Dr Bronner makes soap. Magic All-One soap. Organic, fair trade, biodegradable, sulfate free and vegetable based pure castile soap for 18 different uses. Suitable for washing face, body, clothes, pets, muddy vegetables and even for brushing teeth, these soaps have been certified as safe to eat by the US Department of Agriculture (though why whould you?). Dr Bronner himself is no longer with us but his eccentric philosophy (transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides anyone? Planetariums as the 'All-One' temples of the future?) remains printed on each and every bottle.
We have a Christmas survival kit stashed behind the counter and it contains Haribo, Diet Coke, Berrocca and the thing we really couldn’t do without - Rosebud Salve. Hats off to Dr. Smith who developed the “all purpose family salve” in his Maryland drugstore in 1895 because we don’t think it’s ever been bettered for smell, consistency, finish and all round usefulness. Here's what to do...
1. Slather generously on cracked knuckles, parched lips, under sore noses, around tired eyes or any bit of skin starved of moisture.
2. Use instead of lipgloss or over lipstick. It gives a lovely dewy effect without being sticky.
3. Smooth over eyebrows to tame an unruly brow line while also giving sheen.
4. Apply sparingly to tresses to combat fly-away or frizzy hair.
5. Dab a small amount on cheek bones, shoulders or collar bones for a subtle accent.
6. Use as a base under eye shadow to help hold the look.
7. Work into cuticles to soften them.
Time to up the ante on the skincare front and this year we're relying on our new range of creams from Benamôr. Not just pretty in their original 1920s packaging, these three mean serious business. The face cream deep cleanses, removes blackheads, pimples and blemishes, conceals wrinkles and stretch marks and creates healthy-looking skin, the hand cream is moisturising, antiseptic and protective while Creme Gordo offers extreme moisturisation. All this, and there's not a whiff of Savlon to be had.
We love a bit of winter whimsy so the new holiday creation from Paul & Joe Beaute has totally won our affections. Bambi and nibbling squirrel set the scene for glittering eyes (like fresh fallen snow, no less) and shiny (icy cold) mint lips; winter wonderland in a make up bag.
Picture a garden busting with perfect blooms, a full on floral extravaganza of dreamy proportions and you’re somewhere close to this season’s rather spectacular offering from Epice. Never has more beauty been woven into a giant woolen scarf.
It's all change at Paul & Joe Beaute this autumn. Gone is the old range of lipsticks and in their place we have a new system of cases and refills. Six truly gorgeous cases (loving the pelicans) and six limited edition colours now classed according to coverage - sheer, natural and full. We think we can get used to this. No need to part with the case once the lipstick is finished. Kinder on the purse strings and the environment long term. And definitely an excuse to mix, match and buy more lipstick!
Could a bar of soap have any more going for it than the Murphy & Daughters Bon Bon? We don't think so. The list of credentials is long, so we’ll start with the evident stuff. They’re made in Australia, they look beautiful (like a cracker or a giant sweetie), smell divine and make a great gift (one that doesn’t require wrapping).
Then there’s the stuff you might guess if you know a thing or two about soap. They’re triple milled French style, enriched with shea butter and scented with essential oils from fresh herbs, flowers and citrus. All big ticks, but there's still more lovely stuff.
Sarah Murphy founded Murphy & Daughters in 2010, inspired by the traditions of her great-great grandfather who ran the Murphy Bros. General Merchants in the late 1800s. Her Bon Bons are made in small batches using traditional techniques and produced from pure, sustainably sourced palm oil, which ensures no orangutans or their habitat are endangered in their production. The soaps then go on to be handwrapped in recycled paper by Ability Works, an Australian charity which empowers people with disabilities by employing them with meaningful work.
And with that, we say top scores.
We've been hard at work sniffing out all the most gorgeous scents and soaps worthy of giving this Christmas. Here they are in no particular order?
1. All the way from Melbourne and exclusive to The Hambledon, there's no need to wrap possibly the prettiest soap out there, the Murphy & Daughter Bon Bon.
2. C.O. Bigelow, the oldest apothecary in America, lathers up rather lovely and looks a treat in the bathroom.
3. Alvarez Gomez from Spain - lemon, geranium, eucalyptus, Spanish lavender, rosemary, thyme, English lavender and bergamot in a bottle. Heavenly.
4. Finally, D R Harris - good enough for The Prince of Wales, good enough for us. So good in fact that we've expanded our range into new frangrances and skincare.
So here's wishing you a lovely, fragrant Christmas. May there be gorgeous aromas wafting from under your tree?
We're suckers for a bit of tradition so when we walked into D.R Harris's original apothecary on St. James Street we were seduced by this super old-school British brand. As one of London's oldest pharmacies it's been there since 1790 and has reams of impressive history serving the city gentry and Court of St. James.
Hanging on the wall is the 1938 Royal Warrant appointing D.R. Harris as Chemists to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Today they are appointed Chemists to H.R.H the Prince of Wales.
Renowned for the quality of their products, this family-owned company has remained eternally faithful to its roots. The majority of their products are still produced by traditional methods, being hand-made and packed on the premises.
We couldn't resist bringing the classic gentlemen's Arlington range to our bath and beauty department. We have the cologne, shaving cream, shower gel, deodorant and our favourite - the oh so practical soap-on-a-rope.