We talk to 4 of the award-winning beauty brand founders from our 2024 Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards, and find out about their ideal days and invite them to share their top self-care secrets.


Lucia Mencarelli is founder of Casa Mencarelli. She’s based in Glasgow, Scotland and spends her time between the UK and Italy, my home country. Lately she’s been spending more time in Italy with her family, because of her mum’s food and the sunny weather!

“I have always been passionate about medicinal and cosmetic herbs, plants, natural ingredients and natural skincare. A few years ago I had a very strong allergic reaction to a body lotion which forced me to change my lifestyle, making it even more natural, that’s when I moved to organic. Meanwhile I started studying again, became a Nutritional Advisor, a professional organic Skincare Formulator and a Health Coach.

I wanted to create products that are healthy and gentle on the skin, which didn’t contain any allergens or added fragrances, very rich in nutraceuticals and probiotics, beneficial to the skin’s microbiome. Products which were so healthy that could be used by both mothers and children. I started making my own products, using organic Mediterranean ingredients, full of colours and natural antioxidants. The products started to become very popular with family and friends, and then friends of friends asked if they could purchase the products. This is when I decided to start a brand. It took me a couple of years to set it up. Casa Mencarelli was born in 2018. 

Working in synergy 

I love all the products because they perfectly work in synergy: cleaning, toning, moisturising, nourishing. If I had to choose, the perfect trio is the Green Clay & Lemon Mask to gently remove toxins from the skin and reduce pore size, the Honey & Orange Toner, rich in probiotics to remove dead skin cells, tone the skin and nurture the skin’s microbiome, and the Sea Buckthorn Serum to nourish and plump the skin with healthy Omega 3-5-6-7-9 and seaweed extract. These 3 products give in synergy visible results and super healthy skin. 

My ideal day

My ideal day starts with a gentle wake up, with some yoga stretching, followed by a warm glass of water with fresh lemon juice to detoxify, breakfast, answer emails and prepare parcels for customers, some products photography on sunny days, I quite like working with colour themes. Light lunch and 30 minutes’ walk in the countryside for relaxation. In the afternoon I have video calls with customers, formulation testing and new formulation, this is a creative part that I really enjoy doing. Then work on blog or social media.

I love my job because every day is different from the previous and I have the opportunity of meeting so many lovely people, especially during events and trading shows. Some breathing exercise, yoga or walking in the late afternoon, ending the day with a gratitude journal to remind myself of everything I feel thankful for in my life.

3 self-care secrets

  1. Eat organic food,
  2. Exercise every day (practicing yoga and walking are also great!),
  3. Deal with your emotions, and

Bonus 4th one: use organic certified skincare on your skin.

This is the secret, in fact, what we eat, what we breathe, what we absorb physically and mentally, how we feel, all contribute to our wellbeing.  

All Friendly Soap products are packaged without plastic in recyclable and recycled card

Chris Mather is one of the founders at Friendly Soap. He lives with his family in Hebden Bridge, with its amazing local community, surrounded by nature and woodlands

“In 2015, myself and Co-Director Rob Costello noticed the cost of ‘green products’ rising far above the price of non-eco products. Often, these products were packaged in plastic and contained harmful chemicals. We decided to do things differently. We aimed to become not just another business, but a force for positive change in the world, proving that good ethics don’t need to come with a higher price tag. 

Packaged without plastic

My personal favourite is our orange & lavender shaving bar. I love how it smells and how smooth it leaves my skin after a shave. It also lasts much longer than traditional foams and gels, and it’s packaged without plastic in recyclable and recycled card. 

An ideal day

An ideal day for me would start with a relaxing walk through my local woodland, enjoying the fresh air and scenery. In the afternoon, I’d meet up with friends at a local bar to listen to live music and catch up. I also love to cook, so I’d end the day by preparing a homemade dinner for my family.

3 self-care secrets

1. Stay Hydrated - Keeping hydrated is one of the easiest and most effective ways to take care of yourself. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps keep your mind sharp and your body healthy. It also does wonders for your skin by flushing out toxins, making it look fresh and radiant. For an extra boost, try our shea butter bar, packed with natural essential oils to cleanse and nourish your skin.

2. Use Natural Ingredients - Treat your skin with the best nature has to offer. Products made with natural, plant-based ingredients and essential oils are gentle and effective. Our soap bars are crafted with natural ingredients and free from harsh chemicals like SLS and parabens. This makes them perfect for keeping your skin healthy and glowing without any irritation or dryness. 

3. Take Time to Relax - Self-care isn't just about skincare; it's about finding a way to balance your life make sure you are prioritising yourself as well as others. Make sure to carve out some "me time" every day to relax and unwind. Whether you enjoy reading a book, taking a hot bath, exercising, or meditating, it's important to slow down and give yourself a break. Relaxation helps reduce stress and improves your overall well-being.

The word Azadi means freedom, freeing skin from the vicious cycle of irritation & imbalance

Ayyab Cockburn is the founder of Azadi Skincare. She lives in the West Midlands with her husband Jim, and 19 year old twins, Kayan and Sama. Her children are at university but come home in the holidays and sometimes weekends too! There’s also dog Biscuit and cat Louis to complete the family.

“The story of Azadi started as a very personal journey of me so desperately wanting to escape from a vicious cycle of skin irritation, dehydration, pigmentation that I was trapped in, and to restore my skin balance and deeper-toned melanin glow. But also, be able to sustain this through everyday good quality ingredients that prioritised my skin health both in the short and long term.

I suffered terrible acne and skin allergies throughout my teens and early adult life and so years of using harsh products to overcome this had left me with a very damaged skin barrier and a dull, pigmented tone. By the time I was in my early 40s I felt that I had lost my glow. By glow I don’t even mean dewy, shiny, flawless skin, I mean the kind of glow that comes from a sense of balance, health, vitality and reflection of my natural melanin tone. Dark spots had become darker, I had oily patches, lighter patches, inflamed areas and my skin just looked, and felt, so tired and dull. This sense of diminished glow was really something I felt both on the outside and in. 

So in order to do something about it, I embarked on a journey of discovery about my skin tone and its needs, which revealed some crucial insights about the pigment melanin.

The effects of melanin

Melanin gives us all our colour but as a protective pigment can also be highly reactive to internal and external aggressors. The more eumelanin (brown/black pigment) we possess, the more at risk we can be to irritation, pigmentation and dehydration as part of a vicious cycle that we can get trapped in because we often treat individual symptoms and not the causes. We can buy in to myths that the more you have the more resilient your skin, that it doesn't need as much protection etc. Even worse we can actively mistreat it via harsh ingredients.

I wanted to try and solve this problem for my skin and hopefully benefit others in the process. There were also so many, what I would describe as ‘melanin kind’ but clinically proven ingredients, I learned about in my discovery, many of which came from natural sources. I discovered botanical hydrators such as Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide and Tamarind Gum which some studies have shown outperform hyaluronic acid for hydration, to the powers of naturally derived retinal - far more potent but less irritating than retinol for skin renewal. I couldn’t find some of these combinations in products out there which confirmed for me the need to set about on this exciting journey to have them created. 

Transformation on a deeper level

Due to the rigorous testing process, it took over 3 years and lots of tweaking and trialling, but the eventual results were so worth it. Azadi has transformed my life in so many ways and not just at a skin level but so much deeper than that.

Our formulations, developed with the expertise of an amazing natural cosmetic formulation expert, focus on strengthening, hydrating, and brightening the skin without triggering melanin imbalances. The word Azadi means freedom, and our products aim to free our skin from the vicious cycle of irritation and imbalance and restore our natural even melanin glow (outside and in) Even though we have formulated with deeper melanin tones in mind, we know the gentle but effective ingredients will benefit all tones.

Ayyab says a proper skin care routine morning and evening is good for her body and mind

Hydration crucial for skin

My favourite product is the Azadi Brighten Day serum because it contains some amazing ingredients including our powerful botanical hydrators, the very versatile Azelaic acid, Kakadu plum (one of nature’s most potent source of vitamin C), Ectoin as well microbiome balancing ferments. The combination of these in smart doses make my skin feel so incredibly hydrated, nourished and my face and eyes look so much brighter. Hydration is so crucial to our skin and replenishing it daily whilst simultaneously nourishing the barrier to help retain the water is crucial. Antioxidant protection is also crucial to protect us against free radicals and resulting oxidative damage to the skin.

The texture of the serum also sinks into my skin beautifully and doesn’t leave any stickiness or residue like other serums can do. It also gives me results day after day week after week. It’s such an amazing multifunctional product that has so many benefits in terms of skin health, protection, appearance and balance, but also in its ability to really make me feel good.

My ideal day

I get up about 7am have my first lovely cup tea and take my time getting up, first scanning the papers for any top-level news or responding to any emails that may have come in overnight. I like this time on my own in the morning because it gives me a chance to reflect and keep abreast of things. Then I get out of bed about 7:30 and go to the gym with my husband, a 5k run really sets me up for the day mentally and physically.

From about 10am onwards in the weekday I have a few face-to-face meetings (no more than 2-3) on a range of different business ventures from Azadi to the development of our wellness space in Worcester. I also love the days we actually go out to work from our base in Worcester because it is in such a beautiful part of the country, where you feel such a sense of peace, tranquillity, and freedom as soon as you arrive. I also love the diversity of work involved in any given day as well as seeing people face to face to catch up, brainstorm and collaborate.  

In the evening, I love either a home cooked meal in front of the TV, with my husband, or dinner out with friends, somewhere local in Moseley, Edgbaston or Harborne. My children are both at university,  but I love catching up with them in evening about their day. They always make me laugh too, especially when they tell me off for taking myself too seriously sometimes! Then finally I like to settle down to relax in the evening and enjoy a good box set. Bedtime is by about 10.30 at the latest after the news, no later as I really do value my sleep!

3 self-care secrets

  1. Healthy diet and lots of hydration - I know it sounds obvious but making sure I drink lots of water, limit my caffeine intake and eat well (home cooked, fibre rich and balanced food, not after 8pm). If I am strict with all this it gives me so much energy, hydrates my skin, makes me feel and look better overall. I also sleep so much better. But it also means I can give myself a bit of a break from time to time and enjoy a bit of chocolate in the evening or even pizza if I feel like it on the weekend. Everything in moderation!
  2. Having a consistent routine for my skin health - A proper skin care routine morning and evening really makes me feel good because not only is it good for my skin, but it is also good for my mind. My morning ritual consists of a lovely hydrating cleanse (which I take my time over - 30-60 seconds minimum) Then a hydrating and brightening serum on a slightly damp face to trap in the moisture. Finally, I moisturise to seal in all the goodness and apply my SPF 30 product. It sounds like a lot but it’s a process that whilst requiring a bit of effort is 10-15 minutes really well spent, relaxing and enjoying ‘me’ time! I also have a few squirts of my collagen drops from Heaven skincare, which has given a really great boost to my skin and hair, as well as take omega 3 and vitamin D capsules. This is a daily morning ritual. An evening skin care ritual is also vital to get me all relaxed and ready for bed. I will cleanse my skin with a couple of pads and very lukewarm water first, then my hydrating cleanser. If have had foundation on (which is rare these days) it will be an oil cleanse prior to my hydrating face wash. I will then alternate between my retinal serum and moisturiser for that nourishing and soothing overnight renewal. This helps me wake up with balanced and fresh skin in the morning.
  3. Prioritising activities for the mind and soul - I also ensure I make time for connection with myself and others through activities I enjoy that really lift my spirits. It also about recognising in advance when I need to do these and with whom. Activities I love on my own might be my regular morning exercise, listening to uplifting music, reading a good book, or just sitting and writing down my thoughts. But equally as important is that time spent with loved ones, such as walking for miles in the countryside with my husband, dinner out with family and friends, laughter with the kids, travels abroad.

The idea for Buddha Beauty was born during a trip to Thailand

Llewelyn Thomas is the founder of Buddha Beauty. The brand was inspired by a trip to Thailand

“During a trip to Thailand, I discovered the potent synergy of essential oils, and natural ingredients; they evoked my senses and took me on a scent journey. It was in that moment the idea was born. 

Sense of comfort

My favourite product is our Warm Amber body lotion the scent is warming, The sweet scent is soothing and offers a sense of comfort. Beside this I have to say I use the uplift pro gel cleanser every morning and night. I just love the citrus notes of white grapefruit. It really gets me going in the morning.  

An ideal day

I’m a bit of a workaholic so it’s important that I grab some down time with the dog. I love a sunny evening walking along the river Irwell with her. Watching the foxes darting about and then home to mediate and it’s a choice between a podcast, some recent Netflix or laying in a dark room with some music on.  

3 self-care secrets

  1. Mediation: I think this is a really important self-care secret. Even 10 minutes a day can give you some quiet time in your head and lower any worries away.  
  2. Eat well: I follow a vegan lifestyle and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is an important way to keep your mind, body and soul in top condition. I do believe a little bit of everything does you good. So yes I do have the occasional night when I pig out on a load of vegan chocolate and sweets. I am human after all.
  3. Connecting with nature is another self-care secret: I love to be in the woods, occasionally hugging a tree or even just walking bare foot on the grass. I find the practice of grounding really helps bring me back to a place of calmness. 


READ About all the winners of this year's Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards in the Beauty Bible, available with issue 120 of The Green Parent, which will be published next week. Click here to get your copy before everyone else.

DISCOVER For our next self-care instalment from beauty brand founders, check back on Friday 3rd when you’ll discover why we could all do with being a little more Goldie Hawn!

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