Pioneers of Australia's Homegrown Skincare Industry speak to Juliette Winter about international success.
IT’S NOT JUST the beautiful who face the challenge of overcoming tall poppy syndrome — it’s the beautifiers, too. Local, Australian-made beauty brands are highly sought after around the world, but they often struggle to get the same kind of recognition at home.
“Talk to anyone from Europe, the UK or the US about where they think the best natural skincare comes from, and most will say Australia without hesitation,” explains Sharon McGlinchey, founder of MV Skintherapy, who has an impressive list of international Hollywood celebrities who use her products. “I find with skincare, Australians tend not to search out ‘Australian made’. Education is a big part of changing consumer perception about homegrown quality.”
There are positive signs that we are beginning to recognise the value of locally made products — the beauty industry in Australia has almost doubled in the past two decades and is expected to be worth $1.5 billion by next year. Fuelling that growth are local innovators who are creating some of the most effective natural products in the world, often motivated solely by their wish to help people with all skin types achieve beautiful skin.
“I started MV Skintherapy almost by accident while helping out a client who had developed a severe petrochemical sensitivity,” says Sharon. “I had no intention of making a business out of it; I just wanted to help her. I discovered my cream was also good for my daughter’s eczema and for many of my friends’ children with the same condition. There was little on the market in the mid-nineties to treat sensitive and difficult skin conditions that was truly natural.”
Kosmea is another local brand that has seen success from humble beginnings. As a mum with three young children, Marie Kapetanakis sold the family car in 1993 to bottle her first batch of rosehip oil, an oil she had discovered was being used in hospitals overseas to heal burns and scar tissue. “Rosehip oil wasn’t even heard of in Australia back then. It wasn’t easy… I visited about 80 health food stores in South Australia and gave each store owner a bottle to try, knowing once they used it, they’d be hooked,” says Marie. “Sure enough, within six months I had sold all 4000 bottles.”
In the same year, Max and Vivienne Ross, fourth- generation cosmetic producers for a number of national and international brands, created their own line: Natio, a collection of Australian-made, plant-based haircare products (and later an immensely popular line of skincare and cosmetics). “An ever-increasing number of Australians seek gentle, plant-based ingredients in beauty and grooming products as part of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing,” says Max.
That interest has led more Australians to question exactly what we’re putting on our skin, a factor that’s also encouraged producers to examine the potential in unique Australian ingredients, such as lilly pilly, quandong and Davidson’s plum, all of which Kosmea includes in its formulations.
“We have so many amazing locally grown ingredients, such as Kakadu plum, flame tree, and natural clays,” says Irene Falcone, founder of niche Australian e-tailer Nourished Life, which sells all-natural, predominantly locally made products. “These beautiful ingredients are not only locally sourced but create truly effective skincare. We also have some of the best green science for proven results. It’s about having trust in Australian products and knowing you can rely on them.”
While skincare and bodycare are the biggest beauty categories in Australia, Irene says natural haircare is quickly gathering a local following. “This is one of the last things for people to swap over to natural, and it’s a big swap. Previously there wasn’t much available that was high quality, but the industry has recently done a big swing.”
So, if you find an Australian-made beauty offering nestled under your Christmas tree, know that it’s a gift that gives twice: as well as nourishing your skin or hair, you’re also helping a worthy local industry flourish.
MADE IN AUSTRALIA
Support our brilliant local beauty brands and treat yourself to some of the best of Australian beauty.
- Inhaling the Bulgarian Rose Oil in MV Skintherapy Rose Soothing Protective Moisturiser feels instantly relaxing, while the Organic Camellia Oil, Jojoba, Calendula and Honeysuckle make your skin glow with health.
- A few drops of MV Skintherapy Rose Plus Booster keeps skin hydrated while also calming it, making it ideal for sensitive skin, rosacea and eczema.