Yes, yes, we all know by now that I’m from New Zealand, and am… passionate about it, to say the least. And not to prove the fact, but we have many amazing things down there, not the least being skincare. For those of you who don’t know, we have no ozone layer, which means we’re capable of getting second degree burns in 12 minutes in the height of summer. Ouch.
Now, if you’ve learnt anything from Gwyneth Paltrow, you’d know that the sun is the worst thing possible for your skin. Which means us antipodeans have to work twice as hard to keep our skin looking (say it with me in an accent rivalling Steve Irwin) like a be-ew-dee! Which is ideal for us considering we’ve got some stellar skincare brands to SOS (Save Our Skin). Here’s my endeavour to boost the local skincare economy.
Launched in 2019, Emma Lewisham is the answer to New Zealand’s luxury skincare brand – that actually works. Super sustainable, you can buy refills of your products to save on packaging, and her products are formulated with only natural ingredients as she wasn’t happy to use synthetics. Products like her Skin Reset Serum, which is perfect for those of you who want to smooth out their skin tone (not for me because I’m trying to keep my abundance of freckles intact until I’m in the grave at 103), and her Supernatural 72-Hour Crème which combats all signs of aging (me, me, God, me) are her best sellers and have a legitimate cult-like following around the world. The coolest part for me is if you buy a refill instead of the starter product, you reduce your carbon footprint by 74%, and approximately 0.58 litres of Arctic sea ice loss will be prevented through reduced carbon emissions. Siiiiick.
If you haven’t heard of Aesop… how the hell have you heard of me? Do you live out in the Siberian wilderness? Actually, I’m sure even they have Aesop there. The wunderkind of Australian skincare, Aesop has created a brand based on minimalistic design and plant-focused skincare. Although created in Melbourne in 1987, Aesop draws on an almost Japanese-inspired design, with all stores following zen-like interiors, with lots of wood and stone, as well as a large sink to try out their products. Famous for their body wash and liquid soaps, they have also expanded their range into skincare and perfumes. Not kidding – I wash my dog with Aesop Animal, a dog shampoo with a very faint smell of lemon and tea tree. My favourite is A Rose By Any Other Name Body Cleanser, and the Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash with petit-grain that I like to keep in the kitchen for the ultimate exfoliation.
Go-To is relatively new to the scene, and already seems to be taking the world by storm. Sold in Aus and NZ, it recently launched in Sephora in the States which made Go-To less of our little secret, and more internationally recognized and respected for the great Aussie brand it is.
With cult products such as Face Hero oil and their Much Brighter Skin Vitamin C Serum, it’s hard not to jump on the train, especially since the brand is run by an ex-beauty editor – so you know after years of rating product, she’s put all her expertise into Go-To. And they’re carbon neutral.
A slightly more advanced brand than their Aussie cousin Go-To, Alpha-H is a pioneer in transformational skincare. They’ve been going for 25 years, which on the Gold Coast is a long time (have you seen how quickly the coral reefs are dying?) and they’ve learned a lot – which is that glycolic acid is the holy grail. But they call it Liquid Gold. An anti-aging, cell-rejuvenating product that has extended into an entire line including a serum and an eye-cream. Another hero product is their Balancing Cleanser, which won the Best Of Beauty in the Allure Awards 2021. With a team comprised of 70% women, and an initiative to help get women back into the workforce after time away, Alpha-H is not only making efforts in sustainability, but is also uber-feminist, which we like to see.
Kora has been previously forementioned on here in my post about non-comedogenic moisturizers, so you know it’s good and I genuinely enjoy using it. Started by everybody’s favourite Victoria’s Secret model, Miranda Kerr, in 2009, Kora specializes in organic and natural ingredients. One of their hero ingredients is the Noni fruit, which Miranda has been drinking since she was 13 as a healing product (mine is Manuka honey, every grandma has their special healing potion and mine was Manuka honey) and has incorporated into many of the Kora products. Apart from their moisturizers, the Noni Glow Face Oil is a great facial oil for beginners, and has won loads of beauty awards, so you know it’s legit. Is clean beauty a farce? Maybe, but Kora’s products are tried-and-tested-good – trust me.
One of my favourite brands on this list, and not the least because it’s a kiwi brand championing indigenous ingredients, Aotea was founded in 2017 on Great Barrier Island (Aotea is the Māori name) with Māoritanga (Māori culture) and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in mind. They grow the ingredients for their products on the same land they manufacture it, and following tikanga (cultural belief) believe in true sustainability. Taking the responsibility of being kaitiaki (guardians) of our whenua (land), Aotea only take what they need for their products; never picking too much off any plants, and leaving enough honey in the hives for the bees throughout the winter. With Manuka honey (told you so, best healing ingredient out there) and harakeke seed, these healing ingredients are the perfect focus for skincare. Between sunburn and acne, our skin goes through a lot, and Aotea focuses on native healing ingredients to bring us back to basics, and heal us through ancient mātauranga. My favourite product is the Kawakawa Balm, perfect to help me combat my eczema-strewn hands through the winter months.
The new kid on the block, Foile is an Australian clean skincare brand, with a strong ethos of sustainability and purity. With a concept store set up in Bondi, the brand exudes calm and cool, with glass bottles of oils and cleansers looking like an abstract painting, and is the perfect addition to your bathroom shelf-ie.
Their Marula Face Oil is my favourite, but if you don’t like the smell of Marula they also have Jojoba and Hemp. Folie’s face oils go hand in hand with their mushroom gua sha to make you feel like a million dollars, right before you go to bed (or when you wake up a little worse for wear.)
Triumph & Disaster
In a very blokey culture, there’s nothing more exciting than a kiwi men’s skincare brand. Created in 2011 by Dion Nash, an ex-cricketer, I suppose there’s no one better matched to create a men’s skincare line than a sportsman always in the sun. They make a great sunscreen called No Dice, which although I guess technically marketed towards men, has a fantastic smell – and sunscreen doesn’t have a gender, so there’s that. With highly rated moisturisers and face masks, Triumph & Disaster is a brand you can turn to, albeit with more woody, smoky, peppermint-y scents than our feminine cousin from across the ditch, Kora.
What started in Australia in 2008 is now a worldwide staple, and a direct competitor of industry titan, Aesop. Focusing on active natural ingredients, Grown Alchemist covers nearly all facets of beauty – face, body, and even hair! Their camomile, bergamot, and rose Body Wash is one of my absolute faves, and while I’m soaping up I’m also partial to using their Polishing Facial Exfoliant to make me feel extra squeaky clean. With non-descript glass bottles, it’s a perfect addition to your bathroom to make you look like you’ve got your shit together. I know when I visit my mate’s house and they’ve got matching body wash and body lotion, I feel self-assured that I’ve picked a friend with fantastic taste. Be like my mate.
Sand and Sky
You’ve probably seen their ads on Instagram, but apart from their intensive marketing strategies, Sand and Sky is actually a great Australian brand that uses one of Australia’s skin secrets – pink clay. It detoxes and absorbs all your impurities, while making those pores disappear… Their Australian Pink Clay Pore Refining Mask even comes with a cute brush which you can use to apply, instead of going in fingernails first and spreading bacteria all through your pristine pink clay pot. After my face is feeling nice and tight, I like to follow up with the Hydration Boost Cream, made with Tasmanian spring water to make you feel like you’re fresh back from swimming in the local Tasmanian watering hole like a little river nymph. A girl can dream.
Feature image via Elle UK August 2021