There’s nothing more fulfilling than following your dreams and pursuing your passions, especially if it means helping others to live healthier happier lives.
Sasha Morello knows the feeling, and she’s doing her part to make a positive difference in the beauty industry. As founder and CEO of The Clean Skin Movement, a skin care range made from superfoods rather than synthetic ingredients, Sasha is standing by her belief that health and happiness can go hand in hand.
Why are you so enthusiastic about clean eating and clean skin care?
I am very passionate about holistic health. I want to be the best version of me that I can be and for that to happen, my body has to be healthy. As you get older, you realise that you can’t take your health for granted.
It’s easy to assume that ‘looking after your body’ is just about diet and exercise, but it’s more than that. It’s also about eliminating chemicals that impact your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, toxic ingredients can be found everywhere in our homes, and the potential effects can cause cancer, lower IQ, reproductive problems and disruption to the endocrine system. Allowing synthetic, artificial and toxic ingredients to attack your body invariably will affect your body’s immune system, causing a raft of health problems, from the big ones listed above to other issues such as hay fever, asthma, and dermatitis, just to name a few.
Many people understand clean eating, but they haven’t made the connection with what they put on their skin. The skin care industry is an unregulated category that still contains a raft of chemicals and questionable synthetic ingredients. It doesn’t make sense to eat clean but then feed your skin a diet of toxic, artificial and synthetic skin care.
The Clean Skin Movement principle goes further than “natural” skin care though; it extends the concept of healthy eating and applies it to your skin, and it’s about replacing synthetic ingredients with nutrient-rich superfoods and organic plants to feed your skin a healthy diet. This is the core principle behind our range.
What inspired you to turn your passion into a skin care line and start The Clean Skin Movement?
After many years of working for big corporate companies and consulting big businesses, my heart was no longer in it. I am a person with ideals, and it’s hard to live by your principles and be a cog in the system at the same time. I wanted my work to be a direct reflection of me personally and my beliefs, and The Clean Skin Movement is just that. It’s easy to throw yourself behind something you believe in!
You launched The Clean Skin Movement in April 2017. What was the first year of business like?
We had a really exciting first year. I was out and about selling the products myself for the first year rather than just hiding behind our online store. I really wanted to immerse myself with our customers and directly receive feedback on the range. I knew we were really on to something as I would see the same people coming back and bringing along their girlfriends or mothers or sisters that wanted to find out why their friend suddenly had glowing, radiant skin. Keeping products in stock was always an issue as we kept selling out!
Can you take us through a day in your shoes as the head of The Clean Skin Movement?
The brand is growing rapidly but in the scheme of things we are still small so I get involved in all aspects of the business. At the same time, I am a mum to a 9-year-old and a 5-year old. I want to be as present as possible in their lives, so most days I am trying to keep a lot of balls in the air! I try to structure each day around core priorities, but I often get pulled in different directions.
We hand produce all of our products too, so I like to be involved as the quality of our product is critical to me, and I spend a lot of time talking to ingredient suppliers. I am utterly obsessed with superfood ingredients because I have a background in food rather than science, so I naturally gravitate to food grade extracts, oils and butters. They make sense to me rather than something synthetically produced in a lab. I’m constantly checking that we have the highest quality ingredients available in Australia, that our suppliers' production is sustainable, and their ethics are aligned with mine. If I discover a new ingredient, I tend to get really excited, and some days I hit the kitchen to see how I can use it. I love making up new products even if they are just for me!
I love working with people, and I love collaborations, so some days I’m meeting with our brand reps and wholesalers to discuss new ideas for the business. But this all comes to an end at 3pm as I pick up my kids from school and take them to their various activities. Both my kids are really active, so I spend pretty much every afternoon at the athletics track, the swimming pool or the karate mats. Sometime in the evening eventually I get back to the emails from the day. It can get a bit crazy.
What are some misconceptions you encounter about natural skin care products, and how do you clear them up with your customers?
I could talk about natural skin care misconceptions for a long time! The trend towards 'natural' beauty from a holistic level is a good one, but unfortunately the lack of regulations around the use of the term 'natural' makes it often meaningless and breeds a whole lot of beauty products that simply do not go far enough in delivering a healthy diet for your skin or removing harmful ingredients. Skin care products only need to contain 1% natural ingredients to use the term 'natural' on the pack, which means in some cases 99% of the ingredients are not natural but made in a lab. Just because something is natural doesn’t make it suitable for your skin.
There are two misconceptions that upset me the most. The first is when skin care contains an ingredient that is referred to as 'naturally occurring in your body' and hyaluronic acid is an excellent example of this. I don’t know why people are fooled by this statement. While the statement is right, and your body may naturally produce the ingredient, let me put this out there… The equivalent ingredient in the skin care you’re buying was not created by your body or any other human’s body! So, you need to ask yourself, where has this ingredient come from? In the case of hyaluronic acid, if it’s vegan, it most likely came from fermentation bacteria found in lungs of horses with influenza, and if it’s non-vegan, it came from rooster combs, eyeballs and giblets! Most of the time it’s not nice.
The second statement to watch out for is 'naturally derived ingredients' which basically means that the ingredient was once natural but has since undergone extreme chemical manipulation in a lab and now no longer has any resemblance to the original ingredient. Basically, you are just putting a whole lot of chemicals or alcohol on your skin under the guise that it was once natural.
Unfortunately, there are marketers out there selling 'natural skin care' who are using clever marketing tricks but don’t stand behind the ethics of their brand. Luckily, you can choose your skin care, and The Clean Skin Movement offers you a 100% plant-based superfood alternative. We have simple and easy-to-understand ingredient panels and products that are 100% clean of synthetic, artificial, chemically altered, naturally derived and animal by-products. Our products are just plant-based superfoods, and absolutely nothing else.
You are known for your commitment to ethical and sustainable beauty. What issues are most important to you, and how they drive your business?
Our planet is in serious trouble because of our modern lifestyle. The two most significant areas that I am focused on personally and from a business perspective at the moment are plastic usage and environmental crisis from animal agriculture. A lot of skin care is still packaged in plastic because it's cheap to buy and cheap to ship. Plastic pollutes the natural world. It adversely affects wildlife and destroys the natural habitats – it’s everywhere, and we have become addicted to using it in all aspects of our lives.
Plastic also is full of chemicals that pollute the products it contains, transporting those chemicals to your body. As a result, The Clean Skin Movement range is packaged in glass. This makes our product heavier and more costly to ship, but it is a cost that we mostly absorb to try and do our bit for limiting the plastic out there in the world.
The second issue is moving towards a plant-based lifestyle rather than relying on animal agriculture. This is new for me, and I am on a journey to a full plant-based lifestyle. In April, all products in The Clean Skin Movement range became vegan. It is an animal cruelty issue, as no animal needs to die for skin care, and farming animals for food and consumer goods is an environmental issue too. Raising animals for food is a massive source of destruction to our environment and it causes greenhouse gases and land degradation; it pollutes water and the air. It results in deforestation, habitat loss, and species extinction, and it is entirely controllable by man. The Clean Skin Movement is and will continue to be 100% plant-based and cruelty-free.
Your products are made 100% from superfoods. What kind of benefits do these ingredients yield?
Mother nature has supplied us with a bounty of ingredients to topically apply to our skin that nourishes and repairs it. Your skin is the biggest organ of your body and it needs vitamins and minerals to function optimally. While you might eat a healthy diet, your brain doesn’t necessarily prioritise your skin when allocating vitamins and minerals. Luckily, the fact that the skin is absorbent means that these vitamins and minerals can be topically applied and benefit your skin’s health. When we formulate a product, we look at the vitamin and mineral mix that we want in the product, and then we research superfoods that fit that vitamin and mineral profile. Superfoods are purer, richer and safer than their synthetic alternatives and they feed the skin a healthy diet. Superfoods are a natural protector against free radical destroying collagen, and they give your skin a multi-vitamin boost, rich in skin-plumping fatty acids. They create a hydrating shield with mega moisturisers that prevent dryness and for people with sensitive skin, superfood skin care is an excellent alternative to harsh, irritating chemical ingredients. Just as importantly, superfoods are a powerful healing aid, with antiseptic and astringent properties for oily and breakout prone skin. They are a win for your skin!
What would you suggest for someone who struggles to keep up with a consistent skin care regime?
Skin care routines should not be complicated. I do not follow a complicated routine (I don’t have time!), and this is why The Clean Skin Movement routine is pretty simple to follow. We have a couple of daily steps in the routine, followed by a bi-weekly or weekly mask. I follow this routine which starts with cleansing my face nightly with our cleansing balm, even if that’s all I have time to do. We have heard a million times how critical it is to clean your face, and it’s true your skin needs to breathe through the night. It's not just about removing makeup but also cleaning off the pollution and grime from the environment. When people ask me what is most important, I always say cleaning! I then apply our serum, face oil and night treatment balm, which takes a total of one minute. In the morning I just use the serum and face oil. We recommend using our exfoliating mask twice a week as part of the routine but for a lot of busy people, this is a hard step. If you can factor it in though, the benefits of using our gold Brazilian clay and fruit extracts to resurface your skin are amazing! But I get that it’s time-consuming, so if I’m running low on time, I use a shortcut and mix a scoop of the cleansing balm with a scoop of clay and massage it onto my face, leave for a minute then hot towel off. It’s a tremendous express facial!
To learn more about The Clean Skin Movement or shop the range of superfood skin care products, head to thecleanskinmovement.com.
Interview by Rachael Bouley.
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