Byron Bay-based creative Jessica Vander Leahy is the ultimate modern slashie. The 32-year-old has many strings to her bow: writer, content creator, model, body positivity and women of colour activist and she recently (thanks to a push by COVID-19 lockdown) added Podcaster to her list of achievements. We recently started chatting with Vander Leahy to find out what her favourite products and ingredients were — SPF, Retinol, Vitamin C — so, our limited-edition Let It Glow Holiday Kit had her name written all over it. We think Vander Leahy is the physical personification of the set: warm, happy, glowy and bursting with joy. Below she discusses all things skin care, her experiences as a curvy girl in the fashion industry and a full review of each of the products in the set.
ON HER CAREER & DIVERSITY IN THE INDUSTRY
“This year has been such a year of pivoting! I’ve added a few more feathers to my cap - I am officially a Podcaster There’s a reason why so many people do it, it’s an incredible fun way to interact and reach people. In general, I feel like I’ve been a bit of a work horse and now I’ve found myself in a position where I’m really happy and confident with my career and I can look back and say that I have had a hand in that.
There is a sense at the moment – especially when it comes to fashion and casting – where people in the decision room are turning around and asking each other if they are representing diversity in their campaigns. Whether that’s size, race, or age. Diversity is not a trend, and it’s not something that should be represented as tokenistic either. It should be the formula for every single casting and those people, or person who is responsible for casting, it really should be on the forefront of their mind to ask themselves; “Does this look like the world we are living in?”
Where we are now with diversity isn’t the result of a few viral social media campaigns or recent protests, it’s been decades in the making. From people pushing and I have to thank my lucky stars and thank the people who have opened doors for me. I really hope that I open doors for other people in the future.”
ON HOW HER SKIN IS TRACKING AT THE MOMENT
“My skin is really behaving at the moment! But I would say that I’m like most other human beings in that it changes all the time. It changes with the seasons, as I’m ageing, and with my own personal moods in life. I have to always take care of it and listen to it.
Since moving to Byron Bay a few months ago, I’ve been using so much more SPF. I’m outside always and recently I’ve been using the Perfect Complexion Sunscreen Lotion SPF50 it’s been amazing. You know it’s going to be good the moment you feel it: it’s sheer and light in the way it sits on your skin yet it’s so powerful in the way it protects you. That makes me excited to wear it! Other sunscreens can feel like a chore because they leave that chalky residue that doesn’t feel nice. I think that’s the key with SPF and incorporating it into your regime - find one that you love so you won’t dread wearing it.”
ON HER HERITAGE AND SKIN TYPE
“I’m Bi-racial — Dad is Papua New Guinean/Irish and Mum has European blood in her — but I still freckle and burn. Pigmentation is common for my skin type. Growing up I noticed that all my aunties had it and I know that it can get more hectic once you have babies. I always knew it was coming and that’s okay! It’s all about managing it so that I feel confident. So, with that in mind I’m always trying to find products to glow-up my skin that are rich in actives such as Retinol and Vitamin C.”
ON HER APPROACH TO SKIN CARE
“I think we all need to stop thinking about our skin as an enemy! As if it’s something we need to wage a war against each day. It’s a living breathing organ in our body, and it’s there to protect and care for us and we need look after it. For me, I’m never about perfect skin and perfect hair. It’s more about enjoying the process and caring for myself. It’s absolutely a ritual for me and always has been. It’s a moment of respect for yourself and it’s not a chore. To take a minute to wash my face and apply a few beautiful serums which will instantly make me feel radiant. It’s about being generous to yourself and I think we all need to make sure we have time for that every day.”
JESSICA’S REVIEW OF THE LET IT GLOW KIT PRODUCTS
PERFECT COMPLEXION SUNSCREEN LOTION SPF50
“For my pigmentation and especially heading into summer, this sunblock is obviously an absolute everyday must. I really think we all need a sun block for our face that has a really high protection, and it being 4 hours water resistant is important as I’m such a water baby. I use at least a tablespoon of this for my face and neck.”
VITAMIN C POTENT ANTIOXIDANT OIL
“I love using this, it’s great if you want glowy skin because it’s a super-rich antioxidant oil. I do three-to-four drops on my face and neck to give the skin extra radiance. My hot tip for summertime when I’m heading out at night: I bring my entire skin care routine (except Retinol) all the way down to my chest. I massage everything all over the collar bones, decolletage and shoulders so that the highlights are popping!”
ESSENTIALS DEEP HYDRATION MOISTURE CREAM
“When living in a humid climate I tend to stay away from thicker moisturisers even though my skin craves hydration and loves it. I normally reach for something a bit thinner, because I’m nervous that it won’t sink in. But I found this cream easily absorbed into my skin, and I’ve actually been wearing it morning and night. It’s sort of deceiving in that way because initially it feels quite rich and thick but once you start massaging it in it absorbs beautifully.”
ESSENTIALS HYDRATING VITAMIN B SERUM
“I’ve been wearing this one in the day and it’s been great for managing my pigmentation issues. I’ve also noticed that it’s helping balance my skin’s oil production levels so there’s been an improvement with general congestion issues.”
ESSENTIALS PURE RETINOL 0.5% IN LUXURIOUS PLANT OILS
“I love Retinol! It’s a gift to anyone who loves and cares for their skin. This one is a potent dose but that’s no issue as my skin is quite used to it. For those first timers I would say (based on my own personal experience many years ago) that it’s a smart move to gradually introduce this active into your routine. What worked well for me was applying it every three days, and over a two-month period I slowly increased this until it was part of my every night routine. Evenings only, people! This ingredient changed the texture of my skin completely: smoothed it out, reduced my pores, and just made my skin juicy. When you’re using a Retinol, you need deep hydration and a SPF so that’s why this Let It Glow kit is so perfect.”