Meet ELEMIS’ power plant: the English rose

Our Beauty and Style Director, Lisa Oxenham, visited Castle Farm to help harvest the organic English rose for the oleo extract that’s used in the Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose range. Here’s what she learned about the power of the organic English rose in skincare.

Elemis Pro Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm in the balm of a hand
(Image credit: Lisa Oxenham)

The English Rose is in the spotlight, but this time the focus is on organic farming and biodiversity as Elemis harnesses its powers for their most nourishing skincare products, The Pro-Collagen Rose family. Elemis sources their organic rose oleo extract from Blue Sky Botanics, which is based on family-owned Castle Farm, nestling between rolling hills near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

Blue Sky Botanics is a botanical extract company with strong ethical principles. It’s on a mission to steer away from the fluffy ‘sustainably sourced’ language. All botanicals in their diverse portfolio are subject to due diligence measures, whilst striving for additional supply chain assurances. Whether that’s communicating a level of visibility of origin surrounding their supply chains or providing certification that fosters trust that people and planet are safeguarded.

Like Elemis, they are committed to sustainable production and organic farming. Their practices promote biodiversity through soil management and habitat protection that allow wildlife to thrive in a healthier environment. 

A bed of pink and white roses

(Image credit: Lisa Oxenham)

“By working with suppliers who support regenerative farming programmes, we ensure full traceability of our raw materials, promote fair working conditions and improve our impact on land and water use,” says ELEMIS Co Founder and Chief Product and Sustainabilty Officer, Oriele Frank.  

Blue Sky Botanics is based on the award-winning Castle Farm which supplies some of the organic species used in production, such as Rose petals, White Willow, Echinacea, Elderflower, Nettle and other wild harvested botanicals. The farm was established by Emma and her late husband James Lambe in the 70’s. “10 years ago, we started growing the Old English rose. The varieties were chosen for their different notes such as Myrrh, Citrus and Damask which when combined, deliver the quintessential traditional Old English Rose scent.” 

Emma has spent many years on a mission to explain the importance of the maintenance and creation of habitats in the farmed landscape to increase biodiversity. “It is the enormous variety of species that can help provide the protection against harmful pests such as aphids.” Ladybeetles for example will eat Aphids as do the small birds who inhabit the hedgerows that surround the rose field.

Elemis Pro Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm in the balm of a hand

(Image credit: Lisa Oxenham)

I visited Castle Farm on Midsummer’s Day I could see the tiny birds fluttering from the hedgerows while the bumblebees burrowed to find pollen in the roses doing the useful job of pollinating them. Beyond the roses, the Pink Elderflower orchard filled the air with its delicious scent of summer, whilst wild geese with their goslings waddled in and out of the ponds.

“Organic farming is the most beneficial way to grow in harmony with nature, without the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers. Most agricultural practices disturb the ground by ploughing and cultivation, using chemical sprays to manage weeds and pests. Wildlife cannot live and breed in that environment. In order for wildlife to thrive - farmers should and could provide habitats for them by creating a network of corridors, such as hedges, grass field margins and wooded and uncultivated areas,” explains Emma.

Blue Sky Botanics are founder members of the Union of Ethical Biotrade and is proud of its many accreditations -  BRC GS, EcoVadis and Soil Association organic certifications. Recently, they had a SMETA audit that’s about social and environmental standards and soon they will have their B Corp assessment. 

“Blue Sky Botanics was founded nearly 20 years ago with a clear vision, to produce authentic botanical ingredients with a focus on quality and the environment.  We are proud of our Castle Farm Rose and Elderflower fields and the wonderful and diverse wildlife that live amongst them. We are privileged to work with brands such as Elemis who share our respect for nature and biodiversity,” says Lee-Ann Brown, Head of the Cosmetics Division at Blue Sky Botanics. 

Farm with a bed of roses and two big empty baskets

(Image credit: Lisa Oxenham)

The process of farming the roses:

“The roses thrive at Castle Farm with its fertile soil, variable summer temperatures and rain which prolongs their flowering season,” says Emma Lambe.

20 varieties of roses are hand-picked in June and July at the optimum moment when their petals are not fully opened and their scent is at its peak. The petals are then gently dried over three to five days before being infused in organic golden Safflower oil in the onsite production facility guaranteeing complete transparency and traceability. 

Three shelfs of drying pink and white rose petals

(Image credit: Lisa Oxenham)

What makes rose oleo extract such a special ingredient for skin?  

Rose oleo extract is the core ingredient that hydrates, soothes and strengthens the skin's barrier, so it’s ideal for sensitive skin.

This is ideal for Elemis, who have always had a powerful commitment to nature along with creating effective formulas. The new highly-concentrated Pro-Collagen Rose Micro Serum really harnesses this power of the Rose oleo extract, which strengthens and cares for the skin’s barrier function. It’s also infused with red algae, which acts as a hydrophilic ingredient, drawing and holding water at the surface of the skin. The dual-phase formula works really well alone or when paired with the four other products in the range: a Cleansing Balm which transforms on contact with water, Rose Marine Cream, Pro-Collagen Rose Facial Oil, and an elevated Pro-Collagen Hydro-Mist.

Lisa Oxenham

An award-winning health and beauty writer, stylist and creative director, Lisa Oxenham is one of the UK’s top beauty editors and the Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire UK. With 20 years of editorial experience Lisa is a brand partnership expert, and a popular speaker, panelist and interviewer on a range of topics from sustainability to the future of beauty in the digital world. She recently spoke at Cognition X and Beauty Tech Live and is on the Advisory Board for the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition.

A well-respected creative director she works on celebrity, model and influencer shoots with the highest calibre of photographers, filmmakers, make-up artists and hairstylists to create timeless images, attention-grabbing videos, digital events and masterclasses. Most recently Lisa has directed covers such as Lily Cole and Jameela Jamil, films such as Save The Arts featuring Francesca Hayward and sustainable fashion shoots such as Be The Change. Supporting the beauty industry over the pandemic has been a top focus, directing the British Beauty Council’s six inspirational short biographical films for their Bring Back Beauty campaign.

Lisa is a wellbeing and beauty influencer with a focus on mental health and a large and engaged audience on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.