TRAVEL TALES | New Zealand's top beauty brands

RECENTLY MY husband and I went off the grid in a rented 1991 Toyota camper van, driving around New Zealand's countryside hopping from winery to winery, staying in a wild bird santuary, hiking around Anchor Bay, relaxing at Hot Water Beach, polishing our heels in the black sand beach at Piha, eating endless Persimons in Matakana, floating in the sulfurous, steamy waters around Auckland... it was an unintentionally healthy getaway jam packed with wellness (even our jam was made from grapes right off the vineyard), nature and pretty fantastic natural beauty products. Yes, I made a point of stopping in every chemist I could find and they were chokka with manuka honey products, thermal clays and all sorts.

The movies (Eagle vs. Shark) and TV shows (Flight of the Concords) that make New Zealand look and sound boring and bitty are wrong. Well, they're wrong if you like beauty (and wine).

So have your pen at the ready because you'll want to jot down these names for the next time you're on the hunt for new beauty game particularly if you've gone more organic with your beauty. You'll notice most brands are niche, eco-aware, free from some common nasties in mainstream brands, locally or sustainably sourced and quite proud of their Kiwi heritage.


Skinfood (although I did find this Korean brand called Skinfood too) is a super affordable range that retails at Waitrose. I started using it when in graduate school back in 2004. Standout ingredients include coconut palm, essential orange, avocado oil, sunflower oil, witch hazel, manuka honey, aloe vera, lavender oil and tea tree oil. The second ingredient in their Light Moisturiser is Aloe. All the products are unisex and, frankly, get the job done at a great price point and without a ton of the nasties.


Snowberry is high-end natural skincare with stand-out serums and cleansers. It's stocked in chi-chi places like Colette. Branding done by Rob Ryan, ingredients like Algae Extract and Pullalan, bio-active peptides, Phytic acid and Totarol.



Karen Murrell makes skincare, bodycare, men's grooming products and cosmetics that are certified organic. Her range of natural lipsticks is gorgeous. Even the packaging (including lipstick tubes) are biodegradable (starting just 100 days after thrown away). All contractors ensure they use ethical working conditions and all of her products are free from parabens, artifical colourants and fragrances, petrochemicals, harsh detergents, talc, TEA and other toxic ingredients. 


Living Nature was created by New Zealand's only Miss Universe. It's one of the more ubiquitous Kiwi brands. There are dozens and dozens of SKUs and many of their skincare and cosmetics have won Natural Health Magazine Awards in the 20 years since they launched. They're certified organic by the German body BDIH. 


Evolu Botanical Skincare is a gorgeous range. Every product starts from a base of the evolu essence, which is pure botanicals and New Zealand spring water. Plant extracts and bioactives are added to this base alongside 100% pure cosmetic grade essential oils. Evoluve is free from parabens, petrochemicals, minerals, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colours and fragrances. The only animal products used are beeswax and lanolin. Shop by skin type or condition.


Huni is all about the Manuka Honey with proprietary honeycomb packaging. Ingredients are sustainably harvested and it's anti-ageing products have been tested in independent trials to diminish the signs of ageing.


Kio Kio body products use no parabens, petrochemicals or derivatives or propylene glycol, PEGS, silicones, GMOs, artificial colours, synthetic fillers, isothiazolinone, DEA or TEA, IBPC, harsh detergents or surfactants. The water used in its products is from New Zealand alpine ranges with high amounts of skin-nourishing silica. The four scent are Pacific Tiare & Ti Kauka, Rainforest & Koromiko, Frangipani & Puriri and Citrus Petal and Tarata (all very New Zealand-South Pacific).


Parrs manufactures many of the products you see in the chemist at the airport in New Zealand, from Wild Ferns manuka honey products to thermal mud products, tea tree oil, New Zealand lanolin and items from the mineral spa waters found there too.

We'll finish this bad boy tomorrow with 8 more amazing Kiwi beauty brands that you have to know about! Until then, check out our favourite new French beauty brand!

READ PART II of the best New Zealand beauty brands...