Victoria Meets Denise Leicester


Healing is one of those words that either piques your interest or instantly turns you off. Over the past few years, more of us have become more attuned to the idea that there is more than scientifically proven remedies to help boost our overall wellbeing. Cupping and Reiki have become commonplace and we all know someone who bathes their crystals outside under a full moon.

One woman who has been championing the benefits of healing for years is Denise Leicester. For fans of Ila Spa, Denise needs no introduction, but those who haven’t heard of her before have come along at just the right time as her latest brand, ilapothecary is focused solely on helping you to de-stress and relax – whether you’re into healing or not.

With names including Beat The Blues and Deep Relax and incredibly soothing blends of blue chamomile and arnica, it’s hard not to sigh out loud and let your shoulders drop as soon as you open the jars. But there is more to the new line that just an interesting ethos, catchy names and relaxing scents, so we asked Denise to tell us more…

First and foremost, how does ila and ilapothecary differ?

ila is a high price point brand found in the luxurious spas, whereas with ilapothecary I wanted to create a younger sister diffusion line. It’s more affordable and it tackles what I feel are the current needs in our modern world. Everybody is so stressed and busy these days – and this line aims to offer support. Products with purpose so to speak.

What is your background and how did you get into beauty?

I started my career with traditional medical training in nursing, but I was introduced to aromatherapy and massage in Dubai and was impressed by the impact it had on healing the body. When I returned to the UK, I trained in complementary medicine, studying reflexology and healing, as well as aromatherapy. Continuing my studies in India, I trained as a yoga teacher and explored marma therapy and shamanism.

How have you instilled this ethos into ilapothecary products?

It’s a combination of sourcing the right ingredients and keeping our intentions pure. Our products are made in an the environment that’s peaceful and yet energised. When we first started, I had a Vaastu practitioner help me choose our barns in the Cotswolds. He advised that there be no suffering to animals, so we have no meat or fish at the barns. And, there’s healing background music played while the products are made. For some this might sound ridiculous, but I firmly believe that for a product to contain healing energy it needs to be formulated in a calm and peaceful environment.

What is the hero product of Ilapothecary for you?  

Oh this is difficult, can I list a few? I love the Beat The Blues Spray, it comes with me everywhere, and the SOS drops and SOS Body Balm!

Your knowledge of natural ingredient blends is second to none. Are there ingredient combinations that work particularly well together?

Our skin is a reflection of our emotional wellbeing. The heart chakra directs our skin and hands, on a subtle level, and impacts our levels of stress and fatigue. Base oils such as organic cold pressed argan and rosehip seed are amazing for the skin, especially if you battle with dryness, as they’re rich in essential fatty acids and Vitamin A. Another favourite is seabuckthorn, as it’s rich in omega 7, and I often combine it with vitamin-rich moringa oil. If you want nourishment, rose, rose geranium, blue chamomile and sandalwood are some of the best essential oils. Frequent magnesium bath soaks followed by a rich shea balm are a wonderful remedy for easing stress and fatigue too.

What would be your top tips for those of us who struggle to switch off?

There are a few things I would recommend depending on how much time you have:

  • Taking a break from your computer every hour is vital to do some simple neck exercises that will help reduce tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • It’s obvious, but I always recommend staying hydrated (with good water).
  • Investing in a Himalayan salt lamp, which emits negative ions that counteract the draining positive ions a screen emits, can help too.  
  • Magnesium baths are brilliant for deeply relaxing the nervous system and easing muscle tension. If you don’t have time for a full 30 minutes, 10 can be just as rewarding. The most important thing is not add more stress to the situation by feeling pressured to switch off entirely.

How do you relax and switch off personally?

I started yoga when I was 13 and it is my lifelong friend. Making time for my yoga practice, meditation, laughter and being in nature are my ways to relax and stay calm.

How do you see the skincare industry evolving over the next few years?

From what I see at conferences, the natural and organic industry is growing. Chemists are developing more plant-derived actives and there is a strong focus on protecting and counteracting damage caused by the environmental and computer radiation. I also predict that we’ll see laser, ultrasound waves and oxygen becoming more popular in combination with plant actives for deeper rejuvenation.


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