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Edyta Stelmach of Eight Brook

The product developer on selecting hero ingredients, the right approach to choosing your cleansers and serums, and her never-fail beauty product.

Coming in hot as one of the Australian beauty brands to know and try this year is cosmeceutical skincare line, Eight Brook. All sleek and simple in black-on-white packaging and sans serif labels, the products’ appearances, however, don’t reflect what’s inside.

Developed by cosmeceutical chemist Edyta Stelmach, the formulations are designed to “do more, so you need less”; each of which are led by hero ingredients like cloudberry, snowflower and Aspen bark. As such, the creations deliver medicinal-grade results featuring combinations like natural extracts synergised with fruit acids.

To boot, most of the brand’s active ingredients are derived from wild harvested, organic Australian botanicals because of how much antioxidant power they possess. When this gets infused into the creams and serums, just imagine what that does to your skin.

We know too that being organic or natural doesn’t mean that a formula is free from skin allergens. But Eight Brook has you covered, ensuring that the blends are free of these irritants, as well as potential fragrance allergens commonly found in essential oils.

Their first launch, the Oxygenated Charcoal Mask has already hit the ball out of the park with its ‘salon-oxygen-facial-at-home’ quality, while a handful of cleansers and serums have followed suit. Conscious of what they put out on the market, we’re excited to see what’s next.

What does the name “Eight Brook” mean, and how are your products unique from others in the market?

The name Eight Brook is connected to a place where we decided to bring our ideas to life. It literally started as an address; a small cafe where we sketched out some ideas over coffee, and decided to give it a go. That said, the name also includes elements that resonate with us. The tranquil setting of a gentle brook reflects many of the natural aspects that we try to instil in our products, and the number eight reflects the more absolute parts of what we do — the science and the facts, the testing and the results, and the numbers.

Essentially, being minimalists, we strive to create natural multifunctional products that simplify your skincare routine. We blend science and nature, with products that include highly effective ingredients including phytoactives derived from organic wild harvested Australian botanicals.

Each of Eight Brook’s products are powered by one main ingredient, from Aspen bark to cloudberry. Tell us more about this approach.

When designing our products, I wanted to ensure each product’s purpose was easy to understand, hence the simplistic product names like brightening, fortifying etc. After much research, I selected a hero ingredient for each product that could achieve that function and I included additional skin-compatible ingredients to support it.

How were these star ingredients of Aspen bark, Tasman pepper, charcoal, snowflower, cloudberry and caviar lime chosen?

The skin is our largest organ and it has a complex structure that needs various nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants) to function healthily. These need to be obtained through diet and topical application. When developing our Eight Brook products I felt it was important to include as many of these nutrients as possible to provide nourishment and protection to the skin. Botanicals are innately rich in nutrients, which is why I used them as the key building blocks of all our formulas.

In Australia, our native plants have evolved to withstand the harsh climate by producing highly concentrated phytoactives to shield against sun-induced oxidative stress. Consequently, organic wild harvested Australian botanicals, which offer superior antioxidant protection, feature predominantly in all our products.

Some of our hero ingredients and their key benefits include:

  • Charcoal (from coconut) is a highly absorbent material with millions of tiny pores that capture, bind and remove impurities, heavy metals and toxins; making it a perfect detoxifier.
  • Native Tasman Pepper is rich in polygodial, a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredient that soothes stressed skin.
  • Native Snowflower is rich in catechins, a powerful antioxidant that fortifies the skin against environmental stressors.
  • Aspen Bark is rich in salicylates, a natural alternative to salicylic acid which gently exfoliates redundant skin cells.
  • Native Finger Lime (otherwise known as Caviar Lime) is abundant in vitamin C, which is known for its skin brightening benefits.
  • Cloudberry Seed oil is rich in beta-carotene, a natural precursor to vitamin A which is important for skin repair, maintenance and revitalisation.

Should we use different cleansers in the morning and night, and how often should we switch up our serums?

Cleansers should be an essential part of your morning and evening skincare routine. Apart from the obvious benefits of removing daily makeup, dirt, airborne pollutants, oil and bacteria from your skin, they also ensure you receive the best results from your serums and moisturisers.

Cleansers should be selected based on your skin type, your climate, and the amount of dirt/makeup you need to remove. If you wear makeup during the day, it’s a good idea to use a cleanser in the evening that can both dissolve makeup and capture impurities. If you live in the city, it’s best to use a cleanser that can remove the daily build-up of dirt and airborne pollutants. A morning cleanser should be used to remove the remnants of your overnight skincare products and gently exfoliate redundant skin cells.

Your choice of serum should always be based on your individual skin requirements. Ideally, you would use a separate serum during morning and evening. During the day your skin is exposed to environmental stressors which cause DNA damage, so you need a serum that can fortify your skin against this damage with antioxidants and SPF protection. Overnight, your skin focuses on repairing damage, so you need a serum with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, peptides and fruit acids that rejuvenate your skin.

Cleansers by Eight Brook

The Tasman Pepper Soothing Cleanser and Aspen Bark Exfoliating Cleanser

Firstly, the importance of understanding the chemistry of each ingredient, and how it interacts with other ingredients — irrespective of their origin, whether that be natural or synthetic. As an example, when sodium benzoate is used as a natural preservative, it should not be combined with vitamin C in acidic conditions as it can create benzene (a known carcinogen). The science is extremely important to ensure products are safe and effective.

Secondly, there is a misconception that all natural or organic ingredients are safe by default and always good for our skin. This is not always the case. Take for instance rose essential oil: depending on the species and the stage that it is harvested, it can naturally contain up to 1-3 per cent of methyl eugenol, an ingredient that has been identified as a skin allergen and carcinogen. This is not to say we should completely avoid rose essential oils, as they also have many positive attributes, but all formulators need to be conscious of the dangers and work towards reducing them. Specific rose essential oil extractions are available which contain reduced concentrations of methyl eugenol. I always use low allergen essential oils and aromas in all our Eight Brook products.

Finally, never assume an ingredient is bad or synthetic just because of its scientific name. Not all natural ingredients have a botanical sounding name. Take for instance bisabolol: it’s a key active component of chamomile essential oil, and features in our Cloudberry Revitalising Serum. Bisabolol is also responsible for the anti-inflammatory, healing, soothing and anti-microbial properties of the chamomile plant.

Serums by Eight Brook

What is the first thing you do after falling out of bed?

I normally start my day with a healthy smoothie containing bananas, berries and almond milk. It’s my natural dose of antioxidants, and it provides me with a ton of energy to get through my morning. Skin health definitely requires a holistic approach, including a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, a good night’s sleep and a consistent skincare routine.

What is your never-fail beauty product?

The sun can be a real issue for us Aussies and we need to protect ourselves from skin cancer and the premature signs of skin ageing. So a daily SPF mineral sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide, is an absolute must. I also never miss my daily dose of Snowflower Fortifying Serum.

It’s supercharged with phytoactive antioxidants (catechins) and niacinamide (vitamin B3). Vitamin B3 is highly versatile and can assist with multiple skin concerns including skin sensitivity, pigmentation, blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles.

The time we are asleep is the best time for when our skin has to repair and recuperate. What is your overnight routine like? 

At night, I use our Tasman Pepper Soothing Cleanser as it’s very effective at removing daily makeup and impurities, yet gentle enough to use around the eyes. Next, I apply our Cloudberry Revitalising Serum, which contains beta-carotene, and a skin-identical non-irritating vitamin A, suitable for sensitive skin. Twice a week, I’ll use our Charcoal Detoxifying Mask as a 2-in-1 mask and cleanser, especially during those evenings when I need some me time!

What does conscious beauty mean to you?

For me, it’s about awareness of what we ingest and use, and how it impacts us, the people, animals and environment around us. Embracing green practices and sustainable farming are the future to preserving the resources of this beautiful planet for ourselves and our future generations.

“There is a misconception that all natural or organic ingredients are safe by default and always good for our skin. This is not always the case.”

Images courtesy of Eight Brook