More and more people are looking for the “all-natural” stamp on skincare products, the same way they might look for the organic sticker on their food. As a result “clean beauty” is becoming more sought after.
Onda Beauty, a non-toxic skincare retailer and spa from New York, is at the forefront of this new wave of green beauty. It was founded in 2016 by long-time friends Australian actor Naomi Watts, former Condé Nast fashion market director Larissa Thomson, and former Australian newspaper and Donna Hay editor Sarah Bryden-Brown. It has outposts in New York City’s Tribeca and Sag Harbour in East Hamptons, and has just opened its third spa, this time in Sydney.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step inside the two-storey all-white space on Paddington’s Oxford Street is the woody scent. “We only burn beautiful Japanese hand-rolled incense by Tennen, and Florres Lane candles from New York,” says Australian director Nicole Manning.
She owned Bronte beautician Tribe for three and a half years before reaching out to the Onda founders through Instagram with a proposal to merge forces. “We share similar values,” says Manning, who closed Tribe to work closely with Watts, Thomson and Bryden-Brown on the project. “Sydney was always on the radar for them, as well as London’s Notting Hill, which is opening soon.”
Inspired by the trio’s travels to Tulum in Mexico, the spa has crystal and gold accents, Turkish towels, woven hanging pendant lights, pale wooden shelving, sea succulents, and 1960s-style cane chairs. Upstairs has one tranquil treatment room, and downstairs, which spills out onto a sunny outdoor courtyard, is dedicated to retail, as well as a second treatment room.
“I have always wanted to create a space that felt like a home … where you want to come and be,” says Manning. “It doesn’t have to feel clinical. It should be drenched in natural light.”
The back section of the store is dedicated to Australian brand The Beauty Chef’s elixirs and powders. Founded by Carla Oates in Sydney in 2009, it was the world’s first living, bio-fermented, probiotic inner-beauty product, which works towards cultivating good gut health. “It’s important for us to treat skin from the inside out as well. Good gut health plays a massive role on your skin,” says Manning.
The spa takes a multi-brand approach to its facials but only uses natural products. (Onda’s take on “clean beauty” is to only use products free of parabens, synthetic fragrances or sulphates). But Manning acknowledges the word “organic” can be slippery. “We don’t like to say ‘organic’ because the rules are so different from country to country. You can say something is organic if it has 0.1 per cent of a natural ingredient in it. Every product here has been chosen for its ethicality and purpose.”
The formulations are built with the same science as your more potent chemical skincare, packed with active ingredients and powerful vitamins while still being gentle on skin.
Broadsheet experienced the Pure Renewal facial, which comes with a deep cleanse, granular exfoliation, steam, extractions and an enzyme peel, followed by LED-light therapy. The idea of using electronic devices in natural skin care might seem counterintuitive, but Manning believes it has as much a place in a clean-beauty regime as regular exercise and eating well.
“It’s a completely non-invasive way of stimulating collagen and elastin production without causing any trauma to the skin,” she says. “This is in contrast to laser or needling, which intentionally causes trauma to the skin to stimulate new skin cell production.” To finish, a custom masque is applied.
The therapist never leaves the room, massaging you the entire time, from your head to your feet. “You don’t need to be left under a mask for 20 minutes on your own,” says Manning. “You’re in good hands from the moment you’re on that bed.” (These hands are so good, in fact, that there’s merit in visiting for the massage alone.)
Afterwards, browse the haircare and skincare potions, which span multi-award winning serums from Vintner’s Daughter, LA’s May Lindstrom, Rahua’s hair products, Marie Véronique (one of the first brands to formulate a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen and already a top seller in Sydney) and New Zealand’s Sodashi. Or there’s an online store, which can ship anywhere in Australia.
“We want everyone to experience clean beauty in a beautiful space, rather than having to go through a health-food store.”
Onda Beauty Paddington
72a Oxford Street, Paddington
(02) 8384 8411
Mon to Wed 10am–6pm