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Skin Care, New Zealand Style

written by kyle roderick

Skin care new zealand styleDid you know that the vast majority of skin care products (from luxury lines all the way down to discount ranges) contain multiple chemical ingredients whose health hazards are either known to be dangerous or have yet to be determined?

In the U.S., American politician Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and other members of Congress have urged the FDA to reform guidelines regarding permissable chemical ingredients in skin care and cosmetic products.

While U.S. elected officials and government agencies continue to debate over what chemicals can be allowed in skin care preparations, some clean and green alternatives worth trying come from New Zealand. New Zealanders have long been renowned for their “kiwi ingenuity” and pioneering spirits. Continuing the Kiwi path-finding tradition, this nuclear-free South Pacific country produces notably pure, effective and artistically packaged skin care products.

Spread across two small islands with 3.2 million citizens, New Zealand is where relatively unpolluted air, soil and water tables meet the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea to create one of the cleanest environments left on earth. New Zealand lines such as evolu Botanical Skin Care of New Zealand (www.evolu.com), Manuka Honey Skin Care (www.newzealandbeauty.com), Hema (www.hemaproducts.com), Natural Me (www.naturalme.co.nz) and Living Nature (www.livingnature.com) offer high performance yet gentle formulations that soothe, support and protect all skin types.

Based on native spring water, honey, plant, animal, floral and/or ocean extracts, New Zealand skin care products embody essential aspects of this largely pastoral country where gardening, farming, sailing, hiking and other outdoor activities are more than pastimes– they are ways of life. Because the hole in the ozone layer is particularly thin in and around New Zealand, and skin cancer rates are disturbingly high, Kiwis have a heightened awareness of how important it is to protect skin with high SPF sunscreens and to care for the complexion with gentle, nature-based ingredients.

According to evolu’s creator Kati Kasza, “As our largest organ, the skin is the most responsive to irritating chemicals or synthetic formulations. Because skin is our body’s first line of defense against an increasingly polluted environment, it makes good beauty and health sense to incorporate naturally sourced products into one’s skin care regimen.”

New Zealand-specific ingredients include the fundamental element, spring water, which is used in all evolu products. The country’s lack of heavy industry and small population help keep the water table cleaner than it is in the United States, Europe and most Asian countries. The comparative purity of the water table means that Kiwi farmers grow crops in healthy soils that produce plants, trees and flowers alive with vital force.

Mainstays of New Zealand skin care include Kiwi fruit extract and Manuka (a.k.a. tea tree or ti tree) honey and oil. While Kiwi fruit extract helps dead skin cells turn over, it is high in vitamin C and helps tone and clarify skin. Copious scientific research has confirmed the anti-bacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of the Manuka tree. Manuka oil and honey also help reduce blemishes while soothing and protecting skin from sun, wind, rain and chill. (The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand have used Manuka for centuries.)

Kasza, whose mother is an Auckland-area herbalist and gardener, offers an extensive line that includes healing and anti-bacterial Manuka honey lip balm, cleansers, toners and moisturizers, plus wondrously aromatic wildcrafted essential oils. These come in winter, spring, summer and autumn blends and exert accordingly warming, uplifting, cooling and balancing properties.

Evolu sells its six most popular essential oil-based skin care products in an ingenious and compact stack of interlocking, refillable 10 ml. pots. The minikit contains travel essentials of eye gel, night cream, day cream, relaxing creme cleanser, purifying mask and hand and cuticle cream.

The kit fits in your purse for a long weekend or business trip and contains extra lids, in case you want to stash a pot in your pocket. Other standout products are evolu’s invigorating body lotion, which contains New Zealand Kanuka tree extract and other plant extracts that energize and tone skin. The Kanuka, lemon, lyme and ylang ylang essential oils in this lotion give it an androgynously sexy scent.

Another prized Kiwi skin care element is moisture-rich lanolin, the natural oil derived from sheep wool. New Zealand lanolin is universally recognized as the finest lanolin available. New Zealand sheep, (50 million of them!) graze on some of the world’s cleanest and greenest pastures. In particular, the sheep farms in the alpine areas of the South Island of New Zealand produce wool and lanolin of the highest quality.

Natural Me makes an Anti-Aging Creme containing collagen, lanolin, vitamin E and organic plant extracts that rivals the richest luxury brand creams for its enriching properties. Note to the health and budget conscious: this organic product costs about 50 percent less than some of its better-known competitors, while also containing more organic ingredients than most other comparable formulae.

When it comes to skin irritations and disorders, New Zealand Manuka honey is a prized ingredient. Manuka Honey Skin Care’s Active Manuka Honey Cream is formulated specifically to help severe skin disorders and to soothe and heal irritated and troubled skin, wounds and burns.

The cream contains 30% New Zealand active manuka honey blended with vitamin E, chickweed extract, rose water and natural oils derived from apricot kernel, sesame, sweet almond, calendula and New Zealand manuka. Free of health endangering chemicals and parabens, this cream may be used regularly on infected skin areas, skin ulcers, some fungal infections, eczema and other non-specific skin irritations. This product contains no chemicals or parabens.

It’s also worth noting that The Living Nature range addresses all skin types and features acne and eczema products. Their all-natural sun block is a “sun filter lotion” comprised of wild pansy extract, coffee and essential oils. Their long-lasting lipsticks are colored with minerals and contain Manuka honey, beeswax and soothing essential oils.

As the “greener is better” consciousness continues to enlighten American minds and bodies, the health and environmental benefits of New Zealand skin care products look and feel ever more compelling– and holistically beautiful. As new legal guidelines for regulating chemicals in U.S. skin care and cosmetic products appear to be slow in coming, New Zealand products provide all skin types with clean, green and serene skin care alternatives.

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