What We Can Learn About Skin Care From One of ‘The Most Beautiful Countries In The World’

Photo: Getty Images / chameleonseye
Humans reached New Zealand for the first time a mere 800 years ago, when ancestors of the Māori people came from Polynesia to settle in the island nation. Until then, the country's lush forests had millions of years to evolve, untouched, paving the way for the pristine landscape that has earned it top billing as one of the most beautiful places in the world. But not only do New Zealand's glaciers, mountains, and volcanoes lend themselves to desktop background photos and movie sets (Lord of the Rings, anyone?), they also make for some pretty great skin care.

“Even today, New Zealand’s low population density and its isolation mean it’s blessed with nutrient-rich unpolluted nature,” says Elizabeth Barbalich, founder and CEO of Antipodes. Fertile soil, pure air, and clean rainfall combine to produce bioactive trees and plants rich in skin-enhancing properties. “We’re fortunate to have access to native plants that are only found in our corner of the world. Originating in remote and wild locations, these include the manuka tree that gives us world-famous manuka honey, as well as harakeke flax gel, mamaku black fern, and kawakawa—all renowned for their protective and regenerative properties," she adds.

Experts In This Article
  • Brianne West, Brianne West is the CEO of beauty brand Ethique.
  • Dion Nash, Dion Nash is the founder of Triumph and Disaster was a professional cricketer, a sport that exposed his skin to harsh conditions.
  • Elizabeth Barbalich, Elizabeth Barbalich is the CEO and Founder of Scientific Green Beauty Brand Antipodes.
  • Karen Murrell, Karen Murrell is the founder of clean beauty line of the same name, Karen Murrell.
  • Sophie Cooper, Sophie Cooper is the Founder of Anihana.

Because so much of New Zealand's skin-care culture is built on harnessing the healing powers of plants, its inhabitants are committed to protecting its natural resources at all costs. “Many New Zealanders are lucky enough to grow up experiencing the outdoors and therefore develop an affinity for it and look to protect it through their lives,” says Brianne West, the CEO of beauty brand Ethique. “People from New Zealand often have a strong connection with the land, and this comes through in the branding, the ingredient selection, and the way we approach sustainability." Eliminating waste is a core value of most New Zealand-based beauty brands, and a large majority are 100 percent plastic free with fully compostable packaging and conscious ingredients. Keep scrolling to learn more about some of our favorites.

Olive Natural Skin Care

olive brightening face moisturizer
Olive Brightening Face Moisturiser — $18.00

Olive Natural Skincare is crafted with a blend of botanical ingredients to deliver natural formulas that will leave your skin luminous, nourished, and protected. Olive leaf extract is the hero of the entire line, and is beloved for its ability to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and redness.

anihana bath bomb
Anihana Melt Manuka Honey Bath Bomb — $5.00

Anihana handcrafts hair, bath, and body products with less water and energy than the average liquid soap. The brand uses clean ingredients, minimal packaging, and sustainable manufacturing processes without compromising on personality. This bath bomb, for example, uses manuka honey (a New Zealand favorite!) to calm and moisturize the skin.

triump&disaster cleanser
Triumph and Disaster Ritual Face Cleanser — $30.00

Triumph and Disaster founder Dion Nash decided to create his own complexion-care line after his career as a professional cricket player exposed his skin to harsh conditions. Through trial and error, He developed eco-friendly skin, hair, and body care products using natural, plant-based ingredients. “From day one we said ‘ashes to ashes,’ meaning everything we make flows to the sea eventually, so it must be natural and cause no harm. This has been our mantra for the past eleven years,” he says.

karen murrell natural lipstick
Karen Murrell Natural Lipstick — $20.00

Karen Murrell couldn’t find any sustainable, clean, and luxurious lipstick options, so she created some of her own. “As children, we were taught the importance of chemical-free ingredients and looking after our land before it became fashionable,” she says. The formulas are made from a combination of avocado and evening primrose oils, candelilla, carnauba wax, cinnamon, and sweet orange to nourish lips while also infusing them with a pop of color.

ao am treatment
Ao Skincare Raw Nourish AM Treatment Moisturizer — $65.00

Led by Harvard-trained dermatologist Mark Gray, MD, Ao Skincare’s products help to restore the skin barrier so that it can naturally protect and defend itself. This particular morning moisturizer offers hydration, antioxidant protection, and antimicrobial benefits to keep your complexion operating at peak capacity.

antipodes vit c serum
Antipodes Glow Ritual Vitamin C Serum — $48.00

Antipodes’ organic formulas are filled with a cornucopia’s worth of natural ingredients. This vitamin C serum contains antioxidant-rich grape and kiwi seed oil, hydrating avocado oil, and (of course) manuka honey to give your skin exactly what it needs to start the day feeling refreshed. What’s more, the brand’s premium recyclable packaging has saved more than 10 million plastic containers from landfill to date.

ethique frizz wrangler
Ethique Frizz Wrangler — $15.00

Ethique specializes in “beauty bars” that nix the plastic-heavy packaging in favor of concentrated formulas in solid form. Founder Brianne West studied cosmetic chemistry at university and developed Ethique’s original formulas in her home kitchen, and the result is some of our favorite package-free products on the market.

trilogy rosehip oil
Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ — $33.00

Trilogy was founded in 2002 by two Kiwi sisters who wanted to harness the powers of rosehip seed oil to create simple, easy-to-use skin-care products. The ingredient is packed with vitamins A and C and essential fatty acids, and can help reduce the appearance of acne scars and dullness, fight inflammation and hyperpigmentation, and can increase skin elasticity.


essano elixir
Essano Visible Repair Facial Elixir — $50.00

Essano Skincare was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to natural products that deliver amazing results without having to spend a zillion dollars for the sake of the cause—and not a single one of the brand’s SKUs costs more than $50. To ensure the effectiveness of the formulas, the brains behind the brand hand-select ingredients proven for their effectiveness—like rosehip oil and turmeric—and have their own in-house chemists, on-site lab, and manufacturing facility to control every step of the process.

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