JULIETTE WINTER TALKS WITH CARLA OATES, THE BEAUTY CHEF, ABOUT FERMENTED FOODS AND HOW DIGESTION AFFECTS THE SKIN.
arla Oates’s interest in the power of plants began as a hobby and became a successful career. Based in Bondi and the founder of the skincare and inner beauty brand, The Beauty Chef, Carla spends as much time connecting with nature as her busy schedule allows. “I love Sydney but I also appreciate how easy it is to leave the hustle and bustle with so many great places so close,” she says. “I like bushwalking — the south coast is a favourite, as my family has a holiday house in Kiama. It’s so beautiful there, the best of both worlds — you have both the beach and the country.” Carla’s curiosity about plant-based ingredients blossomed while working as a beauty editor on body+soul, a weekly supplement in News Corp newspapers, 15 years ago. After researching the benefits of looking after your skin with active plant compounds, Carla began experimenting with her own beauty recipes using organic food from the kitchen and fresh herbs from her garden. “I firmly believe that natural skincare is super active,” she says. “Plants are rich in antioxidants that protect them from the environment and when we consume or apply these plants, they transfer many of the same benefits. Plants are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, alpha hydroxyl acids, and enzymes; they are cleansing, anti-inf lammatory, anti-bacterial and regenerative. We have a synergy with plant life that can’t be replicated by synthetic chemicals.” Demand for her homemade skincare balm and inner beauty powders — both rich in fermented ingredients — f lourished alongside The Beauty Chef ’s core philosophy: digestive health as the key to radiant skin. “Our gut is where 70 per cent of the immune system lies,” she says. “It’s where we metabolise hormones, make detoxifying enzymes and make nutrients, and so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact on our skin.” Ideally, it’s best to consume a range of fermented foods, as each has different strains of good bacteria. Sauerkraut, kefir (a fermented milk drink) and kombucha (fermented tea) for example, all have their own particular organisms. Although the skin is the body’s largest organ, it’s also the last to receive vital feeding — if you’re nutrient-def icient or have a sluggish digestive system that’s not absorbing them effectively, your skin is the f irst to miss out, leaving it looking lacklustre. “There is more and more scientif ic research showing the ways in which digestive health and probiotics play a huge role in skin health,” Carla says. Whether she’s bushwalking or strolling by the sea, Carla’s inspiration for better health and beautiful skin stems from the natural wonders around her. “We don’t need to make super-duper synthetic ingredients in a lab,” she says. “Fermentation turns natural ingredients into super natural ingredients — active, balanced and rejuvenating.”