A FLEDGLING South Lakeland skin cream company has been given an international boost after being endorsed by the Australian soap actress Nicola Charles.

Salix Alba, the company and brand name for a range of natural anti-ageing creams, has been praised by the former model and Neighbours star after she learned about the moisteriser on Facebook.

Miss Charles, who has made a guest return to the soap as Sarah Beamont after break of 14 years, described the moisteriser as ‘one of the best gifts you could give yourself’.

Salix Alba uses water from a Cartmel Valley spring, known about since the 12th Century, which contains a natural form of Salicin. The anti-inflamatory agent, which is found in water filtered through white willow bark, is proving particularly popular with customers seeking younger looking skin.

Miss Charles, who learned about the product after meeting Salix Alba director Carole More through a shared charity interest on Facebook, immediately warmed to the company’s ethical standards which mean its creams contain only natural ingredients and is not tested on animals.

“The first time I tried Salix Alba on my face was after a bath,” said the 43-year-old English-born actress. “My face felt as soft and looked as fresh as my eight-year-old daughter’s.”

Miss More said: “We are very lucky to have such a high profile endorsement. Nicola used to model for companies like Pantene and L’Oreal. Meeting her through a mutual charity interest on Facebook was a real break. As a small company we simply couldn’t afford to pay the kind of money someone like Nicola would normally command.”

Although very small, the company is rapidly amassing an international reputation with representatives being recruited in Australia, America and India. Miss More said Salix Alba - which is Latin for ‘white willow’ - was suitable for all skin types, does not contain alcohol and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

She added: “Salicin is a natural beta-hydroxy acid, which exfoliates the skin by breaking down the outer layer of dead skin cells, allowing healthy cells to rise to the surface, bringing a healthy, youthful glow to the complexion.”