If you haven’t heard of Grown Alchemist, it’s about time you did. This Melbourne-based beauty brand was founded in 2008 by brothers Jeremy and Keston Muijs, and is a line of skincare that focuses on sustainable, organic, natural, and cruelty-free methods in its production. Grown Alchemist is not a 100% organic brand though; there are selected synthetic ingredients added in to the formulas, but the brand makes sure that they are not harmful and are used to enhance the efficacy of the natural ingredients. This ends up being a good mix of science and nature complementing each other, and this is very much in line with many established, luxury skincare brands.
Those who know the brand (from studying in Australia or discovering it online), have been buying direct from its international website, or from NET-A-PORTER; but this month, it launches in Singapore exclusively at Takashimaya online and in-store.
I got my hands on a few of their best-sellers and some lesser-known ones.
HYDRA-RESTORE CREAM CLEANSER: OLIVE LEAF, PLANTAGO EXTRACT
In all my years of editing beauty, I’ve never tried a cream cleanser for washing my face. So when I used this one for the first time, it was a strange sensation — like smoothing moisturiser mixed with water (not a great combination) over my face, and I imagined it didn’t feel “clean”.
But wow… immediately after the first use, my skin felt extra soft! I didn’t expect that, and it made me continue using it the next day, and the day after that, and.. it’s been more than a week now since I switched to this cream cleanser for the morning, and it has surprisingly become my favourite product from all the Grown Alchemist products I was passed to try. The scent is also very comforting, and similar to the Grown Alchemist Day Cream (reviewed below).
INSTANT SMOOTHING SERUM: TRI-HYALURONAN COMPLEX
The ingredients are a combination of plant-derived high, medium and low weight Hyaluronan molecules, that penetrate deep into the skin’s structure, and hydrate quickly and intensely. Grown Alchemist recommends using this serum as an instant plumping and priming treatment before an evening out, or even as an intensive treatment to counteract the damage of sunburn, windburn and overexposure to heating or air-conditioning.
I was surprised by the texture of this serum. I expected it to be drippy or like an oil, but it instead comes out like a self-contained and intact water bubble, and bursts on the skin with a cooling sensation, spreading over a large area of skin, and absorbing almost instantly. The next surprise comes in the resulting skin immediately after application; the skin actually looks and feels smoother on the spot and this not an exaggeration. The feeling is so addictive; I now look forward to using this every day as part of my morning skincare regime.
HYDRA-REPAIR DAY CREAM CAMELLIA, GERANIUM BLOSSOM
This reminds me of a Jurlique moisturising day cream I used to buy regularly from Australia; it feels like a cream that goes on rich, but instead feels light on the skin. It dries down into a semi-matte finish that makes the skin very comfortable and not too tacky. It’s perfect for wearing under makeup (it doesn’t pill at all), and it smells absolutely amazing — mainly notes of geranium, but it’s calming and light, not overpowering at all.
Key ingredients in this moisturiser: Camellia and Rosehip Oil (improves hydration and conditions the skin); Polysaccharides from Aloe Vera (makes the skin smooth and soft); Triglycerides from Jojoba Oil (rebalances the skin improving its appearance); Cane Sugar (to soothe skin and repairs damage caused by UV-induced oxidative stress); and Mayblossom (balances natural sebum levels, and improves the appearance of pores).
ANTI-POLLUTION PRIMER PREBIOTIC-PEPTIDE,
ANTI-POLLUTION SHIELD COMPLEX, GANODERMA EXTRACT
This is one of Grown Alchemist’s best-selling products, and isn’t available at the official Takashimaya counter yet, but I’m told will be soon. I have a love-hate relationship with this primer; I love the feeling of it when it’s first applied on the skin — extremely cool and hydrating; like a burst of water on the skin, but in the texture of a balm.
When I first started using this, I swiped it across my skin and tried to blend it in — don’t do this. This method turns the product into a white film that takes a lot of effort to sink in to skin and “disappear”. I discovered that this product needs to be patted into the skin using the fingers.
After the primer settles into skin, I can see why it’s the brand’s best-seller and the founder’s favourite; the finish after applying the primer on its own is amazing (skin is smooth, evened-out, semi-matte and very comfortable!), and when I use liquid or cream foundation over it — my foundation lasts the entire day, without any midday shine, and it still manages to look fresh way past dinner. As a makeup primer, it serves its main purpose very well, and is definitely one of the best primers I’ve ever used. Just remember to pat it in.
HAND CREAM: VANILLA ORANGE PEEL
As expected, this is very good hand cream; it comes out a smooth, white cream, spreads nicely over skin, and absorbs fairly quickly. Hands feel soft and smooth instantly after application. Its vanilla-orange peel scent is very refreshing too. If you need hand cream, this is a good option.
LIP BALM: VANILLA, WATERMELON
This balm melts upon contact to skin, and the scent isn’t cloying or overwhelming as I imagined it might be (especially when mixed with vanilla), but instead it just smells like watermelon candy — the good, Japanese kind that you get from Meidi-Ya. It initially feels slightly oily on the lips, but absorbs nicely and feels comfortable without an overall tacky feeling. I’d definitely recommend this for dry, chapped lips.
Ingredients include Watermelon Extract, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil — all of these hydrate dry lips, and Sweet Almond and Rosehip that help to soothe and smooth lips.
HAND WASH: SWEET ORANGE, CEDARWOOD, SAGE
$33 (300ml) / $43 (500ml)
A good hand wash doesn’t strip the skin of moisture, leaving it feeling dry and “squeaky”; it should instead cleanse well, but still soothe and moisturise skin, and this one leaves the hands feeling nice and soft after each wash. Also, it smells glorious; the mix of orange, cedarwood and sage are a calming, balanced blend that will make you look forward to washing your hands.
HYDRA+ BODY CLEANSER:
EMERALD CYPRESS CO2 EXTRACT, ROSEMARY, SANDALWOOD
This is similar to the wonderful hand wash above, but smells like a forest — a nice one. The formula is hydrating and doesn’t make the skin feel dry. The key ingredients include: Emerald Cypress that is proven to decrease fluid retention, while increasing circulation; Rosemary, that is a rich source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties; and Sandalwood that has flavanol antioxidants that remove toxins, soothe and hydrate the skin.
INTERVIEW WITH JEREMY MUIJS, CO-FOUNDER OF GROWN ALCHEMIST
Above: Jeremy Muijs, photo courtesy Grown Alchemist
What is the Grown Alchemist brand all about?
“Grown Alchemist is a clean beauty skincare brand from Melbourne. We use plant-based ingredients, and some products are certified organic and are toxic-free, gluten-free, and vegan friendly. The name Grown Alchemist encapsulates the duality of our brand, one that is built on biology, then backed by science. As a brand, we have one foot firmly planted in the natural world utilising the power botanicals we use in our formulations, and the other rooted in the alchemy of science to harness the potency of these naturally occurring ingredients. This duality makes us who we are as a brand.”
What makes the brand different from other skincare brands?
“At Grown Alchemist, we don’t manufacture ingredients; we grow them. The ability to combine these ingredients in a profound, meaningful way is modern alchemy.
We have formulated skincare solutions that serve our clients from a functional and ethical perspective, tied together with premium recyclable packaging that elevates an organic skincare product to a luxurious beauty experience. This combined with our relentless pursuit of incorporating the highest grade of organic, active ingredients in our products from all around the world.
Australia is full of home-grown beauty heros. You don’t need to look beyond our shores to find some of the most sought-after products on the market and they are darlings of beauty editors around the world, because of Australian beauty’s focus on natural ingredients, sustainable production, and no-fuss efficacy. At Grown Alchemist, we take great pride in the fact that all our products are made in Australia. We only use the very best ingredients, which are certified by ACO, and certified toxic-free by Safe Cosmetics Australia, we are also vegan friendly. Being Australian Made allows us to have complete quality control throughout the entire process and, at the same time, contributes to strengthening our local economy.”
Top 3 favourite products?
“1. We have so many essential products to experience and enjoy in our range. Our skin needs a host of essential peptides, vitamins, and antioxidants to maintain optimal health. I would suggest products that align with our three-phase skin prescription of ‘Cleanse. Detox. Activate.’, as a safeguard for protection and repair processes. The hero of this system is our Detox Serum. It’s a universal skincare serum that has been formulated with our proprietary Antioxidant +3 Complex and when applied twice daily, will restore your skin function within 14 days. It’s a serum we recommend to everyone regardless of age, skin condition, or gender to fight against oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen generated free radicals.
2. Another one of my favourite products is our Instant Smoothing Serum, which is formulated using a complex-combination of plant-derived high, medium, and low weight hyaluronan molecules; that delivers an instant lifting effect through intense hydration, rapidly smoothing the skin’s surface. This formulation is ideal for use as an intensive hydrating treatment, counteracting the negative effects that sunburn, windburn, and air-conditioning can have on the skin. I also recommend this serum as the perfect instant plumping and priming product to use before an evening out!
3. Last but not least, our Anti-Pollution Primer. It is a lightweight, detoxifying, silicone-free gel-primer that absorbs instantly creating the ultimate protected, smooth surface. It helps to boost hydration levels, strengthening the skin’s natural healthy barrier function while blurring wrinkles and pores to create healthy, flawless-looking skin.”
Grown Alchemist is available in Singapore exclusively at Takashimaya online and in-store (391A Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City).