At just 22 years old Hillary Wilcox is a qualified Naturopath, Herbalist and practitioner of Nutritional Medicine. She is also the founder and creator of certified organic, Australian made and owned skincare brand, MAAEMO. Quite the list of accomplishments at such a young age!
In the week leading up to International Women’s Day, we spoke to this incredible young woman about her journey so far and why she believes less is more when it comes to your skin.
What lead you to start your skincare range?
I started MAAEMO when I was studying my naturopathy degree and was learning all about the health implications caused by the use of toxic cosmetic ingredients. I came to realise that so many brands on the market (including brands I used myself!) contained extensive amounts of carcinogens, endocrine distributors and toxins. I can recall looking at the label of one of my products and I could pronounce a third of the ingredients that were listed.
At this point I had also just started to see patients at the student clinic, and some of them were presenting with skin conditions. When I researched the market there were hardly any options for Australian made, certified organic skincare products that contained all of the incredible botanicals I knew were great for the skin. When I couldn’t find anything I felt like I could recommend or use myself, I decided to draw upon the knowledge I had of nutrition, herbal medicine and skin health to start up my own range of skincare products.
Image Credit Michaela Taylor
Why is it so important we’re just as careful with what we put on our skin as it is what we put in our body?
It often goes unrecognised, but the skin is actually one of our bodies larger organs. Everything that we apply to our skin is absorbed into our blood stream and becomes distributed throughout our bodies other organs. A good way to compare this concept is if you think about a smoker who uses a nicotine patch on their skin. The nicotine is absorbed through the skins surface, enters the blood stream, travels throughout the body and stops the cigarette craving. If a nicotine patch can do this, image what kind of effect years and years of applying chemical ridden moisturisers can have!
I think health is something that should always be addressed holistically, which means that it should be assessed from all aspects. Eating a healthy diet is a critical part of being healthy, but there are also many other factors that contribute to our overall health, including lifestyle choices such as your skincare routine.
I always say that if you wouldn’t eat something that contained a long list of unidentifiable ingredients, then you shouldn’t be putting them on your skin.
Image Credit Madelene McGuinness
Your skincare range consists of just three products, a simple, easy skincare regime. What are the benefits of a less if more approach?
The cosmetic industry is definitely a crowded one. There is so many different types of products and ingredients that I think it can become quite overwhelming for consumers to navigate. I’m a big advocate for the less is more approach and for me it’s all about enhancing the skin’s natural state with a range of high quality core products.
Many young women in their 20s are unsure what kind of products they should be using on their skin, and what the right age is to start using ‘anti ageing’ skincare, what is your recommendation?
I personally don’t like the term “Anti aging” because I think it makes ageing seem like a negative thing, which it’s not! Ageing is a natural process and something that shouldn’t be stopped or interfered with. I believe that damage prevention is a better concept, which is something we should be thinking about at all ages.
Skin damage is generally a bigger concern for older woman because it does become more visible with age, but this damage can take place at any age due to things like exposure to the sun, environmental pollutants or poor diet and lifestyle choices. The best ingredients to target skin damage prevention are antioxidants, which neutralise free radical damage. A good way to explain how these work is if you think of how a banana goes brown quickly once you peel it, but If you put a little squeeze of lemon juice on the banana, it stops the banana from oxidising and becoming brown. This process is due to the high levels of antioxidants in the lemon juice. Each of the three products in the MAAEMO range are high in antioxidant rich ingredients because I believe they have an essential role in supporting the skin’s health.
You’re only 22 years old and have created this incredible brand! What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs with a business idea who aren’t quite sure how to take that first step to starting out?
I think the hardest part for a lot of people, especially young people, is just having the confidence to believe in yourself and your abilities. People have incredible ideas every day that often get dismissed because we think they’re out of reach. My advice would be to not discount anything because you think you’re too young or you don’t think you know enough about business to start one. The best way to learn how to start up a business is by doing it! Start by putting in a lot of time and effort into researching all aspects of your market and your consumer. Understanding who your consumer is and what they want and expect from your brand is a really important factor in ensuring that your product is well received and stands out in the market.
Feature Image Credit Madelene McGuinness