What do Isabel Lucas, Chris Hemsworth and Gemma Ward have in common?
They’re all gorgeous Aussies, obvi, but they’ve also been seduced by the staggering beauty of the NSW north coast. Hemsworth ditched Hollywood and settled in Byron Bay with his family (which includes the equally-stunning Elsa Pataky), as has Gritty Pretty Magazine covergirl Lucas. And while supermodel Ward has since relocated to New York, she’s holding on to her holiday house.
This slice of heaven in the hinterland of northern NSW has long been a destination for anyone seeking a blissful life by the sea, but with our current interest in all things wellness, the area and its close surrounds are brimming with skin clinics, day spas and retreats that offer a relaxing, holistic escape from the hustle of modern life.
Ready to reset? Book an appointment at one of these boutique beauty destinations, and you can thank us later.
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
Real talk: you’re not going to have a bad experience here. The spa is situated amongst the rainforest, lake and Tallow Beach, so your gorgeous views are taken care of, and the menu is chock-full of facials and body treatments, plus private yoga and guided meditation sessions. But for our money, the one treatment you simply must experience is the Rainforest Couples Retreat. It’s two hours of body scrubbing and massage performed on beds, under a wooden pergola…inside the rainforest. Beauty bucket list stuff.
This clinic specialises in the kind of skin that looks right at home in Byron Bay – clean, fresh, happy. There’s a range of vitamin facials, skin peels and microdermabrasion, plus the more intense Dermapen, and they also offer the buzzy dermaplaning treatment. Also known as face shaving, this gentle exfoliation uses a surgical blade to remove the top layers of dead skin cells and fine hair, leaving behind a crazy smooth surface. Pair it with an LED light session for a grab-your-sunnies glow.
Rae’s on Wategos
Another Aussie who knows Byron Bay is Elle Macpherson, and she’s been a guest at this iconic Byron Bay retreat. It’s an intimate space, with just seven Moroccan-inspired treatment rooms, and the products used are from cult Italian pharmacy brand Santa Maria Novella (so good). But what really gets us excited is the 60 minute Vichy Shower Ritual. Vichy is not widely used at Australian spas, and that makes us sad because the shower jets gush forth warm water while you’re lying down on a shallow, padded bed. It helps boost circulation and reduce stress, and is just glorious.
Step back from the beach and you’ll find this hidden gem. Tucked away in an industrial estate just outside Byron Bay, Comma specialises in the kind of holistic massages that will leave you melting into the table. There are treatments tailored to every ache and pain, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, and you’ll find all products used during your session available to buy out front just in case you wanted to try and recreate the experience at home (good luck with that!).
Bende Byron Bay
Barre Body founder Emma Seibold is another Aussie who now calls Byron Bay home, and it’s where she set up this sanctuary. There’s something for everyone—mediation, mat and reformer Pilates, yoga, and, of course, barre. Sign up for Seibold’s signature Bende Flow class, which she describes as a combination of slow and conscious movement incorporating dance, cardio, mindfulness and connection to self, that helps improve strength, tone and overall wellbeing.
It’s no secret that we’re Sodashi fans (hello, you can shop the range right here at Gritty Pretty). So it’s not at all surprising that we love the offerings at this Cabarita Beach day spa, just a 40 minute drive from Byron Bay. The menu is stacked with treatments that harness the power of nature (Sodashi is 100% natural) to help bring balance back to your face and body. And glow. You can reclaim your glow with the spa’s Signature Radiance Facial, which includes a luxe face massage and mask.
Aleshia Marie Spa
There is something so indulgent, so delicious, about having the sanctuary come to you. Which is exactly what this freelance spa service does (it’s also a 100% plant based business that only supports sustainable companies). Once you’ve decided whether you’re having a facial, massage, hand and foot therapy or makeup application, the most effort that will be required from you is rolling into bed straight after. And don’t worry, if your Airbnb is not quite the zen den you had imagined, you can get your massage at their Bangalow HQ.
The Little Company
With destinations in both Byron Bay and Melbourne, the premise behind The Little Company is caring for your complexion from the inside out. Utilising natural and organic product ranges from the likes of Sodashi, what we love most about this destination is the way the treatments are tailored to you and your specific needs at the time of your treatment, whether it be seasonal skin issues or even if you just need a little extra TLC. Plus, you can book in for a session of Light Therapy in the light room whenever you have the time, and when you and your skin just need to hit recharge.
Gaia Retreat & Spa
Olivia Newton-John is a co-owner of this classic Byron sanctuary, and if that’s not good enough for you, it’s also played host to the one and only Oprah, who stopped by when she trekked Down Under. To really reap the nurturing and holistic benefits of this magical escape, book in for at least a two night stay, and you’ll get to experience a range of services from the onsite healers and therapists including intuitive and Aboriginal sound healings, counselling and hypnotherapy, to help you get back on track physically, spiritually and mentally.
Juliet Durham Makeup
You’re relaxed. You’re glowing. Now is not the time to trouble yourself with hair straighteners and liquid eyeliner. Instead, dial up Durham. This mobile hair and makeup artist will come straight to your door and can give you an undone, beachy look, or turn up the glam factor with a more polished feel (Durham has worked with many Byron Bay brides).