This article was published in The Newcastle Herald ‘Weekender’ print edition and online on January 18, 2020. Image by Studium Essentials.
A growing awareness of what we consume is leading more people to choose natural, organic and sustainable products – including those that we use on our skin.
Often considered safer and gentler than their chemically-created counterparts, plants, fruits, flowers, herbs, seeds and superfoods are just some of the ingredients used to create natural skincare.
Here, we highlight five Newcastle-based natural skincare companies making beautiful products that are as good for your skin as they are for the planet.
Studium Essentials is a skin and body care brand created from a love of plant medicine and all things holistic health. Its founder 24-year-old Gabriella Abell, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy, crafts each product by hand in small batches at collaborative retail space Maker Store & Studio in Newcastle West.
Initially launched as an essential oils perfume brand in 2017, Gabriella rebranded the business and introduced skin and body care around eight months ago.
Gabriella aims to create simple and effective plant-based skincare solutions for people of all ages and skin types with whole health and long-term sustainability in mind.
“I’m very strict with what is and isn’t in my products. The range is made from organic, high-quality and environmentally responsible ingredients,” explains Gabriella.
“I strive to source my ingredients from small-scale suppliers in Australia – especially small, family-run herb farms.”
Any ingredients Gabriella is unable to find locally come from overseas Fairtrade suppliers or grassroots businesses that have a similar ethos to Studium.
The entire Studium range is 100% vegan with products packaged in recyclable glass bottles or tin, which can be refilled in-store at Maker Store & Studio.
Maker Store & Studio, 3/148 Parry Street, Newcastle West
Savant Apothecary began as a thought Kylie Myatt had whenever she purchased a skincare product in her early twenties. A science student at university at the time, she couldn’t help but wonder how they could be made better or differently.
As she moved into her thirties, the thought became an idea she acted upon. Kylie made her first natural face cream. Then began researching, experimenting, gathering feedback and trying again.
“I started to build up that incredible tool called experience,” she explains.
Kylie made Savant Apothecary a full-time focus three years ago and hasn’t looked back. She now operates two Savant stores, one in The Junction and one in Kotara, as well as selling online.
“My education was biology and chemistry. I have a high knowledge of how the body functions, how plants function and how environments work together and function,” she explains.
“Because of this education there was never any other way – skincare should be natural. Natural for me means something the earth has ready-made for us. A compound our body has had a very, very long association with that has a proven neutral safety.”
Kylie hopes Savant products helps customers not only have healthy skin but to feel good about themselves. “We will give you very high-quality skincare that is clean, healthy, packed with nutrition and vitamins and is really memorable to use.”
Shop 19 A, The Junction Fair, 200 Union St, The Junction
Shop 2053 Westfield Kotara, Corner Park Avenue and Northcott Drive, Kotara
The Skin Juice brand was a pioneer of natural skincare in Newcastle, having been established in 1996 by Joanne Dampney in her beauty salon on Darby Street in Cooks Hill.
“It was born out of a thought that Jo’s clients shouldn’t have to choose between natural and performance skincare,” explains Susan Tannock, marketing mixologist at Skin Juice.
“The desire was to create a nutrient-rich, professional-grade skincare range that fed the skin like a healthy diet feeds the body.”
The brightly packaged “100% Australian-owned, Australian-squeezed and cruelty-free” brand has grown steadily over the last two decades but remains a boutique operation.
The Skin Juice range includes skin, face, and body care products made with natural and organic fruit, plants and superfoods, as well as a range of professional treatment products used by their partner spas and salons.
“To this day, our aromatic skincare blends are still created fresh in our Juice Lab based in Beresfield and Jo remains at the helm, managing the business along with her partner, Dion. We are meticulously involved in the entire process to maintain the safety, purity and effectiveness of each product.”
Skin Juice is part of the broader Raw Earth co family of brands, which includes Serum Factory, Green Habit, Man Brew and Juice Glow.
Husband and wife team Phoebe and Aaron Breckell launched Happy Skincare in 2010. Their first product was a cream Aaron made for Phoebe during her pregnancy to help with stretch marks.
“We started as a home-based business in making natural skincare products in our retro-fitted laundry in Adamstown, and in 2016 we had well and truly outgrown our house,” explains Phoebe.
“We took the plunge and moved to commercial premises that we rented in Maryville. But now we’re thrilled to be back in Adamstown for the long-term in a new purpose-built manufacturing facility and a little shop that we can call our own.”
Today, the Happy Skincare’s range consists of 32 products, which are made on-site at their Adamstown facility. Happy Skincare is also one of three brands – alongside Woohoo Body All-Natural Deodorant and HESO Men’s Grooming – that Phoebe and Aaron operate under the Happy You Company.
“Our brand philosophy is pretty easy to sum up – Happy Skin, Happy You, Happy Planet. We create natural-based active products that give you visible results, spark joy, and care for the planet all at the same time,” explains Aaron.
“As well as using natural and mostly organic ingredients, our products are cruelty-free and vegan and housed very consciously in packaging that has minimal impact on the Earth.”
The Happy Shed,
12/75 Bailey Street, Adamstown
Willow by the Sea
Willow by the Sea is a certified organic skincare brand for babies and mothers created by husband and wife team Corina and Luke Ryan.
After years of travelling and working around the world, the couple moved back to Newcastle with their first child, Willow, as they wanted her to “grow up near the beach, enjoying the sun and sand and simple things that bring happiness”. They have since had another little girl, Indie.
“Corina is originally from Romania, where she grew up being taught about the power of botanicals from her grandmother who was a botanist,” explains Luke.
“We combined her knowledge of the power of plants and natural ingredients and my background in marketing to develop a premium, modern skincare brand for people looking for pure organic products.”
Creating products that were completely organic, natural and waterless was a key priority for Luke and Corina.
“Our goal is to provide a pure organic product, free of toxins, that is safe for little ones. We are transparent with all ingredients and focused on global sustainability via the choices we make regarding the materials we use and the people we work with.”
Made locally in small batches, the Willow by the Sea range includes baby oil, bottom balm, shower and bath time products and belly oil and butter for mums.