Vitaman – The Australian Bush in a Bottle
When I saw a recent press release for Vitaman I just had to find out more. Even thought I’ve lived in Australia for nearly seven years the beauty and diversity of the flora and fauna over here still blows my mind. I live in the Blue Mountains and so witness the wonder of natures apothecary every time I go on a bush walk. However, not everyone is that lucky and so, for those of you who don’t have that kind of beauty on your doorstep there’s Vitaman!, the men-only range that’s packed full of Australian goodness.
So what is it?
This Australian brand was set up back in 1999 by Naturopath and Herbalist Glenn Kiddle and Beauty Therapist Clare Matthews. The brand has a loyal following in both the retail and spa market and is available globally through a series of spa’s, resorts and retail outlets. The bit that I’m most interested in is the native plant extracts which range from the vitamin rich Kakadu Plumb to the Prickly yet remarkably soothing anti-inflammatory Quandong. Then there’s the beautifully aromatic Lemon Myrtle, the wonder-oil Blue Cypress, Native Aloe Vera and the ultra sneeze-making Grass lilly that again (and rather ironically) helps to relieve itching and promotes skin heeling.
I LOVE the sound of this range and can’t wait to try it all out on myself – If it’s good enough for the boys, it’s good enough for me!
We chatted to the founders to find out more about their skin care journey – it’s a tough job but someones got to do it…….
Q) Setting up a skin care brand is not easy, talk us through the challenges and triumphs of those early days back in 1999.
The challenges were quite diverse across many areas. From researching the market, to finding funds & investors, to finding the right company to help formulate and make samples. Besides all the standard challenges any new business enterprise faces, we also had to counter the negativity of many family, friends and industry experts who told us there was no male market and that we were setting ourselves up for failure. Other challenges were those of banks not allowing overdraft, finding the right distributors, packaging issues (for eg : new tubes arriving printed upside down!) and I suppose most importantly, cashflow to continue growing the business at crucial times.
Q) Your range focuses on our wonderful native Australian plants and extracts. What is it about the Australian landscape that makes our native flora so good for skin care?
When you have experienced first hand the vastness and beauty of our native flora and botanics throughout Australia’s landscape, you come to the realisation of why the need to use ingredients sourced from overseas when we have one of the worlds largest gardens in our own backyard, literally, untapped! Combined with the fact that our continent is so old and possesses thousands of years of traditional use of multiple plants, herbs and fruits to treat various skin and hair problems. On top of this, Australia is seen as being the wild pristine frontier, clean and green and unpolluted by most other countries and their consumers.
Q) What differences are there when you formulate a range for men over women? Are they more fussy?
VitaMan was a pioneer of Mens Skincare because we actually developed products specifically for mens skin and their related conditions, and where each active ingredient was chosen for their specific purpose in solving these conditions. So, from a development point of view relating to men, each product had to be non-greasy, non -perfumed, easily absorbed, as well as effective.
Where texture and aromas had to be masculine in nature. Most other mens products at the time and even later as many International female brands jumped on to the male bandwagon, most men’s brands were in fact existing female products/formula’s just re-packaged for men without any research or recognition of the different skin requirements.
The fact that men spend as much time in front of the morning mirror as women doesn’t necessarily mean they are more fussy, rather, due to ongoing education and acceptance via mens magazines, have recently become more educated and therefore more prepared to put more effort into looking their best or improving and maintaining their skin than years gone by.
Q) Your age control face mask sounds amazing, are men becoming more comfortable with the idea of ‘spa at home’ pampering?
For many men, most won’t openly discuss or admit they use skin care, however, statistics have shown, that when outside their normal comfort zone such as being on holiday, they are happy to try Male specific Spa Treatments such as VitaMan offers, masculine face and body massage treatments they would not normally seek out at home. This leads to them being more comfortable to then later purchase and use our spa type treatments such as our hydrating Age Control anti-oxidant face masque, in the privacy of their own home to re-experience the feeling & benefits they got when on holidays.
When we discuss spa like treatments designed for men, we can safely argue that we are talking about ‘pampering with a purpose’ where results are sought and provided!
Q) The Australian environment can be tough on the skin, how does your skin protector work to stave off environmental protection, it sounds lovely.
The reality is that up until several years ago, mens skincare basically revolved around shaving products and soothing shave rash etc and a few skin moisturisers. Once again, through education being the key, more and more men are realising that they are suffering from years of sun exposure, dehydration, pollution damage etc which is making them age quicker than most would like. Men in Australia spend approx 40% more time outdoors than women and have one of the highest rates of skin cancers worldwide.
Obviously, the major key is encouraging men to use effective sunscreen protection. However, it’s not just the sun but daily attacks on the skin from free radicals found in city pollution, which we are all exposed to on a daily basis,which is slowly but surely, constantly damaging the skin and prematurely aging the skin.
VitaMan developed one of the worlds most potent protective skin lotions for men, (again non greasy and quickly absorbed) that loaded the skin up with powerful known anti-oxidant ingredients such as Green Tea Extract, Grape Seed extract, and our own amazing Australian Indigenous Wild Rosella Hibiscus Extract, found to contain effective polyphenols which are proven to scavenge free radical and prevent skin damage. Kakadu Plum extract from our own Northern Territory has been proven to provide one of the highest amounts of Vit C found in a fruit worldwide so here is a product that seriously counters and protects against daily pollution attacks on the skin.
Q) What’s next for VitaMan and where can we buy it (can you give Aus and NZ plus any other export market data as my audience is global, thanks).
The male market is still in its infancy, yet potentially the biggest growth area of the cosmetic/skincare industry. VitaMan is currently seeing massive global growth and will continue developing innovative highly effective anti-aging products for men. We have just launched two new all natural deodorant body sprays free of harmful aluminum and alcohols and glycols.
Finally after 10 years, Australian men are embracing their skin needs and we feel vindicated in taking the initial risk in being early pioneers of men’s skincare here and overseas! The Mens skincare market is growing worldwide at approx 40% according to Mintel research stats. VitaMan is committed to continue to be the leader globally in Men’s Skin Care, Haircare and Spa solutions for men as the baby boomers look for more effective wellness and relaxing solutions and turning back the clock! and the younger generations realise the need for preventative action.
VitaMan is found in Australia at several leading Hotels and Destination resorts such as Hilton Eforas spas, Intercontinental Tea Tree Spas, soon Langham Hotel and many other Australian Spa Resorts. Retail wise, VitaMan is sold in many mens Grooming Centres, upmarket Hair salons and Day Spas.