Force of nature

Hardy plants and minerals survive and even thrive in the toughest of environments. Skincare brands find themselves taking a leaf out of nature’s book when it comes to sourcing ingredients that can protect and perfect our skin. Let’s take a look at what’s trending. 

Words Pamela McIntosh.

Chia seed

“While chia is super-nourishing and hydrating, the real kicker is the anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Erica Andersen, Goodness brand manager. “Your skin feels healthy, like it’s just drunk a big ol’ green smoothie, and it will help to calm and soothe skin.” Fast-absorbing chia has been a hit and now features in a plethora of skin-loving serums and lotions. Andersen says that the specific oil they use – sourced from a mountainous, volcanic region in South America – has a proven 3:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, which sets it apart from other oils. We recommend Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum, $54; Goodness Certified Organic Chia Seed Oil, $24.

Deep cleanse, detox

The charcoal used in skincare is often plant-derived. “Making charcoal is an ancient industry,” says Anna Heavens, LUSH Product Trainer. “We use trees such as oak, ash, hazel and chestnut which are seasoned for some time then burned in kilns for up to 16 hours until the wood is carbonised, then ground into a fine powder.” Carbon Coco’s teeth-whitening charcoal is created by heating “typical charcoal in the presence of a specific gas that makes it very porous.” We recommend Carbon Coco Teeth-Whitening Charcoal, $53; Red Seal Activated Charcoal, $8; Sukin Purifying Cleanser, $14; QVS Charcoal Sponge, $10; Origins Clear Improvement Mask, $41; Lush Cleanser, $19.

Kukui nut

Hailing from Hawaii, kukui nut oil is useful for treating sunburn, windburn, chapped skin, and it’s even been used in hospitals to help speed up the healing process. “This oil is cold-pressed,” explains Botanical Beauty director Rachel Muollo, “meaning there is no heat or solvents used in the extraction process. It’s a dry oil which is easily absorbed into the skin.” Emma McLean of Lakoko Balm adds that kukui nut oil “feeds the skin with nutrients but doesn’t cause a greasy film”. Hair transformation guru Kevin Murphy says kukui nut is gentle enough to be used on babies’ skin, a high source of omega 3 and 6 which helps the hair to retain moisture and reduce frizz.” We recommend Kevin Murphy Luxury Wash, $45; Botanical Beauty Co. Body Balm, $20; Lakoko Coconut and Kukui Nut Balm, $50.

Preservation, radiance

Surviving in extreme conditions in the waters of Bréhat Islands, France, lives the hardy Arctic winged kelp (a form of seaweed). It’s the choice of sea algae used in Trilogy’s Rosapene™ Radiance Serum. Says Lisa Wilson from Trilogy, “It’s made up of a web of elastic fibres which preserve tissue integrity and ensure cohesion and firmness of the cell architecture. It can preserve skin tissue from accelerated ageing and provide firmness, radiance, as well as combat the effects of environmental pollution.” The Herb Farm in Manawatu harvests seaweed from the Marlborough Sounds and uses a natural water-extraction method to target the micro-actives from the seaweed. We recommend Trilogy Rosapene Radiance Serum, $45; The Herb Farm Radiance Serum, $40; Jane Iredale Dream Tint Moisturiser, $93; La Mav Advanced Night Repair Cream, $50; Savar Wonder Lift Serum, $85.

Sea salt

After conducting research around the benefits of the Dead Sea salts coming from the Middle East, Swisse skincare – perhaps best known for their supplements – felt inspired to add the mineral-rich ingredient to their new skincare range from a closer-to-home source, the Murray-Darling Basin in South Eastern Australia. “The high mineral content of sea salt makes it an ideal complement
to the skin,” says the Swisse naturopathic team. “It closely resembles the properties of skin’s Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF), which can help maintain hydration and suppleness. We recommend 20 Swisse Deep Sea Hydrating Mist Toner, $12.

Restore, replenish

This rich and tasty fruit is not only a nutritional joy to eat, its antioxidant compounds are also beneficial to the skin. Olive Skincare use it throughout an entire product range because it is “extremely regenerative” and can help to maintain skin health – improving elasticity and providing soothing, hydrating relief even for extra-dry skin. Savar skincare boasts the fruit extract in its anti-ageing Antioxidant Night Cream, which replenishes skin while you’re sleeping. Director Vicky Woolford explains the process: “The pomegranate extract is made to order in New Zealand for Savar using a proprietary process whereby pomegranate is extracted into glycerin.” We recommend Weleda Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream, $46; Olive Pomegranate Hand & Nail Cream, $18; The Body Shop Pomegranate Toner, $43; Only Good Delight Body Wash, $9.

Improves texture and strength

A stunning flower known for its longevity and grace, orchid oil is in full bloom in beauty companies worldwide. “Orchid oil has a feather-like texture,” says Emma Hobson, education manager of Dermalogica. “It smooths the skin and has skin strengthening properties.” It’s a plant that retains moisture (house orchids only need watering once a week), and it is very hydrating for your skin too.We recommend L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse Néroli & Orchidée Bath Milk, $49; Dermalogica Phyto Finish Oil, $139; Clarins Blue Orchid, $60; Herbivore Botanicals Orchid Facial Oil, $139.

White tea

White tea is the least processed type of tea (less so than black tea or green tea). It is made of young tea buds that are steamed immediately after harvest in order to retain the most catechins (antioxidants), meaning white tea is often higher in antioxidants than green tea. Dr. Elma Baron, director of the Skin Study Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland, says, “White tea protects the skin’s immune system. Similar to the way oxidation causes a car to rust, oxidative stress on the skin causes a breakdown in cellular strength.” We recommend A’kin White Tea & Cornflour Eye Day Gel, $30; Linden Leaves Miraculous Facial Oil, $65; Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Wipes, $12.


Relax, we’re talking about a plant. Named after its bristly horse tail appearance, this plant has been a go-to herbal remedy for centuries. “Horsetail has long been used to cure a variety of ailments,” says Zoe Sokolov, who uses horsetail in her So Simple skincare range. “Rich in bioflavonoids, niacin, vitamin C and minerals – particularly silica, which is known to strengthen skin tissue – it’s very effective in rebuilding and regenerating damaged skin cells.” Horsetail gives the moisturising effect we’re all after, and studies have shown that its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agents give it healing capabilities for wounds, rashes, burns, skin lesions and acne. Carolyn Armstrong of Sub24 Skincare says the benefits of horsetail and silica extend to wellbeing in general, promoting strong nails, hair and teeth. We recommend Sub24 Daily Antioxidant Moisturiser, $34; So Simple Face Toner, $30.

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