modern botany

Interview: The Cork-inspired origins of cult beauty brand Modern Botany

Natural personal care company Modern Botany is going from strength to strength. The environmentally-conscious Irish brand has just been shortlisted as a finalist in The Telegraph Stella Smart Beauty Awards 2018 under the Best Body Miracle Category, and they’ve been announced as one of the winners of an Irish Tatler Best Beauty Award.

They are on the cusp of expanding internationally, with their products gaining cult status and appearing in the pages of publications such as Vogue and Image. Modern Botany is young, but it is the result of 25 years of combined natural product science research by CEO John Murray and his co-founder, Dr Simon Jackson. With such experts at its helm, its successful trajectory is sure to continue soaring.

The founders have made Ireland their business base and their products have been inspired by the wild atlantic coastline, particularly in the south of the country. “I am from North Cork originally and have always had a draw for West Cork,” Murray said. “I love its wild coastline and especially its people. We both decided to move here from the UK as we love the place and have been made to feel so welcome here in Schull, so it was the perfect place to settle. In this clean and unspoilt environment, we felt we could grow organically.

“We aim to elevate the quality and standard of personal care natural products by producing 100% natural unisex products,” Murray said. “We are proud to be the only natural product headquartered company to be Cruelty Free International approved in Ireland and are also Vegan and Vegetarian certified [as well as] Guaranteed Irish.”

modern botany

There have been a lot of great moments for the company since its inception in 2016, but one memory in particular stands-out for Murray. “I think our proudest moment was opening our showroom and offices in Schull and having a presence on the Main Street,” he said. “Prior to this, we were working remotely without a public face, but this has given us a new identity and a place to meet with customers wanting to understand our company ethos and products. It’s very exciting.”

The name Modern Botany was chosen after a lot of deliberation and it reflects the ethos that is at the core of the company. “It’s a name we were playing with for a while,” Murray said. “We are all about the medicinal properties of plants, so botany is at the heart of our business. We wanted to give a modern, innovative twist to it, appealing to savvy customers who want natural quality products that work.”

The team behind Modern Botany are very close and the founders feel very lucky to be working with such dedicated people. “We were very fortunate to find such amazing local talent in West Cork to support us to grow our business,” Murray said. “We have Lia our Office Manager, Debbie our designer, Maria our Book-keeper and Christine our PR Manager. We are a very close team and what’s important for us all is our shared belief in the culture and ethos of the company, creating clean and green beauty products.”

One of the long-term goals of the company is to source all of their ingredients from Ireland and to encourage farmers to grow medicinal grade crops. “Where possible, we source our ingredients in Ireland as part of our sustainability policy. This is a project we are working on in the background [at the moment],” Murray explained.

Being certified vegan was important to the founders as they are vehemently against animal testing. “We are a cruelty-free approved company with a Leaping Bunny certification,” Murray said. “The heart of our company ethos is inclusivity and we want to take into consideration the needs of a diverse audience, which includes our growing vegan customers.”

Murray is optimistic about other Irish skincare companies following suit and prioritising cruelty-free status in the future. “It’s heartening to see that there is already a growing number of companies in the process of getting cruelty-free status,” he said. “We were very fortunately to get the official Cruelty-Free International status. I feel this is so important to put the consumers’ mind at ease that the product they are buying has been strictly and objectively audited to ensure it is indeed a cruelty-free product.”

modern botany

One of Modern Botany’s most popular products is the Multi-Tasking Oil, which is a 100% natural and unisex moisturising oil suitable for children, pregnant people and people with various sensitive skin complaints. “We designed the product to be a multi-purpose bathroom staple for all family members,” Murray explained. “With ingredients including Flax Seed Oil containing anti-ageing properties, Calendula for its anti-inflammatory effects, Arnica for damaged skin and bruising, and Chamomile for its soothing effects, Modern Botany Oil is an all-round oil for the face, body, hair and nails.

“We have had great reports on its soothing and healing effect on children and adults with skin conditions including dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. It’s great for men as a post-shave and beard oil and also for women [because] it can be applied as a primer under your makeup as it dries matte.”

Murray has great love for all of Modern Botany’s products, but his favourite is the 100% natural and unisex Deodorant, which also acts as an effective antiperspirant and scent/cologne. “It keeps you feeling fresh in the hot weather and smelling great,” he explained. “It was designed to simplify your daily personal care regime by being multi-use, which means you use less products and this is better for our environment.”

As for holy-grail ingredients for healthy skin, his go-to is Roman Chamomile. “We use it a lot in our product range,” he said. “Chamomile has long been used traditionally for its lenitive, soothing effects on skin and smells divine. It’s really calming on the skin and great for any flair-ups.

Murray’s advice for young Irish vegan entrepreneurs: 

“Understand that your product can meet all the requirements both now and in the future to ensure it is authentically vegan, without having to make any compromises in terms of commercialism and production matters. Also, hold onto your ethos and rise above the noise in today’s marketplace. People living the vegan way have used their power to make a choice that benefits the environment, animals, and their own health. As a company owner, we have a duty to support them to maintain their positive values.”

Modern Botany products are available in all Lloyds Pharmacy stores in Ireland and also in independent healthful stores and pharmacies around the country.

Keep an eye out for summer offers coming soon by registering for the company’s newsletter at

Visit Modern Botany here, their Facebook page here, their Instagram page here and their Twitter page here

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