Amanda Saurin is the founder and a plant grower and gatherer, distiller and maker at A.S APOTHECARY. She is a traditional Apothecary. Amanda has worked with herbs and homeopathy for many years, developing effective, gentle, bespoke products.
Through A.S APOTHECARY she brings together her love of plants, growing, making, healing and collaboration to produce a small range of beautiful products.
An appreciation of the transformative nature of scent, of the rhythm of the plants, of their terroir, of landscape and the inter-connectedness of us all, are pivotal to the philosophy that underpins and informs her work.
Guest Post by Amanda Saurin of A.S Apothecary for The Greenly Guide
Last week I walked through our land and examined our Roses – there are around 200 of them, their leaves were glossy and buds were forming on strong prickly stems, I’m hopeful to see flowers in the next couple of weeks. I moved on to the rows of Lavender and Clary Sage then paused to admire the Immortelle before looking at the hundreds of seedlings popping up in the polytunnel soon to be planted out. Trays of Calendula, Chamomile and Achillea to name but a few.
Our work as makers is unique in this fickle world of beauty where people are persuaded to strive for the latest ‘must have’, where the relationship between whole plant and product stretches ever further apart. Even within the world of green beauty the words ‘derived from…insert plant name…’ seem to be dominating development. That there is a tenuous relationship to a plant now seems adequate to trumpet naturalness. But actually it’s disingenuous to claim naturalness and green credentials where a plant has gone through so many processes of industrial extraction to become an ingredient.
Equally adding an ingredient on the basis that we produce it in our own bodies, such as hyaluronic acid, does not shout natural if the production uses the combs of dead cockerels or genetically engineered micro-organisms.
What we do, in contrast, is labour intensive and very time consuming drawing on my life’s work as a Plantswoman, Homeopath and Herbalist. We use the whole plant and our methods of extracting the therapeutics are as old as they are effective. We distil in a big copper Alembic slowly and gently making separate distillations for our Aromatic Waters and Essential Oils because each demands a different type of distillation. We macerate our plants by chopping them up and adding them to oils to draw out their goodness over the course of a lunar month. We do the same with alcohol to produce medicinal tinctures. We enfleurage by resting the flowers on a bed of Shea butter to slowly absorb their wonderful perfume, changing them up to a dozen times.
All our processes are simple because that is all that is needed to make a product that strengthens, heals and nourishes the skin. It is not about multiple processes but rather about a few, done very well, on plants grown organically or foraged by us and picked at the perfect moment.
It’s also about making by hand. As everything is made with our hands it means that the only ingredients that go into our products are the ones that benefit humans. Where products are made in factories by machines, ingredients must be added to control viscosity and texture, they must be homogenous and without seasonal variation. There is also something about intention – where making is on a human scale, every stir of a spoon, picking of a plant or filling of a Still is imbued with positive intention, the little pot carries within it something more than the sum of its ingredients.
We also believe in going to the plants. We know that Geraniums and Pink Pepper, Orange Blossom and Thyme grow best in a dry, hot climate. In the UK we definitely don’t have that so each April we travel to Cyprus where we keep a big Still and we pick and distil there. The plants are fresh, they are in perfect condition and they have grown in a landscape that suits their needs.
We also travel to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland to a little island in the Atlantic Ocean where the very best Heather, Meadowsweet and Honeysuckle grow. We pick and dry the plants before bringing them home to macerate and tincture them.
Our work is not driven by profit, it is driven by a desire to help people have the very best skin they can and our products deliver, perhaps not overnight but with regular use. Healthy, beautiful skin takes time to recover from the ravages of mass produced, industrial skincare but it’s so worth the wait.
A customized skin ritual
In terms of products, we like to encourage slow ritual. As a population we are stressed, overworked and juggling increasingly busy lives so we love the idea of taking 15 minutes to reconnect and relax and the essential oil combinations we use and textures we create offer a salve for the spirit as well as the skin.
We start with Cleansing oil 5, just 3 or 4 drops is sufficient. Drop it onto the fingertips and then massage into the face slowly and gently, leave for a minute and then rinse off with our crocheted Cleansing Cloth.
Follow this with one of our Aromatic Waters, Rose for dry, sensitive or mature skin, Lavender for inflamed, irritated skin, Orange Blossom for a mild astringent or Geranium where hormones play a part in breakouts.
Then we suggest a Face Cream – our creams are rich in antioxidants and fabulously creamy without being greasy at all, no3 for mature skin, no5 for balanced skin or no6 for skin tending towards oily.
Once a week we suggest an exfoliation with Mineral Powder – it contains all our best flowers, Seaweed which we have dived for us in Harris, Clay from Argyll and medicinal grade Sandalwood. Make it into a loose paste using Cleansing oil and gently massage it into the face and backs of hands, then rinse it off with warm water. Don’t scrub, it doesn’t need that, just be gentle. Exfoliating with this powder very gently removes dry skin cells and allows the other products to penetrate the skin better leaving it glowing and healthy.
It’s our hope that we can encourage people to feel good about their skin and make the change to an effective skincare regime that enhances the skin, protects the planet, isn’t subject to fashion and is made with love…
*All photos in this post are courtesy of and belong to A.S Apothecary.