I auditioned for a Clearasil ad when I was around 11 (don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me). I remember preparing for the audition, making sure my skin was clean and obsessing over a tiny spot or 2 on my face. I couldn’t decide if they wanted someone with pimples and I should leave them, or if I should cover them up?

I didn’t get it in the end. Either I wasn’t a very good actor, or I wasn’t quite what they were looking for. Why am I telling this story? I feel like it was the beginning of my obsession with my skin.

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There’s a reason why I only have a single line of products in the Clémence Organics range. It’s because I don’t believe in skin types. I know it’s a bold statement but hear me out.

The skin types you hear most often are normal, dry, oily, mature, combination, and sensitive. But who only has one skin type? And what is normal?

I know my skin varies according to the season, what I’m eating, the climate I’m in, my current stress levels, and what I’m using on my skin. For example, in summer I would say that my skin is oily. In winter it’s dry. It’s always sensitive and given that I’m getting close to 40 I would say it’s verging on mature. How do I label that?

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I recently had the privilege of travelling to the USA with a group of other Australian certified organic businesses, to learn about the US organic market. This trip included time with major stores, co-operatives, producers, growers and restaurants from the California region.

It was a whirlwind 5 days (and to be honest, a bit messy with the coronavirus situation, albeit early days) but incredibly enlightening. Here are some highlights of the trip, what I learnt and how I want this to impact on Clémence Organics.

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This week on my travels to Japan I spent a lot of time picking up skincare products and reading ingredient lists. Okay so it’s kind of a habit for me with my job but I’m constantly surprised by what I read.

Probably the most surprising is the expensive stuff. And the best place to check out expensive skin care is the duty free department.

While scanning the aisles of products in Sydney duty free I came across a pretty bottle of face cream that was selling for $535. Now you would think for that kind of money you would be getting liquid gold or perhaps the most expensive and best ingredients money could buy. Short answer is no. In fact, I was horrified. The first five ingredients were listed as follows:
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I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions but this year I decided that I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I took on an ‘if not now, when?’ attitude which has so far seen me riding horses on the beach and having surfing lessons with my nieces. I really want to make the most of my time and so I decided resolutions were in.

The first resolution I made was to learn guitar. This is definitely out of my comfort zone as I last tried learning guitar as a child (my father was a professional player) and after several lessons I convinced myself I couldn’t play. I’ve carried that mindset for years but on New Year’s Eve, when sitting around listening to friends play guitar, I decided it was time to give that mindset the heave ho.

The second resolution I made was to keep a diary. I haven’t done this for years as I convinced myself it was better to focus on the here and now, rather than reflect too much on the past. But when the kids ask me questions about my Dad that I can’t answer, I can’t help but wish that he had kept a diary that I could refer to. I want my kids to have the facts if they want them.

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Did you watch the most recent episodes of the War on Waste on the ABC? This series is opening our eyes to the issues we face surrounding our waste. I love it because it leaves me feeling educated and aware. At the same time I’m left drowning in guilt. Is it just me?

I start questioning some of my purchases (e.g. organic spinach which only comes wrapped in plastic) and I worry that what I’m going to great lengths to recycle is going to landfill anyway. I’m left asking, am I doing the right thing? If not, what could I be doing better?

The same goes with my business. In my opinion you can’t have an organic skincare brand and package it all in plastic. It’s like having a hamburger and washing it down with diet coke. It just doesn’t make sense.

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As you may know we’re currently running a giveaway with the stunning Byron-based organic cotton lingerie brand Eco Intimates (pictured). It got me thinking about the benefits of supporting small brands who work on a small scale and create their products ethically and consciously (a bit like ourselves).

In case you don’t know Eco Intimates is owned by a very talented woman called Madonna Bain who is based in Byron Bay. Each piece is hand crafted using GOTS certified organic cotton and remnant fabrics. And boy are they beautiful! Madonna says “My designs are carefully considered to deliver style, fit and comfort for every woman and create a garment with the quality to last and be worn many times.” Styles that Madonna is unable to produce in Australia she has made in Bali by seamstresses in their own homes, in their own time. Madonna says “This is not the cheapest way to produce, nor a way to produce large quantities. There are bigger factories there that can make clothing for much cheaper but that is not how I want to produce my emphasis is sustainability and quality.”

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I get asked this question a lot and it’s a good one. The fact that I’m a naturopath and I created these products is not enough to call them naturopathic. So what exactly does naturopathic mean and what makes Clémence products different?

(Warning – this piece contains a bit of science jargon. Bear with me!)

Naturopathy is a practice of medicine that is based on the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopath’s support the body’s healing process by using natural medicines and practices, both traditionally used and scientifically validated. The four year bachelor’s degree I studied focused mainly on nutrition and herbal medicine, and so these have always been my key treatment methods.

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Next week it will be 2 years since I launched Clémence Organics. 2 years! Where has that time gone? This past week I’ve been thinking, if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it? The answer, without a doubt, is yes! My passion for organic skincare, and everything that goes with it, has only increased. I am more obsessive about my work now than I ever was.

But skincare hasn’t always been a passion of mine. When I was in my last year of high school I was actually planning on studying law. I had read Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ and I wanted to make a difference in the world. It was only when I put my university plans on hold to spread my wings and explore, eventually landing work as a legal secretary in London, that I realised there was no way I was going to be a lawyer. The long hours and cutthroat nature of the firms I worked in, did not suit me. My grandfather (who was sooo keen on me studying law) was crushed when I told him the news (sorry Grandpa!)

So after several years in London and a heap of travel, I fell into a naturopathy degree. It felt easy and a natural progression of my interest in health and natural medicine. I loved it. It felt so good to help others with what seemed second nature to me. And natural skincare was always a part of that. Whilst I had dabbled in making products to soothe keloid scars I had suffered since childhood, more significant experience came when my father was diagnosed with throat cancer in my last year of university.

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