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Why is purchasing First Nations skincare so important?

IMAGE VIA LOWANNA SKINCARE

WORDS BY TANESHIA ATKINSON

It’s time to distribute wealth more evenly in the beauty industry.

From centuries-old ingredients to sustainable practices and giving back to the community, the impact of buying from First Nations businesses extends far beyond the product itself.

As an Aboriginal woman, I may be a little biased when I say that buying First Nations beauty products is not just a treat for your skin, but it’s also an important step for broadening exposure and distributing wealth across the beauty industry.

First Nations business owners are one hundred times more likely to hire other First Nations people, and are much more likely to support other First Nations businesses.

In case you needed another reason to diversify your beauty products, many First Nations beauty ranges have tapped into traditional botanical methods, with many skin, hair and body products celebrating both modern and historical practices and ingredients.

I spoke to two Aboriginal business owners in the beauty industry about their brands and to gain some knowledge about the traditional ingredients that feature in their products.

Meet Sharon Maley, a Wadjigan woman living in Darwin who founded Natural Cover roughly five years ago. Natural Cover’s range boasts all the essentials from lip balm, to hydrating mists and eye treatments, each made with all-natural ingredients.

Tell me a little bit about where your passion for skincare came from.

My passion for skincare was handed down to me by my mother, Rose. Growing up, we lived in a community a few hours’ drive from any facilities, so my mother had a home remedy for everything. We didn’t even have a need for prescribed medicine! I remember as a child, my sister had a severe burn from a motorbike that my mother was able to completely treat with aloe vera to the surprise of many doctors.

When I left school, I became a qualified beauty therapist. I was passionate about building self-confidence in my students and began teaching them how to make their own skincare products using only natural ingredients from their fridge. There are many beauty products and regimes that can be made just from ingredients in your fridge and I really enjoyed passing that knowledge on, so I sought out an industry mentor and created the range.

What are the main ingredients you use in Natural Cover?

Natural Cover is made with all native Australian ingredients. Aloe Vera is the main product as it has so many healing and antiseptic benefits. I also use kakadu plum and frangipani which has huge anti-inflammatory and moisturising effects. Frangipani is the fragrance of Natural Cover products as it was my mother’s favourite smell. In maintaining the essence of the brand, I wanted to keep my products natural which is why all Natural Cover skin care products have an expiry date of 18 months.

Where can we find Natural Cover?

Natural Cover is not yet available in stores but all products are available online or through our distributer BuyNatural.

naturalcover.com.au

Sinead Vandenbroek is a Narungga woman living in Adelaide and the owner of Lowanna Skincare. Sinead says the Narungga people were renowned for their knowledge of the land and sea and believed that what nature provides us with is all we need.

Why did you create Lowanna Skincare? 

Last year I graduated from a business degree specialising in tourism and went straight into a corporate job. I quickly discovered that the corporate nine to five wasn’t for me, which led me to quit my job in early 2020 and take some time for myself. This of course was when COVID-19 hit and being qualified in tourism meant there was no work available. I utilised this time to explore my other interest of natural and holistic beauty, leading me to the idea of Lowanna.

The idea came not only from my interest in the beauty industry, but also because I’ve struggled with acne and scarring, and I know that it can be really difficult to find products that work. With Lowanna, I wanted to create natural and effective skincare products, and a community where I can educate people about skin health to help people struggling with their skin, as I did for so long.

As an Aboriginal woman, how have you been able to use knowledge of your mob and traditions to navigate the predominately white beauty industry?

As an Aboriginal woman and beauty brand owner, I think I bring something different to the table. I love that I can draw from my culture and share traditions with my audience in a way they can relate to – through skin care. My customers seem to have really responded to the knowledge I share of how mob traditionally use the plants that we’ve chosen for our product formulations. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if people would respond to that information, especially as the beauty industry is saturated and predominantly White, but it’s clear that people are interested in Aboriginal culture and that’s been really empowering.

Why did you decide to use native ingredients?

I knew from the very start I wanted Lowanna to be 100 per cent natural. I’ve always believed in natural beauty and in limiting our use and consumption of artificial products and ingredients. I also knew I wanted to manufacture my products here in Australia, so the choice to use native ingredients seemed perfect. We have some of the most powerful healing plants right here in our backyard that not many beauty brands seem to be using, so I thought why not explore that! Using these plants also gave me the opportunity to further my knowledge of my own culture; I’ve learnt so much and I love that I can share that with my customers.

Where can we find Lowanna Skincare?

Lowanna Skincare is available online and offers free standard shipping for all orders within Australia.

lowannaskincare.com

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