauty and medicinal.
Next we were shown around their 15 acre herb gardens, these really are beautiful. The plants are grown using biodynamic methods, this is a step above organic farming. The grounds contain everything needed for a self-sufficient existence, the plants and wildlife provide for each other. Biodynamic farming was also founded by Rudolf Steiner as part of his Anthroposophy philosophy, a very spiritual philosophy which amongst many other things (too many to list here) is about the link between the understanding of man and of nature. The herbs grown in the Derbyshire gardens are mainly used for medicinal products and the cosmetic skin products are made at the German site.
After lunch we were given a demonstration on how a Weleda skin lotion is made with us deciding the ingredients. Jojoba oil, shea butter and orange essential oil won the majority vote and were blended together to form a sweet smelling cream. We also discussed the meaning of natural, a word abused by many but certainly not by Weleda. Their products contain no petroleum-derived ingredients, no GMOs, no synthetic chemicals, fragrances or preservatives. To enable no synthetic preservatives, Weleda have adapted their packaging. Creams are sold in aluminium collapsable tubes, which means no air is sucked back up into the tube so no bacteria gets in and no product spoilage. In the other bigger lotions they have bags inside the bottles which do the same thing.
Weleda hasn’t change that much since their beginnings really, perhaps because they were ahead of their time back in the 1920s. The formula of the ever popular Skin Food has not been changed since its original formulation in 1926. The only tweak has been the addition of organic ingredients and it still wins awards today.
I always knew a bit about Weleda but it was really nice to see where the products come from and what goes on behind the scenes. I don’t think I released the extent of the range, especially the medicinal side and the background behind it. I will certainly be giving more of the products a try. Another big thumbs up for me is the price point. For a range with really high percentages of organic and natural ingredients, no nasties and great morals behind it, the products are great value. The Skin Food is £8.95 for 75ml and the average price of a face cream is around £15.