Luna Beauty and Apothecary in Sydney’s Surry Hills has become an institution for natural- ingredient-based beauty and skincare. Fay Halkitis, a former facial therapist for Aesop, opened the clinic in 2016. A beauty therapist and naturopath, she knows good skin.
She attributes her own healthy glow to paring back her skincare regime and using organic products. “The interest in skincare came from my own skin troubles,” she says. “I had a hormone imbalance after coming off the contraceptive pill, which was prescribed at a younger age to combat break-outs. [When I came off it] my skin was even worse than it had been in the past.”
The solution? A simpler approach to skincare, with a focus on natural ingredients. “You can still get really active ingredients from plant-based products,” she says.
In summer, your skin faces an array of challenges. Heat and humidity can bring on inflammation, and the wrong sunscreen can clog pores and lead to increased oil production and unwanted shine. Getting prepared and employing a regime that allows your skin to breathe is vital, says Halkitis, who recommends changing your skincare regimen with the seasons.
Broadsheet visited Luna for a facial and to discuss tips for prepping and proofing skin for a hot Australian summer. And not all of them are topical.
Ditch aerosol SPFs and use a reef-safe, zinc-oxide sunscreen
Aerosol SPFs are “terrible for the environment and for us,” Halkitis says. There are health and safety concerns around inhaling the airborne chemicals in sunscreen, for example. Plus, it’s difficult to apply evenly to avoid burning. For those reasons, Halkitis is committed to using only zinc-oxide, non nano-based SPF creams.
Halkitis likes the Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 ($84), which has 12 per cent zinc oxide built-in and is “reef safe”, which means it doesn’t contain the UV-blocking chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that researchers have found to be harmful to coral and other marine life. The cream is both a regenerating moisturiser and a natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen. “We sell a lot of this,” Halkitis says. “It’s really lightweight and not oily or pore-clogging. It’s beautiful and feels comfortable to wear.” It contains red raspberry seed oil, which is high in antioxidants and reduces inflammation making it a great summer ally.
A more affordable and standalone UV option is plant-based Sunbutter SPF50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Suncreen ($29.95). It comes in a practical tin, isn’t greasy, is nano particle-free and made with zinc oxide.
Less is more
“If in doubt, use less on your skin,” says Halkitis. “There’s a place for enzymes and exfoliants and clay-based masks, but I think sometimes we spend too much time and energy focusing on refining and removing sweat and grime in summer, which strips our skin of its essential natural oils. We actually have a really delicate eco-system [in our skin], so it should be about reducing inflammation and building a healthy barrier.”
“People underestimate the effect cortisol has on skin and on general inflammation,” says Halkitis. Studies show stress can negatively impact skin health. “Finding ways to relieve stress is vital as the skin can’t heal if we’re in a state of stress – it usually impairs the digestive system as well, which links back to skin health.” She recommends drinking iced herbal teas in summer for a relaxing moment during the day, and trying meditation.
Ask for help
“Everyone’s skin is so different. What you read online that’s good for one person, might not be suitable for you,” says Halkitis. She recommends getting a personalised skincare regimen from a qualified beauty therapist that will suit your own needs and be maintained at home between regular facials.
Get quality sleep
According to Halkitis if you’re not sleeping well, most things suffer, including your skin and visage. “It was my inspiration behind the name Luna. Our body, and skin, does the most healing as we sleep. Put on your richest serums – (like Australian brand Rationale’s catalyst serum – and more active skincare at night so it can work while you rest.”
Eat a diet rich in wholefoods
Halkitis’s recommended menu includes small amounts of organic animal proteins, bone broths, organic pate, small amounts of fermented dairy, lots of organic vegetables and organic fruit and eggs.
Swap out your toner for a mist, and store it in the fridge
You’ll find Nucifera’s The Mist ($50) in her fridge. “This one is aloe vera-based, which is nice and cooling. You can mist it anywhere on the body to cool your skin down if you’ve had too much sun.” She also suggests taking it to the office. “When the weather is humid, we lose moisture. So it’s good to replenish those top layers.” Japanese beauty brand Tatcha’s luminous dewy skin mist ($73) is another strong option for providing hydration this summer. It also works well to set your make-up, taking you from hot afternoons into the night.
Use hair oil before and after swimming
Halkitis adds a few drops of protective oil to her ends before and after swimming to temper frizz by hydrating against the salt, which strips hair of essential oils. “And [Danish brand] Nuori does a Shield Spray that provides a little bit of UV and heat protection to hair as well.”
Shelve heavy cosmetics for more natural make-up
When Halkitis weened herself off mainstream cosmetics, that’s when she noticed the biggest difference in her skin. She now uses certified organic Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation ($98) and blush, which she says are ideal all year round as they’re light and buildable so you can dial it up or down depending on the season. “I use their mascara and cream blush in Desired Glow … I love cream blushes, they give a more natural, less make-upy look. It’s more like skincare with pigment.”
She likes to apply the foundation as sheerly as possible in summer to even out any unwanted redness for a lighter, fresher look. “So it looks like skin, only healthier.” She recommends following by spritzing with Yuli Cocoon Elixir ($36), followed by a lightweight oil that absorbs faster than your winter oil – look for anything with jojoba, hemp or hazelnut oil as these tend to absorb really well, while providing adequate hydration. “If your skin gets particularly oily in the summer, simply finish with some of the Kjaer Weis translucent Pressed Powder ($60) or Powder Bronzer to gently set it all in place.”
Drink lots of water, and make it more exciting if you need to
While there are no scientific studies that prove a certain amount of water will make your skin glow, anecdotally dermatologists and beauticians say hydrated skin is more elastic, appears plumper and less dull, and can also help to minimise the appearance of lines and wrinkles (but doesn’t treat them.) During summer we’re more susceptible to dehydration as we sweat more, so it’s important to be conscious of your water intake.
“For people who hate drinking water, add your favourite herbal teas for a refreshing iced-tea or add probiotic supplements” for some flavour, Halkitis says.
Halkitis’s Daily Summer Skincare Regime
“My personal skincare regime is pretty simple,” says Halkitis. A morning cleanse is optional – “I gauge how my skin feels in the morning – if it feels like a cleanse then I’ll use [US brand] Linné’s Purify Face Wash ($85), which doubles as a mask. While I let the shower steam activate it, I’ll apply the Activate Body Wash (465) by the same brand on the upper body. I wash my hair and then rinse that all off.” Because she spends a lot of time indoors at the apothecary, she layers on the lightweight Soothing Gel ($45) from US organic skincare brand Dr. Alkaitis as a moisturiser. “It’s great in the humidity when the skin likes something really simple.”
At night Halkitis does her skincare routine without the bathroom lights on to avoid the temptation of picking at her skin, which in turn leads to scarring and inflammation. “I cleanse using the same Linné Purify Face Wash, and then use a hot compress or an organic hemp face cloth ($18), which gives a light exfoliation.” Next she add a generous pump of Renew Serum by Linné, ($135) which she takes the time to massage into the skin, increasing blood flow and in turn helping the product to absorb better. The Dr. Alkaitis Herbal Toner ($42) or a face mist comes next. “I stand there for a few minutes breathing in the natural oils, so you get the aromatherapy benefit as well. It makes it more mindful. Misting the skin and applying a serum or oil to damp skin will mean better absorption, too.”
Every 10 or so days she’ll exfoliate with Linné Scrub Face Mask ($95). “Personally, I don’t exfoliate religiously – it can be too aggravating [to the skin].”