If you really want to get back to purity, there are few places on the planet as clean or untouched as Antarctica. In fact, I challenge you to find one. So when I was asked by Sukin – a Melbourne- based, Australian-made natural skincare range, which has grown to become one of Australia’s most popular natural skincare brands – if I would travel to this frozen land, I jumped at the opportunity.
With a deadline-driven job and a busy family life, I was – like many women today – feeling the e ects of a nonstop urban lifestyle. Eleven days in Antarctica, armed with a swag of Sukin skincare, seemed a very good way to detox both my co ee- fuelled mind and also my skin, which was looking dehydrated and more than a little depleted.
So why take the long journey to Antarctica? Firstly, Antarctica’s purity is not only highly revered but also ercely protected – a stance that Sukin, a brand that prides itself on full disclosure of what does and does not go into its formulations, stands by. Secondly, Antarctica is a continent at the coalface of global warming. As a brand so passionately committed to the environment and its animals, it is a destination that resonates for Sukin. Finally, as a beauty journalist and self-proclaimed skincare junkie, what a great opportunity to put this natural brand’s products to the test in one of the most extreme environments in the world.
One thing that became immediately clear in the lead-up to my trip on board the RCGS Resolute cruise ship, run by One Ocean Expeditions, is that Antarctica is challenging in many ways. Firstly, you must pack well. The extreme conditions mean you really need to consider the layers of clothing you bring with you. Some days on the rubber Zodiac speed boats, which entailed hours cruising around in a literal ice bath, I wore six layers of clothing to keep the chill out. My face, of course, was exposed most of the time, so I had to think carefully about my routine in order for my skin to cope in such cold conditions.
Hydration is a big issue in cold climates, especially on a continent as dry as Antarctica (it is classified as a desert) so just as I layered my clothing, I layered up my skincare, too. I enlisted Sukin’s super-hydrating rosehip range, which is formulated specifically for both dry and distressed skin types. The products are dosed with not only rosehip oil (which ticked o my antioxidants, retinol and essential fatty acids in one hit), but skin-boosting ingredients such as vitamin C-rich Kakadu plum. If you haven’t tried layering your skincare, I recommend it, particularly in the winter months. Doing so really fortified my skin against the whipping cold winds, needle-like ice and snow, and freezing sea spray.
Aside from the weather, what struck me about Antarctica is its purity and incredible cleanness. From the Zodiac and on land, we saw soaring blue icebergs, fur seals lounging on floating platforms of ice and penguins waddling across rock and snow.
However, as well as being beautiful, Antarctica is also faced with incredible difficulties. “The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places in the world,” says Kate Cullen, a glaciologist with One Ocean. “The peninsula has experienced – in mean annual temperature – about a three-degree Celsius increase over the past 50 years.” These rising temperatures are causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt. “The sea level is rising at a rate of 3mm per year,” says Cullen. “We’re not all going under water immediately, but we’re seeing changes in the smaller, more sensitive Antarctic Peninsula.”
Warmer conditions are causing issues for the fauna as well. An increase in rain can lead to penguin nests flooding, while scientists on board the ship spoke of their concern about changes in whale migration, possibly due to the altered krill production resulting from the melting ice.
SKIN SURVIVAL KIT
Sukin is a brand that cares deeply about the environment and its animals. Not only are the ingredients in Sukin’s formulations sourced from nature, the brand is also completely carbon neutral, uses only recyclable packaging and is proudly vegan and cruelty free.
“Women are embracing a health conscious and cleaner way of living for themselves and their families,” says Cathy Galileos, head trainer at Sukin. “The whole experience matters to women and they aspire to live in a way that is connected, balanced and well-informed.”
What is perhaps even more important than what Sukin puts in, is what it leaves out. The brand has a “No List” that bans petrolatum, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances, artificial colours, detergents, sulphates, parabens or silicones in its products. “We make no compromise on results and use ingredients from nature that are good for you and the environment, too,” explains Galileos.
With clean beauty very much a part of the lexicon, more of us are thinking about what we are putting on our skin. Certainly, it was a good feeling to know that I was embarking on a journey so bucket-list worthy with a brand so transparent in its clean and do-good mission. My complexion was in such great condition when I returned that one of my colleagues actually asked whether I’d been to a tropical island rather than the Antarctic Circle.
WATCH: marie claire Beauty Director Sally Hunwick In Antarctica With Sukin
Antarctica’s contrasting beauty and inhospitality make it a place of endless fascination – and no wonder: it is a land that, metaphorically and literally, gets under your skin.
This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of marie claire.