Pharmacist taking skincare back to its natural source
Modern Botany uses medicinal grade herbal ingredients to make its organic cosmetics
Simon Jackson and John Murray: the Modern Botany co-founders hope their expertise in natural-sourced medicine will give them the edge in the additive-free skincare market. Photograph Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Jackson, who holds a PhD in pharmacognosy from the school of pharmacy at King’s College London, is no stranger to skincare having set up the niche, luxury skincare company Dr Jackson’s Natural Products in the UK in 2008. Murray was the firm’s business development manager.
Jackson joined Modern Botany with Murray and to focus again on clinical research into pharmacognosy – the study of medicinal drugs obtained from natural sources such as plants. He is based at Trinity College Dublin where he is entrepreneur in residence in the school of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. Trinity is one of the last universities in Europe to teach pharmacognosy and Jackson believes this should be leveraged to help build an indigenous, natural cosmetics industry here.
“Natural cosmetics are in their infancy in Ireland and there is a really good opportunity to become a world class centre of excellence,” he says.
“With Modern Botany we wanted to create a single skincare product for men and women using evidence-based science,” he continues. “For women we wanted to formulate a natural moisturiser with anti-aging properties that dries matt so make-up can be applied on top. For men we wanted to offer a straightforward product that was good for the beard, effective in tackling shaving rash and great for the face as part of a daily moisturising routine. The product is also suitable for those with eczema or psoriasis as it takes down irritation. It’s a great bathroom staple and an ideal one-stop-shop for the washbag when travelling.”
Jackson was keen that the product should use locally sourced ingredients where possible and it includes Irish grown flax seed oil (for scarring and stretch marks) as well as chamomile and calendula to reduce redness. The exotic twist is provided by frankincense and cedarwood, which help with wound healing and provide natural fragrance.
The cost of developing the business to date has been in the region of €100,000 and Modern Botany has been supported by the Clonakilty local enterprise office and by Enterprise Ireland through its competitive start and high potential start-up funds. The company is aiming to create up to 10 jobs within the next three years starting with the recruitment of a sales team in early 2017.
Modern Botany’s first product is a unisex moisturiser that can be used on all skin types to heal blemishes, stretch marks, shaving burns and cuts. It also doubles as a nail, beard and hair conditioner, is safe for children and contains arnica so it can be used on bumps and bruises.
The product is currently being made in the UK, but the ultimate aim is to produce it in Ireland.
“There are other all over skin preparations on the market but very few are 100 per cent natural,” says Murray. “Many contain parabens and paraffins and have artificial preservatives, colour and fragrances. We wanted a product formulated with safe medicinal grade herbal ingredients that have been scientifically tried and tested. We are transparent about our ingredients, we won’t be using marketing spin and we won’t be making any claims without full clinical analysis.”
The product is being launched in Ireland this month and will be available online, in flagship Lloyd’s pharmacies and in health food stores. However, the founders have global ambitions and are targeting the UK, Europe and the US. “The key markets for us are France, Germany and Scandinavia as there is a strong, informed customer-base in those regions that wants and understand quality natural products,” says Murray.