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Exclusive Q + A With Belinda Hughes, Melbourne’s Natural Beauty Expert – Part 3
This Q+A was first published in The 11th Monthly, my exclusive subscriber-only newsletter. For early access to more green beauty insider interviews, make sure you sign up here.
Recently, I was treated to the most divine bespoke organic facial by Belinda Hughes, Melbourne’s Natural Beauty Expert, at her newly launched organic skin clinic in South Yarra, Melbourne. You can read my review here, which is Part 1 of this series and you can read how much I loved OrganicSpa products here, which is Part 2 of this series.
After my facial, I spent some time chatting with the natural beauty expert herself. Our Q+A session is set out below for you.
You guys are in for a treat! Belinda is so knowledgeable and gracious to share her expertise with us. If you would like to receive a personal consultation with Belinda, you can make a booking here. She is located at Level 1, 71 Davis Avenue, South Yarra in Melbourne, Australia. If you’re not from Melbourne or are otherwise unable to attend her organic skin clinic, she offers online skin consultations too.
[Me] What lead you to re-launch your skin clinic here in Davis Avenue, South Yarra? What were you doing before this?
[Belinda] I was over in Vogue Plaza before, on the other side of South Yarra. I was just in a room in the pharmacy there and then Vogue started shuffling everyone around. The pharmacy was moving upstairs to become a Priceline so I lost my space.
[Me] So it was a good opportunity for you…
[Belinda] Yeah it was the perfect opportunity for me to re-launch in a nicer space which was more in line with my brand. My brand is more luxurious and I’ve been growing a lot since moving here. Everyone loves this space. It’s so light…
[Me] Oh it’s so beautiful, it’s a really nice experience to come in here. It’s very cozy. A cozy little secret pocket.
[Belinda] Exactly! Up in the tree tops…
[Me] You’ve been an esthetician for 10-12 years and for most of that time you have been obsessed with natural beauty rather than the mainstream. Why has it always been important to you to focus on natural beauty?
[Belinda] At beauty college, while I was completing my diploma studies in skin science, I got my first job, which was in a natural beauty salon in Kingston, which is a really upmarket suburb in Canberra. It was a fantastic start for my career and I put together really quickly that if sulfates and petrochemical ingredients were irritating to the skin and not so good for the skin, why do the anti-aging products have these petrochemical-based ingredients with only a few vitamins thrown in? I was like ‘that makes absolutely no sense!’.
So I basically put two and two together in my own brain and started to get quite obsessed with natural beauty and ingredients. It’s almost been like a study in botany. Learning about what all the plants do and how they interact with the skin. I always liken natural beauty to ‘if you want to be a healthy human being, do you eat the best organic fresh food or do you take a vitamin pill every day?’. A cell is a cell whether it is in our skin or our body.
[Me] Yeah, that makes sense. We don’t want to eat a preserved apple that has been sitting there for a year, do we?
[Belinda] Yeah, exactly. Or even going into a lab and sucking out the vitamins of the apple and saying ‘take it as a pill because mankind has made it better…’. No, nature knows what it’s doing. Don’t mess with it!
[Me] So, for you, its always been more about performance? That you believe natural beauty is more effective and performs better, as opposed to coming from a place of fear about toxic ingredients…
[Belinda] Yeah, for me, it’s more about healthy skin. I’ve been doing this way before the wellness movement. I started my beauty studies in 2005 and I’ve really been into the natural stuff since 2006. So, that was long before the wellness movement and before anyone started expressing concerns about worsening our bodies or anything like that. I’m just interested in building healthy skin.
[Me] Okay, that leads to my next question. Obviously, the natural beauty movement is a big thing, it’s starting to get bigger and bigger, but it’s still considered quite a niche market. Where do you see it going? Do you want to see it more mainstream than the mainstream?
[Belinda] Yes, most definitely. And, if you look at the statistics on growth of cosmetics in the world, for the last few years the natural and organic segment has consistently seen 300% more growth than traditional cosmetics. Even though it’s a smaller slice of the pie overall, it’s growing exponentially faster. And, interestingly, I think it is the Wellness Summit that conducts studies about wellness segments, and ‘wellness travel’ has always been the lead segment in wellness. But, this year, we beat it, so we’re also the number one segment in wellness now. People are really really catching on.
[Me] We beat it? Yay! That’s great, but there’s a part of me that’s worried big industry companies are going to come in and take advantage and, you know, jump on the greenwashing wagon. What’s your advice about that? How do we educate people to know what’s really good for them and what is just green marketing?
[Belinda] I think most people are pretty privy to that already. If you’re really into it, you sort of get it and know where not to go. It’s harder for the large companies to pull the wool over our eyes and I think, in one way, they’re not ready to do it because it’s really expensive. Their $60 moisturizer at the beauty counters, under the shiny lights, with all of their white creams and white jars, actually only cost them a couple of dollars to make. All of their money goes into marketing and celebrity endorsements. So when they actually have to spend a lot more money producing quality products, I just don’t think they’re willing to do that yet.
I think consumers know where to go – they go online. People that find me google ‘organic facials in South Yarra’. They are looking for organic. I hope more salons start to really dedicate their services to being natural and organic. Not just, ‘by the way, here’s our organic stuff, but if you want something that really works, here’s our cosmeceuticals’, which, to me, is like the vitamin pill.
[Me] I think we’re getting there…
[Belinda] Yeah we’re getting there.
[Me] If someone is totally new to the world of natural beauty, and they’re just catching on, what are your tips to start making the transition? It can be very overwhelming.
[Belinda] I would do some research online. There’s plenty of online retailers where you can dip your toes in the water and give some natural products a try. There are many quality brands out there. You don’t necessarily need to seek out an organic therapist and commit to facial treatments and professional products. If you just want to have a look at what it’s all about, just get online and have a read. It’s all about research. That’s pretty much what I did early on in my career. I spent all my time researching.
[Me] What are the essential skincare products you think everyone should use in their routine?
[Belinda] Definitely, the basics are your cleanser and your moisturiser. These are essential. ‘Natural’ because cleansers can contain ingredients like sulfates and be really stripping. This alone can really be sabotaging your skin, and non-professional moisturisers just aren’t at that level of what professional brands are in terms of performance.
Then the other essentials would be a serum and an eye cream. A serum underneath your moisturiser morning and night will give you your potent antioxidants that are going to go deep into the skin, correct any skin conditions and keep the skin really healthy. Finally, an eye cream because we age first around the eyes and it’s important to take care of the eye area.
[Me] In relation to serums, because serums are targeted at different skin conditions, you need to make sure you pick one that’s correct for you, right?
[Belinda] Yeah, that’s right. If you’re going into serums, I would definitely ask for advice from the store or see a professional. If you do need to correct a skin condition, I would definitely go and see an organic therapist instead of trying to navigate the online space, because it’s a minefield.