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Tuesday 1 April 2014

Zoë Foster Blake: Go-To Skincare - Beauty Roadtest + Interview

What's not to love about Zoë Foster Blake?

No, seriously.

For as long as I have known Zoë - we met when she was in her first week as Cosmopolitan Australia beauty editor, in 2004 - she has had a ridiculously infectious zest for life which is not only utterly contagious, it makes you want to wish only good things for her. She's been an innovator in whichever field she's entered: she stamped her personality all over the beauty pages she directed at Cosmopolitan and Harper’s BAZAAR; her online venture 'Fruity Beauty', with added-Zoë-ness was and is hugely popular and she speaks to her audience in a particular way which sees her gel with her readers; and she positively owned the innovative beauty portal 'Primped' when it was launched, giving it its own voice with a Zoë slant. And that's not to mention her successful career as a writer of several novels, including her first, 'Air Kisses' and her latest 'The Wrong Girl'.

(Gosh darn it, then she went and nabbed herself a fantastically lovely husband in Hamish Blake, one half of 'Hamish and Andy.' The couple are due to have their first child in late May).

And now (today!), Zoë has released a brand spanking new skin care range.

It's called Go-To, and it's a decidedly uncomplicated, pared-back-and-suddenly-it's-all-you-need, all natural skin care range that has been developed after years of research - two, in fact - by Zoë. Here it is:

I interviewed Zoë about Go-To for Josie's Juice and she had much to say about her skin care baby, and the real-life baby she's gestating in her petite body right now. Both leave her incredibly excited (and one leaves her with a gloriously large belly), and have you wishing only good things for her, all over again.

There is so much going on for Zoë right now, I didn't know where to start when we commenced our chat.

"Just pick 'anywhere', and start from there," Zoë says with a laugh.

Okay, so what was the catalyst for the Go-To range? Was it something she's always wanted to do?

"Well, I definitely didn’t say to myself, “I want to have a skincare line!” It was instead something that took a little time. Retail, for example, wanted me to do a capsule collection, and I nearly did it, but it didn’t feel quite right. I had a few conversations with people; I had chats with Megan Larsen who founded Sodashi, and she said: “Zo, you can do this!” We loved talking about it all. She’s allowed me to use her incredible biochemist who is the genius I get to give wish lists of products and ingredients to, and he makes it happen," reveals Zoë.

"When I got my head around it, I thought, “Yeah, who is in a better position, really, to do this than a beauty editor? Because we’ve had those decades of experience, and trying every product and knowing, all that ‘stuff’ aside, which ingredients actually work, why they actually work, which are the iconic products, why are they iconic. And I also got this amazing feedback from women on what they find confusing, which is basically all of skincare, and having this wonderful chance to always play with them and educate time in a fun way and taking that feeling and putting it into a product line. So, when I thought about it was like, this is going to be hard and big, but I think it could work.”

Indeed, Zoë's collection is big enough to encompass a 'range', but small enough to have the right amount of products that say to the consumer, “this stuff really works; these are your basics.” I think Go-To says 'Zoë' to a tee.

Zoë agrees: "It’s simple and there’s no ‘bullshit’ and it’s playful, and as you say, it's the basics, it’s that ‘scaffolding’ you’re bringing to skin care. Your peels and your masks you need, but you’re still going to need a cleanser and a moisturiser and a lip balm, and for a lot of women... I think they’re lucky to even wash their face, partly because they haven’t been taught or they don’t have time. Go-To is targeted to them, in a way.

The product names and their quirky, funny descriptions are also typically Zoë and lots of fun to read, while informing you about the serious stuff you want to know: how they work and what's in them (and very importantly, what's not in them).

“The copy is a big part of it, actually because there are words in skincare that are scientific and there are French terms most people don’t understand; you know, men’s skincare… they’re so basic! It’s like ‘face wash’ and ‘grime remover’, and for women, it’s so complicated and it doesn’t have to be.”

And so, Go-To is available online only, and that was a very conscious decision by Zoë.

“Well, that’s where I live and that’s where my girls are. I was lucky enough to come in at that right time, back in 2006, to get that lovely audience of online girls, and they’re used to buying things like that. And I am asking them a huge thing, which is: you’ve never smelt it, you’ve never tried it, you can’t go into Priceline and test it, but can you buy it anyway from a website? And that’s huge. I really trust that they’re keen to do it and try it out."

More about the Go-To range below. And now, about the eagerly anticipated pregnancy, and Zoë and Hamish's baby, due late May. The couple is super excited.

With so much happening for Zoë right now, I ask if she is a big 'planner'?

"I feel like I’ve been unseasonally busy but I also feel like pregnancy creates that extra dimension where there is a finite deadline you’re working towards, whereas if I was just launching a skin care line and a book, it’d be busy but I’d be like, “Oh well, that’s just a timing thing and I’ll be fine in a month’s time.” But I’m like, “Oh no, no, no… in a little while it’s gonna get a whole lot busier, and a different kind of busy that I won’t be able to comprehend or control… it’s all new to us!” says Zoë.

“I’ve got most things ready for the baby, and I bought all of it online, because I find those baby shops completely terrifying and overwhelming," she adds.

"So, the Go-To product is on sale from April 1 and I can manage all of that, and then I have one month to kind of… see what’s happening with it all.

"You can’t get a sense of what’s about to happen [with the birth] until it happens, can you! You can intellectually grasp the idea of: ‘life will never be the same again’. And when we bring that little human home, nothing will be the same again. But until that happens, I just can’t grasp it. We are thrilled and so excited and we’re just beside ourselves with excitement, but we cannot conceive how different it will be," adds Zoë excitedly.

When you see the Go-To range, if you're a fan of Zoë (and she has literally squillions of admirers) and gotten to know what makes her tick when beauty products and ingredients she's enamoured with, you'll agree everything about the line, from the wording to the branding to the very funny messages encrypted on her website (which also include cat viral videos… I am serious), you think, yep, this is all very Zoë Foster Blake.

“Yeah, and I thought: why haven’t any other beauty editors done this? And now after working so hard and stressing myself out on the entire thing, I can see it’s bloody hard!”

Husband and daddy-to-be Hamish Blake is "just so excited" about their baby's arrival.

"He’s wanted to be dad for a long time. He’s very… Look, we’re children ourselves, so it’s kinda funny!”

“We’re so excited for the next change of life; we’ve had a wonderful time, we’ve travelled so much and independently been hard working, successful in our careers, so neither of us going, “Oh, we feel like we are missing out on so much by having a baby. We’re so grateful to be in the position we are in. It’s perfect and we’re so lucky, we feel very blessed to have this happen now. We’re lucky and we’re excited.”

Hugely exciting times ahead for the gorgeous couple!

And now, the official lowdown on Go-To:

"Go-To removes the standard skin care confusion by providing all that’s needed for strong, healthy, happy skin… thereby becoming your ‘go-to’ products. Launching with a thoughtful edit of five essentials – lip balm, cleanser, moisturiser, exfoliant and multipurpose body oil, Go-To offers the perfect base skin care routine, whether that skin is teenage and temperamental or lasered and lined.

"Created in Australia and made in New Zealand, Go-To proudly flaunts its pure, potent natural ingredients and zero tolerance for nasties. At the core of each product are botanical actives that actually do something, like AHAs, antioxidants and deeply hydrating butters and oils."

Says Zoë: "Go-To is the result of a decade using and reviewing every kind of skin care available, as well as some exceptional guidance from Megan Larsen, founder of award-winning organic skincare brand, Sodashi. But most of all, Go-To is a range that has been developed in  response to women telling me that they are baffled by skin care. That it’s too hard. Too confusing. Too serious and scary. That all they want is something simple that actually works. Go-To is exactly this.”

And so, the Go-To product range, as described by the fab PR peeps behind the brand (why should I change what's perfect?):

Lips! – By far one of our hero, signature products – Lips! is a deeply restorative, soothing and moisturising savior for dry and cracked lips, and a delightful way to maintain happy ones. Lips! uses only the most beneficial and potent ingredients: ultra-medical grade lanolin, Shea butter, Vitamin E, beeswax and a host of powerful oils (apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, evening primrose oil, pomegranate seed oil, calendula oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil) to ensure lips are deeply nourished, soothed, protected and revitalised. The finish is creamy, non-sticky and very pleasant indeed. Wear alone for a pretty sheen, or as a perfect base for lipstick. RRP $14.95, 15g.

Properly Clean - a gentle cleanser that  swiftly removes grime, build-up, pollutants and makeup without stripping the skin or upsetting pH levels. Properly Clean uses gentle Willow Bark extract (nature’s salicylic acid) to keep oil in check and ensure skin is spotless without being dry or unbalanced. The all-natural sugar and coconut derived base is delivered in a velvety soft mousse foam which feels incredible on the skin, and leaves the complexion smooth, soft, hydrated and happy. RRP  $29.95, 150mL.

Very Useful Face Cream -  an ultra-hydrating and lightweight all natural face cream that defends against premature ageing. Harnessing the extraordinary Amla berry, a power antioxidant with 30x more Vitamin C than oranges, Very Useful Face Cream sits beautifully under makeup, is a perfect daily moisturiser and is ideal for travel. Skin looks bright, happy and healthy, feels soft, smooth and supple, and is impeccably protected. RRP  $39.95, 50g.

What I say after testing: this will become my daily must-have. In the morning, after a quick face wash, I need a light but hardworking moisturiser that will see through the day… this baby is it. Its light and lovely scent is a bonus… it's delicious, but not overpowering. But dang: it will not "make you spaghetti for dinner." It says so on the tube… ;)

Exfoliating Swipeys  - The unique, single-use exfoliating face pads remove dead skin cells, refine skin texture, minimise the appearance of fine lines and moisturise in a flash, and all without harsh scrubbing. Each pad is soaked in gentle, naturally occurring AHAs (lactic acid) as well as ultra-hydrating almond oil, mandarin and lemon essential oils plus aloe vera to leave the skin fresh, happy and glowy. Used 2-3 times a week, Exfoliating Swipeys remove the confusion from exfoliating, ensure the skin is thoroughly clean and just make life a little easier. RRP $45.95, 50 pads.

Exceptionoil –  A luxurious and completely pure do-it-all balm/oil that smells like the kind of place you’d rather be, Exceptionoil heals and soothes dry skin, flyaway hair, cuticles, heels and all those ‘rough bits.’ Combining 10 potent skin-loving oils with a blend of butters and anti-oxidants to moisturise, protect, heal and calm the skin. The natural oils that are lost when skin is exposed to the sun, wind, cold, air-con, heaters and flying are replenished, and skin is left soft and hydrated. Lightweight carrier oils ensure a delicate texture and instant absorption. Brimming with certified Monoi de Tahiti (macerated gardenia blossoms in pure coconut oil) and boasting the prestigious Appellation of Origin logo, this luxurious, authentic skin balm is a fantastic multi-purposer and a travel staple.  RRP $49.95, 85g. 

What I say after testing: you will be addicted to the scent. Immediately. That's the Monoi de Tahiti doing its trick to seduce you, soften you up, and work her magic. I have started using it on my parched hands and I am hooked. I like the idea of this baby being my do-it-all: think flyaway hair, cracked heels (pop some socks on), and mixing a little with my moisturiser to give me some extra glow.

For a TV interview featuring the lovely Zoë, click here.

The Go-To range is available exclusively online at www.gotoskincare.com from April 1, 2014. Get to it... Go-To!

Congrats, Zoë!

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