• Juliette Wills

Behind the Brand: Evolve Beauty

This vegan, cruelty-free, super-sustainable beauty brand ticks all the right boxes

There are so many really good natural, organic and cruelty-free beauty brands around that it can feel pretty daunting deciding which one to try. Unless we have specific skin issues such as acne, dry, flaking skin or rosacea we’ll probably think our existing skincare routine is just fine. As someone who has just started to have problems with my skin at the age of 48 (a short bout of acne in my late teens aside) I’m keen to know if I can improve my skin’s overall appearance and give it a helping hand not only against the elements, but also against the most evil of all inventions - time. I’m also conscious that many cruelty-free, vegan brands also have knockout eco-credentials, too. I'm doing all the legwork so you don't have to - you can thank me later.

I’m 48, so no spring chicken. Most of my friends fall into the 40-55 age group (apart from my best friend, Mia, four, and my second best friend Gracie, who is five). Hurtling bewilderedly into midlife means we’re all looking for something to give our skin a boost while everything else heads south. I don't know about you but standing next to little kids with their plump, innocent faces makes me feel like a dinosaur. I suggest pulling out a pen and drawing lines on their faces to make us feel better. I had no lines at all until I hit 40 and then all hell broke loose. Now that I’m firmly in peri-menopause territory (and what fun that is already!) I’m getting hormone-related spots around my mouth (so attractive) and generally a face that looks really, really tired, because it is. If you’re my age I’m sure you’ll be going through the same shit. I can’t remember anything, feel tearful all the time, hate everyone apart from Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen (one plays for Tottenham, the other used to and I am obsessed with them both, look them up) and often feel like launching myself off the top of a cliff but apparently that’s just how it goes. Having plenty of auto-immune diseases and back-to-back viruses doesn’t help either. Here's my 'good' face after I've actually had some sleep and some sun. I'm wearing eye-make up, lipstick and under-eye concealer. No foundation or powder and of course, no filter!

Were I to win Euro Millions tomorrow I’d book straight in for a subtle (if there is such a thing) facelift or at the very least, some Botox and an eyelift. In the meantime I decided my beauty routine was due an overhaul. I've been using Superdrug’s ‘B’ range since its inception as it’s cruelty-free, great value for money and pretty good but I feel that we should be supporting UK-based independent brands where possible, especially those that are shit-hot on sustainability. Most of Superdrug’s packaging isn’t recyclable let alone made from recycled materials, so that’s a big turn-off for me as is their woke 'people who menstruate' bullshit currently doing the rounds, so they can do one.

I also use Prai Throat & Decolletage Night Cream and serum, Lavera Firming Eye Cream, Upcircle's Face Cleansing Balm and Coffee Face Scrub (I love their products and their ethos, so will keep them to hand) and basic micellar water for removing eye-make up because I don't like rubbing oily cleanser and black eyeliner all over my face. It's chaos, in other words, like the rest of my life. Time to use it all up, pick one brand that gives a hoot about sustainability (well, two, tops) and stick to it.

Since I’ve been shielding for six months (god help me) I haven’t been out to buy anything at all let alone mooch around my local John Lewis picking up potions, seeing 890 ingredients on the label, thinking, ‘Eh?’ and putting them down again. I feel utterly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of beauty products available. Evolve has a great website that is simple to navigate and there’s a wealth of information on there so you can determine exactly what you need without getting in a pickle or buying the wrong thing. They offer online skin consultations, too, so I gave it a go.

Amber, who led the consultation, was most kind and appeared surprised when I told her I was 48. In a good way, I hasten to add. She asked me what I was doing to have such good skin (how I laughed) and I told her I drank plenty of wine, had never used SPF until three years ago and that I didn’t cleanse in the mornings unless you count standing under the shower. She looked suitably horrified BUT I redeemed myself by saying that I had always, always taken my make-up off at night (even when I hadn’t managed to take off my shoes), never wore foundation, didn’t smoke and had loads of auto-immune diseases and no colon to worry about more than I worry about my skin, so she forgave me for my tardiness. We chatted about products that would work specifically to address dullness, occasional breakouts and basic OLDNESS, FFS. Amber knows her stuff and can guide you through the products you need and why you need them, whether you've got tired skin, acne, dry skin or just nice skin with no issues at all (if that's you, obviously I hate you).

Evolve make their products by hand in small batches at their eco-studio in Hertfordshire. They’ve won a host of Beauty Bible awards in the last three years and they’re constantly innovating while finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Amber told me that by making the products themselves they are able to avoid toxic standard practices (like cheap chemical fillers or adding tiny ineffective amounts of active ingredients). They know exactly goes into their products, why it is there and where it comes from - usually a far-flung forest, it’s quite mad. Evolve's founder, Laura, had just got back from the actual Amazon, as you do.

They use recycled glass in their packaging 75% to 100% recycled PET plastic, which is fully recyclable. The card they use is Forest Sustainability Certified to help limit deforestation and ensure forests are sustainably managed. Their cartons are made from 100% recycled paper & board material and even their labels are printed using non-toxic soy and vegetable-based inks. In short, they couldn’t do more for the environment if they gave free products out to badgers, foxes and squirrels. If you can find a more sustainable, natural and innovative company I’ll eat my socks.

Amber listened to me bang on about my dull face and dreaded wrinkles and suggested need to focus on hydration and balance rather than go mad on anti-wrinkle products. I was a bit surprised by that but she assured me that I'm a way off worrying about those things and just need to do as I'm told. I should use the Gentle Cleansing Melt (£22) in the mornings and evenings. This luxurious cleansing balm contains nourishing organic baobab oil that soothes and hydrates. Lovely. ‘Righto,' I said, 'I’ll give it a whirl. Next?'

This should be followed by the Daily Defence Moisture Mist (£20), a protective facial mist with prebiotics to help strengthen and balance the skin microbiota to protect it against pollution and aggressive chemicals.

Still with me? That’s followed by the Superfood 360 Serum (£38) and that’s packed with highly effective natural super foods that improve skin tone, wrinkle depth, texture and luminosity. The 360 range is targeted towards anti-ageing and is a long-term routine. You can start on it in your late 30s and still be using it in your mid-fifties, which is kind of cool.

Then comes Multi Peptide 360 Moisture Cream for Dry Skin (£30) in the evenings only. It’s packed with super foods and high tech green ingredients to deliver comprehensive ageing protection benefits including improvement in wrinkle depth, firmness and skin tone as well as intense hydration for normal to dry and ageing skin. Not only that, but hyaluronic acid helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, making the skin look fresher with an improved skin tone, and reduces pore size by 34%. It’s flipping mental and sounds more like a Michelin-starred dessert than a moisturiser:

Coconut Peptides help to smooth the skin and significantly decrease the number of wrinkles, visibly improving the skin grain and making the skin more flexible and perfectly moisturised

Cupuacu Butter is a luxurious, nourishing butter packed with phytosterols that can help support collagen and elasticity, so skin has the potential to stay younger-looking and more supple for longer as well as maintaining the skin barrier to improve hydration

Prickly Pear Ultra refined elixir from Mexican Cacti this dude is shown to calm irritated skin whilst also having excellent hydrating properties due to the high content of water binding compounds. It is exceptionally soothing and firming with strong antioxidant properties

Cacay Oil Obtained from the seeds of a majestic Amazonian tree, this oil is packed with Bio Retinol and Linoleic acid to support the skin barrier layer and to lock moisture into the skin.

I know, right? I’ll also be using the Radiant Glow Mask (£24) once a week. It’s won a billion beauty awards and is blended with raw cacao powder and clay revitalises and purifies, whilst up-cycled blueberry particles (apparently that’s a thing, I didn’t know either) to buff the skin to silky perfection. Natural sugar extracts turn the exfoliating mask into a creamy milk on contact with water, which leaves skin smooth, moisturised and calm. Well, I’m not going to argue with that.

It sounds like hard work if you’re not used to a four or even three-step routine, but if you want better skin it’s going to take some effort. It’s not like you haven’t got time to do it, either. Lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes twice a day and go to town on your face. No interruptions, no excuses. Blokes spend 30 minutes sitting on the toilet placing bets on football and watching cat videos. Well, proper ones do. I know there are chaps who also put moisturiser on but thankfully I'm not married to one of them. Give your face the time it deserves, just please don't call it 'self-care' because that's a phrase we can all live without.

At the end of the consultation Amber will email your plan along with a discount code (hoorah!) to get you started and she promises to be on hand should you need to ask anything else about your new regime. Now that's good service.

Right now I’m in the midst of a debilitating non-coronavirus virus (my second in a month) and look like I’ve been left outside in a hedge for a month while smoking meth and eating caster sugar. God knows my face needs some help.

I’d love to know if you hop by Evolve after reading this post and what you decide to buy. I really do recommend a skincare consultation, too – tell them I sent you and let me know how you get on: Evolve Beauty

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