Organic and royalty-related? If your thoughts have sprung instantly to Prince Charles and then presents for your older relatives, well, ours did too. And having sniffed and sampled the first Highgrove range of organic skincare and room fragrances, based on essential oils, packaged in pale green and recently launched, we confess we are quite impressed; more than anticipated, anyway.   Usually any item for sale that’s linked with royalty has minimal appeal, whether grisly commemorative plates or those soul-sapping calendars and tea-towels you have to avert your eyes from in the gift-shop after escorting visiting foreign visitors/those same ageing relatives around Windsor Castle or Kensington Palace. Novelty value and/or a Laura Ashley in the 70s vibe, at best, is all one can generally say of them.  But this collection has leapt out of that same-old-grim groove. It is of course thanks to Prince Charles and his organic obsession that the range has come about. Based on organic essential oils and moisturising additions such as aloe vera and cocoa butter, inspired by the plants and herbs Prince Charles has spent the last 35 years cultivating – well, instructing his fleet of gardeners to cultivate, we imagine – at his country retreat, Highgrove, and accredited as organic by the Soil Association, the range comprises skin lotions, shower gels, shampoos and conditioners, a mother and baby line, and room fragrances. Overseeing it have been Daniel Galvin Jr, who has produced organic hair-care products over the years, and Alexandra Soverol, a perfumier, aromatherapist and cosmetics formulator with her own research lab and organic product line and sharp words to say about the rubbish a lot of moisturisers and so on contain.  It’s unbelievable and frankly disgraceful that so many new skincare items and cosmetics launched in Britain still contain ingredients that have been proven potentially dangerous. It’s over a decade since parabens, for instance,  were scientifically proven to be carcinogenic. Are retailers so transfixed by science and bamboozled by what the manufacturers claim about their products that they think paraben-loaded skincare is actually what we want?  They don’t seem to have noticed what bad press pharma giants such as Johnson&Johnson have had since the ruling last year that their famous baby powder was potentially carcinogenic.  Alexandra is particularly concerned with how the use of genetic engineering in plants will affect future generations and the use of irresponsible science within the skincare industry. So we are liking the purity of the Highgrove range, purity of course being what we want now and forever more.   With luck buyers are starting to latch on to this.

Prices are highish: £17.50 for the 200ml hand lotion, £35 for the reed diffusers, £22.50 for the shower gel, but the royal link provides a certain gift appeal. You could do a lot worse than stock your presents drawer with some of the range. You can buy online or at the gift shop at Highgrove.

Men’s skincare is apparently exploding these days and the men’s range here includes a shampoo, conditioner, a badger-brush shaving set, and a combined shampoo and conditioner. (“Men get confused easily so we wanted to keep things simple” confided a pr). There’s also a pre-shave cream that’s also useful as a nourishing softener for scratchy beards. Peppermint was added to the scent to give it man-appeal (“and makes the pre-shave also really good for your legs, “ the pr added helpfully). We haven’t tried that so can’t comment but notch one up for multi-tasking.

Pregnant women get bombarded with advice but many start paying extra attention to what they’re putting on their skin only when they get pregnant. You suddenly realise that what you’re using to stop stretch marks is also going straight into the baby via the umbilical cord and that really wakes you up.   The Highgrove anti-stretchmark cream is full of beautifully pure stuff. For babies, there are a bath and body wash at £17.95, organic orange-flower water for times when the bambina doesn’t smell so sweet, at £14.95, and a baby balm at £17.95. A hamper with the whole range plus a soft teddy is £150 and has obvious baby-shower appeal.

So. Presents for all aunts and grandmothers, men and babies sorted. You could always bung in some of the Highgrove chocs. The skinny dark-choc Thins are good, the rose-infused ones in particular (£12.95 for 200gr). 




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