Is nettle skin care really 'Botox in a bottle'? We put it to the test

IT has been dubbed “Botox in a bottle” but can a moisturiser made from nettles really turn back the clock? The Duchess of Cornwall thinks so.

The 73-year-old has been using Nettle Venom, created by Shropshire firm Heaven Skincare, for at least two years.

The product is also loved by Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham. The nettle in it is meant to trick the skin into thinking it has been stung, which forces the skin into repair mode.

The concept is similar to bee venom, already a popular anti-ageing ingredient, and nettle venom is said to be vegans’ answer to Botox.

Facialist Deborah Mitchell, 55, who invented the product and has 187 spas around the country, says: “The nettle sting makes the skin tingle before your own serotonin gets to work to heal blemishes and redness, leaving you with a lifted, more radiant complexion.

“With regular use, the skin continues this healing action, smoothing lines as it does so. It’s similar to bee venom but I wanted to create something vegans could use too.”

Scientific research into nettle stings supports Deborah’s theory. The sting has an inflammatory effect on the skin caused by irritants in the plant such as histamine.

Nettles were used in medicine in the Bronze Age. In ancient Egypt, flogging the body with nettles was a treatment for arthritis, while eating them was thought to ease paralysis, cholera and menstrual pain.

Using the inflammatory principle, Deborah spent four years developing a product that would not cause the pain of a sting but would replicate its restorative benefits.

She launched a bee venom cream in 2006 and has given bee venom facials to Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow and TV’s Tess Daly.

Deborah says: “I had to develop a way of capturing the active venom in a moisturiser without it hurting when applied to the face. There was much trial and error. I sat in my kitchen stinging the lines on my forehead!

“I discovered where to find nettles that hadn’t been sprayed with any chemicals and the perfect time of day to pick them. I’ve not used an extract because it wasn’t powerful enough.

“Instead, this is a fresh ingredient I carefully collect from hedgerows near my home. I created a new active ingredient — Nettatoxin, which I have patented.

“The whole process is very specific. The right weather conditions are crucial to retain its potency.”


Those are the principles — but is Nettle Venom worth £64 a pot? Cosmetics tester Tracey Lushington, 49, who used to work at the QVC shopping channel, tried it out over two weeks.

Tracey, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, says: “I have fine lines, some deeper wrinkles and pigmentation, so I am always searching for products.

“My job at QVC required me to try a lot of beauty items, so I know what to expect from expensive products. I like the concept of using a nettle product to heal and repair damaged or ageing skin.

“The consistency of the cream was rich but not too thick or gloopy. It felt hydrating and like a top-quality, premium product my dry skin was drinking up. Though it is pricey, with the delivery cost of £5.50 too, it came with samples of a cleanser and age-defiance cream, so at least you get a little extra.

“After five days, I was hooked. I looked forward to using it every morning and evening.

“The cream had a lovely scent — not pungent at all and not greasy either.
“My skin felt nourished, with an overall glow and dewiness.

“By day seven, the results were living up to the claim — my face was looking plump and refreshed.

"It hadn’t Botoxed away my fine lines and I was still on the fence as to whether it was worth the price tag but a little bit went a long way. On day ten, I’d gone to the beach and been in the sun.

“That night, when I applied the cream, I felt a tingling sensation, like it really did have natural healing benefits. The cool texture felt soothing on my weather-hit skin. By day 14, the end of my trial, I loved the cream. I could definitely see a difference in my skin.

My face was a lot more plump and my wrinkles had diminished slightly.

“The only drawback is the price. I don’t want to shell out more than £60 for a cream every few months, as it will quickly add up. But if you are happy to pay for Botox, I would definitely recommend trying this first.

“I’ve seen results and changes to my skin in just a couple of weeks, so I can only imagine the benefits after months of regular use.”


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