Eleanor Pendleton On What Makes Australian Beauty Unique – a-beauty
The Edit / Lifestyle
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When Eleanor Pendleton left her job as a Beauty Editor for InStyle Australia magazine back in 2015 to relaunch and reimagine her personal blog Gritty Pretty into one of Australia’s first-ever digital magazines, she never could have predicted how it would grow into the global success it is today. She has readers all over the world and has featured international celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian and Shay Mitchell, along with Australian beauty royalty like Elle Macpherson and Samantha Harris on the covers and pages of her Gritty Pretty Magazine.

Through her many years as a Beauty Editor, Eleanor has been lucky enough to try the best beauty products worldwide. However, a lot of her all-time favourites are homegrown. But her approach to beauty is all about balance. She mixes international products with a-beauty brands, and while she gravitates towards beauty that doesn’t come at a cost to the earth, her routine is made up of both natural skincare and chemical formulas. 

We spoke to Eleanor to find out what she thinks makes Australian beauty so unique, and asked her to walk us through her own beauty routine and go-to Australian beauty products.

What is a-beauty?

“I would say Australian beauty doesn’t have a single face. Australian beauty is multicultural, unapologetically itself and also has a willingness to celebrate natural beauty and all definitions of that. I think there is no single definition of what Australian beauty is and that’s honestly what makes it unique.”

The Australian beauty difference 

“I think what we do really well - whether it’s because we are a giant island - as a continent we have a really deep connection with nature. I think that’s just a part of our lifestyle; as an Australian culture we are naturally connected to the ocean, the beach, to the rainforest; and I think because of that we place value on things like quality natural ingredients.”

International interest in a-beauty

“Upwards of 70% of our Gritty Pretty readership is Australian and based in Australia. Our second audience demographic is the US and we’ve definitely found that Americans have taken a huge interest in Australian beauty brands. For example, Kora Organics, Alpha-H, even Byron Bay brands like Eye of Horus, all the way to your start-up brands like Bangn Body - we’ve noticed that our audience are really interested in their ranges."

The good to come out of COVID

“What I’m loving seeing is this burst of creativity that has come out of COVID with so many start-up brands like Arithmos and Maaemo who both come out of Melbourne; there’s Biologi up in Byron; there are so many brands and I’m loving seeing I guess the Australian beauty industry really boom because we’ve always had the talent and creativity, and we’ve always had the ingredients, and now that we’ve got really great manufacturers and technology we’re starting to see some exciting things come out of here.”

Eleanor’s on-the-go morning routine

“My skincare is quick, I’ve got that down pat. I can get it done in five minutes. I’m guilty of doing my makeup in the car. When the car is stationary, of course! And I can also do my makeup in less than five minutes, so really my morning routine doesn't take that long. 

In the mornings, I’ll put my essence on first then throw on my vitamin C straight away while my skin is still damp - so I’m quite quick to do those two steps in succession. While I’m letting my vitamin C serum sink in I’ll brush my teeth, then I’ll put on my hyaluronic serum and give that a minute - maybe I’ll go grab my son Banjo something or get him changed - and then I’ll come back and put my moisturiser on, put on my son’s shoes, and then sunscreen will be my last step.” 

Ride-or-die beauty products

The skincare she can't live without

“Definitely an SPF 50, ideally tinted so then I can forgo foundation. I would need a vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid serum, a chemical exfoliant… oh it’s basically going to be everything!... and a physical exfoliant. I love a body oil that can be applied in the shower because I feel like sometimes we’re too busy, or time-poor, or lazy, and the idea of getting out of the shower and applying a body lotion from top to toe - I might not always have time for so a body oil is a good hack for that.” 

OUR A-BEAUTY ALTERNATIVES: Cinch Sleep + GlowMAAEMO Fruit Enzyme Refiner, Biologi Vitamin C Face Serum.

"I could live without mascara but I’d definitely need a brow gel."

Eleanor Pendleton, Gritty Pretty founder

Eleanor's makeup must-haves

“A tinted lip balm - I would say I wear one every single day - a tinted brow gel, and a cream blush and illuminator duo.”

OUR A-BEAUTY ALTERNATIVES: Salt by Hendrix Lip Butter; Eye of Horus Dual Brow PerfectorEre Perez Carrot Colour Pot

The secret to good skin

“I think the first thing is that you really need to respect your skin. I think treating it with respect both internally and externally is important for great skin. I try to think about the foods that I put in my body and question ‘is this going to nourish me?’ That said, I’m still very much into my wine and hot chips, but I do think about whether what I eat is going to be good for me. And the same thing for my products: I want them to be efficacious and active and deliver on what they are going to do. I don’t necessarily believe in a 100% natural certified organic skincare routine. I love chemicals. I think some chemicals can be fantastic, if not more sustainably manufactured too. I like having a skincare routine that’s balanced and harnesses both of those things.”

A fragrance for every mood 

“I have like 100 fragrances. You know what it’s like when you’re a beauty editor - you can’t have just one signature scent. There are so many good ones and I think fragrance is so dependent on your mood, and the weather, and where you’re going. I could never be a signature scent woman. I respect anyone who is, but that’s just not me. I love changing my fragrance every single day and it’s always to suit the weather, or where I’m going, or what I’m wearing. 

I would probably say I’m not a really big fan of sweet florals. I’m probably more drawn to those interesting sort of fragrances; what’s considered more gender-neutral scents. Sometimes I love a really warm and woody and spicy fragrance which would perhaps be considered more masculine. But equally I might wear a fragrance the next day that smells like clean linen sheets. The one fragrance style I avoid is extra sweet florals and perhaps some of the really citrus fragrances.”

A newfound outlook on beauty

“I would say the most significant change that I’m finding as I get older, and perhaps now that I’m a mother, is I am more aware of the footprint I’m leaving on the earth. So I’m naturally gravitating more towards brands who have a wider ethos that invests in things like sustainability, recyclable packaging, circular packaging; I find that when a brand is able to offer that to me as a consumer - not just a beauty editor - I’m more likely to be invested in them. I just think that’s something I’m becoming more and more drawn to as a person.”

One to watch

“While they’re not Australian, I am very excited about Emma Lewisham (a New Zealand brand). I just think what they are doing in that space - the sustainable skin space - they’re really setting a new standard. I think that their beauty circle program, what they’re doing in terms of refillable packaging, and again this idea of circular beauty, I really think they’re paving the way and I’ve definitely noticed other brands following suit which I think is fantastic.”

Check out part 2 of our interview with Eleanor where she shares her curated list of favourite Australian beauty products.


  • Gritty Pretty / @gritty_pretty
  • Maaemo Organic / @maaemo_organic
  • Eye of Horus / @eyeofhoruscosmetics
  • Emma Lewisham / @emmalewisham

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