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Holly Spierings of Eye of Horus

The goddess of ancient Egyptian beauty on why eyes are the focal point of the brand’s signature look, the safe iron oxides used in lipsticks and the four ingredients that enable an eye product to stay smudge-proof and waterproof.

You’ve probably heard of the expression: “It’s all in the eyes.” For Byron Bay-based brand, Eye of Horus, this saying has a whole other elevated meaning. Founded by Holly Spierings, the brand takes inspiration from the ancient Egyptians — “the originators of beauty and mystique” — and offers a full range of eye makeup for those of you who want to make a bold statement through the windows to your soul.

The Eye of Horus is, in fact, the black kohl, hypnotic, almond or feline-inspired liner that the Egyptians — men and women — drew around their eyes. Believing that this was to imitate the gods, they also believed that the makeup offered protection from the elements — and even from evil. Makeup was, in a sense, a source of personal power. To that effect, Holly’s goal is to empower women to feel and look their boundless best and “embody divine beauty”.

Eyeliners, mascaras, eye pencils and brow brushes come in black and dark metallic shades, while palettes of nudes to rich blues and purple all come in mystical black and gold packaging bearing bewitching Egyptian symbols and motifs. It’s impressive how the aesthetic carries across every detail of each product, illuminating it amongst other colour cosmetics that lack a story and range.

All aside, Eye of Horus’ offerings are cruelty-free, paraben-free and vegan friendly. Made with precious waxes and oils like moringa oil, the formulas are infused with minerals for fabulous payoff, and the pigments are creamy and luscious to provide good glide. Handy details like a soft pad on pencil tips that act as a smudging applicator are the icing on the cake.

How did you come up with the concept of formulating cosmetics in the style of Egyptian goddesses and queens?

My previous experience in developing an organic Australian skincare range based on local and indigenous active and plant extracts gave me the experience and thrill of seeing what specialised ingredients can provide in the way of effectiveness and performance.

I have always had sensitivities to certain products and decided I needed to extend my past knowledge of product development into a mascara — one which would be great for sensitive eyes and also provide high performance. My studies in marketing and then naturopathy fuelled the desire to look at the originators of beauty, the ancient Egyptians. I learned that they used wax-based products around their eyes for beauty and protection.

Moringa oil, from the famed “tree of life” was also found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, and so I began developing the mascara from ingredients found back then which I see as still so relevant to us today.

The history, mythology and spirituality of the ancient Egyptians has always fascinated me and I wouldn’t want to see these ancient values for true beauty lost with time.

Eye of Horus Isis Sun Goddess Après Avant

“The history, mythology and spirituality of the ancient Egyptians has always fascinated me and I wouldn’t want to see these ancient values for true beauty lost with time.”

Tell us more about the Eye of Horus as a beauty statement and makeup look.

Our catch phrase is “Awaken the Goddess Within”. We believe all women embody divine beauty and with a little encouragement and assistance, they can achieve their best appearance; giving them boundless confidence.  An Eye of Horus girl accentuates her eye as they are the windows to the soul. The eyes have the ability to speak without words. Naturally luscious healthy lashes, framed brows, illuminating and natural glowing skin are the signature look of the Eye of Horus Goddess.

What is one thing you want people to know about the brand?

That our products balance natural elements with high performance and we use ingredients we believe to deliver the highest performance with the safest non-sensitising ingredients. Sometimes that means we need to use a synthetic ingredient but the performance is number one — testimony for the ongoing awards we win for best product in their respective categories.

Which oxides are commonly found in organic and/or natural lipsticks, and which types are wholesome and healthful, and which are not?

Iron oxides are compounds that naturally occur in nature. Think rust on iron that’s due to an oxidation process. Iron oxides are 100 per cent natural. However, iron oxides that occur in nature often contain traces of heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and cadmium. The US FDA ban natural oxides in cosmetic formulations, therefore safe iron oxides used in cosmetic products are an inorganic (synthesised) compound consisting of any one or combinations of synthetically prepared iron oxides. This is an example of natural not always being best.

Which Eye of Horus product are you most proud of, and why?

I believe we are still most proud of our Goddess Mascara. It is our hero product — the first I ever developed and it has won so many awards as best mascara, particularly in the UK.

Eye of Horus BIO lipstick Après Avant

The journey to get this product out was long and took so many reformulations until it was perfect. It’s still many of our customers’ must-have product. Subsequent products have taken just as long to perfect at times, as we are supreme perfectionists and we never put out a product until we are 120 per cent happy that it’s the very best we can offer. The balance between natural and high performance with our Goddess Mascara formula is perfect, which is why it still makes us so proud.

What are your thoughts on phenoxyethanol and how can it be potentially irritating for the skin and lungs?

Phenoxyethanol in the small dilutions within cosmetics as a harmless and efficient preservative are perfectly safe and we are happy and actually relieved to have such an ingredient available. There has been no evidence of irritation — in studies as well as in my personal experience — of the percentages used, which is around 0.5 per cent.

Previously we used one broad spectrum preservative, methylisothiazolinone (MI). It is a very effective broad spectrum preservative. However, it has now been banned in the EU. It is considered medium risk on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.

We could see it was an ingredient to watch and therefore worked with our manufacturer to source a combination of preservatives that were safe to replace methylisothiazolinone. It seems we needed four ingredients in combination to cover mould, yeast, fungus and bacteria.

Therefore, our formula has changed to reflect this safety issue. You will now see on the ingredient listing there is NO methylisothiazolinone but a list of preservatives, which include phenoxyethanol in combination that is most effective and the safest. We are happy that this alternative can assure of antimicrobial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal protection.

Eye of Horus Brow Après Avant

What are the natural ingredients that enable an eye product to stay smudge-proof and waterproof?

We have rice bran, beeswax, carnauba and candelilla wax. The combinations of a high wax formula assist with staying power and setting of the product.

“An Eye of Horus girl accentuates her eye as they are the windows to the soul.”

What are three other natural/organic makeup brands that you love and use?

Until we developed our own BIO Lipstick range, I loved Karen Murrell for their nourishing lipsticks;  The Jojoba Company from Australia for their oils, and La Mav for their Sweet Orange Foaming Cleanser.

What’s next?

A whole raft of new products! We have been working on these for more than 18 months and our upcoming releases will add more to the Brow and Lipstick lines; as well as introduce highlighters, skin preps and foundations! We aim to offer our Goddess the full cosmetic experience.

What does conscious beauty mean to you?

To be conscious is to be aware and awake. It’s about being aware of what’s in the products and the environmental impact in manufacturing processes of those products.

Natural, cruelty-free, plant-based products are becoming increasingly popular as many people actively choose to avoid chemicals and synthetic ingredients in their beauty products.

At Eye of Horus, we care about the earth and the impact of processing and we are conscious in being as eco-friendly as possible. As an example, our new lipstick containers are eco-friendly and recyclable. They are FSC paper approved. The plastic mechanism is cosmetic grade plastic and it is safe for recycling. The ingredients in our products are formulated where possible with all natural and organic ingredients. We strive to be as conscious from our choice of manufacture to product development to packaging.

Images courtesy of Eye of Horus