GROWING up on a farm in Broke had a subtle impact on Emma Summerhayes’ career.
“You don’t realise it at the time, but we had animals so it was nice to see them treated well and mum was always an advocate of all-natural, which was also an influence,” says the 29-year-old.
That ethos for respecting the environment came full circle when Ms Summerhayes recently opened her natural beauty practice Slow Skin Co. It is a part of the Newcastle Health Collective in Queen Street, Cooks Hill, which is home to a range of health practitioners.
“I really like that it's a holistic approach to health here. For me a lot of skin health is also looking internally, so it's great to have that connection and be able to refer to a naturopath, for example,” she says, adding that counsellors at the practice also assist in mental health wellness.
Ms Summerhayes worked in hospitality after school before studying to be a makeup artist. As she studied, she also gained an appreciation of the skin’s interaction with the body and skin education, leading her to switch to beauty therapy. Prior to opening her business, Ms Summerhayes worked at Elle Bache in Charlestown.
With Slow Skin Co, her focus is “low-tox, low footprint beauty”.
While on the surface it looks like a normal luxury beauty salon - offering facials, brow waxes and more – it operates with a conscience.
“We are all about low-toxicity products and low waste," Ms Summerhayes says, adding she has created a space where people can be educated in skin health and choose a greener lifestyle.
Slow Skin Co stocks locally-made, small batch products, meaning they are made once ordered, reducing excess waste. The products are made fresh with no preservatives and usually packaged in glass, with consideration given to mileage to consider the environmental impact.
Unnecessary waste products such as disposable facial wipes and single-use applicators have been replaced with recyclable alternatives, such as bamboo cotton tips and compostable tissues. Towels are made from fair trade, organic cotton.
For anything that could not be done away with, the Sustainable Salons initiative steps in to collect the waste and give it a new life, while raising money for food rescue charity OzHarvest.
"I want to change the perception of the beauty industry and show people you can still have a luxury facial, without using high toxin products that are mass produced and create a large amount of waste,” Ms Summerhayes says
She researches products to ensure authenticity, saying there is a lot of misleading information around the so-called “natural” products.