If there’s one person that understands how to glow from the inside out, it’s best-selling naturalist author and founder of The Beauty Chef, Carla Oates. Based out of Bondi Beach, Carla has been writing, researching and teaching organic health and beauty for fifteen years.
Her story began as a child, when she embarked on her own journey to subside her eczema and allergies, which led her to experience the connection of food as medicine, firsthand. When her daughter began experiencing similar skin issues, Carla’s interest in the area of gut and skin health intensified and she was motivated to create natural products that would help to relieve these conditions and could heal the skin from the inside out.
The Beauty Chef was founded in 2009 with the first iteration of the renowned GLOW powder, containing 24 bio-fermented superfoods with prebiotics and probiotics for gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing. Carla has not only pioneered the inner beauty category by adopting a holistic inside-out approach with her extensive offering of wholefood powders, elixirs and topical skincare products, but has advocated the importance of gut health, and the impact it can have on your overall well being.
Here, we speak with Carla about her gut health journey, the power of food, and her philosophy around a life of simplicity.
You have not only pioneered the inner beauty category by adopting a holistic “inside-out” approach to health and beauty, but you have instilled valuable awareness in many by advocating the importance of gut health and the impact it has on our skin, physical health and happiness. What personal experiences led you to launch The Beauty Chef?
The Beauty Chef stemmed from my own skin and gut health issues and that of my family’s. As a child I suffered from eczema and allergies, so my mum took me to see a naturopath who dramatically changed what I ate, removing processed foods as well as allergens such as gluten and dairy from my diet. I soon noticed, my allergies and eczema subsided, so I experienced firsthand the connection of food as medicine - that what we eat can profoundly affect our skin and health.
As a journalist in my early career I landed a job as a beauty editor for a mainstream newspaper and was inundated with lots of beauty products from mass market brands. My excitement soon dissipated, after researching the ingredients and becoming increasingly concerned about the many toxic chemicals in skincare products. Women from all over Australia were writing into my column asking for advice on what products to use for their eczema, psoriasis, acne and other chronic skin issues. I knew looking after your skin properly started with what you ate from my own experience with eczema and knew that none of these chemical laden products would actually help, heal or regenerate their skin.
I decided to make it my mission to help change the paradigm in the beauty industry and help educate women on how to look after their skin in a healthier and more holistic way.
So, I left the newspaper, wrote a book in 2004 called ‘Feeding your Skin’ with Penguin books and became the natural beauty writer for Wellbeing magazine. For six years I also penned a natural beauty column called ‘DIY beauty’ for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, and during that time, I wrote hundreds of articles on natural health and beauty. I was the ambassador for Biological Farmers of Australia in organic skincare for fifteen years as well as ambassador for Australian Organic.
Interestingly, around 13 years ago, when my daughter, then aged 10, also experienced eczema and allergies, I came across some research on the link between gut health and eczema and as I explored this more closely, I decided to put my family on a gut-healing protocol which included eliminating certain foods from our diet while also introducing lots of gut-loving, lacto-fermented wholefoods, teeming with beneficial bacteria into our diet. These included time-honoured probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi. As I experimented more and more in my kitchen with these lacto-fermented wholefoods, I realised I was onto something. My daughters allergies and eczema improved and friends and family also took notice, asking what I was doing differently as my skin was glowing – so I quickly became the local beauty pusher and supplier for these fermented foods, which were now in high demand from neighbours, friends and family. They found they had better energy, happier tummies, and healthier, more radiant skin.
This was in 2009 and from here, the first iteration of GLOW was born, my first inner beauty powder containing 24 bio-fermented superfoods with prebiotics and probiotics for gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing.
At the time, the concept was very left of field and I was told by numerous people that it was too strange an idea and that it would never take off. But I truly believed in it – I felt so passionate about what I had discovered – a real solution to skin issues to help people and not just a bandaid. I knew it worked.
|"For me, the concept of less is more has taught me the value of simplicity and that by having less, you can actually create a life of more"|
As a society, it seems more of us than before are practicing a less is more approach to life; whether that be through the way we dress, the food we consume, shopping habits or decluttering in the home, it truly means something different to everyone. What does ‘less is more’ mean to you and where do you apply it in life?
For me, the concept of less is more has taught me the value of simplicity and that by having less, you can actually create a life of more. I have certainly become far more aware of the buying choices I make within my everyday life, whether that be clothes, shoes, homewares, - I prefer to spend more on quality over quantity. I seek out items that I will have the opportunity to use again and again; items that I can treasure and fondly look back on, and some day pass down to my children.
What personal rituals do you rely on daily to help you feel more grounded?
- GLOW, every day of course! It’s the daily allrounder for gut, skin and wellbeing.
- Eating a variety of nourishing wholefoods, so important for the microbiome and nurturing gut health. By looking after your microbiome, you are looking after everything in your body - as it helps to regulate your skin, gut, immune, metabolic and brain health.
- Exercise and movement is so important for a healthy body and mind - and supports a healthy microbiome.
- Sleep - preclinical studies show that interruptions to the sleep cycle disrupt the body’s ability to maintain a healthy microbiome.
- Walking - I am a big walker. It’s my daily morning meditation, and like a natural filing system for my brain. I start a walk with a busy mind and by the end of the walk, I have so many solutions to problems and new creative ideas.
At Marle, we are consciously committed to a more sustainable future. What’s your outlook on sustainability, in the home, and within your business?
I love hearing this from brands - and I love watching brands actively change their processes, supply chain and creativity to become more sustainable. It certainly is something I consider when looking to buy into a brand, and it is now a factor that perhaps impacts my opinion of a brand, if sustainability isn’t a core focus.
Climate change is an ever growing beast and both the beauty and fashion industries are huge contributors to this. We too as a brand are changing our processes considerably to ensure we are actively working to be more sustainable and earth conscious. One huge and very exciting change we made was to build our own state of the art bio-fermentation manufacturing plant. It has taken five years, but this has now enabled us to take full control of how the product is created and distributed.
At home, I very much look to buy sustainable, organic and natural products - all round for cleaning, cooking and try my best to incorporate natural, organic and sustainably made products within my skincare routine as well.
What is one ritual you rely on to help you find your calm?
I try and meditate as much as I can; using the Headspace app for a guided meditation to try and get into a really calm, lovely zone before bed. I would love to get into the habit of practicing every night as opposed to when I simply feel like it.
Since launching The Beauty Chef, you have introduced two cookbooks that are both a compelling resource for people who want to better understand the science underpinning the link between gut and skin health. Why was it important for you to offer your knowledge and advice through cookbooks?
My early career started within journalism and while I have since become a founder of a skincare ingestible beauty brand, my passion for writing, content and education has never wavered. I truly love educating people on the importance of gut health and its link to skin, health and mental wellbeing; and for me, creating my cookbooks was a way in which I could do just that. When I created The Beauty Chef Cookbook, I wanted to bring people wholefood enriched recipes that were delicious, gut friendly and simple to cook at home. The evolution of the second book The Gut Guide, stemmed from the desire to do a deeper dive into the connection between the gut microbiome and our health and offer people an achievable 8x week program to help readers heal reset and recharge their gut to support, their skin health, mental health and wellbeing.
As an entrepreneur, business owner and mother, what are the must-have pieces you have on repeat in your wardrobe?
Lots of neutrals and lots of interchangeable pieces. I love the Marle Anouk Dress in White, it’s the perfect desk to drink dress! My wardrobe consists of key pieces that can be worn with sneakers, slides or heels. On any one day, I often need to change between three to four settings: board meeting, factory visits, dinner with a journalist or a walk along the beach with my husband, so I really rely on those pieces that can get me through anything and everything.