This week we had our digital cuppa with Aly Rahimtoola, founder of clean beauty brand Herbal Essentials. He shares with us what makes his brand special (think secrets from The Karakoram mountain range), what he deems the most important step of your skincare routine and how he continues to be inspired by others in the industry. Shop the Herbal Essentials range here, or read on to learn more from this Pakistani born, Brown educated skincare master.
Firstly, how do you take your tea?
Earl Grey with a dash of milk and a sweetener (trying to give up but not easy)!
Tell us a little bit about your background, who you are and what you represent…
I was born in Pakistan and moved to London when I was 4. Educated at Westminster School and then Brown University in the US, I worked for my family in the shipping industry for many years until I founded Herbal Essentials about 10 years ago. I’d like to think of myself as representing the vast majority of people out there who want the simple things in life – to look after my family, to be a good friend to a small network of people whom I care about and to build a brand that people respect that innovates products and are highly effective and authentic in their ethos.
What has been your release over the last few weeks and what tips would you give to those struggling to find a balance?
The last few weeks have been the most intense in my 28-year career so if anything, I need to take some advice from others! Having said that, try to go for a walk every day, laugh or reconnect with people even for 15 minutes and remember that this is a phase and that it too shall pass...
What is your go-to reading material right now to keep your spirits lifted?
I’ve decided to revisit some old classics – when I was young I was a big fan of the PG Wodehouse stories and I’m starting to reread them again although to be fair I tend to fall asleep fairly quickly these days after a full day working from home and spending time with my family!
Which people are keeping you motivated on social media and why?
There are so many! Caroline Barnes, the celebrated make-up artist, is an inspiration as she is constantly trying to support the NHS through her efforts and that’s so admirable.
What inspired you to set up Herbal Essentials?
I wanted to create a brand that was genuine in everything it did and said – have products that actually worked and that were ideally as clean as possible. But for me the main driver to create and build Herbal Essentials has been to deliver a brand that is constantly innovating but always transparent in its dealings with everyone. If we don’t have a solution for a particular skin concern then better to admit it than try to sell the wrong product to someone which is something that still infuriates me to this day.
Tell us what makes Herbal Essentials different to other skincare brands?
In every product we use Himalayan Spring Water that starts its journey from 26,000 feet in the Karakoram mountain range. We collect it much lower and on that journey it picks up a unique blend of minerals that we have clinically proven strengthens the epidermis by stimulating keratin activity. Having a strong and healthy skin barrier is key to having a more radiant and natural complexion.
What do you feel are the most essential parts of a skincare routine and why?
Cleansing. The skin is a living organ and needs to breathe and people need to cleanse properly day and night – even double cleanse ideally – so that cellular regeneration can be optimised. That and to always stay hydrated.
What insider tips would you give to our readers when considering their skincare?
If in doubt ask a specialist (and by that I do not mean a Brand promoter who typically is remunerated to push a specific range or product!). But before that learn about your own skin type as I see so many people using the wrong product for the wrong skin type – you wouldn’t put the wrong ingredients in a dish so why use products that are not the right fit for your skin type?
What other self-care routines do you practice at home?
Unwind. We all have too much stress in our lives (especially now more than ever). Remember what’s important and try to always stay positive – even if that means switching off from social media to meditate or cook or do whatever makes you happy.