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Olivia Thorpe / VANDEROHE

Beauty is in the detail

issue four : the magician

When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?

Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Vanderohe’s No.1 Nourishing Face Serum is quickly gaining cult status among makeup artists, journalists and consumers alike. Us included. Steeped in ancient wisdoms and mysticism from around the globe, this bottle of potion will do more than just nourish your skin. It holds your heart. We take the opportunity to ask the brand’s alchemist – Olivia Thorpe – about her craft, the importance of ritual and her global quest to source the perfect ingredients.

Q:  I love that you came to this formulation through its smell first and foremost. The scent you have crafted makes me feel likes its been handed down through generations of white witches. Can you tell us a little more about the importance of smell for you?

The scent is the key to the serum! I strongly believe Mother Nature played her part in creating the product, as I was led to the exact formula via the scent. I was pregnant with my second son and couldn’t stand the smell of anything – even those creamy “scentless” products would turn my stomach. I was creating an oil blend for a friend who needed something anti-scarring and chose my ingredients specifically with that in mind, but I let my nose determine the formula. I couldn’t believe I loved this rich, complex scent! I found it so beautifully aromatherapeutic. It still amazes me how few cosmetic products for the face exist that have a beautiful scent and aromatherapy benefits.

Q: Let’s talk about synergy. What does it mean to you and how do you implement it into all you do?

In terms of two or more things working together well to strengthen each component part, synergy is vital to everything I do. It exists chemically in the unique blend of essential oils, it exists between those I work with for all the component parts of my business (printers, producers, glass manufacturers etc) and it is strongest, thank goodness, between myself and my family, without whose support, help and encouragement I couldn’t do what I am doing.

Q: On the product description page of your website, you have included a piece on ritual. How important is “ritual” to you? Besides your skincare ritual, do you practice any other daily rituals?

It’s extremely important. I’m a stay at home mum to two boys with a full-time job so I really rely on small rituals to keep calm and carry on juggling everything. Beauty routines are so intimate and given that their purpose is to make one feel good about oneself, I find it crazy how people just slap on something and go. I have to take my time, breathe in the scents, unwind a little…

Q: How long did it take you to create your first bottle of market ready product? Can you tell us a little about the product journey?

Roughly a year. I knew the formula was good. Really good. But in order to be able to sell it, I needed it to be the very best it could possibly be, and that was down to the quality of the ingredients.

We are beholden to natural seasonal changes in crops and production

Olivia Thorpe

Q: You incorporate oils from all around the world because of their magical properties. Can you tell us about the importance of “optimal growing conditions” and the positive impact on our skin and wellbeing vs, for instance, the same oil from a local supplier?

My research had shown that oils extracted from plants grown in their native soils have a much more potent effect therapeutically and cosmetically on humans than oils extracted from plants grown in soils foreign to those in which they’ve naturally evolved. The organic status was vital too. Suffering as I do from a whole array of allergies, I did not want there to be even the tiniest residue of harmful pesticide in my formula and if the plants aren’t grown organically and certified by a trusted body, for sure they will be contaminated. This was the longest part of my production process: sourcing the highest grade (food grade) organic and wildcrafted oils from their native countries… but it was worth it! 

Choosing oils whose farming helps to build soil fertility, minimise pollution and damage to the environment, respect animal welfare and avoid all chemical additives.

Olivia Thorpe

Q: Can you share your favourite beauty wisdom with us? And why?

Learn to love your skin and your body and grow with it, naturally. I find the most beautiful women to be those who are happy and comfortable to look naturally as they are. No fillers, no botox, just a smile and beautiful skin. It’s not always easy, but we can all be a little less hard on ourselves.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Shopping! I’m a magpie so it gives me great pleasure to find new and beautiful things.

 Q: How has becoming an alchemist changed your life?

It’s taught me more than I ever could have imagined – more than four years at Oxford, more than five years in investment banking. I’ve learned how to put all the
little cogs together to create a working machine, manage timelines, expectations, customers, budgets, inventory. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from them too. I think I’ve grown a thicker skin: there are, unfortunately, lots of people out there who want to rip you off or who are simply not capable of doing their job properly to your specification and I won’t settle for that. I’m a perfectionist and it comes with its
headaches, but it’s the only way I can be happy to sell and send out my product at the end of the day.


Prunus armeniaca (Apricot Kernel) oil*†, vitis vinifera (Grapeseed) oil*†, rosa canina (Rosehip) oil*†, cedrus atlantica (Cedarwood) essential oil*†, pelargonium graveolens roseum (Rose Geranium) essential oil*†, lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) essential oil*†, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), rosa damascena (Rose Otto) essential oil*†, boswellia neglecta (Frankincense) essential oil*†, anthemis nobilis (Roman Chamomile) essential oil*†, citrus aurantium (Neroli) essential oil*†, commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) essential oil‡

*  Soil Association-certified organic
†  Soil Association-certified food grade
‡  Soil Association-certified 100% pure and wild-crafted

Contains natural components of essential oils: linalool, limonene, citronellol, geraniol, citral, farnesol.

Could this be the facial serum you’ve been dreaming of?

untainted |ˌənˈtān(t)əd| adjective
not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

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