As consumers become more conscious of the environmental and health impacts of what they put in their bodies, it makes sense that topical skincare would also be placed under the proverbial microscope. Luckily these days, the clean skincare game is pretty mainstream.
Typically, a “clean product” is any formulation free from irritating synthetic (and potentially harmful) ingredients including synthetic fragrances and colours, sulphates, parabens, silicones, preservatives, mineral oils, and phthalates. They’re used to prolong a product’s shelf life, add an appealing smell, or effectively emulsify or thicken a cream or liquid – but they can be harmful to your health.
The good news is that there's a string of Australian clean beauty and skincare brands ditching the synthetics altogether and pushing for greater transparency in the industry. Here's Broadsheet's round up of the best in the business.
Organic, cruelty-free skincare brand Grown Alchemist is by Australian brothers Keston and Jeremy Mujis, who strongly believe synthetic materials do more harm than good.
“The heart of our brand is really simple. It’s all about skin function,” Jeremy told Broadsheet in November, 2019. “As much as some skincare companies would love you to believe, beauty just isn’t going to come from this magical pot of cream. Those active ingredients are great, but an active ingredient on a skin cell that isn’t functioning well is pointless.”
Grown Alchemist’s range of hair, face and body products is designed to improve skin health via a blend of natural ingredients targeting a range of concerns. The Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser ($49) is made with a blend of calming chamomile, bergamot and willow bark, which contains salicylic acid – a natural exfoliant that’s also believed to be anti-inflammatory.
With international stockists including Le Bon Marché, Barneys and Fred Segal, Grown Alchemist is opening a global flagship at Melbourne’s King and Godfree precinct in early 2020. It's also available David Jones in Bourke Street, Melbourne, and online.
Melbourne beauty entrepreneur, former beauty editor and author Zoë Foster Blake’s skincare brand, Go-To, has introduced a skincare line championing clean, botanical ingredients without the scientific jargon of some mass-market brands. Go-To’s range, which is stocked at Mecca Cosmetica, includes foaming cleansers, face creams, oils, exfoliators, sheet masks and lip balms that are all accredited by Choose Cruelty-Free Ltd. Every product is also free of synthetics and silicones.
If you’re only going to invest in one product, make it the Face Hero Face Oil ($45), a lightweight oil to give the skin a generous boost of hydration. Mix a few drops into your foundation for added illumination.
Ten years ago, people told Sydney-based Carla Oates her “weird” probiotic elixirs and powders wouldn’t work. Now, they’re stocked across the globe. Her brand, the Beauty Chef, sells a range of probiotic powders and supplements designed to promote general wellbeing and the outward glow of good health from the inside out.
The Glow Powder ($65) is made from a combination of 20 organic ingredients including maqui berry, dunaliella salina, queen garnet plum, zinc and vitamin C.
Wildcrafted Organics began as a personal self-care journey for owner Nicole O'Sullivan. The Sydney herbalist and nutritionist was handcrafting oils free of chemicals, mineral oils, phthalates, parabens and synthetic fragrances at her home in Mudgee, but her personal project soon became a commercial success.
This skincare collection includes rejuvenating serums, a berry and honey cleansing exfoliant mask, a botanical mist and cleansing oil, all powered with ingredients such as argan oil (made from the fruit of the Moroccan argan tree, which contains vitamin E and is said to have anti-inflammatory properties), babassu oil and camellia oil.
Founded by clinical nutritionist Jacqueline Evans, this Aussie brand is free of silicones, parabens, sulphates, GMOs, mineral oils, petrolatum and synthetic colours. It also doesn’t test on animals.
The top-selling plant-based Argan and Rosehip Face Cream ($49.95) is made with rosehip oil (rich in fatty acids) and argan oil (an antioxidant) to help hydrate the skin, as well as to assist in balancing sebum production. Added provitamin B5 also helps with moisturising.
Sydney-born Neada Deters spent years writing about the beauty industry for Vice – and dissatisfied with the prevalence of synthetics (and a lack of transparency around their use), she founded 100 per cent organic skincare brand Lesse in LA’s Venice Beach. Lesse’s ingredients are all natural, and each one is listed on its website.
“I had a lot of people push back when I said, ‘Let’s talk about an all-natural formulation’,” Deters told Broadsheet in October. “[They told me] it’s not necessary to do that – a time waste and a headache. They would encourage me to add a fragrance or some other paraben to help with the marketing push. They insisted that’s the way it should be done.”
Deters went to market with just one hero product, a daily hydrating Ritual Serum ($70USD), which she says is "the only serum we’ll ever release.”
This Western Australian beauty brand is dedicated to all-natural ingredients. It’s made in small batches and found in some of Australia’s leading spas, including Qualia in Hamilton Island and Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London.
Sodashi's first release was its popular Rejuvenating Face and Neck Moisturiser ($147), which is packed with natural antioxidants including macadamia oil (which is said to help to reduce inflammation and is often used as a scar healer), avocado oil (which contains vitamin A and D) and rosewood, which is said to support cell renewal and even out the skin’s surface.
The Botanical Store
At its store in Northcote, Melbourne, The Botanical Store lets you create your own serums and moisturisers, so each product is bespoke and tailored to your needs. Customise face oils, creams, clay masks, sugar scrubs and bath salts, each made from naturally derived essential oils and ingredients to give your skin a healthy glow, sans chemicals. Also available online.
Certified organic beauty company Kora Organics is owned and run by Australian model and entrepreneur Miranda Kerr, and each product is designed to nourish your skin naturally. We’ve tried, tested and would highly recommend the Noni Glow Face Oil ($79.95), which incorporates rosehip oil, pomegranate oil and sea buckthorn oil to smooth, nourish and brighten skin.
Made in Melbourne, Hunter Lab creates products that are both natural and easily incorporated into a busy daily routine. Each product aims to remedy a specific skincare need with the help of natural oils and extracts. The fan favourite is Hunter's Daily Face Fuel ($54). Using avocado, macadamia and passionfruit seed oils, this rich daily moisturiser is an intense hydrator.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on December 17, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.