AGED 23 and just weeks away from taking her final law school exams, Lauren Murrell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a form of blood cancer.
‘It was February 1, 2012, when I was diagnosed,’ she recalls. ‘I’d gone into hospital for some tests and was kept in overnight. The treatment started the very next day.’
Lauren remained in hospital for almost a year, undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Her older sister, Sarah, was a huge support and when doctors suggested a stem-cell transplant, Sarah proved the perfect match.
The treatment worked — although one of the side effects was that Lauren’s skin had become incredibly sensitive and dry. ‘It was like having baby skin again,’ she says.
Finding a product to help her sister should have been the easiest thing in the world for Sarah, who had held roles in marketing and communication at Estée Lauder, Unilever and L’Oréal, and was also a qualified make-up artist. But she found it almost impossible to find the natural, organic products she felt would best help Lauren.
‘Even the products sold by well-known health food shops and beauty shops had long lists of ingredients in scientific terminology,’ says Sarah. ‘I just felt I couldn’t trust them.’ Instead, for the sake of her little sister Sarah decided to make her own.
‘Creating skincare had always been a bit of a hobby for me so I had contacts with suppliers who I knew produced ingredients ethically and organically,’ she says. ‘But when Lauren was having treatment I took it more seriously. I wanted to use recognisable ingredients, things you might eat.’
What she created six years ago worked, and that sowed the seeds for By Sarah London, a new range of all-natural, organic, plant-based skincare that has total transparency at its core. So much so that every single ingredient is printed in easy-to-understand English on the front of the label, not the back.
‘So many products contain ingredients that don’t perform a function for skin,’ says Lauren, who after completing her legal studies joined her sister in the business. ‘They’re there to emulsify or fragrance it. With our products, every ingredient is there for the skin.’
Since launching a year ago, the company has won a number of awards. There’s also been acclaim from customers who love the brand’s universality and efficacy, as well as the fact the pair check that every part of their supply chain adheres to exacting ethical and sustainable standards.
‘It’s been really rewarding seeing that people with all skin types like using our products and can see the benefits, says Sarah. ‘Everything in there you could use on a baby.
■ Products start at £9 for the lip balm, bysarahlondon.com
Three more products for sensitive skin
La Roche Posay’s Toleriane range is recommended by dermatologists and Allergy UK. From £12.50, larocheposay.co.uk
Celebrity facialist Kate Somerville has several products specially for sensitive skin. Gentle Daily Wash, £30.50, katesomerville.co.uk
RenewYOU is formulated for those suffering the side effects of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Refresh Toner, £17.50, renewyoucancertologyuk.com