Do you cleanse your face properly? For so many of us, the answer is probably no (and it doesn’t help when you have a small child at your feet trying to get your attention). Which is why we like to keep our skincare regime simple and effective, and also why we opt for oil-based cleansers. Enter Smoosh, a fuss-free, natural skincare range based on the hydrating power of oils, created by Sydney mum of three and teacher Mim Gascoigne...
“Cleansing is such an important step in your routine. If the cleansing step is too harsh and dries out the skin, you are a few steps back and you’ve only just stepped onto the starting block,” she says, referring to that feeling of dryness that can come after cleansing if you’ve stripped all the hydration out of your skin. She set about solving that skincare dilemma. Smoosh’s Silky Cleansing Oil, contains six organic and natural plant oils, including camellia, peach, jojoba, watermelon and passionfruit and leaves your skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated (the opposite to the aforementioned dry, tight state).
Next in the Smoosh skincare regime is a serum, and there are three in the range, so there’s something for all skin types. “Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how skin is behaving and its specific needs,” she says. “I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to skin during the different phases life throws our way.” As for what serum actually does (i.e. how it’ll help us glow), she explains that a serum is that extra step after you cleanse and before you moisturise, that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. If your skin still feels dry after you apply serum, Mim advises you to keep your skin damp when you apply: “our oil serums absorb quickest when skin is damp. after cleansing or misting is a great time to smoosh. Three to four drops massaged into damp skin should leave skin supple, bouncy and moisturised never greasy.”
Her passion for plant-based skincare products came from her mother, who is a GP and studied naturopathy. “She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications,” says Mim. And as for the name Smoosh, it was inspired by the feeling you get when you see chubby baby thighs. “You really want to ‘smoosh’ them,” says Mim. “Whatever age you are, healthy skin has that beautiful glow and softness that brings about the desire to touch and smoosh it.”
Here we talk to Mim about how she got her business off the ground (and the ups and downs of that journey), the key ingredients in her products and why your skin will love them, practical time management tips for the working mother, and most importantly, how to Smoosh.
The Smoosh range features three serums which all work in different ways and an oil cleanser. To shop, go to smooshskin.com
There are so many cleansers in the market, why did you decide to launch an oil cleanser and what are the benefits of oil cleansers?
So many cleansers, yet I still felt like I hadn’t found my perfect one! Personally, having such sensitive skin I really wanted to create an oil cleansing blend that was free from essential oils and fragrance, yet was also light and silky enough for all skin types. Cleansing is such an important step in your routine. If the cleansing step is too harsh and dries out the skin, you are a few steps back and you’ve only just stepped onto the starting block. A cleanser that is gentle yet thorough is crucial. This is where an oil cleanser shines, it has the ability to cleanse away the most stubborn makeup and sunscreen yet leave your skin soft, hydrated and your skin barrier healthy and intact. I also had customers asking for me to bring one onto the line, so I wanted to provide one that looked after their needs too.
What skin types would this product suit? For example, should oilier skins steer clear?
All skin types can benefit from our Silky Cleansing Oil, each plant oil in the blend has been thoughtfully chosen to provide just the right amount of slip for a beautifully smooth massage and cleansing ritual, without overloading the skin. Once massaged in and gently removed with lukewarm water and a soft cloth, your skin will be perfectly cleansed, super smooth, nourished and glowing. No greasy oil slick in sight.
You offer three serums. Firstly, what role does serum play in our skincare?
A serum is that little step that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. Our oil serums can be used alone or added to your moisturiser. Luxurious, potent and brimming with goodness each of the three oil serums is loaded with omega fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants to help nurture and bring about healthy and glowing skin.
What is the difference between the three serums you offer – and how did you settle on three?
I settled on three, as I feel within the trilogy, all skin types can find a blend to support them. Whatever skin season they are having. Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how the skin is behaving and its specific needs. I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to the skin during the different phases life throws our way.
Radiance oil serum is a nectar-like oil serum, deeply moisturising so wonderful for very dry and/or mature skin. It turns around lacklustre skin really quickly and it’s also wonderful in cold windy weather. Soothing Balance oil serum is for all skin types, especially those prone to breakouts, it’s silky and light yet still provides beautiful moisture. It’s calming on inflammation and brings clarity to confused skin. Nourish oil serum is a satiny, berry packed oil serum, it gives dewy hydration, nourishment and is really rejuvenating for normal to dry skin types. It’s a bit like a super berry smoothie in a face oil!
Natural skincare has always been part of your life – tell me how your mother influenced your skincare decisions/approach to your skin?
My mum is a GP and also studied naturopathy so I was surrounded by tinctures and natural skincare products from a very young age. She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications. She was also instrumental in teaching me about the benefits of nutritious healthy food, the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle and how both can impact skin health for the better. She was into bone broth long before it was trendy!
Skincare has changed a lot over the year, what are some ingredients or products which have stood the test of time?
I think face oils have been around for a long time but have definitely become more mainstream which is great as I think they are really transformative. Oil and balm cleansers have been used by actors and stage performers for decades to remove heaving makeup so their credentials are pretty good too. Weleda Skin Food is a great classic as is Dr Hauschka Rose Cream. Lanolin is another ingredient that has stood the test of time, Lanolips 101 Ointment, is such a great formula. Glycerin is a bit of an underrated ingredient, it’s been around for ages and is so healing for dry skin. It seems to be having a bit of a resurgence though!
What are the hero ingredients in your products?
This is a hard one; we source 26 of the highest quality organic and natural plant oils and create all our formulas in small batches so they are fresh and vibrant. They all play an important role, but special mention to the luminous coral red of the organic Rosehip fruit oil, and the dark vivid green of our virgin Hemp seed oil, however, they are all such a delight to blend and work with.
Where did the name Smoosh come from?
It comes from the desire you get when you see plump baby thighs… you really want to ‘smoosh’ them. Whatever age you are, healthy skin has that beautiful glow and softness that brings about the desire to touch and smoosh it. Our products are also about the ritual of massaging or smooshing your skin, a great act of self-care and relaxation at the end of a long day or sleepless night.
Where do so many of us go wrong when it comes to skincare?
I think trying too many new products, all at once can often send skin into a spin. I speak from experience in this area! Adding one new product to your skincare routine at a time and using it for a few days before adding the next, is the best way to see if a product is working for you. Also, when using actives like retinol and acid toners it makes you even more susceptible to sunburn so it’s so important to practice good sun safety.
What lead you to launch your own business – was there a defining moment where you made the decision?
I’d thought about it for many years, however, once I started having babies it took a back seat. Once I had my third child, I somehow felt ready to start a new chapter and had the confidence to jump in. I’ve always been naturally driven by creative projects and have a genuine passion for skincare so it helps to have a real love for what I’m doing.
The beginning is often a stumbling block for so many women when it comes to launching their own business. Where did you start and how quickly did you launch?
Much of the product line is a culmination of decades of my own research and experience so developing the products has taken years. However, once I decided to go for it, building the brand and business itself, took about six months to solidify. I drew on a bit of knowledge I had from some marketing subjects I did at university. My husband works in marketing so he offered to give me a framework to build the business from i.e. key steps to follow in launching the business, which was very helpful.
What has been the most challenging part of starting a business?
The most challenging parts have been sourcing packaging, labelling and suppliers. Some of our oils have been very hard to source. Covid-19 social distancing and restrictions hit just as I was launching, which brought new challenges as many of our oils were suddenly out of stock. Lastly, being from outside the skincare business, it is a challenge to build brand awareness as a small start-up as it is a crowded market, so that is our biggest challenge right now.
What about the most rewarding?
Customer feedback. Seeing our customers’ skin transformations from our products. Having sensitive skin myself and dealing with eczema and more recently rosacea, I know how hard it can be to find a product that works and supports your skin. I genuinely love that we can help our customers get relief for their skin condition and attain healthy, happy skin.
How do you manage your time between your children and your business?
It is a constant juggle, especially as many of the aspects of starting a new business are completely new to me, so I feel like it takes me more time than the next person, I have to do more research and this comes with more frustration! I have three kids, 9, 7 and 2, so working with them around makes any task infinitely longer! When possible, I plan ahead and carve out pockets of time to work when they are otherwise engaged. I have moved into a casual teaching role which gives me more flexibility to work on the business too.
You teach year 12 children – what’s your advice to parents on how to parent their teenage children through a pandemic?
Be available as much as you can to touch base with them every day and chat about how they are doing. Some might love to chat at the end of the day or over breakfast or on a walk. Having this time everyday will allow you to troubleshoot any issues that might be cropping up and allow you to check-in and see how they are managing their assessments and classwork. Encouraging them to get regular exercise, this is hard during a lockdown, however, even getting fresh air and walking is really helpful. Keeping up their contact with friends is important for managing stress and simple meditations or mindfulness exercises using something like insight timer or the calm app, are also great stress busters. I’d also really encourage parents to reach out to a trusted teacher or the school counsellor about additional support if you feel your teen is much more anxious or sad than usual. There are a number of support systems teachers can put in place to help.