As one half of Byron Bay’s most famous couple, you could imagine Spanish actress Elsa Pataky living a life  utterly removed from the goings on of those geographically beneath her hilltop estate. Not so. She and husband Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor, for those living underneath many dozens of rocks) are instead active, engaged members of their community. While celebrating the launch of her new skincare line, Purely Byron, Elsa sat down with our founder Sigourney and explained why she feels so proud to use the town’s name in her range, why living in a place where she can run around in bare feet matters so much to her, and why she feels the biggest gift she could possibly give her kids is a Byron Bay childhood.

I never imagined I would live in Australia. It’s so far away from Spain!

I grew up in such a different environment than my kids are experiencing, but I was always passionate about wildlife, and nature in general. Since I was little, my thing was to be totally surrounded by animals, like a crazy person. I loved horses, and I always wanted to have a farm with animals. I do have my own horses now, and it’s just amazing. I’m trying to give my kids the gift of enjoying life outside. Running barefoot. I grew up in an apartment, surrounded by cars, so living here is like a dream for me. Chris is from Melbourne, and I love it there, but we were on the same page about what we had experienced growing up in cities and that we wanted something different for our kids.

Chris wanted to show me a place he thought was very special, so he brought me here to Byron for a holiday. He had been here before, but when we came together something really clicked for both of us.

Because he is a surfer, he needs to have the ocean really close. We used to go a lot to Costa Rica for that, but we knew we also wanted the community aspect of a small town, where we can just take a moment and have time for ourselves. We decided that, even though it is so far from our where we lived at the time in LA, we’d try living here for, like, three months. And then we fell completely in love with it. One of our favourite spots to go in Spain is San Sebastián. You have the ocean, but also all the greenery, which reminds me a little bit of here. There’s so much nature there, it’s really nice. And also lots of culture and amazing restaurants. But it gets too cold there for me –I didn’t like it. Whereas this tropical weather here… I just love to be barefoot and I am all the time here!

As someone who is from a big city, I was really shocked by how people here are always helping each other.

My kids’ school is so small, so you can all kind of rely on each other and call each other up if you need to, “I got stuck, can you pick up my kids?” And then the floods happened, and that was another level. It was so amazing to watch how everyone get together, and just went for it and tried to help. It was like chains of people saying “who needs what, who is going where, do you need food?” It was just unbelievable. I had never seen something like that and was so impressed by it. The community saved a lot of people, and took care of animals. We all put everything we could in to just help one another.

When I first came to Byron, I just felt the amazing connection with its spirit and the natural beauty. It’s really something very special.

With time, I started to get to learn about the natural botanicals that are here, which are so powerful, and people use them in so many ways. So that was always in the back of my mind, and I have also always been very passionate about skincare. I happened to meet these amazing women who are true beauty professionals, and it felt like kismet. I don’t have the expertise, but they do. We are all very clear about what we want Purely Byron to be.

The sense of community is a huge part of the pride we have in the name of our brand. Because our customers are inspired by what this place represents, so we wanted to give back to this community. One way we could do that, which was key for us, was to use local ingredients. It’s not just about slapping a name on something. The products really are made right here.

My favourite  product in our range is our Native Sunrise Blend Moisturiser. It is amazing when you put it on – you can feel all the essential oils, and then your own beautiful skin.

And I love the Divine Ritual Balm, as well, but coming after that my favourite thing is the Divine Ritual Derma Roller. I cleanse my face first and then use roller on dry skin, with no product on it. I feel like right after the shower, your skin is most ready to absorb whatever you are putting on. So going in with the roller calms and soothes, and then whatever product you put on after you use that feels extra nice. You put it on, know you’re getting the best of it and get into to bed.

It is very difficult and complicated to create natural versions of great makeup, so I just use what I like but as little as possible of it.

I don’t use that much makeup day to day anyway, just mascara, and a cream for cheeks and lips. I’ve been using Stila Convertible Colour cream blush forever. I still remember being really excited when it came out. There are so many now from different brands, but still like that one the best. My favourite mascara is just a basic tubing one, L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to find in Australia. It’s in a red tube with two brushes, one white which is a primer you use first, and then the red brush which has the actual mascara. I’ve been using it for years. I still find it online and stock up. And one tube lasts forever.


Lately I don’t use that much fragrance. I find them so strong now.

I used to have Chloé, and a long time ago, I liked Cacharel’s Anais Anais and Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue. But I feel like in this environment, having a big strong fragrance doesn’t really work. It doesn’t feel like anybody here wears perfume. It’s more about essential oils. I have a lot of doTERRA. I use it a lot for the kids, and put one in the humidifier at night time. I will use the On Guard range if anyone is feeling sick, or blend some different ones together, like oregano and lavender for relaxation. I have all of them. I very much like the Balance blend, too.

Sustainability is very important to me. At home, we do as much as we can.

I think the little things matter, like teaching kids to recycle, showing them how we use solar power, and having them be aware that we try not to consume as much. We also have a little veggie garden for the kids, and it’s beautiful. We like to eat as much as we can from it. At the end of the day, the biggest shifts are only going to happen when we put pressure on governments to change our energy sources and be more sustainable, but we can also do our own bits and pieces at home to help things along.

My dream was always to be an actor, because my grandfather was a theatre actor.

I couldn’t believe that he was a professional, because when he was with me, we’d just be playing, doing dress ups and pretending. So once I realised that’s what he did for work, I just get obsessed with that, and said “I want to be you”. My dad wasn’t keen on that, and told me, “you need to study, you can’t just think about acting”.

So I was taking acting classes on the weekends while studying journalism at university, because I wanted to travel and see the world. And I love to learn about the challenges in life, so I was actually planning to be a war correspondent. I knew it was good to have the two options, in case one didn’t work out. Acting is such a hard path, with endless auditions, but suddenly, just when I finished my journalism studies, I got a part in a Spanish TV show. And from there I started working regularly as an actor.

Having kids and being a mum has definitely being the most challenging part of my life so far.

You try to balance your career with having kids and with your partner, and I think this is a very challenging thing to do. It’s so beautiful, and you have so many amazing moments, but I have to say it is hard.

I am pretty relaxed as a mum, and am not very strict. My own mum wasn’t at all, and my dad only was a little bit. I mean, you need to be strict sometimes, you have to! There’s ups and downs, and every mom knows that you have days where you feel like you are the best mum in the world, and other days where you feel like the worst. We can try to be perfect in work, and sometimes in that space you feel like you do maybe get what you want and need, but as a mum you kind of want a diploma saying ‘you did great’, and you’re never going to get that.

My own mum is always so perfectly groomed. She’s very beautiful.

I lived with my dad growing up, so I didn’t see my mum that often, so when I did, and I got to see all of those beauty routines, I was just like, ‘this is so amazing’. I was really into it. I learned from her to take care of myself, in all the beauty ways. She would come out of shower and apply cream all over her body, like a ritual. I moisturise my whole body every single day, since I was about 15, following in her footsteps. I never forget. I just feel weird if I don’t do it.

I have always been into eating very healthily.

Even when I was young  I would read books about nutrition, and what is good for you and what is not. I became macrobiotic for a while and was really into knowing everything about what I put in my body and the effect it would have. With time, I learned a lot about my body and what worked well for it and what didn’t. But I have never been a strict person with dieting. I eat well constantly as part of my whole lifestyle, instead of doing ups and downs. I never am in the position of feeling‘I need to diet before summer’. For instance, my friends love me because I always ask for dessert – I love dessert – but I will leave a couple of spoonfuls at the end because I have learned that I don’t need the whole portion. So I have taught myself what works for me, and figured out how to find balance.

I eat meat. I eat everything. Everything. I think it is so wrong to generalise – a lot of people say being a vegetarian is best for them, and they have so much energy, but that doesn’t necessarily work for other people. My own theory is you have to know yourself and your own body and your system and what works best for you.

I love to work out at least three days a week. I’ve been working out for so many years now that I can create my own routines because I know what I need for my body.

I’ve been doing a lot of weights lately to feel strong and tone my muscles. I had to do a lot of special weight training when I did the movie Intercepter and I felt awesome after that. I had to get really strong for the role, and filming was very active. I did really hardcore military training for a few months, and I got totally addicted to it. So I’m still doing strength training as much as I can. When I get to the end of a workout I like to feel exhausted. I love a challenge.

And we’ve been doing the ‘hot/cold’ thing afterwards, which feels so good. So once you’re all hot from your workout, you move to a frozen chamber. (We have a proper one now, but we actually started with a normal freezer and kind of rigged it up so we could climb into it!) I started with thirty seconds and now have worked up to two minutes. I put my face in, too. It feels so good after a hard workout! In the beginning, I couldn’t take it, but it’s becoming one of my favourite things to do. If I have time, I like to wait to cool off a bit from the workout, then do a hot shower or even better a classic sauna. And then do the cold thing. It’s so good for you, but doing the whole process does take a while.

I think your own attidue to ageing can be heavily influenced by your mum.

You see her, and think, ‘this is what I’m gonna get’, or ‘that will be me in a few years’, haha. But I like it! My mum has such amazing skin. Everybody says to me “you have such beautiful skin”, and it’s just like… thanks, Mum! It really is just good genes.

Cosmetic treatments can give a lot of help, but they still do not give miracles. You do have to accept that time will change how you look. But also nowadays there are so many different types of things that can help you to look and feel amazing at all different ages. I think it comes from everything – spirituality, all your beauty products and treatments, what you eat, how you take care of yourself, your lifestyle in general. It just sits together. When you look at everything holistically, that’s what makes the real difference.


My fears around ageing aren’t really aesthetic; it’s more about losing my mind, or my way of living, or being unable to do the things I like to do, because I’m a very active person.

We are a very sporty family, so the thought of not being able to go horse riding, or do the things that we do together – that’s what scares me the most. There’s nothing we can do to stop ageing, it’s just going to happen, so for me it is about using what I have to keep healthy.”

Interview by Sigourney. Story by Zoe Briggs. Imagery supplied by Purely Byron and select images from Instagram @elsapataky.

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