Once upon a time – actually, not that long ago – natural skincare came in dull packaging, offered less-than-luxurious textures, and even smelled worthy. We can say this, because we’ve watched the world of natural skincare be completely transformed since we wrote our first ‘clean’ beauty book, The Green Beauty BIble, and since the days when Jo (for many years) chaired The Soil Association’s organic beauty standards certification committee.
So we welcome introductions at the luxe end of the skincare spectrum – while acknowledging that brands like ALBIVA won’t fit everyone’s budget. However, the founder’s story (scroll down for that), the brand philosophy – and the gorgeously sensual products themselves – make us want to share these with you.
Founder Ivana Iesini is from the Czech Republic, and the subtitle of the range – Regnum Bohemia – translates as ‘Queen of Bohemia’, which is a region of the country.
The smooth wooden packaging, above – very eco-chic – conceals high-quality componentry which means that it really is possible to get the dot of eye cream or the smidge of of moisturiser or serum that is all you need. So yes, ALBIVA’s definitely pricy. But this isn’t a range where more is more: a little goes an incredibly long way.
Two products have particularly taken Jo’s fancy: the ECM Advanced Repair Eye Lift and the ECM Advanced Repair Nourish & Heal Moisturiser.
The first, because it definitely has a de-puffing effect (her eyes have lost absolutely any puffiness), while diligent use seems to be having a definite effect on fine lines and wrinkles. It also makes a very smooth base for concealer and eye make-up.
The second, ECM Advanced Repair Nourish & Heal Moisturiser, has won Jo over because it’s utterly seductive to use, never mind any visible results: a luscious-but-not-too-rich moisturiser, with an utterly divine scent of jasmine. Other botanicals include argan oil, shea butter, EFAs, marine algae extracts with plant-derived peptides and vitamins, B5, B3, C, A and E, to target pigmentation and wrinkles – but these are very high-tech naturals indeed (well, 97% natural, anyway).
As we say, the story behind ALBIVA is fascinating (and moving), and we thought we’d share some of it here. Ivana starts by quoting Hippocrates: ‘The natural healing force in each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.’
As Ivana continues, ‘After being diagnosed with a spinal tumour at the age of 28 and undergoing extensive back surgery, I drew on this belief during my lengthy recovery. Conventional medicine was making me ill and so I looked towards natural remedies. I started looking at reducing the levels of toxins I put in my body and embracing organic as a way of life.’
‘Growing up in the region of the former Kingdom of Bohemia, I was introduced to the generative, healing and adaptive power of nature by my beloved grandmother, Albina (inspiration for the brand’s name, ALBIVA), from an early age… I remember fondly walking through fields with her teaching me to recognise plants and their medicinal properties: yarrow for healing wounds, dill for digestion, comfrey for skin irritations, and so on.’
She continues: ‘My love of science can be traced to my childhood. I was, however, always interested in a deeper scientific understanding of the natural world, e.g. not only how the body repairs a cut but also, why does it speed up its healing after applying yarrow, or wild thyme…? I studied biomedical science and worked in a microbiology laboratory, before ending up analysing and trading essential oils. During my post-surgery recover and focus on regaining wellness, I realised being healthy isn’t a fad or a trend, but a lifestyle.’
Ayurveda was a further inspiration for the range, meanwhile, which has taken Ivana 10 years, pouring her heart and soul into her products. (And it shows.) Currently, the range is only available online – quite a leap of faith – but we’re putting it through its paces more formally with our Beauty Bible testers (can’t wait to see their verdicts), and will keep you updated with retail news of where you can touch, smell and try the products for yourself. (Alongside Jo’s favourites, above, there are further moisturisers, serums and a great cleanser.)
ALBIVA is definitely a name to watch (and easier to understand ‘why the name?’, when you hear about her grandmother. But can we just say: this worthy addition to the clean beauty landscape, albeit at the most luxurious end, was worth the wait…?
From £65-195 – buy here