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Can science and natural beauty co-exist?

Antipodes founder, Elizabeth Barbalich believes it can

By Megan Prowd

Antipodes founder Elizabeth Barbalich is not your typical beauty entrepreneur. A deeply held belief in sustainability is at the very core of the Antipodes brand she started 15 years ago, following the arrival of children and an ensuing quest for a low-tox way of life. 

“I’ve always had an interest in science, innovation and natural health. Before starting my MBA, I studied a biology degree and worked for an international surgical corporation, where I really came to understand the importance of innovation and scientific validation,’’ she says.

“I was searching for natural skincare that offered the same benefits as conventional skincare, and when I failed to find it, I decided to make my own,’’ she says.

Barbalich remains at the helm of the company, and deeply entwined in the daily running of the native New Zealand brand that is now stocked globally in over 40 countries. 

An innovator in the green beauty space, Antipodes is a beauty brand with a difference, steadfastly refusing to follow fads and trends, instead taking a scientific approach to development of their range of results-driven products. 

We caught up with Elizabeth Barbalich from the Antipodes headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand, to talk all things natural beauty and sustainability. 

Antipodes cult Manuka honey range

Antipodes cult Manuka honey range

TELL US ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF YOUR INTEREST IN NATURAL BEAUTY AND HOW YOU CAME TO START ANTIPODES? 

Raising my three children helped me to see the benefits of a non-toxic lifestyle. I wanted to create a strong, natural beauty brand with a distinctive style and results proven by science. Antipodes is now sold in more than 40 countries. I’m just as involved with the company now as I was back then and our Scientific Green Beauty ethos has never changed. Antipodes is unique in the world; we’re a cutting-edge brand that’s not only good for your skin and the planet but also gets results. 

HOW HAS THE CLEAN BEAUTY MARKET CHANGED AND HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED IN RESPONSE?

It was hard to get started – “green beauty” wasn’t a buzz word in 2006. People thought green beauty was all about incense and hippies. At the same time, people were trying to make the transition to green skincare, but then finding it wasn’t effective. There just weren’t many viable sustainable options out there that genuinely worked. Now, clean beauty is readily accepted, and people have a base level of knowledge and scour the beauty world for brands like Antipodes, which is great to see. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

As you expand and evolve, you encounter unique challenges at every point. It doesn’t get easier- the challenges simply change. You really need strong self-belief to start a business in such a competitive category. I’ve learned a lot, but my guiding principles are as true now as they were when I started: be prepared to pivot, expect to grind through the lows, fail fast, stay positive – and most importantly, back yourself. 

WHAT DOES LEADING A LOW-TOX AND SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Ensuring that you have a low impact on the environment in daily life and supporting this by choosing products that have this ethos and can prove it. In short, it’s about walking the walk. I believe it’s critical to make informed choices about environmental and sustainable responsibility. A good place to start is with our beauty routines, to use products that are kind to ourselves and our environment. 

WHAT DOES YOUR PERSONAL BEAUTY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?

My own routine is really simple. First, I get a glow on through exercise, moving my body brightens my mind and no product is ever going to do that for you. As I get older, my focus is on hydration and moisture, and of course I use Antipodes products.

HOW CAN WE ALL MAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY AND SELF-CARE CHOICES?

Education is key. Take time to learn about ingredients and materials used in skincare products, and their packaging. Read labels thoroughly, and if you don’t recognise an ingredient, ask questions! Look for products that are packaged with recyclable materials. Buy from brands that source local ingredients and have visibility over their supply chain. 

CAN YOU SHARE YOUR BEST SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY TIPS?

Healthy skin needs quality skincare. It’s no secret that whatever you add to your skin is absorbed, so it makes sense to use only natural products with high-quality, pure ingredients. 

Be conscious of what you put in, and on your body, and what you spend your hard-earned money on by looking for brands that use natural, sustainably sourced ingredients and recyclable packaging- and don’t compromise. Dozens of little choices throughout the day add up to make all the difference.

De-clutter your beauty routine with potent, multi-purpose products. Harness the power of exercise – a walk, run, or bike ride in nature will do wonders for your body and soul, and it’s free. I can’t live without daily exercise.

 

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