Meet Nicole Groch, mother, animal activist, environmentalist, “Cruelty Free” hair & makeup artist and the creator of livingsafe.com.au and The Natural Beauty Shop.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I started out in 1997 doing my 4 year hairdressing apprenticeship at Katan Kabu salon in Armadale Melbourne. I worked for a full year as a qualified hairdresser and then I did a makeup course at Flagstaff College. I continued hairdressing part-time at the salon for a couple more years as I built up my hair and makeup portfolio working for free with various photographers in Melbourne, until I had enough work to get an agent and then began getting paid jobs.
Very early on in my freelance career, I was lucky enough to work on a photo-shoot with Tina Arena and from their my career took off. I started doing a lot of work with both Tina and other Sony and Mushroom artists both in Australian and Internationally. For the first 15 years of my career I was also doing a lot of fashion advertising and editorial work – see my online portfolio www.nicolegroch.com.au .
Can you tell me how living safe started?
After the birth of my first child in 2007 I took it upon myself to research into each and every products that I fed her, bathed her in, clothed, let her chew on and play with and also what I slept her in and on. I had lost my trust in the Australian government to protect consumers from toxic, harmful ingredients and materials, as prior to falling pregnant, I did some marketing and pr work for the cruelty free, all natural skincare mum & bubs range, Aromababy and was thoroughly educated about the many ingredients used by big brand skincare companies that through accumulative exposure can cause all sorts of serious illnesses.
By the time my 2nd child was born in 2010, I had researched into so many products, not just for babies, but also the products we adults use each and every day; e.g. mobile phones, fire retardant treated mattresses, chemical cleaners, perfumes and cosmetics and I had accumulated an impressive vault of information on safer, healthier, alternatives, including creating my own vegan organic recipes. My partner at the time convinced me to share this information on a site that he could build me and this is how in March 2011 LivingSafe.com.au
What sparked your interest in cruelty free?
I had always been concerned about the animal testing of cosmetic and hair products and when I was just starting out as a freelancer, I would write to companies like MAC and ask it they were cruelty free and of course they replied YES and I blindly believed them. I then came across the non-profit organization www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au and was educated about how any company can claim cruelty free status, but there is no law governing this statement and so often it is false. So bye bye MAC!
How did you get involved with Choose Cruelty Free and what’s your role there?
I was so impressed with Choose Cruelty Free, that I willingly offered my services as a hair and makeup artist and used my contacts to create celebrity cruelty free campaigns for print and media and also cruelty free cosmetic campaigns. I also created the Australian series of “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign images.
As my awareness to the horrors of animal testing of cosmetics grew, I chose to turn down a lot of work my agency offered me. I just couldn’t do hair and makeup for companies such as L’oreal ( so I constantly said no to working on Fashion Week) or any other skincare companies that still tested on animals, or fashion labels that used real fur or exotic animal skins.
Today I still do the hair and makeup for Choose Cruelty Free and have just finished working on a series of 12 images, which are soon to be released and I am also the volunteer PR Director for them.
What are your favourite makeup products to use?
Now I choose only to use SAFE and where possible natural and organic cosmetics and of course all the brands I use are accredited with Choose Cruelty Free. My current fav natural makeup brands are, Ere Perez, Zuii Organic, Living Nature, Adorn Cosmetics, Livinia Naturals and Synergie Skin. There is only one brand of hairstyling products I will use, as their hairspray is free of all plastics and that is the salon brand Everescents Organic Hair.
For nails I use Kester Black and Limedrop.
Can you give us some hot tips for winter looks?
Keep your makeup tones warm and bright. Shimmery golds and bronzes on the eyes and peachy glowing cheeks, with a tinted gloss, loads of mascara (but not clumpy) and of course filled in stronger brows.
What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without and why?
Ere Perez’s new waterproof mascara. It is a safe, natural, vegan, waterproof, flake proof mascara, what else need I say! This product is gold!!