When my 18 month old baby started to get red patches on her elbows and behind her knees I really believed that that was as far as it would go. But little by little it got worse and worse until by the time Lula was 18 months, she was covered in it from head to foot. Her skin was raw and inflamed most of the time and she scratched herself until she bled every night. She cried and screamed when we applied creams to her skin that the doctor prescribed and nothing seemed to help. I lost so much sleep from her itching in the night that there were times when life seemed utterly unbearable. She could not lead a normal life like other children as all sorts of environments would flare up her skin. Each time we saw a different doctor or specialist I pinned my hopes on them having the answer. Most conventional approaches involve the use of pretty strong steroids and the more we used them the more worried I became about their long term affect on Lula. I became quite sure that Lula was sensitive to the chemicals and preservatives used in most of these creams and I was desperate to find an effective product that did not contain these ingredients. Over time we experimented with many approaches, from dietary changes to Chinese herbs but nothing made a significant difference to the condition of her skin. My partner and I were sleep deprived, exhausted and desperate. When great Ormond Street wanted to admit her for two weeks of intensive steroid treatment I felt like I was going to have a breakdown.Knowing how desperate I was, a friend gave me a book about herbs and I soon realized that it was possible to make an ointment in my own kitchen. I could select the herbs I felt would alleviate her symptoms and be safe in the knowledge that I knew exactly what was going in to it. I used Hemp Oil as a base which I knew was an excellent source of essential fatty acids, which eczema sufferers often lack. It took lots of changes and experimentation but I finally hit upon a combination which had an amazing effect. Even before the final recipe was finished we noticed that she did not scream and flinch as we applied the ointment like she had done with all the other products we had tried. The final recipe produced startling results. Her skin was less angry and red, the broken skin began to heal and the itching was dramatically reduced. The difference it made to how she slept was incredible and we continued to make endless pots for her over the months. She was like a different child and our lives were transformed.
When did you realise that you had created a product that worked and how did others find out about it?
I started to make batches for friends and family and I realized that it wasn't a fluke! Other people found great relief too. Demand grew and eventually I decided that I really ought to make a go of selling it. I teamed up with a partner and started a business. We now receive hundreds of testimonies from eczema sufferers who have benefited greatly from its efficacy, and especially from parents who are hugely relieved to have found a remedy which is safe and steroid free for their babies and children.
What are the main ingredients in Pure Potions and how natural is is?
All the ingredients in all our products are so pure you could eat them. We do not add any ingredient whatsoever which has the potential to cause harm. We will not use chemical preservatives, SlS,parabens, petrochemicals or perfumes.The main ingredient in most of our products is hemp oil which is extremely rich in essential fatty acids.Most mainstream skin products are made up of dozens of manufactured chemical ingredients which are considered suspect or even dangerous. As the risks become more published, so the market for natural skin care products grows. Many companies claim to be producing natural products but “natural” means many things to many people; the word certainly has significance to consumers and since the consumer believes that they exist, it is up to responsible companies to address this need in an honest way. Some companies have included one or two natural ingredients in their formulations alongside the potentially harmful ingredients mentioned earlier. Some have included natural ingredients alongside ingredients that are naturally derived , some used ingredients of plant origin but have been processed until they barely resemble the original plant ingredient. Others, like ourselves, have made an absolute commitment to formulating high quality 100% natural products; our ingredients are as close to their natural state as possible and we will not use any ingredient with the potential to cause harm
How often can you use Purepotions products and can you use the Skin Salvation along side the Bath Oil?
You can apply the salve liberally to any part of the body as often as required. This product is safe for daily use and has no restrictions to the number of applications. It is for external use only. It is particularly useful at night as it can be applied thickly at this time. At night it is best to wear old pyjamas after applying. The ointment can be used in conjunction with any other creams or emollients that you may have been prescribed. However to properly monitor the results it is advisable to try the product on its own, maybe on one concentrated part of the body.For maximum benefits the bath oil can be used alongside the salve every time you take a bath or a shower
You were recently on Dragons Den. What was that like?
What may take 30 seconds to watch on the TV could have taken a working afternoon to create in the studio. In total we were stood in the Den for two hours of relentless interrogation. Two hours under intensely bright lights. Two hours batting forth queries. Two hours discussing financial minutiae. Two hours standing in heels. It was a nightmare. But it was totally worth it. Previously, we rehearsed our pitch over and over. We delivered it on several occasions to our staff. We performed it to other business people and welcomed difficult questions and feedback. We pitched our finances to accountants and offered our books for intense scrutiny. We studied the marketplace. We checked and re-checked our valuation of the business. We wanted to understand where the weaknesses might be in our argument so we might counter any opposition effectively. In short, we were incredibly well prepared for the interview. We honed our approach until everyone agreed we had done a thorough job.We did all the right things. Or so we thought, but we got a proper roasting. The Dragon’s focused on a single stone we had left unturned and went at it repeatedly. They started off all nice and friendly but ended up tearing strips off us.Running a business is a learning curve. Our advice to entrepreneurs is never being ashamed of the mistakes you make, because those who don’t make mistakes don’t make anything. If you have put a lot of hard work into your project, don’t let anyone take that away from you.Would we do it again? Hell yeah! We are dedicated business owners and we never pass up the opportunity to plug our product. It’s not about our damaged egos. It’s all about helping people overcome severe skin conditions.We were savaged by the fire breathing Dragon’s. But we would walk through Dragon fire to reach our customers. They are the ones who are important, not us. We’d do it again tomorrow. But next time we would trade our Zara suits for asbestos."
What are your plans for the future of Pure Potions?
Purepotions' products are already well positioned in retail outlets throughout the UK but we would like to raise the company profile further, be available in multiples and pharmacies and reach as many sufferers as we can. We would like to be more easily available on the NHS and to replicate the success we have had in the UK by expanding into markets further afield.
Do you have any tips for the application of Skin Salvation?
Keep persevering, don’t expect overnight cures and expect that the skin will take a little time to restore. Keep using it every day and be patient.
Natalie Balmond | Founder of Purepotions' Skincare