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This luxury brand is saving the orangutans one serum at a time

Olivia Newton-John’s Retreatment Botanics is leading the way to a cruelty-free world.

Natural skincare Retreatment Botanics

Eastern whipbirds lead the soothing harmony of wildlife with their classic whistle and whip-crack songs, echidnas meander along the ground and koalas slumber high in Mother Earth’s very own lazy boys formed by the crux of eucalyptus trees – immersed in the simple wonders of our natural bushland as warm humidity lingers in the air, it’s easy to be swept away with endless sources of inspiration from the precious ecosystems. In fact, that’s exactly how Retreatment Botanics sprouted to life.

Galvanised by the skincare industry’s disregard towards the natural world, Retreatment Botanics Managing Director and Co-Founder Trudi Jaye set out on her heartwarming mission: to establish an entirely natural, vegan, palm oil free, planet-friendly skincare range with sublime efficacy and a higher meaning.

And she’s done exactly that – with the help of Olivia Newton-John, nonetheless.

Encompassing the restorative essence of Newtown-John’s award-winning Gaia Retreat & Spa, Jaye worked to formulate the opulent botanical products to be used at the Byron Bay hinterland oasis. Now natural skincare devotees can create a holistic ritual at home.

Sitting on the terrace overlooking a canopy of native Australian trees at the heart of the new Wildlife Retreat at Taronga – with the Sydney Harbour Bridge peeping through, Jaye shares with The CEO Magazine why she believes natural skin care is so much more than something you rub onto your skin.

“We get really fixated on little things, which are important and it’s easy to do, but bringing that more holistic approach is powerful,” she says. “Rather than just using one product, which will treat certain aspects [like an eye cream], true beauty will come out of you when you’re feeling more centered and balanced and within that place in yourself.”

Conscious skincare lovers will be completely elated with the luscious serums, sumptuous face masque, rich moisturisers and gentle cleansers, as will the orangutans. Wait, orangutans?

As one of the first luxury spa skincare brands to be certified palm oil free, Retreatment Botanics is helping to save endangered orangutans one serum at a time. As well as all the wildlife including elephants, rhinos, tigers and “all the beautiful bits that come with it”.

For wildlife advocates, palm oil has long been among the dirtiest words used by global conglomerates. Extraordinarily, there are more than 200 different variations of names for palm oil marked on ingredient lists, making it near impossible to decipher what natural skincare products are free from the damaging vegetable oil.

“There are many, many names that can be hidden,” Jaye says. “Those ingredients are derived from palm oil. That’s where it’s so tricky and why it’s often swept under the rug.

“No-one talks about it because no-one has to because it doesn’t say palm oil on the back. It’s not until you really start looking into it and then you’re like, ‘Oh, this isn’t so great.’”

natural skincare Retreatment Botanics
Retreatment Botanics Managing Director and Co-Founder Trudi Jaye. Image: Jack Henry

Due to its extreme versatility and highly efficient production ability year round, 70 per cent of beauty and personal care products contain one or more palm oil derivatives, according to Weleda.

Committed to making a difference, Retreatment Botanics is leading the way with its palm oil free natural skincare range. So much so, it has the official support of the Orangutan Alliance.

“It’s pretty amazing but it’s also shocking [to be one of the first palm oil free skincare brands],” Jaye says. “It was a huge process and really, at times, we questioned if we could do it.

“The skincare industry is not set up to be palm oil free. So it’s even in a lot of other natural and non-natural brands, it’s part of how it is. I understand why that happens because it is so hard – it’s definitely persistence, devotion and determination.

“For us, it’s about wanting to be an inspiration, saying this is possible and to shine a light and bring awareness that [being palm oil free] is happening, and that will drive demand.”

Power of natural skincare

natural skincare Retreatment Botanics

Natural skin care has quickly become a global buzzword, and for good reason.

In 2018, the global natural skincare market was worth US$34.5 billion. This year, it’s expected to reach US$40.2 billion. By 2027, the global market value is predicted to hit US$54.5 billion.

“For us, it wasn’t just about being natural, it was about being an incredibly beautiful, high-performing natural product,” Jaye explains.

With efficacy at the heart of the brand, the Managing Director harnesses the power of native botanicals, which are among the hardiest plants on the planet. And they work wonders for our skin.

“Right here in our backyard, on our doorstep, is a beautiful array of magical plants that are so special,” she shares. “And because they’ve had to survive in such harsh conditions over thousands of years where it’s so hostile, they’re not in a safe, catered-for-plant environment – they have to defend themselves.

“To defend themselves, they store really high levels of phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants to have that defence mechanism, so it’s quite advanced.

“And that technology within the plant is just so good for the skin because of that intelligence to protect. Rather than having a straightforward synthetic vitamin, we have an entourage of phytonutrients working synergistically to intensify the results for our skin.”

Retreatment Botanics is bursting with potent ingredients unique to Australia, creating an elixir of natural beauty; Kakadu plum (the world’s richest source of vitamin C) works to brighten the skin, wild rosella flower promotes skin elasticity, sandalwood seed soothes and regenerates as an anti-inflammatory while also containing a very rare fatty acid – ximenynic acid – which targets fine lines and increases skin health, and Tasmanian mountain pepper berry targets fine lines and wrinkles.

Using molecular extraction to encompass the benefits of the entire cell matrix, every product has been formulated with a unique Phyto-Active Complex, harnessing every native botanical in their most potent and active form – just as they exist in nature.

Growing up in the bustle of Sydney, it wasn’t until Jaye was faced with her own health struggle that she began understanding the true value of natural skin care and natural remedies. Controversially going against the advice of top specialists who said she needed surgery, the businesswoman was inspired to explore other avenues, eventually leading her to New York, US.

“I’m not putting down conventional healing, but I always wanted to try natural first before I started cutting myself open,” she candidly shares. “I went on this whole journey researching different things and what I could do, and through a big process, I did manage to heal myself completely without surgery.

“That really inspired me to see the value in a more holistic way. It doesn’t mean one way or another – it’s an integrated approach for me that’s important.”

A taste of this unifying concept was experienced at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga, complete with restorative facials and an entirely vegan three-course meal, following Newton-John’s vision of forging a blissfully transformative spa ritual without harming any living creatures.

Melding our skin and soul together as we unify with Earth, the wellness duo hopes the planet-conscious products can form the basis of a wholesome, grounding ritual, encouraging deeper connection to centre our spirits and nurture holistic wellbeing.

Gazing across the bush sanctuary, completely immersed with the orchestra of native birds, it’s easy to disconnect from the constraints of city living to become more mindful.

“People are really searching for something bigger in their life, to find the deeper meaning of what it’s all about,” Jaye enthuses. “I’m such a huge animal lover. Anytime I can connect to nature and not feel that separation, that divide that we do in society where we’re humans and they’re animals … that’s an opportunity to ground myself.”

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