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Chemistry buff, beekeeper and co-founder of sustainable brand Beauty Kitchen, Jo Chidley’s been busy trying to make the world a better place. In fact, it's her combined love of nature and science that led her to create a range of products that champion the best of both. What you can expect? Everything from compostable konjac sponges that cleanse your skin to sustainably grown microalgae in the form of serums and masks (trust us, it works). With Beauty Kitchen just landed at ASOS, we caught up Chidley to talk science, skincare and some unique ingredients you’re going to want to know about.
Beauty Kitchen Interview on ASOS  | ASOS Style Feed

What’s the story behind Beauty Kitchen?
'It was my love of beauty products that inspired me to become a scientist. I wondered how the products were made and wanted to understand why they worked. That curiosity led me to a science degree (in analytical chemistry) and was the start of a lifelong fascination with the beauty industry and sustainability. It was at a presentation on sustainability in 2009 that I decided to set up my own company – I was interested from a scientific perspective. I thought, there has to be a way to make sustainable, natural products.' 

How did you learn to create beauty products?
'I'm always on the hunt to find my own formulations or recipes – chemistry is really just cooking with exact amounts and techniques. Starting with something that doesn't need preservatives, heat or machinery, for instance – a body scrub where you have an exfoliator like Cornish sea salt, a gorgeous scent from essential oils and a carrier oil, all blended together in a bowl with a spoon. In 30 seconds, you have a handmade beauty product that will last for three years. Building on your own experience and opinions about what you like, and sharing this with others, builds your knowledge. You don't need to be a qualified chemist, but having an interest in the science of how something works is important.'
Beauty Kitchen Interview on ASOS  | ASOS Style Feed

How does Beauty Kitchen strive to be sustainable?
'There's no such thing as waste in our view. For example, all of our packaging has recently been relaunched to be fully reusable. So, once you’ve finished a product, you send the empties back to us and we take the label off and recycle it for you (the bottles and jars are washed and reused). As for the lids and pumps, we encourage customers to keep and reuse them for their next purchase. We call this our return, refill and repeat programme, so everything stays within a circular flow of products and goods. Another example is our konjac sponge: once you have finished using the sponge (after about six to eight weeks), it can be put in the compost bin along with the packaging, ultimately becoming nutrients again to grow more plants.' 

Talk us through some of the unique ingredients you use.
'Abyssinian oil is one of my favourite natural ingredients. It’s very effective and I believe it does a better job than argan or jojoba oil. It mimics the skin’s natural sebum, which helps to rebalance your complexion. And here's the best part: the oil’s also super-sustainable, as it can be grown almost anywhere within a short growing season and doesn't use a lot of water.'  

Is there a hero product?
'The Seahorse Plankton + Facial Oil is really easy to slot into your current skincare routine and can be used on specific areas, for example around your eyes. It’s also easily absorbed as it’s an oil formula, so you can add it to your favourite moisturiser or foundation to give you a super-charged product. It’s my go-to product as it renews and protects your skin, which helps support my busy lifestyle – along with my husband (and Beauty Kitchen co-founder) Stuart, I have a four-year-old, another on the way and a team of people to look after.'
Beauty Kitchen Interview on ASOS  | ASOS Style Feed

Pictures: ASOS

How do you come up with new innovations and products?
'Ah, this is a great question. It’s my curiosity of how things work in other industries and how we could transfer this over to beauty that fascinates me. For example, our Seahorse Plankton + range came about when I started putting spirulina in my smoothies to up my protein intake. I wondered what benefits could be offered by other microalgaes, particularly for your skin. We found that the microalgae that seahorses eat supports their ability to survive in hostile environments and have a long life (they live to be around 15 years old). And the best thing is, we can grow it ourselves within a closed-loop manufacturing system, using a big greenhouse called a photobioreactor (therefore not taking anything from the seahorses). When we grow microalgae, it absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen, helping to combat the greenhouse effect on the planet. It also releases clean, green energy, which is doled back to the electricity grid. And, it's truly scientifically proven to be great for your skin.'

What skincare products do you swear by?
'A konjac sponge is great for cleansing (with or without a cleanser) and is so easy to travel with. And the Abyssinian Oil Night Halo is the best overnight mask I have ever used.'