All those wellness, beauty and health-related Instagram photos that flood your feed on a daily basis? Vaia Pappas has a positive take on them.

“If it’s not a green smoothie, it’s someone exercising or using a natural face mask,” she says. “I think it’s great. It’s making people more aware of what they’re putting on their skin.”

Pappas was advocating for a natural approach to skincare well before wholefoods and paraben-free products became all the rage. She is the owner of Vaia Beauty, a day spa in the backstreets of Darlinghurst. Pappas has been running the Burton Street retreat for 11 years now.

“I look at what’s driving the skin concerns from an internal point of view and get to the root of the cause,” she says of her approach. “We provide topical solutions, but also go on a health journey that includes herbal medicine and an examination of lifestyle. I do a lot of testing to find a natural solution, with no daunting machinery involved.”

Pappas says customers these days want to know everything. “My clients are very savvy,” she says. “They do their research and ask questions that shock me.”

The spa has two signature facials that run for 75 minutes and include a scalp massage and lactic-acid hand and arm treatment. The first is a “cosmeceutical” treatment, which involves a “duo vitamin A and C infusion and application of alpha hydroxy acids.” The “organic” treatment includes aromatherapy and botanical ingredients, which Pappas claims help balance the skin.

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Lesser known is that Pappas has also created her own beauty brand, Vaia. “I had the idea of using the liquid herbs I dispensed orally for topical use,” she says. “There are so many key supplements and herbs I prescribe for internal use, I thought, why not use them on the skin too.”

She began with three skin masks compounded for dry sensitive skin, anti-aging and acne – the latter featuring her favourite combination of burdock, echinacea and colloidal silver. The range has since evolved to include a cleanser, serums, bath salts and a body lotion, all made by Pappas in the clinic and sold in-house as well as on her website.

“It’s priced in a very competitive way so we can reach more people,” she says.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Sydney. Follow and use the hashtag #sydneylocal when exploring the area.