The founder of ES Skincare, Elizabeth Somapala has gone from nurse to natural healer, with a results-driven brand using plant extracts and essential oils, which she uses as a therapist in spa, at home and which have also proven to be a royal favourite!
Your products focus on the use of botanicals and essential oils – where does your interest in that side of the beauty industry come from?
From a young age I was interested in flowers and plants; I grew up on a small farm and had a very bohemian lifestyle where my Grandma taught me a lot about plants – I don’t ever remember taking pills as a child, there was always some remedy from the garden if we were ill. When I got married to a man from Sri Lanka and moved there I had a terrible reaction to mosquitoes and a doctor gave me tablets that made me bloat so badly I couldn’t even get my sandals on – I felt awful. Eventually I went to a local woman who blended the bark from a red sandalwood tree with the juice of a lime and painted it on my legs. In 24 hours all the swelling had gone and that’s when everything came together and I thought I had to do something with this!
But you worked as a nurse before, is that right?
Yes, I worked in nursing for 23 years – the final nine of which were as a trauma nurse in an intensive care unit. In Ireland when you have a family with a lot of girls one of them was always expected to be a nurse or a nun … I thought about the nun route, but then that went out the window!
What made you want to create your own skincare line?
When I came back to England and left nursing to start researching products I was working on Harley Street with an assistant. I wanted to help people to have healthy bodies. It was important for me to create products with a purpose – that do what they are supposed to do, and treat the underlying cause of a problem and for that it’s key that products don’t block the lymph glands with chemicals. My products are results driven, combining my medical background with my knowledge of plants and essential oils.
What’s so important about using essential oils and plants in your products?
There has to be an active ingredient in products that gets into your system. A lot of synthetic products won’t do that, but the molecules in essential oils are small enough to permeate the skin. For example, I created a product for dry skin called Skin Recovery, which is also excellent for eczema, after my son suffered from it very badly. A lot of products will stop the itching but don’t treat the cause of the problem. My product gets into the skin and to start with the dry skin on top falls away – then new, pink skin appears. My hairdresser used it on her son whose skin was so bad it was bleeding, and after a month it was repairing itself and he is fine now.
Travel wreaks havoc on your skin, so we are big fans of your travel range … how did that come about?
I looked after the royal family in Malaysia who then became the Sultan and Sultanah of Pahang. I still look after her, and as she travels a lot she was concerned about how much the skin dries and your feet swell when you fly. She wanted a gel she could use to prevent that, so I created Air Flight: there is a gel which is light enough it can be applied over your tights and doesn’t become sticky; and a spray, which can be spritzed over make-up and rather than making it run, will actually set it … so you can even use it normally to keep your make-up perfect throughout the day!
Do you have a favourite product?
I love the Lighter and Brighter range – the cleanser and toner are wonderful; the active ingredient is a mushroom plant from Japan which really helps to reduce pigmentation and dark circles. It gives a real glow to the skin, and the mask is just amazing – as I am getting older the skin around your neck and chest dries, so I put it on at night when I am going to bed!
What’s your top tip for glowing skin?
Work on the body from the inside out – you have to have a cleansed system otherwise your skin won’t glow – you can’t avoid pollution and chemicals, it is part of the way we live, but have massages to help keep the lymph glands active, eat well and try to avoid putting products with a lot of chemicals in them onto your skin. Essentially, look after your body! It isn’t about size or weight, if you are feeling good and healthy, you will look it!
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