At the age of 40 and still battling with her skin, Lesley decided to leave her life in finance and retrain in the beauty industry, where she began studying therapies and ingredients. She was shocked, as most of us are when we start to think about what we are actually being sold in the pretty packaged bottles. The inclusion of, more often than not, bovine, fish or porcine sources, preservatives and chemicals isn’t really what human skin needs. The multi-billion-euro beauty industry works tirelessly to convince us of the next must-have miracle cream when we should be looking back to our friend Mother Nature for help.
The mainstream creams and lotions are mostly not vegan-friendly, kosher or halal, but more importantly, they can be damaging, as Lesley found out: “My skin was making a cry for help with the acne and fine lines. After some tests, I discovered I was allergic to many of the chemical components. Nearly all skincare products are made from the same ingredients, so that made me wonder if I could create skincare products without chemicals.”
On completing her Aromatherapy and Advanced Aromatherapy exams, a journey of wholesome discovery and many years of research and development began. Soon after, Lesley came to the Algarve in 2010, in search of a better, more relaxed lifestyle where she continued building her boutique skincare manufacturing business, Karma Skincare.
“Karma Skincare is a vegan, gluten-free range of products, which is created with only pure, natural ingredients. Everything that I use in my products is halal-compliant and, very importantly, palm oil-free. I only use the power of plants and minerals to improve your skin. If you put something good on your skin, then it will respond and glow. If you use chemicals or animal-derived ingredients, your skin will complain and cause you problems.”
Speaking to us at Sisters Hairdressing Salon, in Alvor, Lesley explained her process: “I source all of the ingredients myself and make countless batches before finding the right balance. After some field studies, I send new products to a UK laboratory for clinical testing and certification.”
The Karma Skincare range is continuously growing, with a full-face range, highly acclaimed insect repellent and after-bite products, and one of her best-sellers, the Magnesium and Aloe rub — one client wrote that muscle and joint swelling went down in a day following using, whereas the hospital said it could take six months.
Having heard so many good reviews, it was time to try Karma Skincare for ourselves. At the entrance of the salon, the full range is on display, with the facial products, Karma Cleanse, Karmatone, Karma Hydrating / Karma Renewal, the bestselling Karma Skin Tightening Intensive facial oils and Karma Night cream.
Just to the side, the body range is on display with three very popular products, the Buzz Free and After Bug gels and the soothing rub.
Downstairs, in Lesley’s therapy room, there’s a selection of products and a treatment bed where I had an amazing Instant Boost Mini Facial, using the full day-care range along with a soothing chamomile oil and French clay mask. The facial was incredibly relaxing, and the products smelled fantastic.
Lesley also used the Magnesium and Aloe rub on my shoulders and had the knots rubbed out in no time. Once all of the oils and mask had done their job, the treatment followed with a micro-current facial, using a high-frequency current and light to finish off.
Ingredients like the pure rose water used in the Karmatone are one of the reasons that Lesley does everything herself. If she were to outsource her production, a manufacturer would likely not use such pure, high-quality ingredients, as they would be looking at the profit margins too closely.
Having suffered from skin complaints in the past, Lesley knows only too well what an effect it can have on someone’s confidence. This is precisely why everything is done in-house. You can buy Karma Skincare online or pop into Sisters for a treatment.
By Mia Wallace
Photos: CHLOE OPHELIA