Imelda Burke is founder of our favourite natural and organic apothecary, Content Beauty/Wellbeing. She's also the author of The Nature of Beauty: Organic Skincare, Botanical Beauty Rituals and Clean Cosmetics, our absolute go-to guide for why you need to use natural skincare and make up products and which ones are the best.
Why did you become interested in natural and organic beauty and healthy eating?
I was always found hanging around health food stores – even when I was studying fashion design – so I have always been interested in the health benefits of foods and natural medicine. Throughout my childhood I had suffered with a skin condition that I was prescribed a medicated cream for. When I moved to the UK from NZ I had to find a similar product and started looking into ingredients. Like most people, what I had been putting on my whole body for 25+ years , was one of the last things I had considered as part of my ‘health’ regime. Once I discovered what was in this product I set about searching for a more natural alternative. This lead me back into the beauty aisle in health foods stores and ultimately to setting up CONTENT. I wanted to provide a store for people who wanted to shop in a more boutique environment.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
Varied! Growing up in NZ where food is almost as much of a national pastime as rugby and going to the beach, I try to ensure my diet contains a little bit of everything. There are several things I try and do everyday – green juice or smoothie, drinking lots of herbal teas, include raw food and sauerkraut or Kim Chi with most meals and of course a dose of raw cacao in place of (my beloved) coffee which I no longer drink (it has a terrible affect on my skin!). I do avoid dairy and gluten but won’t turn down a slice of Hackney Wild traditional sourdough from E5 Bakery or an unpasteurised goats cheese if it’s on the menu. I like preparing and shopping for food to be a social occasion and enjoy shopping for organic food locally whether it be at the now famous Newington Green Vegetable store, Mother Earth or the two local farmers markets in my area. I can’t remember the last time I visited a supermarket.
What are your top three beauty foods?
Green Juice (although that probably counts as several foods) I find makes a huge difference to my skin. Oily fish – can’t beat the omega 3’s. Sauerkraut and Kombucha or any fermented raw foods. A healthy digestive system makes a big difference to the skin.
What is your guilty indulgence?
Amongst certain circles I have become known as the ‘un’official world expert on raw cacao. Name a country and I can tell you the best raw chocolate to purchase! So I’d have to say chocolate (but only the raw variety), although staying up late would come a close second. I’m a dedicated night owl since birth, but it’s terrible for the skin!
Do you have any must-pack items to stay on track while travelling?
Definitely, I do the super long haul back to NZ at least once a year. On board I take the Pure Synergy Greens, Radiance C (to ward off plane illness), Annee De Mamiels Altitude Oil, Four Sigma Foods Medicinal Mushrooms and take some healthy snacks to avoid the plane food.
What are the supplements that you feel are most important for healthy vibrant skin?
A green super food powder, for when you don’t have time to juice or to add to smoothies. Omega 3, plus Zinc can be helpful if you are prone to spots. I drink our Skin Tea formulated for us by our Nutritionist and medical Herbalist Jennifer Derham everyday.
What are your can't live without skincare products?
This could be a long list! But this is a very edited version of what I always have to hand….
• May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt
• Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence and Boosted Contouring Serum.
• Amala Intensive Brightening Mask
• RMS Beauty Oil
• Coconut Oil - the best make-up remover
• Pai Skincare Comfrey and Calendula Body Lotion
• Lina Hanson Global Body Serum
• Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts
• Absolution Le Sérum Anti-Soif
• Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
What are your favourite complementary therapies?
I’m a huge fan of both herbal medicine and acupuncture. They have been life changing for my health.
What's your favourite juice combination?
Pear, fennel, mint, lime, kale and ginger
How do you balance your busy work schedule with looking after your own health?
It’s a constant battle. I love what I do and we have the best customers - the shop can sometimes feel like a wellbeing ‘get together’ and people pop in often just to say hi, so often it doesn’t feel like work! I’m a big believer in wellbeing coming from the combination of small things that you do every day rather than grand gestures, so I try and make sure my list of little rituals gets ticked off each day. A little something fun, something for your mind and something for your body each day does a lot for your total wellbeing.