While everyone advises us what to put inside our bodies on Saint Patrick’s Day – be that green Guinness or Irish whiskey, a pub in Co Wicklow is advising its clientele what to put on the outside. Skin and haircare concerns are the main subjects of banter in the old Tap Bar pub in Kildare, Co. Wicklow. It’s the flagship store of Chris and Mary Mitchell’s Anglo-Irish “Green Angel” body care company headquartered in Rathcoole, County Dublin.
Combining aromatherapy with thalassotherapy (treatment by sea water) and using seaweed harvested from the west coast of Ireland, Green Angel makes seaweed shampoo, seaweed rescue cream, joint reliever Irish seaweed bath soak, and muscular relief seaweed oak.
Says Lincolnshire-born Chris, a hotel administration and management graduate from Nottingham’s Clarendon College, “Growing up around the salt marshes of The Wash, we’d gather seaweed, and I vividly remember watching in awe as seaweed poultice healed my Dad’s leg after a motorbike accident.” Mary, who has always had dry skin issues, says, “My mother and I were always making all-natural and organic potions and lotions. The aroma of seaweed reaches the brain’s limbic systems and is both calming and healing.”
Sea bathing has been popular for three centuries. Seaweed contains countless beneficial minerals and vitamins in high concentrations. It naturally cleanses and purifies the skin, moisturizing and stimulating skin cells. County Sligo’s Voya pioneered I-Beauty. Founded by former investment banking business strategist Mark Walton and his wife, Kira, a creative illustrator from Meath, the inspiration came when Mark’s brother Neil re-opened “The Celtic Seaweed Baths,” a sea bathing house in Strandhill, County Sligo, in 2000. VOYA only uses sustainable harvesting practices. Seaweed is selected by eye and harvested by hand. No machinery is used to protect the delicate seabed or marine life; only a tiny portion of the seaweed is harvested at a time. It re-grows within six months to two years.
The late Patrick Mulrooney, a marine scientist, created County Mayo’s seaweed-based Seavite Super-Nutrient skincare range in the 1990s to treat his daughter’s eczema. Qualified medical doctors in Clinical Dermatology, Katherine and Jane now head up the body care business.
Connemara’s Sinead O’Brien set up “Mungo Murphy Seaweed Company.” O’Brien states, “My first introduction to seaweed was through my mother as we (my sisters and I) would be roped into collecting kelp to feed to the abalone (a type of shellfish) that my mother grows on an aquaculture farm in Rossaveel, County Galway. In those days, my treat was to bring a bag of fresh kelp home for the bath, much to my father’s annoyance, as there would always be sand and shells leftover in the bathtub.” Her seaweed mask cream is made from Wild Atlantic Ascophyllum Nodosom.
Offshore magnesium is a key ingredient for Pestle and Mortar’s Balance Facial Spritz. “It’s a great anti-inflammatory ingredient,” says Marie-Therese Byrne.
Other Irish beauty brands include Pestel & Mortar of County Kildare, Celia O’Grady’s Nia (Irish for ‘radiance’), SosubySJ (founded by former beauty blogger Suzanne Jackson), Ayu, Nicole Connelly’s Nunaia and Sculpted By Aimee. Dublin’s Moss of the Isles is by Fiona Byrne, Maria Herrera, and Nigel Franklyn. Their brand aims to tap into ancient wisdom and lean back to when bodies were “tied to the land and the tides.” As well as ingredients from the British Isles, Moss of the Isles use West Cork sea salt and Carregan moss. Says Franklyn, “At the very beginning, we were using Irish peat because of its positive effects on the skin, but peat takes a thousand years to create, so there wasn’t any sense of sustainability for us, so we stopped. Our entire ethos is a celebration of our landscapes and how we can create and find balance – and taking from something with no chance of giving back to it is just outside the borders of the brand DNA. We are wellness consultants and therapists – developing wellness concepts around the world – so MOSS of the ISLES was born from seeing a gap in the market for products that celebrated our ancestry and surrounding landscapes, and from passion. We genuinely wanted to contribute something beautiful and purposeful. We use therapeutic, active ingredients and design treatments that best optimize the products and their benefits. “
Soon, we shall all be indulging in a touch of the Irish. And the craic (Irish for gossip), inside and out of pubs, will not be all about seaweed, floral waters, “Inis” moisturizers, and glowing complexions but perhaps even Marissa Carter’s Cocoa Brown tanning products, Simply Natural hair dyes, or Ellen Kavanagh and Trish O’Brien’s “Waxperts,” Ireland’s premier luxury strip-waxing brand.