Beauty / 06.08.2015

My Work in Wellbeing: Beauty Kitchen founder Jo Chidley

By Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
The brains behind our latest natural beauty obsession talks cutting the chemicals and never giving up

BKJOFORWEBWho? Jo Chidley, 42, Glasgow

What? Founder and MD of natural beauty brand Beauty Kitchen

‘I started Beauty Kitchen simply because I couldn’t find the products I wanted to use. I’m a scientist so it’s always been in my nature to go beyond the surface, and by doing so I discovered that loads of ‘natural’ brands aren’t actually natural.’

‘I wanted to use products that had real ingredients and no parabens from brands that didn’t test on animals. The closest I got were Lush and Neal’s Yard. But there was SLS in Lush products, and Neal’s Yard products were expensive – and didn’t excite me. My other half said ‘If you can’t find something, make it yourself,’ and that’s how it all began.’

Read more: How to go on a chemical detox

‘Now I’m responsible for product development, formulations and sourcing ingredients. I don’t want customers to feel like I did, so I go to the ends of the earth to find natural, sustainable ingredients, so they can enjoy our products without having to worry whether the supply chain is ethical or not.’

WATCH: Jo’s guide to making your own beauty products

‘We’ve built relationships with a small community in Uganda, from where we source the red colouring for our products. They make this unique colour by grinding down red berries – that’s the degree of naturalness we’re talking about!’


Toughest time?
‘We really struggled trying to find a natural foaming agent. Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) is used in most products but studies show the chemicals involved in developing it, including sulphuric acid, are easily absorbed by the skin. Hardly natural!’


‘Every scientist recommended I say my products are 99 per cent natural, but that was not good enough for me. Eventually we developed one from algae oil that we use in our range. Does it foam as much as SLS? No. But it does foam enough, and means we didn’t have to compromise our values.’


Pat-on-the-back moment?
‘When our store was ranked Fifth Best Thing to Do in Glasgow on TripAdvisor.  Our Indulgence Experience classes (where people can come in to make their own all-natural face washes, bath bombs and body scrubs) are now ranked second for classes and workshops in the city. We were recently even sent a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor based on the five star ratings on all of our reviews. It means a lot because it’s a space where people are really honest.’

‘Just as rewarding is having groups of people come in-store to make their own products and spend quality time. We’ve had mums and daughters, sisters, hen parties; everyone from a six-year-old boy to a 92-year-old Gran have left with a smile on their face.’


What’s the goal?
If I can get anyone to try a more natural product then I’ve done my job. I would love to make them a staple in every family bathroom.’

‘Always be determined, and have a passion for all parts of your chosen field. Even if I don’t use Estée Lauder, I still need to know what they’re doing, to have an eye on wider trends.’

Discover Jo’s award-winning Beauty Kitchen range for yourself in-store at Holland & Barrett, or stock up online. You can also follow Beauty Kitchen on Twitter and Facebook

My Work in Wellbeing: Beauty Kitchen founder Jo Chidley
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My Work in Wellbeing: Beauty Kitchen founder Jo Chidley
The brains behind Beauty Kitchen, AKA our latest natural beauty obsession, talks cutting the chemicals and never giving up
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