Greenman Bodycare – inspiration and history

Greenman Bodycare is a small business based in Brighton and Hove, UK. It was established in November 2010 by Russell Honeyman to make natural bodycare products.

158_Russ_on_top_of_the_worldTwenty years ago Russell was in the publishing business and traveling a lot in Europe and Africa. He was committed to the modern western way, but aware of environmental issues.

In 1992 he developed eczema, a skin disorder he puts down to a stressful and toxic lifestyle, and chronic fungal infection in his toes. After trying various medicines, including antibiotic and cortisone creams, he was appalled to find the eczema spread to most parts of his body, and in some places develop into sores. A good friend suggested he stop using soap and lanolin based moisturisers. Instead he used aqueous cream, which uses an emulsion of paraffin as a moisture barrier. This seemed to help. He used Tea Tree Oil as an antiseptic on sores.

Tea Tree Oil was a revelation. It seemed to help with all Russell’s skin problems. He preached its virtues to his friends and discovered other natural oils. Soya Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and Coconut Oil all found their way onto his skin as moisturisers and shave oils. His favourite became Wheat Germ Oil for its luxuriant texture and high nutrient content – particularly vitamin E.

As he learned to look after his body, Russell started practicing complimentary therapies: meditation, yoga and massage. He discovered the sensual delight of essential oils, and soon Rose Oil, Frankincense, and Ylang-Ylang joined his collection.

The first Body Oil formula

Soon, he found his toilet bag laden down by so many bottles of vegetable oils and essential oils he couldn’t fit it into hand luggage. So he made a special mix of base oil and Tea Tree Oil which he put into a little bottle and took with him everywhere. The base oils changed over the years. Olive Oil was a relatively late discovery – although it has long been used by Mediterranean people for years to look after their skin, and for shaving. He tried Coconut Oil, and likes it for sensitive skin, but he found it too thin and fragrant for shaving.

Russell’s used his mixture for more than just shaving. Made from natural products used for skin care, it came in handy for general moisturising and after-shower skin care. Applying the oil to feet and other areas gave comfort and helped heal a variety of skin conditions from itches to athletes foot. Not surprising: Tea Tree Oil is recognised as a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.

Some of the most easily available and widely marketed skincare products are made from industrial chemicals and tested on animals. But they are replacements for ancient lotions made from natural products such as Olive Oil, Beeswax, Lavender and the like.

First commercial products

Russell is convinced by his own experience that natural is best. His bottle of Oil went every where with him, and his eczema troubles disappeared. In 2010, he decided to share his formula with the world. He’s not alone – it seems here in Brighton everyone is mixing up natural, raw ingredients into potions and lotions for caring for hair and skin. He found suppliers of organic raw materials, bought some measuring cylinders and flasks, and made the first bottle of Greenman Body and Shave Oil.

Russell worked with a professional safety assessor to finalise his formulation, especially to comply with EU regulations for cosmetics. Shave Oil is defined as a cosmetic since it is designed to applied to the skin for regular use, and is not a medicine. EU regulations reduced Tea Tree Oil in the formulation to 1%, since some people are sensitive to the oil. Russell says that is OK – some people are sensitive to Tea Tree, if others want extra Tea Tree Oil as an antiseptic, they can apply that separately.

Russell uses Greenman Body Oil most days for shaving, moisturising or protecting his skin.