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Handmade skincare

My bathroom shelf has products from many other brands than the four concepts I introduced in HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 8.
For example, I never quite abandoned the ‘old-fashioned’ natural skincare brands Dr. Hauschka, Weleda and Jurlique, which during the 2000s changed my perception of what a good product contains and offers.

July 2023

I have been following Mette Themsen from the sidelines since she launched Bettes Skincare in 2014.

I also visited Bette’s rich herb garden in the south of Zealand and have written about the company online several times.

Based on science, handmade in her own lab with dedication and love with just a dash of modern-day witchcraft – that is how Mette describes her products and their origins.

Most of her ingredients are organic/biodynamic and carefully selected for their properties. Many of the herbs come from her own garden.

In bookazine no. 8 I asked her:
What is your background?

Research, experience and intuition.

I was introduced to the world of herbs as a child. My mum made herbal vinegars and oils, and my grandmother gave us herbal drops and homoeopathic medicine.

I had very bad atopic eczema, and I discovered that herbs and natural salves could ease the symptoms.

I was given my first herbal when I was 12 and studied it daily. For my 13th birthday, I was given Gyldendal’s [Danish version of] The Herb & Spice Book, and with that I delved even deeper into the effects of herbs and tested all sorts of recipes for lotions and skincare products.

As a young adult I worked for 10 years in the health food shop Helsemin and became responsible for their skincare and cosmetics department.

During those years, the general interest in natural skincare took off, sparked by growing awareness of harmful ingredients in conventional cosmetics products.

Through my job I had access to seminars, skincare courses and factory visits, and I developed a deep interest in ingredients that matched my desire to make my own products.

I trained as a bioanalyst with additional specialization in scientific methodology.
During my studies I learned about lab practices and human biology, including histology, which is the study of the cellular structure and composition of skin and other tissue.

The lab component was a huge help in setting up my own production.

In making Bettes Skincare products, I draw on a combination of my interest in research and modern science – which has often found that ingredients and herbs have precisely the effect they were believed to have as early as 2,000 years ago –my experience from the health industry, my early independent studies and my intuition’.

Why handmade?

‘If you could choose between a meal prepared by a dedicated chef and a factory-made meal – what would you choose?
Even if the factory were to use the same ingredients in the same ratios, you would definitely be able to taste the difference.
They say you can taste the love in the food. I also imbue my products with love. I’m sure the consumer can sense that’.

Why do you use herbs from your own garden?

‘I love having herbs in my garden and working with herbs. It also speaks to one of my other core concerns, which is the continuing loss of biodiversity. In our own garden, I grow a wide range of wildflowers and herbs, which benefits bees, butterflies and other insects. We have so many species of insects and birds in our garden, it’s wonderful.
Besides, the home-grown herbs have much more power and vitality. You can see, sense and smell that.

However, it’s important to point out that I can’t always rely 100% on my own herbs. Sometimes, a crop fails, and I have to turn to my uncle or my friend, who also use no pesticides or herbicides. I have also had to buy organic herbs, but I am getting ever closer to being completely self-sufficient’.

Could you describe your three favourite ingredients and their properties?

‘Hibiscus – I love ingredients that contain natural vitamins and active substances. Hibiscus is one of the healthiest herbs you can find. If you make a drink from it, it will have far more antioxidants than green tea.
Hibiscus contains large amounts of natural vitamin C, anthocyanins and saponins – these are powerful antioxidants that eliminate free radicals (anti-aging) and help your skin become smoother and more uniform with a healthy glow. Saponins have a gentle cleansing effect and help diminish your pores.

Bakuchiol is a revolutionary yet still fairly unknown ingredient. Bakuchiol is an oily substance extracted from the babchi plant. In studies, bakuchiol has been found to have exactly the same anti-aging effect as retinol (vitamin A) but without the side effects, such as redness, photosensitivity and a possible negative effect on the reproductive organs, so of course I use bakuchiol and not retinol in my products.

Pumpkin seed oil is another ingredient that comprises multiple substances. The oil is phenomenal on the skin, so good that you can use it on its own and still see a significant effect. It contains a whole range of antioxidants, vitamins and, especially, minerals that are very good for the skin. It has a perfect oleic acid composition and leaves the skin feeling silky soft, well saturated and with a beautiful glow’.

And the witchcraft?

‘Briefly put, a witch is someone who is in balance with nature and uses its ingredients to make elixirs and ointments in order to help others. Dannie Druehyld described it in her book Heksens Håndbog (The Witch’s Handbook), which I received as a gift when I turned 14. Today, she would have been called an herbal specialist rather than a witch, but I enjoy having my childish fascination with witchcraft in mind when I produce handmade exclusive skincare using home-grown herbs, organic oils and effective active ingredients’.

Min badeværelseshylde rummer produkter fra en del flere end de fire koncepter, du møder i HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 8, for eksempel har jeg aldrig helt sluppet de ‘gammeldags’ naturlige hudplejemærker Dr. Hauschka, Weleda og Jurlique, som i 00’erne ændrede min opfattelse af, hvad et godt produkt indeholder og kan.

Skin oil BETTES SKINCARE Washcloth and cream spatulas BETTES SKINCARE Silk sleep mask dyed with vegetable dye SLOW WORKS Bracelet of semiprecious stones STUDIO ATTERDAG

Jeg har fulgt med på sidelinjen, siden Mette Themsen i 2014 etablerede Bettes Skincare.

Jeg har besøgt Bettes frodige urtehave på Sydsjælland og har flere gange skrevet om virksomheden online.Baseret på videnskab, håndlavet på eget laboratorium med dedikation og kærlighed, tilsat lille drys moderne hekseri, sådan beskriver Mette sine produkter og det, de tager afsæt i.

Hovedparten af ingredienserne er økologiske/biodynamiske og omhyggeligt udvalgt for deres egenskaber. Mange af urterne dyrker hun selv.

I bookazine no. 8 har jeg spurgt hende: Hvad er din baggrund?

Forskning, erfaring og intuition –

Jeg blev introduceret til urternes verden som barn. Min mor fremstillede urteeddiker og -olier, vi fik urtedråber og homøopatisk medicin af min mormor.

Jeg havde slem atopisk eksem, som jeg fandt ud af kunne lindres af urter og natursalver.

Jeg fik min første urtebog, da jeg var 12 år, og læste i den dagligt. Til min 13-års fødselsdag fik jeg Gyldendals store urte- og krydderibog. Med den dykkede jeg dybere ned i urternes virkning og afprøvede alle mulige opskrifter på cremer og hudprodukter.”

Som ung voksen arbejdede jeg i 10 år i helsekostforretningen Helsemin og kom at stå for hele hudpleje- og kosmetikafdelingen.

I de år tog interessen for naturlig hudpleje fart i befolkningen, affødt af en øget opmærksomhed på potentielt skadelige indholdsstoffer i den konventionelle kosmetikbranches produkter.

Mit job gav mig adgang til seminarer, hudplejekurser og fabriksbesøg, og jeg udviklede en nørdet interesse for ingredienser, som matchede mit ønske om at fremstille egne produkter.”

Jeg er uddannet bioanalytiker, med en overbygning i videnskabelig metode.
På uddannelsen lærte jeg laboratoriepraksis og om den menneskelige biologi, herunder histologi, som er læren om, hvordan hud og væv er sammensat på celleniveau.

Laboratoriedelen har været en kæmpe hjælp i forhold til at producere mine produkter.

Min interesse for forskning og moderne videnskab, som ofte viser, at ingredienser og urter har den virkning, man anså dem for at have allerede for 2000 år siden, kombinerer jeg med min erfaring fra helsebranchen, mine tidlige selvstudier og min intuition, når jeg fremstiller Bettes produkter.”

Hvorfor håndlavet?

Hvis du kunne vælge mellem et måltid fremstillet af en passioneret kok og et fabriksfremstillet måltid, hvad ville du så vælge?
Selvom man så bruger de samme ingredienser på fabrikken, i samme mængder, vil du helt sikkert kunne smage forskellen.
Man siger, at man kan smage kærligheden i maden. Jeg lagrer også kærlighed i mine produkter. Det er jeg sikker på, forbrugeren kan mærke.”

Hvorfor urter fra egen have?

Jeg elsker at have urter i haven, jeg elsker arbejdet med dem. Men samtidig er en af mine andre hjertesager at modvirke den svindende biodiversitet. I vores egen have dyrker jeg et hav af vilde blomster og urter, som både bier, sommerfugle og andre insekter har glæde af. Vi har så mange arter af insekter og fugle i haven, det er vidunderligt.
Desuden har de hjemmedyrkede urter en helt anden saft og kraft. Det kan man både se, mærke og dufte.”

Det er dog vigtigt at pointere, at jeg ikke altid kan klare mig 100% med egne urter. Nogle gange slår en høst fejl, og jeg må hente hos min onkel og veninde, som begge dyrker helt sprøjtefrit. Jeg har også måttet spæde op med økologisk købte urter, men jeg kommer tættere og tættere på at være helt selvforsynende.”

Vil du beskrive tre favoritingredienser og deres egenskaber?

Hibiscus. Jeg elsker ingredienser, der i sig selv indeholder naturlige vitaminer og aktive stoffer. Hibiscus er en af de sundeste urter, du kan få fingrene i. Hvis du laver en drik af den, er der langt flere antioxidanter i den end i grøn te.
Hibiscus indeholder store mængder naturlig C-vitamin, anthocyaniner og saponiner – dette er kraftige antioxidanter, der eliminerer frie radikaler (anti-aging) og hjælper din hud med at blive mere glat og ensartet og få en sund glød. Saponiner har en mild rensende effekt og hjælper med at forfine porerne.”

Bakuchiol er revolutionerende, dog en stadig noget ukendt ingrediens. Bakuchiol er en oliesubstans udvundet fra bachi-planten. Bakuchiol har i studier påvist fuldstændig samme anti-aging-effekt som retinol (A-vitamin). Bakuchiol er uden de bivirkninger, retinol kommer med, som tæller både rødme, lysfølsomhed og mulig negativ effekt på reproduktive organer, hvorfor jeg selvfølgelig bruger bakuchiol og ikke retinol i mine produkter.” 

Græskarkerneolie. Igen en ingrediens, der i sig selv indeholder mange ingredienser. Olien er fænomenal på huden, så god at du kan bruge den alene og stadig få en stor effekt. Den indeholder en lang række antioxidanter, vitaminer og især mange mineraler, som er særdeles gavnlige for huden. Derudover er dens oliesyresammensætning helt perfekt og efterlader huden silkeblød, mættet og med en smuk glød.”

Og hekseriet?

En heks er helt kortfattet en person, der i balance med naturen bruger dens ingredienser til at lave eliksirer og salver for at hjælpe andre. Dannie Druehyld beskrev det i sin bog Heksens håndbog, som jeg fik foræret som 14-årig. I dag ville man kalde hende urtespecialist i stedet for heks, men jeg synes, det er hyggeligt at have min barnlige fascination af heksen med, når jeg håndfremstiller eksklusiv hudpleje med hjemmedyrkede urter, økologiske olier og virksomme aktive ingredienser.”

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