The problem with organic skincare products is knowing whether they’re organic or not – so popular is the concept of using artificial additive-free products on our face and body that many brands claim organic status regardless of whether they are certified. Gaining trust and finding a reputable brand that actually practises what it preaches is not always easy, as Brigitte Geisser, Retreatment brand developer at Byron Bay’s beautiful Gaia Retreat & Spa, found out.
“We get approached a lot by skincare groups to stock products in the spa,” says Geisser. “But I didn’t want to work with chemicals, as that doesn’t suit the Gaia ethos. I wanted to work with natural products, but high-quality ones … I wanted integrity and heart, and I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market.”
It was from this necessity that the idea to develop and launch an organic skincare brand for the resort was born.
“In my 20 years of experience, I’ve never worked with chemical skincare products,” says Geisser. “I knew what was involved in launching a line of products – it can be tricky to make certified organic. It’s hard to predict the consistency of colour, smell and texture. A lot of people put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. But Gregg Cave [one of Gaia’s founders and the retreat’s director and general manager] wanted the best, so we went about finding a certified organic manufacturer.”
Geisser and her team ended up using a manufacturer in the Byron area. “They specialise in small batches, which is important because of the short shelf life of organic products. We really wanted to work hand-in-hand with the biochemists and help come up with the recipes and ideas. We wanted something that was pure but also quality and active – it had to work and have anti-ageing properties.”
The line, known as Retreatment, launched in September 2014, two years after the idea was first inked. In addition to looking local for production, Geisser and her team wanted to use antipodean ingredients whenever possible. “We have superfoods all around us here in Australia,” she says. “We incorporated Australian native extracts and essences from plants and herbs such as lilly pilly, Kakadu plum, banksia, Australian sandalwood and white cyprus. They are all high in antioxidants and vitamins C, A, E and D that visually restore and regenerate the skin … There’s a lot of goodness in there to boost skin health and healing.” The products are also infused with locally sourced macadamia and avocado oils.
While the 13 face and body Retreatment products, which are also vegan, are mostly exclusive to Gaia, Geisser has been approached by other people and companies interested in using them – it’s currently stocked in one new spa, operated by a repeat Gaia guest.
“There’s loads more in the pipeline,” says Geisser. “We’re constantly improving products as well – we look at changing the scent and active ingredients. We really want guests to have a personal connection and feel the goodness.”