CHANGEMAKERS SERIES | CARLA OATES

The spirit of our NEW DAWN Collection embodies change, evolution + collaboration. These fine qualities are the very essence of the 7 women we have featured in this series of inspiring changemakers.

Creating exacting change in many areas, from the environment to art and health and nutrition, these women bring our collection alive with their passion, power + persuasion.

 

Carla Oates created The Beauty Chef in 2009 after healing her family’s skin issues and discovering that beautiful, glowing skin begins with a healthy gut. We talk to Carla about her mission to change up the beauty industry and help educate women on how to look after their skin from the inside out in a healthier and holistic way.

What sparked the idea to create The Beauty Chef? 

The Beauty Chef stemmed from my own skin and gut health issues and that of my family’s. As a child I suffered from eczema and allergies, so my mum took me to see a naturopath who dramatically changed what I ate, removing processed foods as well as allergens such as gluten and dairy from my diet. I soon noticed my allergies and eczema subsided, so I experienced firsthand the connection of food as medicine - that what we eat can profoundly affect our skin and health. 

Early in my career as a journalist I landed a job as a beauty editor for a mainstream newspaper and was inundated with lots of beauty products from mass market brands. My excitement soon dissipated, after researching the ingredients and becoming increasingly concerned about the many toxic chemicals in skincare products. Women from all over Australia were writing into my column asking for advice on what products to use for their eczema, psoriasis, acne and other chronic skin issues. I knew looking after your skin properly started with what you ate from my own experience with eczema and knew that none of these chemical laden products would actually help, heal or regenerate their skin.

I decided to make it my mission to help change the paradigm in the beauty industry and help educate women on how to look after their skin in a healthier and more holistic way.  

So, I left the newspaper, wrote a book in 2004 called ‘Feeding your Skin’ with Penguin books and became the natural beauty writer for Wellbeing magazine. For six years I also penned a natural beauty column called ‘DIY beauty’ for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, and during that time, I wrote hundreds of articles on natural health and beauty. I was the ambassador for Biological Farmers of Australia in organic skincare for fifteen years as well as ambassador for Australian Organic.

Interestingly, around 13 years ago, when my daughter, then aged 10, also experienced eczema and allergies. I came across some research on the link between gut health and eczema and as I explored this more closely, I decided to put my family on a gut-healing protocol which included eliminating certain foods from our diet while also introducing lots of gut-loving, lacto-fermented wholefoods, teeming with beneficial bacteria into our diet. These included time-honoured probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi. As I experimented more and more in my kitchen with these lacto-fermented wholefoods, I realised I was onto something. My daughters allergies and eczema improved and friends and family also took notice, asking what I was doing differently as my skin was glowing – so I quickly became the local beauty pusher and supplier for these fermented foods, which were now in high demand from neighbours, friends and family. They found they had better energy, happier tummies, and healthier, more radiant skin.

This was in 2009 and from here, the first iteration of GLOW was born, my first inner beauty powder containing 24 bio-fermented superfoods with prebiotics and probiotics for gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing. 

At the time, the concept was very left of field and I was told by numerous people that it was too strange an idea and that it would never take off. But I truly believed in it – I felt so passionate about what I had discovered – a real solution to skin issues to help people and not just a bandaid. I knew it worked.

You created a whole new category of ingestible beauty products… why do you think this market has taken off in such a major way?

I think science has finally caught up with nature as more and more studies are showing that what we eat if unhealthy can not only contribute to degenerative disease but also premature ageing of the skin. And that our skin is an incredible barometer of what is going on inside the body. For example, if the skin is inflamed, chances are your gut will be too. 

It’s great that more and more doctors have become integrative in their approach to their patients - and are increasingly focused on prevention and diet and lifestyle - and the importance of gut health for skin health and wellbeing - this is a wonderful paradigm shift. 

From a philosophical perspective, when I began The Beauty Chef twelve years ago, the concept of inner beauty was very foreign. People bought into the idea of ‘glamour’ and ‘anti-ageing’. Whereas now our values are changing – there is not one type of ‘beautiful’. The obsession with perfection and artificial glamour is being replaced with the idea of embracing your individual beauty and working towards skin that is healthy. For me, no amount of cosmetics can replace the radiance exuded from a woman who feels confident in her own skin and is healthy and glows from the inside out, and I believe this mindset is changing globally. The concept of healthy beauty is growing, and with that, the awareness of inner gut health is becoming more imperative than ever to obtain.  

Your skin literally glows! Could you describe your skincare regime, including of course your favourite Beauty Chef products…

Thank you! Staying true to my brand ethos I have always believed that beauty is an inside-out process, and that what we eat can have a profound impact on how we look and feel. Our gut microbiome regulates everything our skin health, immunity, brain and metabolic health, so ideally when you have a happy and healthy gut your skin naturally glows; to me, beauty truly does begin in the belly. So eating a very healthy diet rich in wholefoods is very important to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

I do however try to match the importance of what I put in my body, to what I put on my skin. A regular morning and night skincare regime is likewise so important to achieving that overall healthy skin complexion. I always start my day with The Beauty Chef’s: GLOW Inner Beauty Powder, Collagen Inner Beauty Boost and our Omega Elixir mixed into a glass of filtered water.

Exercise every morning is an essential in my skincare routine as it gets your lymphatic system moving. Whether it’s pilates, a brisk walk at the beach or a swim.

Topically I cleanse my skin with an oil-based cleanser using a muslin cloth and then to nourish and protect my skin for the day head, I typically layer Marie Veronique Protective Day Oil and Sodashi Calming Moisturiser, under sunscreen. I love that both these formulas include a great range of essential fatty acids as well as antioxidants which are crucial to building and maintaining healthy skin as well as helping to protect the skin from environmental assault and inflammation. And of course I always apply a good amount of facial sunscreen if venturing alfresco - COOLA factor 50, is one of my personal favourites. It is natural and light in texture.

Alongside the above, my night-time beauty routine is an absolute must and so important because this is when all the good stuff happens and the skin can truly rejuvenate without the interruption of environmental assault you are exposed to during the day. I always gently cleanse using oil to wash away the day’s grease and grime. I then dab a little Probiotic Skin Refiner onto a muslin pad and swipe it over my face to gently refine my skin, balance the skin’s natural flora and stimulate collagen production (thanks to the natural lactic acid).

Then I use a Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum, some Sodashi Calming moisturiser and I apply a little of The Beauty Chef’s Flora Fix Balm under my eyes, on my lips and any dry patches. 

On the weekend, I do love making a natural face mask every so often with french argiletz clay, yoghurt and papaya and a drop of rose essential oil. 

What are your three top beauty tips? 

  1. Treat your gut with kindness, nourishment and respect - it is the core connection to your health and skin! 
  2. Wear SPF every day when spending time outside, through rain, wind, clouds or shine. 
  3. Try and get at least 8 hours of sleep every night - I personally integrate SLEEP inner beauty powder into my routine by mixing it into a warmed glass of nut milk as this product has been scientifically formulated with sedative herbs like passionflower and lemon balm to soothe your nerves and deepen your sleep, as well as probiotics and bio-fermented turmeric which is anti-inflammatory. A good night’s slumber supports a healthy gut microbiome as well as helps your skin to look hydrated, more plump and awake for the following day.

Ginger & Smart actively tries to produce each collection more sustainable than the last. How do you feel about sustainability in the fashion industry?

I love hearing this from brands - and I love watching brands actively change their processes, supply chain and creativity to become more sustainable. It certainly is something I consider when looking to buy into a brand, and it is now a factor that perhaps impacts my opinion of a brand, if sustainability isn’t a core focus. Climate change is an ever-growing beast and both the beauty and fashion industries are huge contributors to this. We too as a brand are changing our processes considerably to ensure we are actively working to be more sustainable and earth conscious. One huge and very exciting change we made was to build our own state of the art bio-fermentation manufacturing plant. It has taken five years, but this has now enabled us to take full control of how the product is created and distributed.

 

What advice would you tell your younger self about health and beauty?

Health and beauty, to me, is both an internal and external state of being. Being and feeling beautiful is as much a state of mind, as it is a physical state of health. I learnt from a young age, to achieve that feeling of beauty, is about feeding your body and mind with goodness both on the inside and out. My advice to my younger self would be to focus on loving, accepting and empowering myself as a priority, and following my instinct more - and to not sweat the small stuff - as you get older, you realise that the worries you had as a young adult are mostly irrelevant when it comes to good health and happiness. And the most important advice of all is - to “be gutsy, look after your gut and follow your gut instinct”.

Favourite piece in the Ginger & Smart Resort 21 Collection?

There are so many gorgeous pieces to choose from, it’s hard to pick one! I did however love wearing the Verve gown in the shoot.