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Alex is the owner of Heartwood, a wellbeing and natural beauty retailer in Cottesloe, Western Australia. At the centre of Heartwood is a focus on natural, toxic-free skincare, fragrances and wellbeing products. Alex shares her take on sustainable sourcing, rare botanicals, switching to clean beauty and her own healing journey.
Rohr Remedy and Heartwood share a common ideal that products should do their best for the environment and the community, what do you look for in brands when measuring this?
We look for transparency when sourcing our brands. Being able to follow a brand’s supply chain - understanding where their ingredients are sourced, and who has been involved in bringing the products to life, is a great measure of ethical and quality standards.
What are your top three tips for moving to a clean beauty routine?
1. Get an expert opinion – visit a beauty therapist or skincare professional who is experienced with natural products and can work out the best natural actives for you
2. Try before you buy – try a few different cleansers, serums and moisturisers before purchasing and see for yourself, which ones work best for you. You may be amazed at the results – a friend of mine who just transitioned to a natural beauty routine has been asked if she’s getting botox!
3. I always tell customers that if they are hydrating, using plenty of anti-oxidants and sun protection, they are off to a great start
You have been through quite a lot personally, having a rare cancer diagnosis in the middle of starting Heartwood, what advice would you give to anyone on a healing journey?
My advice to anyone trying to overcome a health challenge is that you need to trust that you’re exactly where you need to be. By focusing on what was within my control, and what I was grateful for, the negative thoughts and energy would always peel away and I started to feel more well.
You mention using Boab and Rosehip with Vitamin E oil for healing scars (I hear you have a pretty rad one!) – what’s your advice on how best to care for scars?
I was lucky to have had help from various health professionals for my scar – including my Surgical Nurses, my GP and Naturopath, as well as a Women’s Health Physio. I am now so happy to pass on my knowledge and the products that have worked for me, to others who have scars.
It’s important not to interfere with your body’s own healing process by applying products too soon.
When you have been advised that it’s safe (for me it was two months after surgery), you should be keeping your scar very hydrated with nourishing oils, particularly those that are rich in Vitamin C and E – Jojoba, Rosehip, Apricot Kernel oils are all fantastic.
Make a habit of performing massage with long strokes and small circular movements twice a day, to break down the scar tissue and give you more mobility.
You have high standards for the products you stock at Heartwood, tell us a bit about these standards and why they are in place.
Our standards are in place so that our customers can have peace of mind that there are no harmful ingredients in their products.
We’ve tried to source brands that are transparent about what’s in their products and where their ingredients come from. There are so many wonderful ethical brands with fascinating provenance stories, that we are so proud to work with – including Rohr Remedy.
You source your Sandalwood from farms in north-west Australia, how important is it to be connected to the source of ingredients and their sustainability?
Many people are surprised to know that Indian sandalwood is on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because demand is so high and sandalwood forests have been depleted to the point that the Santalum album species is almost extinct in the wild.
Sustainable sandalwood farms, like the farms that supply Heartwood's sandalwood, are the future of the industry. They will help ensure that future generations can enjoy the luxury and benefits of sandalwood just as we do today, and the ancients did long before us.
As an ancient therapeutic ingredient, what makes Sandalwood so special?
Indian sandalwood is a potent healer and exudes the most beautiful woody-floral scent, which is why it’s considered to be as valuable as gold in many places.
Of the many varieties of sandalwood, Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) is the most prized. It holds the highest concentration of a-santalol and b-santalol, the chemical compounds responsible for sandalwood’s luxurious scent.
Within beauty and traditional medicine, it continues to be used for its brightening, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, astringent (pore-refining) and cooling properties.
When inhaled, sandalwood is also considered to be an aphrodisiac, can help you to focus, or to relax, and it acts as a fixative within fragrance.
How do you stay inspired?
Focusing on and having a deep appreciation for the people I love and the opportunities I have, keeps me inspired.
Do you have any favourite routines or rituals?
Without boring you to tears with my skincare ritual, I can tell you that when I’m going about my routine I am making a true effort to enjoy the process – it’s as a good as meditating.
It sounds cliché, but ritual is so powerful. Going about your skincare ritual is one of the only times of the day when you’re fully immersed in a mindful activity just for you.
Your favourite Rohr Remedy product?
The Rosalina Face Cleanser and Lily Pilly Moisturiser are a match made in heaven. Use these and your skin will be feeling and looking fresh, bright and healthy.
If you’re in Perth we recommend a visit to this beautiful space. You can find all Rohr Remedy products at Heartwood at 35a Napoleon Street Cottesloe, WA.