Guest Post: Cosy Cottage on the power of nature

Photographs by Clara Challoner Walker

Cosy Cottage began in the kitchen of a 350-year old cottage. Picture it. A cosy cottage set in North Yorkshire’s Howardian Hills, not too far away from our very own Helmsley Walled Garden, which incidentally, has been a firm favourite weekend retreat for Cosy Cottage Founder Clara Challoner Walker and her family for many years. Clara’s concept for the company was to create a range of products to work in harmony with the body, rather than fighting against its natural processes. She began by creating soaps free from parabens, synthetics, artificial colours and fragrances and now boasts a wide range of luxury skincare and beauty products. Eager to learn more, we asked qualified chemist and Cosy Cottage Founder to talk us through the essence of her company and the power of nature. 

You can find Cosy Cottage skincare and beauty products in our very own shop. We’ve had a sniff and think they smell divine.

Cosy Cottage products

Cosy Cottage products

By Clara Challoner Walker – Founder of Cosy Cottage

Since I started the company seven years ago, there have been seismic shifts in consumers’ expectations of their skincare, beauty and personal care regimes. In 2024, we’ve seen accelerated demand for closer integration between beauty and wellness and strong signs that consumers are journeying away from artificial interventions towards a more natural, gentle, intentional and mindful perception of beauty.  

Every ingredient used by Cosy Cottage can be found in nature. That starts with our coconut oil and shea butter bases, our fragrances, all of which are created from steam distilled flowers and fruits and our low concentrations of natural preservatives, present only where essential, in some of our creams. These nature-gifted preservatives are made from extracts of rowan, willow and scented flowers. Helmsley Walled Garden provides us with the inspiration for many of our products, with its abundance of flowers, herbs and plants.

Clara Challoner Walker – Founder of Cosy Cottage

Clara Challoner Walker, Founder of Cosy Cottage

Customers’ expectations of beauty and personal care product providers has passed through many changes in recent years. When I started out in 2017, the concept of palm oil, SLS and paraben free products and plastic free packaging was groundbreaking in its own right. While cheap, versatile and ecologically catastrophic palm oil is still present in many cosmetics and the majority of solid soaps (ingredients like sodium palmate and sodium palm kernelate are the ones to check for), progress has been made with legislation to drive reductions in single use plastic packaging. The potentially endocrine disrupting parabens group of preservatives are still widely used in both the food and personal care industries, to prolong shelf lives and boost corporate profits, but there has also been a  growing awareness of the need to avoid ‘ultra-processing’ in both ultra processed foods, personal care and beauty products. SLS and similar synthetic detergents, which strip the skin of natural oils and are frequently associated with allergic reactions, are still used to ‘bulk-out’ water based personal care products and as awareness of the impact of sulphates, SLS, and SLES has grown, a new vanguard of synthetic detergents have emerged with new names, such as ‘isethionates’, to avoid detection!    

Clara Challoner Walker, Founder of Cosy Cottage making products

Clara making Cosy Cottage products

Over the last few years too, there has been a groundswell in the demand for interventionalist beauty treatments such as fillers and botox alongside complex synthesised chemicals like hyaluronic acid. Many commentators have cited the growing impact of social media and consequently altered perceptions of self-image as one of the drivers for this trend. More recently however, in the face of concerns regarding the impact on mental health, we have seen consumer expectations come full circle. At Cosy Cottage, we are seeing an increase in demand for integrated wellness and skincare products, a closer line of sight between the natural world and perceptions of beauty and a greater focus on gentleness and mindfulness alongside personal care. 

The trend towards a more natural, mindful perception of beauty and skincare is encouraged further in light of concerns about the growing numbers of children seeking to emulate social media influencers by sourcing complex skincare products, designed for adults, and containing compounds such as retinol, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. 

Helmsley Walled Garden is an unrivalled location for the promotion of peace, reconnection with nature and a sense of wellbeing. A gentle walk among the plants and the sense of safety and protection afforded by the walls themselves imbues a sense of security and warmth to visitors. This makes Helmsley Walled Garden an ideal partner for Cosy Cottage. The future is exciting and attractive. The skincare and beauty industry has an opportunity to respond to and encourage this constructive evolution of their product landscape by promoting genuine, honest wellness, gentleness, body positivity and a return to nature to our customers, working alongside partners and locations such as Helmsley Walled Garden. 


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