The clean beauty movement has defined the last few years. But this rise in 'organic' 'sustainable' and 'non-toxic' products has also come with a lot of misinformation, fear mongering and green washing. How do we know what's legitimate and what's not?
BAMBII was Tenielle Dunstall's answer to this. The online retailer curates the best in skin, hair and makeup from brands that are doing the work to formulate and manufacture in a way that's both effective and, for lack of a better word, clean. The project came from Tenielle's personal experiences; she wanted to use products that were made with natural ingredients, but had no idea where to start, what to believe, and what to buy. Also, the entire concept of 'clean beauty' is largely unregulated.
Not only does Dunstall have a tonne of advice for navigating clean beauty, but also a stellar beauty routine of her own. All of that and more below.
Tell me about the genesis for BAMBII Beauty — how did it start?
BAMBII Beauty stems from a deeply personal journey within the beauty industry, where my own experiences and those of close friends sparked a revelation. Throughout my career, I encountered numerous beauty products that not only failed to suit my skin but also carried hefty price tags. From breakouts to dryness and even headaches induced by fragrance, the realisation dawned that these issues were rooted in harsh chemical ingredients present in many mainstream and luxury beauty products.
Motivated by a desire for change, I delved into extensive research. The discoveries were alarming – the very products I had been using contained ingredients proven to be hormone and reproductive disruptors (see my research articles below). Friends undergoing fertility treatments were advised by their doctors to eliminate cosmetics with such chemicals, a revelation echoed by friends battling conditions like endometriosis and sensitive skin.
This became the catalyst for BAMBII Beauty. I recognised a gap in the market for highly effective, clean beauty products with advanced natural formulations. Beyond effectiveness, I wanted BAMBII to address critical issues that larger beauty brands often hid away. Sustainability was a paramount concern, not just in terms of packaging but also in the production process. Additionally, my deep-seated passion against animal testing, cultivated from my upbringing in country Victoria surrounded by animals, fuelled the commitment to stand against and bring a light to this practise.
How do you personally define clean/ethical beauty?
At BAMBII, the definition of natural/clean/ethical/sustainable beauty is not just a marketing claim but a meticulously crafted standard that reflects our commitment to transparency. One of my top priorities was to provide a clear and unambiguous definition for these terms, ensuring that they go beyond mere buzzwords.
To achieve this, I collaborated with Stacey Fraser, a cosmetic chemist, university lecturer, and industry expert, to develop the BAMBII model. Each product in our line up undergoes meticulous scrutiny under this model to ensure it aligns with our stringent standards of green-science-backed, ethical, and sustainable beauty.
Our definition of "clean" and “natural” embodies the principles of Green Science, also known as green chemistry, in the personal care industry. Green science entails the creation and utilisation of environmentally friendly and sustainable products and processes that exert minimal impact on human health and the environment. Specifically, in the realm of personal care products, green science involves the use of natural and biodegradable ingredients sourced sustainably and ethically. Additionally, it advocates for eco-friendly manufacturing practices that minimise waste and pollution. This comprehensive approach ensures the development of products that are not only safe and effective but also environmentally sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle, from raw material sourcing to product disposal.
What's the vetting process you use to curate brands and products for BAMBII?
We started with over 600 brands documented on a spreadsheet, before the journey involved a rigorous analysis against our three core pillars of green science, sustainability, and ethical standards.
Our selection process led us to identify the top 21 brands that align seamlessly with our criteria. But our vetting didn't stop there. Each product within these chosen brands underwent intense scrutiny, and examined against our model by a cosmetics chemist who possessed a deep understanding of ingredients and their compounds. This step was crucial, recognising that some chemicals might hide behind various names, requiring an expert eye.
One unique element in our vetting process is our commitment to transparency. I'm immensely proud to declare that there are no hidden ingredients in any BAMBII product. Every item boasts a full ingredient listing, leaving no room for ambiguity or concealment.
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What annoys you the most about 'clean' beauty as an industry?
What irks me the most is the pervasive lack of transparency and the vague definitions surrounding what 'clean' truly means for consumers.
The beauty industry deserves more than ambiguous labels and greenwashing tactics. It deserves clarity, honesty, and a commitment to the well-being of consumers. That's why at BAMBII, we've made transparency a cornerstone of our mission. We believe that consumers have the right to know what they're putting on their skin, and our insistence on full ingredient disclosure rather than allowing hidden ingredients in ingredients listed as ‘fragrance’, ‘perfume’ or ‘parfum’ that can have hundreds of chemicals in them that are not listed in the ingredients.
So what does your skincare routine look like?
My morning skincare routine looks like this:
Lesse Refining Cleanser: I like my skin to feel smooth before applying makeup so this organic gem serves as a micro-exfoliator, delicately removing dead skin cells and cleansing without stripping the skin.
People4Ocean Tinted SPF 50+ Mineral Bioactive Face Cream: Sunscreen is a non-negotiable. TGA approved, reef-safe, and marine ingredient-infused, it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. And this one developed by marine biologist in consultation with spa industry experts is by far the best on the market for you and the planet.
Imbibe Collagen Lips: I don’t leave the house this, it literally gives a natural lift. The product has a grainy texture that are the active peptides that melt into the lips. It's the best.
And this is my typical evening routine:
Furtuna Skin Cleansing Oil Balm: Luxurious and certified organic, this effortlessly removes my makeup at the end of the day, leaving my skin smooth.
Raaie Yellow Moonbeam Retinal Elixir: I use a RetinAl every second night. It's clinically proven and unclogged pores, resulting in smooth, soft, and even-toned skin for the next day ahead.
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Any makeup products you can't live without?
What wellness rituals do you subscribe to?
One of my go-to secrets for maintaining a youthful glow is Miracle Collagen — I consider it the second most crucial element after sunscreen. I have my own 70+ year old mother on this product as she has knee and hip issues, and it has been proven in research studies that collagen helps to restore cartilage in joins and she has felt the significant benefits.
A cornerstone of my holistic wellness routine is maintaining an active lifestyle, I love reformer Pilates, the gym, swimming, surfing, playing tennis, and recently adding padel tennis to the mix.
Quality sleep is another non-negotiable in my wellness playbook, I always try and make sure I consistently have 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night.
What do you do when you're feeling burnt out?
Being a business owner can at times be a lonely journey, therefore I prioritise regular catchups with friends and family. I also find exercise to be an outlet especially when stuck in the day to day and stepping away from the computer for an hour can make a huge difference.
To prevent burn out I make sure I take regular breaks whether it’s a short weekend getaway down the coat or to my family home in the countryside or a holiday away with friends. Stepping away allows me to return with a fresh perspective, brimming with new ideas and optimism.
Any beauty rituals you want to pick up in 2024?
Fitness is a cornerstone of my aspirations for the year, with specific goals in mind. I'm excited about playing in a padel tournament, pushing the boundaries of my surfing skills at Urbansurf, and conquering the invigorating pier-to-pub swim in Lorne.
In terms of beauty rituals, my commitment extends to greater diligence in sunscreen application as well as my collagen intake. Additionally, I'm eager to incorporate face sculpting more regularly into my regimen.