The Australian Beauty Industry: Then & Now – a-beauty
The Edit / Lifestyle
Next Article

If anyone knows the Aussie beauty industry, it’s Sarah Tarca and Sherine Youssef. Beauty editors for well over a decade, the formidable duo were formerly the beauty team at marie claire, and regularly pen articles for the likes of Gritty Pretty, Broadsheet, body+soul and Primer.

In November last year, they joined forces to launch gloss etc, an Australian-first, subscriber-only beauty newsletter. The free, weekly edit resembles a digital beauty news page, and is filled with only the products they have personally tried, tested and loved – just like the WhatsApp group you have with your friends and the products you’d recommend to your mum.

Here, they share a little about how the Australian beauty industry has changed over the course of their careers.


Sherine: "I think Aussies have always done sunscreen really well, and SunSense would be one of the first products I can remember purchasing/being loyal to – I was obviously born to be a beauty editor with that level of sun safety-ness."

Sarah: "I wish I could claim that I too was a Slip Slop Slap cheerleader, but alas, no. I was always about the makeup first (teenage Sarah did not care about future Sarah’s hyper pigmented skin), but this skin recklessness did leave me open to discovering perhaps one of the OG A-Beauty brands: Australis. I lived for the 48-shade colour pyramid, even if I had zero places to wear seven shades of purple eyeshadow (or any eyeshadow for that matter). It was probably fitting then, that when I started my beauty editing career at Girlfriend magazine back in 2006, that Australis was one of the Aussie brands I regularly wrote about and championed. They say you never forget your first love…"

Sherine: "Australis! Yes! The gateway A-Beauty brand for many women of a certain age. Oh, that reminds me of Poppy King. I have a very clear memory of going to my local Grace Bros department store (Myer was called Grace Bros back then) and buying a brick red Poppy lipstick. I felt like such a grown-up."

Sarah: "OMG I forgot about Poppy. I saved SO hard for my first pot of Poppy 'Shine' gloss. It was literally the stickiest gloss ever. If your hair made your way to your lips it was there to stay."

Sherine: "When I started beauty editing many moons ago, it was for Madison magazine (RIP), so obviously my experience was a *little* different to Sarah’s audience (more chic and natural, less pimples and Lipsmacker). The first A-Beauty brand that I recall loving (and still do!) was Sodashi. I can't remember if I was introduced to it in a spa or via a press kit, but I remember being so taken with the really luxe formulas and packaging. Everything smelt so delicious and it was really hydrating, and just a very pleasurable experience. For me, it’s one of the icons of A-Beauty."

Sarah: "Sherine was actually the one who introduced me to Sodashi when we worked at marie claire. I was so shocked by how a 'natural' brand had made something so luxe and also effective. It’s still one of my favourite brands, despite being like five years late to the party."

Sherine: "Ere Perez is also one I remember from early on. I was so intrigued by the ingredients she was using and the story of her products and formulas."

Sarah: "Same! The packaging was nowhere near as chic as it is now, but she was really at the forefront of the whole 'green beauty' movement, and it was one of the first 'green' brands I tried that I actually genuinely loved. I have their Beetroot Lip Tint and Oat Milk Foundation in my kit."

Sherine: "Probably the most ‘cult’ A-Beauty product from early on was Lucas' Papaw. Whenever I travelled overseas for work, it would always come up – all the international beauty press loved it."

Sarah: "They were and probably still are obsessed. I never got it myself. Lanolips on the other hand...! For me, the launch of Lanolips in 2009 really signalled the beginning of the next phase of A-Beauty. A simple idea executed beautifully, excellent ingredients, a focus on natural beauty, and of course a damn good product."


Sherine: "I think A-Beauty has become so much more than an ointment and a basic sunscreen. We're seeing more cutting edge formulas and innovations (Ultra Violette Skinscreens, Rationale skincare) and we're even leading the way with inner beauty (The Beauty Chef, and the new Vida Glow hyaluronic supplements look promising). I think what A-Beauty does so well is blend the 'natural' and the 'science', and that fits in with our approach and Aussie lifestyle – effortless, no worries, easy but effective (which is incidentally our gloss etc ethos, too)."

Sarah: "I agree! We have some incredible brains here in Oz, and what’s coming out of our country is amazing (see everyone Sherine name-checked above). I mean, look at Carla Oates – she basically created an entire category with The Beauty Chef in 2012 (Glow Powder is one of my ride-or-dies) and now almost every brand seems to have an ingestible. I think maybe 10 years ago the perception of A-Beauty overseas was just kind of, 'oh cute, look at that outback ointment', but now it’s synonymous with quality, especially on the ingredient front, and this is something to be so proud of. I especially love that Aussie brands are starting to use more Australian native ingredients, like Kakadu plum. I think it also helps that we have incredible, recognisable brand ambassadors too, like Zoe Foster Blake with Go-To, and of course that we have excellent products (even with my bias I know this to be true)."

Sherine: "It is the truth. We really do, and I think the best example of this is our sunscreens. I'm a sunscreen nut, and of course sunscreen is so important for Australians, and local companies produce arguably the best sunscreens in the world. I personally only purchase sunscreens sold here because I know they've passed our infamously stringent testing."

Sarah: "What Sherine said. Seriously, name a better face sunscreen than Ultra Violette’s Queen Screen. I’ll wait."

For more Australian beauty product recommendations and insider tips from Sarah and Sherine, follow them on Instagram @gloss.etc and sign up to their weekly newsletter - you won't be sorry!


  • Lanolips / @lanolips
  • The Beauty Chef / @thebeautychef
  • Ultra Violette / @ultravioletteau

Continue Reading