THE wellness industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors worldwide, worth more than £2.6 trillion and driven by the consumers’ hunger for alternative and complementary medicines; kinder, more effective beauty products and healthier bodies and minds.

People are increasingly looking for products and services that are not only better for themselves, but also for their environment, with many making huge lifestyle changes to become more considerate of the food and supplements they put in their bodies, the creams they put on their skin and the products they use around their homes.

Entrepreneur and mum of four Caroline Huber's long battle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which affects fertility and causes adult acne, coupled with a cancer diagnosis in the family, led her to undergo a significant lifestyle overhaul. She turned to veganism, yoga and mindfulness, as well as switching her everyday brands for cleaner lifestyle products, free from harmful chemicals and not tested on animals.

The benefits she has reaped as a result, coupled with her business acumen and a genuine passion for nature, led to her launching online venture Pure Skin Lab, a website specialising in a broad range of trusted eco-friendly, chemical-free, organic and natural products.

“I started to make the first real changes about eight years ago when a family member was diagnosed with bowel cancer and we all became much more conscious of the food we were eating,” says 38-year-old Caroline from Birstwith, North Yorkshire. “Initially, we stopped eating red and processed meat, then in time we decided to stop eating meat and dairy altogether, opting instead for a plant-based diet. I’d suffered from PCOS for years and it wasn’t until I researched this properly that I realised the meat and dairy products I was eating, which contain oestrogen, were affecting my hormones and my skin.

“But our switch to a more vegan lifestyle wasn’t just for health reasons. It was because of the way supermarket meat and dairy products are intensively farmed, and what is pumped into them, before they arrive on our tables.”

Caroline’s innate love of nature was another driving force. “I was brought up with a love of the outdoors and nature,” she explains. “As children, we were taken on long walks and bike rides, while our holidays were always active ones outdoors, learning about nature and the environment. On one holiday I remember my dad paying a man selling turtles more than a restaurant owner would so that the turtle could be released back into the sea.

“This attitude to nature is such an important part of who I am today and it’s something I instil in my own children. I make them stop, like my dad did to me, to show them a bird’s nest for example, or fish in the rivers, or simply to remind them to look up at the beauty of the sky, the clouds and stars. There are lots of special times we have shared through being close to nature.

“My love of nature has seen us travel far and wide. Going to see animals in the wild, in their different habitats, gives me such an amazing sense of wonderment of how incredible our planet really is. But it is also a real eye opener. It has made me aware of what humans are doing for sheer greed and consumerism. The thousands of sharks killed for fins, the orangutans for palm oil, the rhinos for their horns and many more species becoming extinct because of us.”

Caroline talks passionately about the importance not only of protecting our planet, but also ourselves by becoming more aware of the products we use on a daily basis.

It is now widely acknowledged that many chemicals and substances found in everyday foods, creams, lotions and sprays could have a detrimental impact on our health, with a recent US study finding that harmful compounds in beauty products can affect a woman’s fertility and even cause cancer.

Researchers at George Mason University, in Virginia, discovered that mixtures of parabens (preservatives widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries) benzophenones and bisphenol A are shown to cause abnormal changes to levels of the reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

Consumers’ concerns over chemicals in everyday products were further fuelled this year when Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in damages to 22 women who alleged that its talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The pharmaceutical giant is now fighting some 9,000 lawsuits, including claims surrounding its signature baby powder, but denies they cause cancer.

“These cases, reported in the media and backed up by research, shouldn’t be ignored," says Caroline. "I began to really examine the chemicals in the products I was using on myself and around my children and it was shocking to realise how many of these are potentially harmful and also unnecessary.

“I quickly looked to change my habits, but had to really shop around to find the sort of products I was happy to use, which as a busy mum was frustrating because I don’t have a great deal of spare time. That’s when the idea for Pure Skin Lab was born, I wanted to create one shop with clean brands and trusted products, not tested on animals, under one roof.”

Pure Skin Lab stocks more 1,000 different products and 60 brands, with well-known names such as Aromatherapy Associates, Dr Haushcka, The Organic Pharmacy and A’kin alongside smaller handmade products including Pure Natural Therapy, Mia and Dom and Alice Clark Jewellery.

Its broad range includes eco-friendly cleaning products, holistic therapy products for those undergoing chemotherapy, biodegradable nappies, yoga mats, Himalayan salt lamps, singing bowls, toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt pots and books on mindfulness.

Caroline says: “If I can make just a small difference by encouraging people to shop more sensibly, to look after themselves and our planet, and invest in beautiful products that are clean and friendly, then that’s a huge achievement. Over time I hope the business will grow to stock an even broader range and that Pure Skin Lab will have a positive impact in helping others improve their health and wellbeing.”


Warning: Potentially harmful chemicals to look out for...

• Parabens: Parabens are preservatives used to prolong the shelf-life of products, which are also known to penetrate the skin and remain in the tissue. They are believed to disrupt hormone function and have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.

• DEA: Diethanoloamide and DEA compounds are used in shampoos and moisturisers to make them creamy or sudsy, but can cause skin and eye irritations. In lab tests, exposure to high levels of DEA has been shown to cause liver cancers and precancerous changes in skin and thyroid. It is also thought to be hazardous to the environment.

• Dibutyl Phthalate: DBP is found in nail products and hairsprays, but is often hidden on ingredient labels under the term “fragrance”. DBP is absorbed through the skin and may interfere with hormone function. It is also toxic to fish and other aquatic wildlife.

• Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: preservatives widely used in cosmetics listed as DMDM, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, or Quarternium-15. These ingredients slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is classified as a known human carcinogen.

• Synthetic fragrances and parfum: used in a vast array of products to give a pleasant scent, thousands of chemicals and chemical combinations can be used to create fragrances. Many of these are irritants and can trigger allergies.


Goldfaden MD - Detox Clarifying Facial Wash, £32. I love this product and the rest of our Goldfaden MD range. Having oily, blemished skin this range really does work.

Faith in Nature - Lavender Shampoo & Conditioner, £5.50. This one is my personal favourite and we use this amazing range of products on the whole family. Come in different fragrances including Watermelon.

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath Oil, £49. When I get home from work, some days I feel I just need to get away from it all. My bath is my space to think and reflect. This amazing oil helps me stay positive and definitely helps calm my mind before bed.

Doterra – Geranium, £330. This amazing essential oil smells so divine. I carry it everywhere. I use it as a natural perfume, in my bath, in shampoo, blended with other oils or in my Doterra diffuser to make the room smell nice. I also add it to my moisturiser at night as it promotes healthy skin. Geranium is known for its balancing qualities too.

5. The Green People – OY Range for teenagers. Includes: Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash £12.50, Clear Skin Cleansing Moisturiser £11, Clear Skin Purifying Serum £14, Clear Skin Blemish Concealer £10 and a Deodorant £9.50. Now my children are getting to teenage years this range helps them keep their hormonal breakouts at bay without using chemicals and cheap products that strip their young skins.