York mum-of-two Lauren Cook has opened York's first vegan beauty shop, reports MAXINE GORDON

LAUREN Cook took the bold leap to switch her family to a vegan lifestyle to help tackle her daughters' skin problems.

And when she discovered that following a plant-based diet and using vegan-friendly household and skincare products not only cleared up four-year-old Allegra's dry skin but made the whole family feel better, Lauren didn't stop there.

She decided to launch her own business, selling vegan skin and hair products for the whole family to use.

Soul Organic opened at 69 Micklegate last month – in a historic building owned by York Conservation Trust.

Lauren, aged 34, has worked as a beauty consultant for leading brands including Jo Malone and Clarins and has a background in sports and beauty therapy.

Her new boutique stocks a range of upmarket products with gold-star eco credentials – everything is organic and vegan. She is also about to join the TerraCycle scheme, allowing her to recycle packaging from her customers.

Lauren believes the time is right to open this specialist shop because the number of people switching to a vegan lifestyle is growing.

"The Soil Association reports a year-on-year growth in organic, natural and vegan beauty products – up 24 per cent in 2018.

"Once people have considered food, they turn to their haircare and skincare products as well as products for their home. And we are here to help them with that element."

Lauren says she has done all the "hard work" in finding the products that work, so that her customers don't have to.

"People want solutions – we have taken out all the hard work for them," she says.

Increasingly, says Lauren, people are more conscious about the ingredients in their hair, skin and beauty products. It can be confusing, she says, because many products advertise themselves as "natural" but are anything but.

"Many products get a 'green wash' - so they might have just one per cent of a natural product such as aloe vera juice, and they call themselves natural, but this is misleading."

Initially, Lauren started investigating natural and vegan products to counter her daughter's skin problems.

"My daughter Allegra had dry patches and outbreaks of bumpy, dry skin," says Lauren, adding that she started looking for 100 natural products to use at home in an effort to help. "I found it quite challenging, and when we became vegan, it was even more of a challenge."

But when she found the right products – including the moisturising Little Pot of Wonder from Wolds-based Holistic Kitchen – she saw immediate results. "Allegra's dry skin is completely gone and I feel reassured and safe in the knowledge there's nothing nasty or any potentially harmful chemical products in what we use."

Since going vegan, the family is feeling better too and episodes of vomiting by her young son have ceased too, she adds.

Lauren says her aim is to sell products unique to York or Yorkshire as well as stock items by local producers, such as Holistic Kitchen. Other Yorkshire brands stocked by the boutique are Clockface Beauty, run by mother-daughter duo Karen Horsley and Sarah Thomas, and Harrogate-based Myroo Skincare, specialising in an allergy-free range.

Lauren is confident the market for vegan goods will continue to grow.

"The growth in the amount of people going vegan will continue. November is world vegan month and we will have Veganuary in January. There is a lot more choice for vegans now in supermarkets and among beauty brands. I just see this growing and growing."

Vegan beauty in Yorkshire

Clockface Beauty

Fronted by mother-daughter duo Karen Horsley and Sarah Thomas, this brand features female, male and unisex grooming ranges using 100 per cent natural and plant-derived ingredients, sourced ethically and responsibly. The range includes facial serums, cleansing balms, moisturising balms, face masks, face scrubs and foot scrubs.

Holisitic Kitchen

Sallyanne McCrory set up her business from the kitchen table in the Yorkshire Wolds – making natural products to tackle her own eczema as well as her children's (and saving her from having to use steroid cream on them). Friends asked for them too, and soon the Holistic Kitchen was born.

Today, she specialises in essential oil blends, skin care, and pregnancy-care products to treat the whole person. All the ingredients are 100 per cent plant based. Packaging is either reusable or recyclable, with plastic nearly phased out of the entire product range.

Myroo Skincare

Founded by Rachael Dunseath, Myroo Skincare is based on her own life experiences with allergies and sensitive skin. All products are 100 per cent plant based with ingredients chosen for their benefits to deliver effective performance whether that is to cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise, protect or nourish. The products are suitable for all skin types but are specially formulated with sensitive, problem or allergy-prone skin in mind.