The Beauty Chef founder on her holistic approach to turning 50

The Beauty Chef founder on her holistic approach to turning 50


“I'm really interested in looking at the link between how our gut health, hormones and lifestyle are interwoven.”

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“I’m really interested in looking at the link between how our gut health, hormones and lifestyle are interwoven.”

Former beauty editor Carla Oates founded the brand The Beauty Chef in 2009, after researching fermented foods to manage her daughter’s eczema. De ella Experimentation swiftly moved from her Sydney kitchen to the lab, with the resulting pre and probiotic ingestible beauty blends quickly becoming worldwide bestsellers on places such as Goop.

As she approaches the age of 50, Oates has been intrigued by the changing needs of her skin and once again took to the lab to see how changing female hormones and their impact on appearance can be addressed through the gut.

Her research led to the development of Glow Ageless, a super nutrient probiotic beauty powder specifically developed for those aged 50 plus, as well as the introduction of Glow FACE Intensive Rejuvenating Oil.

“We wanted to create an all-in-one product that targets certain skin concerns in the way a serum does, but nourishes the skin like a facial oil,” explains Oates.

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FACE contains bakuchiol – a plant-based alternative to retinol – along with vitamins A, C and E, vegan squalene and a unique fermented prebiotic and postbiotic extract which supports and protects the skin’s barrier system.

Even though we understand aging to be a privilege, and far better than the alternative, it’s hard to undo centuries of patriarchal dominance and internalized misogyny. Oates’ approach to the process, at once both curious and exploratory, is refreshing. She insists her fine lines “do n’t bother me much” and her focus is on healthy skin, and how to best address its changing needs.

We spoke with Oates about the journey the adventure of aging took her on and things she learned along the way.

Now approaching her 50s, Carla Oates is still a firm believer in the power of fermented ingredients.

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Now approaching her 50s, Carla Oates is still a firm believer in the power of fermented ingredients.

You started The Beauty Chef in part because of the specific needs of you and your daughter’s eczema. As you’ve got older, what other “conditions” have you found you want to address?

One of the main things I’ve been looking to address in recent years is hormonal health, and helping our community understand the importance of the gut-hormone connection – at every age but especially as we get older.

While we often think of the gut simply as the place where we process, digest, synthesise and absorb nutrients, it actually impacts and influences our health far beyond the digestive tract. In terms of our hormones, it’s where we produce and regulate many essential hormones and neurotransmitters which have a powerful impact on our mood, appetite, metabolism, energy and blood sugar levels.

So I’m really interested in looking at the link between how our gut health, hormones and lifestyle are interwoven – and given that close connection, why it’s so essential to regularly assess your hormone levels, address any imbalances and prioritize hormonal health.

Are these universal changes or specific, such as eczema?

Hormonal changes can happen to anyone at any life stage, so they’re universal. But for women in particular, we often don’t pay much attention to our hormones until something is a little off kilter or we recognize there is an imbalance. This can happen in relation to our cycle, during pregnancy or postpartum and again during perimenopause and menopause.

What have you surprised the most about aging?

To be honest, I thought I would be young forever and sometimes when I go to do certain things, physically, that require higher levels of dexterity and co-ordination, I notice that I am not as adept as I once was. Of course I’m still determined to try, but the reality is that I’m not as agile! I tried spinning around in the park the other day and felt very dizzy for a long time – recovery takes much longer.

What do you enjoy about it?

I enjoy that I’m not as worried about what other people think as I did when I was younger. This is very liberating! I’m also much more focused on getting rid of the noise and focusing on things that bring me true joy – relationships with family and friends, connection with nature and exploring my creativity.

You’ve obviously seen a need to change your skincare routine to adapt to changes in your skin. What are the physical changes you’ve needed to address with it?

In my late 40s, I’m certainly noticing changes in my skin from its tone, to feeling drier and a few more fine lines. To be honest though, the fine lines don’t worry me as much, I just want my skin to feel and look healthy, which is why I focus on my diet, lifestyle and taking my Beauty Chef products daily.

The Beauty Chef Glow FACE oil 30ml, $79, is available in Aotearoa from Mecca, Tonic Room and at TheBeautyChef.co.nz

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