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Bare Essentials Feature: Beauty From The Bush

posted on Jul 15, 2009
Australian Native Botanical Skincare

It has been said, “If you are from this land, you are of this land”, and for many people simply saying the name Australia is enough to conjure feelings of awe and inspiration for this majestic country. It’s not just the dramatic geographic diversity and unique raw beauty that moves us, but it’s also the mysterious and ancient cultural history of our indigenous inhabitants, the Australian Aborigines.

Australian Aborigines date back around 60,000 years and are considered to be one of the most ancient races in the world. Throughout their time, the Aboriginal people managed to survive an Ice Age (around 20, 000 years ago), and nomadically lived off the land utilising the resources of their local native plants for food, medicine, healing, shelter and ceremonies.

Respect and protection for the land, animals and plant life was not just an environmental platitude to the Aboriginal people, but was essential to sustainable living practices and survival for thousands of years.

“We don't own the land, the land owns us”

“The Land is my mother, my mother is the land”

The Aboriginal Dreamtime tells the story of how the world and all of life began and explains the Aboriginal belief in the intricate, eternal and unbreakable connection that exists between people, animals, the earth and the spirit world.

Today we are only just beginning to learn about and understand the rich and diverse history of native botanical knowledge that was passed on from generation to generation of Aboriginal people for thousands of years. The unique properties and benefits of many Australian Native Plants are still relatively unknown and hard to find. However today we are starting to incorporate these Native ingredients from our own backyard into our skin care products to nourish, protect, soothe and beautify the skin.

While the health and healing benefits of using Native Botanical ingredients are great to help nourish and nurture our skin, there are also other major benefits to the economy and environment. Using Australian Native Botanical ingredients also helps to promote and support business for local Australian farmers and producers, plus it stimulates the growth of Native plants.

At the same time, buying produce that has been grown and packaged in Australia greatly reduces our ecological footprint by eliminating transportation of overseas ingredients and products.

Australian Native Essential Oils

While many of us are familiar today with common essentials oils such as Lavender, Chamomile and Rose Oil, the below essential oils are indigenous to Australia and their benefits have been experienced amongst the Aboriginal culture for thousands of years.

Australian Blue Cypress (Callitris intratropica)
Common Name: Northern Australian Cypress Pine

Found predominantly in the Northern Territory, the trees are medium to large sized (15-45m) with highly fragrant wood, bark and leaves which are used in the oil extraction process. Australian Aborigines used Australian Blue Cypress oil for thousands of years for its powerful skin moisturizing properties and to protect, relax and soothe their skin from the harsh desert climate. Australian Blue Cypress Oil may be inhaled directly, used in an oil burner or rubbed onto the body in a carrier oil. It is ideal for use in a bath or massage. As the oil is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing, it is regarded as being very gentle and suitable for all skin types.

Kunzea Essential Oil (Kunzea ambigua)
Common Name: Tick bush, White Cloud, Duncane Kunzea.

Found predominantly in cool coastal areas of southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, the Kunzea plant is a tall shrub with white or pink flowers.

Kunzea ambigua oil is considered as one of our national treasures when it comes to Australian essential oils and was used by the native Aborigines to relieve red, dry and irritated skin conditions and to relieve muscular pain and tightness.

Kunzea ambigua plants were given the common name “tick bush” as native animals are often found sleeping underneath the plants to seek relief from ticks and other parasites. It is thought that Kunzea oil can assist the release of deep-seated physical and emotional pain that has been suppressed for a long time and works really well with Australian Sandalwood for this purpose.

Kunzea ambigua Oil can be used in an oil burner, or blended with a carrier oil and rubbed into the skin in a massage.

Fragonia™Oil (Agonis fragrans)
Common Name: Coarse Tea Tree (by the cut-flower industry)

Found on the South Coast of Western Australia, the Agonis fragrans plant is a small shrub with fragrant white foliage.

Fragonia™ Oil has been used by indigenous Australians for years for its beautiful flowery fragrance and its analgesic and expectorant properties. Similar to that of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils, Fragonia™has shown to be effective at relieving muscle and joint pain and in relieving the effects of colds and flu. Considered to be a very special oil by native Aborigines, Fragonia™oil was thought to balance and unblock emotions and be a ‘tonic for the soul.
Fragonia Oil ™is mild and safe on most skin types and is ideal for use in oil burners, inhaled in hot water for colds and flu, blended with a carrier oil for massage, and for use as a room freshener or deodoriser.

Australian Bush Extracts

Quandong trees are found mainly in arid and semi-arid areas of all Australian States and normally grows to 2-3 metres in height featuring dense, leathery leaves and the bright red edible Quandong fruit. Due to its high vitamin C content (even higher than oranges), the Quandong fruit was an essential food source for native Aborigines and was also used for its medicinal properties to treat skin sores, boils and aid in the affects of rheumatism. In particular, Quandong extract was well known for its anti bacterial properties. Early settlers used the Quandong fruit to save many people from scurvy.

Lilly Pilly
Lilly Pilly is a summer flowering evergreen shrub, belonging to the myrtle family Myrtaceae. It has smooth waxy leaves and dark red berries with a clove-like fragrance and today is commonly used for hedges and shrubbery in gardens.

Native Aborigines traditionally used Lilly Pilly for its great healing and anti bacterial properties and ate the berries when in season for the vitamin C content. The Lilly Pilly has good astringent properties that improve firmness of the skin, while its high vitamin C and fruit acid content create great anti-ageing effects to keep skin looking radiant and youthful.

Kakadu Plum

The Kakadu Plum is a small to medium sized flowering plant in the family Combretaceae, and is found widespread throughout the tropical woodlands from northwestern Australia to eastern Arnhem Land. Also known as ‘Billygoat Plum’, the Kakadu Plum fruit has the highest known vitamin C concentration of any single natural food source in the world.
For thousands of years native Aborigines used the Kakadu Plum extensively as a food source due to its high vitamin C content and also for traditional medicine and healing on the skin.

Australian Native Botanical Skincare
Although Native Botanical ingredients have been used for thousands of years by indigenous Aborigines, today we are still only beginning to utilise the powerful healing benefits in our skincare routines. These Native essential oils and extracts are not easy to find for personal use and even less is known about how to incorporate them into conventional cosmetic products.

New Directions Australia has recently launched a new unisex, Australian Native Botanical Skincare range, featuring each of these Australian Native essentials oils and extracts, plus other all-natural Australian Botanical ingredients and essential oils.

The Australian Native Botanical Skincare range includes face, body and hair products ready for personal use and available also for budding entrepreneurs looking to start their own private label of skincare products.

The main ingredients used in the Australian Native Botanical Skincare range are sourced from local Australian farmers and producers.

For more information, visit New Directions Australia online at or call on 1800 637 697.

Breakaway Box – Did You Know?
• In native Aboriginal culture, the gathering of plant leaves, fruit and seeds was undertaken by the women and children who would often walk for miles in search of specific plants.

• While collecting leaves, bark, fruits and seeds, the elder women would pass on cultural knowledge, instructions and wisdom to the younger women in “women’s business” teachings which were forbidden to men.

• To indigenous Aborigines, the sudden arrival and mating habits of native animals and birds were indications of the upcoming seasonal availability of fruits and plants and the onset of weather changes.

• When the early settlers first arrived in Australia, it is believed approximately 250 different native dialects were in use across the country. Each person within tribal groups was fluent in up to 10 different dialects.

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