ALLY (Pt. 1): THE VICTORIAN GARDEN
Hello, good people of Nottingham.
I'm really excited to introduce a new and permanent post series named 'Ally', showcasing selected brands who fit the title to readers who love locally-made, vegan, cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly products and services.
Some posts will include brands that have all of these qualities, some only one, and others, a combination. This info will be made easily available to you guys; Toofufu hearts transparency. I'd like to point out that this series is not about reviews. I'll only do these when I've paid my own way. The products you will see in this space have been sent to me, and I would like to use them to create an informative catalog of goodness for readers interested in the philosophies I cherish. For readers catching on late, I'll make sure to put disclaimers at the bottom of my posts, and point out this disclaimer in post intros. Make sure to take a look at my mission statement for more information on my stance regarding various ingredients and industry practices.
THE VICTORIAN GARDEN
Now for the fun stuff. I'm so psyched that this series is starting with a brand as kick-ass as The Victorian Garden. They're an organic skincare company that was started up twenty-three years ago by South African, Lindsey Salthouse. You see, Lindsey's great grandmother was Lady Frances Jane Glover-Anderson, a nineteenth century British aristocrat with a garden filled with herbs and flowers. The Lady's medicinal and cosmetic methods were documented in her daughter's diary, which was eventually passed on to Lindsey, who took the opportunity to broaden her already-extensive knowledge on natural skincare benefits.
I've dreamed of having family stories like this from when I was only eight, frolicking about our garden wearing a long-sleeved school shirt tucked into a gross, red velvet knee-length skirt that I found who knows where - my sorry take on the romantic Victorian getup. Alas. the only thing I stand to inherit from my own grandparents are three, faded, peach paisley-print concertina photo folders, depicting members of my family in their youth in various states of undress, jumping sadly around a sprinkler. But who can put a price on family history, right?
There's an akimbo-armed, foot tapping part of my brain that would like to interject here before we move on. As much as I do enjoy British retrospects, The Victorian Garden and shows like Downton Abbey among them, there is a damper put on the Austenian funfare when I remember to ask what rights women and people of colour were or weren't enjoying at the same time of these invoked images. That being said, if you can swallow that medicine, some lovely (organic) sugar awaits you in TVG's range.
THE TVG ETHOS
Just as the TVG group itself says, despite having its roots in an older time, it is a twenty-first century company with the awareness that brings to mindful groups about potential harm to humans, animals, and the planet.
I'm pretty impressed with TVG's refreshing honesty. On their informative website, they have made a public statement about the use of certified organic ingredients. Their own products are not certified as organic, although they use both organic and non-organic ingredients. This is because they do not believe that certification is necessary as this green thumbs-up is often used as a method of 'green-washing'. 'Green-washing' is a term used to describe a way of allowing companies who are not particular about their ingredients and their effects to appear otherwise through dodgy certification requirements. So, while not certified, TVG do seem to be, as they say, 'extremely fussy' about their ingredients.; which is good all-round. Let's take a closer look.
TVG believe that because we put so many products onto our skin's absorbent surface, it stands that we should be putting the best and healthiest products we can on it. For TVG this means using organic and natural skincare ingredients that are not irritating or damaging to the skin, as synthetic ingredients may be. They also believe that using natural products will allow your skin to take better care of itself, and rid you of the need to use counter-products - no 'tit for tat' with these babies!
TVG is endorsed by the Leaping Bunny program, as well as the Naturewatch Foundation, which means they have a strict policy against the use of animal testing in their products. An infinite round of high-fives to TVG!
Although some of their products are not vegan, but vegetarian, the TVG website does have a page dedicated to vegan clients, and offer a handy list of their products that are vegan-friendly. If you'd like to do your own perusing, watch out for milk proteins, propolis, and bees wax in their cream and lotion products. If you want any more information on a given product or ingredient, TVG welcomes your questions.
The good people at TVG have put a lot of thought into their packaging, which is why they use high-quality plastic that does not seep BPA into their products, although they're still searching for phthalate-free containers. You might be wondering why TVG don't use glass packaging instead of bad guy, plastic. In that case you're in for as sad a surprise as I was to find out that glass production has some detrimental effects on the environment. Why you got to do us like that, glass? Thought we were friends. TVG have also done away with cardboard box product housing, because if this paper is only destined for your rubbish bin, they figured you wouldn't mind your skincare treats a little more in the nude.
Their eco-friendly practices of course also extend to their ingredients, which they have assured have been sourced not only for their safety and effectiveness on your skin, but also because they have been farmed and processed in a sustainable way. Bonus points for having products that are biodegradable, and necessary preservatives that are safe!
TVG has striven to keep its products affordable, in an effort to contribute towards making the switch to organic more affordable to South Africans. Although understandably pricier than creams and scrubs you might make at home, TVG has the advantage of coming without the expense of start-up home kits, as well as giving you more time, access to good ingredients, and expert advice.
TVG have an extensive range that includes bath and body care, skincare, and hair care for all races, and genders. If you think this distinction is unnecessary, it's likely you haven't noticed how many magazines are keen to show off hair care tips for 'all hair types' -by that meaning dry hair, thin hair, and curly hair. So,not all hair types then, right? Right.
You can whist away a few good hours on their site, doing some shopping or checking out their blog. There is lots to help you know more about your skin and its given issues. I had a chat with a wonderful consultant about which products would suit me best as someone who is still awaiting the promised day when her teenage skin problems would sod off. I was recommended a few products, complete with a new, tailored skincare routine. I could certainly get used to this.
Before you think this service is granted only to people with the platform to write bad things about TVG, I can say I'm confident you'll be proven wrong. Although I don't have nearly enough space to write all the product information I was given, I could tell from these promotional materials that they were intended also for clients who were interested only in their own skin - and I mean that last bit in the best possible way.
MY SHINY, NEW ROUTINE
To use as a pre-wash on nights when I've worn makeup
R79 for 100ml
To use in the evening after the cleansing milk, or by itself in the morning and evening when there's no makeup that needs removing
Vegetarian, not vegan (bees wax, milk protein)
R79 for 100ml
Although I actually do have some sun damage, the pigmentation cream was actually recommended to me as a moisturiser light enough for my problem skin to handle.
To use as a moisturiser morning and evening
Vegetarian, not vegan (bees wax)
R76 for 20ml
To be used very gently up to three times a week after cleansing
Vegetarian, not vegan (bees wax)
R92 for 50ml
To be used after cleansing, up to two times a week (moisturiser to follow after)
Vegetarian, not vegan (bees wax)
R95 for 50ml
I've been using these with a simple rosewater toner after cleansing and before a Lavender and Myrrh Facial Healing Oil that I bought after seeing it featured alongside a bunch of five-star reviews on Faithful to Nature.
If you're thinking of making a switch to The Victorian Garden, or to natural products more generally, have a look at what TVG have to say on what you can expect, and remember to check out their blog for more tips, or to email them for expert skincare advice. If you have experience with TVG, let me know in the comments. I'm excited to see what you think!
See you soon,
Disclaimer: The brand and products featured in this post were sent to Toofufu at the brand's expense. Toofufu does not offer reviews on the 'Ally' series. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.