Like many before him, and no doubt many after, Dutchman Ron Voskamp fell in love with Ferragudo the moment he laid eyes on this charming fishing town. And while this is where his business is based, in a tiny showroom right on the main square, it is not Ferragudo he is promoting, but the mountain town of Monchique, more specifically, its spring water. The natural springs of Caldas de Monchique, the only termas in the Algarve, have been frequented since Roman times thanks to the healing properties of the water. In fact, the name Monchique comes from mons siccus, meaning ‘thirsty mountain’ in Latin. Thousands of years later, one company is harvesting the benefits of this magic potion in its skincare range, suitably named Monchique Cosmetics. From masks, scrubs, peelings and foot and hand cream to bath products, eye cream, serums and makeup remover, presented in an elegant blue and white packaging, the products all share a common link: Monchique’s very own H2O. But this is no ordinary water; it is a special combination of extremely pure H2O, free from bacteria and other contaminants, and which contains calming and smoothing properties. It is also extremely alkaline, reduces acidity in the body and neutralises free radicals. With two degrees ­ one in Engineering and another in Business Economics ­, Ron Voskamp had a physical and 40 mental breakdown around five years ago which made him decide to slow down and adopt a healthier lifestyle. It was during this process that he discovered the benefits attributed to alkaline water: although not scientifically proven, some experts believe it has antioxidant properties, helping to control hormones and even prevent cancer. It was therefore a surprise for the businessman that he could buy alkaline water from Monchique directly from the Algarve’s supermarkets when he came to the region around two years ago to write a book. It wasn’t long before Ron met fellow compatriot Agnes Hesselink, who has more than 20 years’ experience heading a Dutch skincare development and production company, and who had already discovered the benefits associated to the Portuguese water. With products for all ages and skin types, for both men and women, Monchique Cosmetics is “one of the purest ranges of cosmetics”, according to the director, and offers products that can be used at home, as well as in treatments at selected salons and spas. However, the products aren’t only based on Monchique water, but also on a well-known local fruit, which, curiously, is also drunk in the form of fire water ­ medronho. These two components are the key elements of a complex made from five ingredients, which dramatically improves skin’s hydration and which is the base of all the brand’s products ­ MIH5, the Monchique Intensive Hydration 5 Complex. “The powerful medronho extract is rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E, which protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and allow other ingredients to deeply penetrate the skin, and in omega-3 and 6 acids, which help reduce inflammation,” explains Ron, noting that the water’s fine molecular structure makes it Ron Voskamp easily absorbed by the body. Now living in Ferragudo, whose picturesque bay dotted with fishing boats had always been a dream location for the businessman, and embraced by the local community (every Saturday the Dutchman would play dominoes at the town’s senior citizens’ centre), it was only natural that the Monchique Cosmetics showroom would be here. While the space can be visited by appointment, the products can also be found in Caldas de Monchique and at the Vila Monchique shop, as well as at other selected locations 41 COSMETICS Ron Voskamp with Rui André across the Algarve. The idea is that in the future, the brand will be present countrywide, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores. According to the businessman, “I believe that with Monchique Cosmetics, we can contribute to people’s awareness of health and beauty, inside and out, and generate interest in Monchique and in Portugal, and thus contribute to tourism”. While the skincare line is produced in the Netherlands, the aim is to bring production to Monchique and provide employment for the local people. “It’s about shared values, and about promoting Monchique through these cosmetics,” he says. In this mission, the brand has an important partner: the president of Monchique Câmara, Rui André, who supports the project and to whom Ron and Agnes gave some of their products in a special launch box, made from the best Algarvean cork from Novacortiça. https://www.monchiquecosmeticsportugal.com 42

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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