When it comes to the clean beauty movement, we are turning a new leaf. The term is typically interpreted as “natural,” “green” or “plant-based” beauty, and while the influence of Asian Pacific beauty has traditionally been attributed to Korea and Japan (K-Beauty, J-Beauty) Australian beauty is now coming out of the woodwork with its array of indigenous plant-based ingredients.
Why now? Because beauty aficionados are clearly making more mindful choices when it comes to sustainability and health. The 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor reported that the global wellness industry grew from $3.7 trillion in 2015 to $4.2 trillion in 2019, and personal care accounts for more than $1 billion in 2017 in that industry. Perhaps it is a newfound obsession with detoxification or a recent increase in sensitive skin that could be due to increased exposure to pollution or harmful chemicals, — the Environmental Working Group reports that the average women uses 12 products with about 168 unique ingredients every day — but Mintel reports that now 21 percent of U.S. consumers are looking for skincare with as few ingredients as possible. And that is where A-beauty comes in.
Australian skincare brands offer up minimalist skincare routines, moving the beauty world into routines powered by natural botanicals native to their country. Compared to the U.S. or Europe, Australian beauty has strict government regulations and standardization of chemicals produced in the country. And when it comes to ingredients, even the packaging is regulated.
Australians brands ultimately aim to strip back the technical and provide customers with a transparent beauty experience filled with native extracts that act like superfoods for the skin. Especially since the extracts are full of nutrients and vitamins that are unique to their environment. A few stand-out ingredients: desert lime, finger lime caviar, Australian clay, manuka honey, Kakadu plum, eucalyptus and lemon myrtle.
According to Jeremy Muijs, co-founder of Australian beauty’s original star, Grown Alchemist, the Australian beauty market has always been known for its pioneering approach to incorporating natural, non-toxic ingredients. “Australian natives are equipped to deal with the harsh Australian climate, making them packed full of potent compounds that protect against oxidative stress,” he says.
And perhaps the ingredient sparking obsession right now is Kakadu plum (a rich plant-based form of vitamin C), thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. “It’s been used traditionally as medicine in Australian aboriginal culture to treat a variety of skin disorders and infections, and is also great in helping reverse skin damage caused by UV-exposure, as well as skin inflammation,” adds Patrice Rynenberg, co-founder of Australian beauty brand ASARAI. Another star? Desert lime, which supports collagen and hydration in the skin with nine photoactive compounds that help reduce pigmentation and brighten the skin. A close relative, finger lime, encourages cell turnover with its high concentration of citric acid, which helps to reveal a fresher, more even-toned skin — it also happens to be a star ingredient in Sunday Riley’s own C.E.O. line. And then manuka honey — featured in Sunday Riley’s A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum and Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner — helps keeps the skin free of bacteria thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory properties. It also decreases inflammation associated with acne.
A-beauty focuses on a natural look achieved through health and wellness.
“Australians are known for their super-relaxed vibe,” says Kellie Collis, founder of Australian beauty brand SALT by Hendrix. “Our approach to skincare is somewhat uncomplicated as well, though our ingredient and botanic offering is far from relaxed! We try and look at the essentials for really amazing performance on the skin and balance that with a straight-forward approach that allows time for the things we love. Who has time for complicated skincare when there are good times to be had?”
And because we know you are wondering, Australia’s makeup routine is also really all about doing the least and looking the most natural. “A-beauty really focuses on that natural look and achieving it through health and wellness, rather than camouflaging it,” says Rynenberg. “We prefer to really work towards the no-makeup makeup look and build off our skin’s tone and texture.”
There is no doubt that Australia’s natural lifestyle and laidback approach inspires its beauty culture. “If the French are known for a beauty look of classic sensibility,” says Muijs, “then Australian women have the market share on a healthy, sun-kissed glow.”