The skincare that is helping to change young lives

When their teenage daughter opened up about the troubles she and her friends were facing during the pandemic, Anthony McDonough and Chris Glebatsas knew they had to act.

Grace, 18, had been going through year 12 and two years of social distancing and isolation.

“Chris and I have a really good relationship with our daughter and she was able to open up to us about what she and her friends were feeling after the pandemic and lockdowns,” Anthony says.

“A lot of kids who had been well-adjusted teenagers had turned inwards and were struggling with eating disorders, with depression and with anxiety.

“We’d seen the same sort of thing happening in the gay community, where people were separated from their families and friends and left feeling incredibly isolated.”

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute also warned in January that the pandemic had taken “a significant toll” on adolescents’ mental wellbeing, academic performance and physical health.

Buoyed into action by what they were hearing, skincare professionals Anthony and Chris — who more than a decade earlier had founded high-end men’s skincare brand Lqd — got to work.

They developed unlabelled, a new not-for-profit skincare label that believes the only thing that should be put in a box is its products.

How a lightbulb moment led to unlabelled

“We wanted to do something that would help in a tangible way,” Anthony says.

“Often as parents we run around thinking what can we do and we knew we were good at skincare.”

With Anthony’s background as an organic chemist, Chris’s expertise in finance and logistics and Grace’s invaluable insights, unlabelled was born as a social enterprise based in Melbourne.

In fact, 100 per cent of unlabelled’s profits go to four organisations whose work is vital in helping to prevent youth suicide — Headspace, QLife, Kids Helpline and The Black Dog Institute.

When it comes to the brand’s products, they are scientifically developed, packed with antioxidants, fully sustainable and ethically produced.

Moisturising and exfoliating body bars are made with skin-soothing natural ingredients including lemongrass, lemon myrtle, geranium and collagen.

Each of the hand and body washes are printed with a message encouraging kids to be proud of who they are, such as: “be authentic. be real. be human.”

Or Anthony’s favourite, contributed by Grace: “be the name on people’s lips. unless that name is Karen.”

Campaign already paying dividends

“The thing that makes us feel great is the number of parents who have already reached out to us,” Anthony says.

“One parent told us that she has a trans son and that she worries every time he leaves the house. We get so many messages like that.

“One of the models in our advertising campaign has vitiligo and another parent said, ‘You have no idea what that means to us, our child also has the same condition and this is so helpful, normalising it’. We want every single child to feel normal.”

Even unlabelled’s marketing campaign is helping kids fit in.

The bespoke soundtrack for the edgy campaign was developed in collaboration with Mornington Peninsula-based singer songwriter Cheryl Beattie and her 17-year-old pupil, Lachie Clue.

“I see first-hand lots of my college students who battle each day with their identity and the feeling of not being acceptable in society; that’s the reason unlabelled is such a necessary change,” Cheryl says.

“The soundtrack is optimistic music that we hope reaches out to everybody with the message that they are stunning and to rejoice being you!”

*This post is brought to you by unlabelled. Written by Liz McGrath.