Just over a decade ago, Iain and Sandra Blackburn took the leap that few are brave enough to dare: after a ‘little think’ they ditched their office jobs at a software company and upped sticks to the Lake District to open a tea room and gift shop.

Speaking to PQ, Sandra admitted that the ‘only downside’ to switching IT for cream tea was that she could no longer afford the natural products she had been using for her skin – and was appalled by some of the mainstream alternatives. She said, ‘After doing a bit of research, I was amazed by the fillers, harsh synthetic chemicals and general rubbish found in many toiletries.’
The first to admit she has a ‘thing’ about hype and celebrity marketing in the cosmetics industry, Sandra was shocked that some companies choose to plough their time and money into the look – rather than the quality – of their products.

‘After doing a bit of research, I was amazed by the fillers, harsh synthetic chemicals and general rubbish found in many toiletries.’

Sandra Blackburn, Pure Lakes

After suffering a series of allergic reactions to the conventional soaps and cosmetics she’d started using, Sandra decided to concoct her own lotions and potions instead. Over time she developed a wide range of gentle, natural products for friends and family, each made from ethical and sustainably sourced ingredients and natural fragrances that are kind to both the skin and the Earth.

Scaling things up

It wasn’t long before word got out, and friends in the local hotel industry asked Sandra to supply biodegradable toiletries for their guests. Replacing just one product in one hotel room with a refillable version would divert 100 small bottles from the dustbin – a reduction of 700,000 bottles per year in Cumbria alone – and help hotels cut down on the waste produced by traditional packaging. ‘We were really excited’ Iain recalls, ‘because this also had the obvious environmental benefit of cutting down on wastage from small bottles and sachets.’

And so Pure Lakes Skincare was born; Iain and Sandra sold their gift shop and started producing eco-friendly toiletries in bulk.

The use of simple packaging, combined with the discounts of buying raw materials in large volumes, allowed Sandra to create natural, high quality and handmade toiletries at affordable prices. Passing these savings on to customers meant Sandra and Iain were able to provide luxurious products at affordable prices, for a fraction of the cost of many high-end natural skincare products.

Award-winning products

95% of Pure Lakes’ waste is reused or recycled and 100% recycled plastic bottles are used. As a result, the company has won several environmental awards, including an Environmental Excellence award and the ‘Green Hero’ award from the Environment Agency. The company is also proud to be on the Janey Lee Grace ‘loves’ list.

Still making all the products by hand in their Cumbrian workshop, Pure Lakes now supplies guest toiletries to a wide range of small and medium hotels throughout the UK.

Available from Pure Lakes

Grapefruit & Lemongrass Hand Wash, £7.50 (250ml refill)

No harsh detergents, just gentle glycerine soap, made to a traditional recipe using organic sunflower and coconut oil.

Rose & Geranium Skin Repair Bar, £7.50 (60g tin)

Intense moisturiser based on unrefined, honey-scented beeswax combined with rich butters and oils of avocado and calendula. Great for nourishing and protecting cracked, dry skin.

Facial Hydration Moisturising Cream, £6.95 (25g jar)

A deliciously soft cream Sandra originally made for herself, using shea butter and organic rosehip seed oil for natural vitamin A and omega 3, plus oils of neroli, bitter orange and frankincense because they smell sensational and are wonderful for mature skin.

Grapefruit & Lemongrass Hand and Body Lotion, £8.50 (250ml refill)

Sandra’s special concoction of sweet almond, sunflower and avocado oils whipped into Aloe vera gel is silky soft and sinks into the skin like a dream. Extensively tested by ladies of all ages!


Pure Lakes has a ‘Detox in a Box’ gift pack (£42) to give away to one reader, and two ‘Gardeners’ Gift Bags’ (£17) for two runners up. For details of how to enter the competition, CLICK HERE.

For more information on all the gorgeous products available from Pure Lakes, visit its website.   VISIT WWW.PURELAKES.CO.UK