Because of my love of bright colours, sparkly necklaces and extravagant scarves, most people imagine that I had a terribly glamourous upbringing.
That was not really the case. Until I was 11, my life was far more Crocodile Dundee than Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
The outback of Australia looks very different than what a lot of people imagine. I always tell people that if they picture the surface of Mars, add some scrubby trees and then factor in some snakes and giant spiders, that’s exactly where I grew up.
And I loved it.
Growing up in tiny mining towns was hard in a lot of ways, like having to move every year, the times that we couldn’t get fresh fruit and vegetables because the small plane that delivered them couldn't land, or when someone (usually me) needed a doctor but they weren’t due in town for another three weeks.
But in other ways, it was brilliant. Because we only got two TV channels, I grew up almost totally unexposed to popular culture and was forced to use my imagination to entertain myself. Sure, there was a distinct lack of glamour, but I learned how to track animals, how to find food and water in the middle of nowhere, and how to climb any tree or giant rock formation. All very important life skills, as I’m sure you agree.
I also credit my isolated upbringing with helping me deal with my moderate dyslexia. Reading was sometimes a challenge for me, but when there’s not a lot else for you to do and you REALLY want to find out what happens to Bilbo, you learn ways to cope with it. This still serves me well today.
I have really fond memories of growing up in outback towns like Kambalda, Leinster, Mount Magnet, Broken Hill and Laverton. You couldn’t always find them on the map back in the day, but hey, that was all part of their charm. And even though now I now live in a big city and enjoy things like paved roads and more than one clothing store, a big part of me still misses desert life.
Enter Coast to Coast, an Australian skincare brand that just launched in the US. They emphasise using quality, sustainable ingredients to create products specifically tailored to your skin type. Right now, they have three lines: Outback (for dry or uneven skin), Coastal (for extra-sensitive skin) and Rainforest (for oily or acne-prone skin). Many of the ingredients they use are unique to my homeland; quandongs, for example, are an Aussie staple.
Because I’ve been on a million different medications lately, my face has been drier and deader-looking than a hollow log. I opted to test out some products from the Outback line in the hopes that they’d bring some additional moisture and brightness to my parched skin.
Spoiler alert: I was really impressed. Here's a rundown of my favourites.
Skin Illuminating Foaming Cleanser
Products have to be pretty amazing to wrench me away from my tried-and-true CeraVe cleanser, but this did it. I love the light lather this creates and the sweet but not sugary smell. Mostly, though, I love that even though this cleanser contains salicylic acid, it doesn’t dry my skin out at all.
That is a miracle.
I’ve avoided almost everything salicylic acid-y ever since I was a teenager, and I gave myself some amazing chemical burns trying to scorch the zits off my face. My skin has never really forgiven me for that, and dries up like a corn husk at the mere touch of the stuff. Until now. The balance of ingredients in this cleanser is exactly right, containing things to clean and brighten my skin (citrus extracts, lactic acid) AND things to calm my skin down (aloe leaf juice, chamomile).
I’ve been using this cleanser morning and night for two weeks, and I love it. I haven’t broken out, “purged” or gotten red ONCE. My skin is well-hydrated but not oily, and feels plump and bouncy. Seriously, I didn’t even know how desiccated I had become until I wasn’t anymore.
And honestly, the results speak for themselves. I’m sick as hell, but look at how radiant my skin looks!
That’s what I call FANTASTIC.
Skin Radiance Aqua Mist
Speaking of being sick, this product has been a total lifesaver. I’ve kind of turned my nose up at fancy-schmancy facial mists in the past, but NO MORE. This light, citrus-scented mist has been essential for me as I convalesce in bed.
The chamomile and rose hip oil in this mist calm my skin and make it look beautiful, even after I’m puffy from taking a four-hour nap squished under my pillow. The scent wakes me up and makes me think that whatever is going wrong with my day can easily be solved.
As a bonus, it doesn’t interfere with your makeup: You can spray it right overtop your foundation or BB (or CC, or FF, or whatever) and it will stay put. The scent isn’t overpowering, either, so it won’t compete with, drown out or alter whatever perfume you’re wearing. Just don’t spray it in your eyes. That’s not fun.
Plus, when you feel like death and you’re hot all over? Spray some on your arms and legs and immediately feel cooler and more refreshed!
I love you, Aqua Mist. Never let me go.
Skin Illuminating Cleansing Water
I’ve been using the same eye makeup remover since I was in high school, and it’s always been fine. Sure, it stings a little (even if you really squinch your eyes shut), and yeah, it smells like medicinal chemicals. But it works, right? Unless you’re trying to take off waterproof mascara or eyeliner, sure!
Once again, I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I tried this product. If you forced me to choose, this is my One True Coast to Coast Love--the product that I will be buying over and over until time stops. I love it that much.
To start with, it has a press-down pump dispenser. So much easier than tipping a bottle of liquid upside down onto a cotton round and hoping you don’t accidentally spill it everywhere!
Secondly, this takes off all my makeup--including my waterproof eye makeup--with no stinging or damage to my delicate eyeballs. This stuff even takes off my super-waterproof Aqua Brow without needing to scrub, which is amazing.
Best of all, you can also use it as a catch-all makeup remover and light cleanser if you’re on the go. So often these “no-rinse” cleansers leave my skin looking red or feeling overly dry, but not this one. Just wipe it all over with a cotton round or a tissue, and you’re good to go. When I’m well enough to get back into my workout routine, this is going to change my whole post-sweat game--I can feel it.
My ONLY criticism of this product is that, at 5.4 ounces, it’s too big to carry on a plane. I hope Coast to Coast makes a miniature version so that I can take it with me on long-haul flights. I can think of nothing better than wiping away the grime of travel with this gorgeously-scented cleanser, and having my skin look BETTER when I arrive than when I left.
Skin Brightening Red Clay Mask
I’m really fussy about masks, mostly because there’s no skincare product on Earth with the power to break me out faster. I tested sheet masks for a solid year before I found one that I liked, and my go-to green clay mask is something I’ve used for a million years.
So finding another mask that I love enough to use more than once is a huge deal. Enter this bad boy.
This has a really unusual texture--it goes on feeling like a thick, cool moisturiser, then solidifies into something that almost feels like latex. I’ve never felt anything like it. It's also a really weird apricot colour, which starts off almost flesh-coloured and then dries to a pale orange. It’s awesome.
I noticed that the quandong scent seems a little more prevalent in this than in the rest of the Outback line. Quandongs belong to the sandalwood family, which you can definitely smell in the leaves, but the fruit itself is sweet. You can really smell this sandy, earthy sweetness in this mask more than in other products. I liked it, even though it did make me a bit homesick.
I’ve used this mask three times so far, and my only issue with it is that you have to use cleanser or a washcloth to remove it, rather than just water. The latex-like texture is just too strong for plain H2O to deal with. It’s worth it, though. Once your skin is clean, you’ll see incredibly pretty, moisturised skin. A huge deal for someone who looked and felt like a shriveled earthworm a few weeks ago. This mask is a wonderful way to go into my weekend looking like I glow from the inside.
All in all, these Outback-themed products get this desert girl's heart seal of approval. I'm so grateful that they've helped restore hydration to my dry, sad skin, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the products are like.
Have I piqued your interest about Coast to Coast? What are some awesome beauty products from your homelands? Can ANYONE say "quandong" without laughing?