In our early twenties, most of us spent our days drinking beers after uni lectures, but Hillary Wilcox was busy starting a whole side-hustle business. “I had the idea to start my own range of skincare at uni,” she explains. “I was studying to become a naturopath and became so fascinated with the use of botanicals to treat skin conditions.”

The result was Maaemo, a skincare brand that is vegan, certified organic and cruelty-free. “Being organic was a really important factor for me,” says Wilcox. “The word ‘natural’ gets thrown around a lot in the beauty industry, and there is really no standard. For me, becoming certified organic was the next step up in ensuring that our products are as clean and non-toxic as possible. The organic standard is incredibly strict and highly regulated in Australia.”

Some hero products are the elimination mask, which currently has the most reviews of all Maaemo products on Adore Beauty and still maintains a 4.5/5 rating, and the rejuvenation clay cleanser, which sold once every 30 seconds on launch day, according to the brand.

Wilcox says it takes her around a year and a half to create a new product for the collection. “A lot of research goes into selecting each ingredient. I study a lot of peer-reviewed journals and research papers on the evidence behind the ingredients to make sure they are the most effective and best choice for the product. There is normally a lot of back and forth, with many, many samples, until I decide on the final formula,” she explains.

The cleanser was actually one of the most difficult to nail. “I wanted to create a cleansing product that was super hydrating but also worked to brighten and soften the skin. It may seem unusual to have clay in a hydrating product, but the clay works to soften and gradually buffer away dead skin cells, leaving it evenly toned and brightened over time,” she says – adding that she feels it filled a gap in the market. “A lot of the research we did showed that many hydrating cleansers were either terrible at removing makeup, are irritating, or left an oily feeling on the skin.”

The Maaemo skincare collection ranges from $49.95 to $64.95. Check it out here.

We hope you love the products we recommend on Broadsheet – our editors select each one independently. Broadsheet may receive an affiliate commission when you follow some links.