Christine was recently interviewed about what drove her to avoid toxic chemicals and her journey to creating her own natural skincare and makeup range.
What inspired you to create your own line of skin care and cosmetics?
I have always been interested in making natural healing balms for myself and have done so for many years. But I began to realise that there were more and more people that felt like I did, in that they weren’t happy with the amount of synthetic and potentially toxic chemicals present in conventional skincare and cosmetics. So I decided to learn how to make emulsifications and to make natural skincare correctly and safely so that I could use it for myself and share it with others.
What do you mean when you say ‘correctly and safely’?
Essential oils are extremely powerful. That needs to be respected and they must be used in a safe way. You never use them undiluted or ingest them, and only a tiny percentage needs to be incorporated into your formulations. Some essential oils are phototoxic, (meaning they react with sunlight, resulting in a type of photosensitivity that resembles a severe sunburn.) So you also need to be careful with what products they go into and their intended use. You also need to ensure that your products are safe to use over time, which is why some products need to be stored in a cool place.
Why are you cautious about synthetic chemicals in skin care?
A few years ago, I became really unwell. At the time I was growing orchids for export and I put my illness down to everyday exposure to the insecticides that were used on the flowers. After all, I had been growing orchids for years, so that was a lot of daily contact with products that were designed to kill insects.
That was when I began to feel quite concerned about our exposure to synthetic chemicals. I realised firsthand that something that touches the skin is absorbed into our body and can have negative side effects or even a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing. The thing is, the world we live in is full of synthetic chemicals; they are in our food, skincare, makeup, medicines and of course we are absorbing a ‘chemical soup’ as a result. While many of them are said to be safe, which is open to debate – I personally don’t believe something derived from petroleum is safe – very little is said about the cumulative effect on our health, or the potential for a negative reaction when these chemicals interact with each other. I believe that we should aim to eliminate some of these chemicals and if we can use products that are kind to our skin and our health then even better!
The skin care industry is largely unregulated, particularly in the USA, which is pretty scary. Things are starting to shift though and the world is starting to wake up to the fact that synthetic chemicals can have a negative impact on our health. Right now, legislators in California are considering a bill that would completely ban the sale of cosmetics that contain toxic chemicals that may cause cancer, reproductive disorders, and other hormonal issues. ‘The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act’ is specifically aimed at products that contain any of the ‘20 highly toxic chemicals, including traces of mercury, asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead. Those ingredients have no place in personal care products! My personal belief is ‘why take the risk’ when there are beautiful natural ingredients that offer plenty of benefits without the side effects or potential toxicity.
Do you use any of the plants and herbs from your garden in your skin care?
Yes, I have lived in Whangarei all my life, and am lucky to enjoy the most wonderful ‘beaches and bush’ lifestyle. I harvest some of my herbs from my own property and from carefully selected bush areas (sustainably). I originally started collecting Kawakawa from the bush, but some has started growing naturally on our property, so now I harvest the Kawakawa from my home. I still harvest Tea Tree from the bush and also grow some of the herbs that I need. I grow my St John’s Wort, Lavender, Arnica, Rosemary, Peppermint, Spearmint, Calendula and also Cornflower. I am still working on growing other herbs as well. I do enjoy growing and picking herbs, but my true love is formulating the products.
Does sustainability factor into other areas of your business?
Absolutely, it’s important to me to be environmentally friendly as much as possible. Glass is ideal for packaging as it can be endlessly recycled and it looks pretty too. Therefore, I use glass instead of plastic where I can. When you use plastic, the chemicals (from the plastic) can leach into your products. I only use plastic when necessary either for safety i.e. when using in the shower, or if I can’t source glass for a particular package such as my foaming cleanser. All my products are tested on humans not animals and I have also tried to keep my skincare products suitable for vegans.
What are your most popular products?
I find my most popular products are my Kawakawa & Hemp Balm, Micellar Water, Moisturiser, Body Lotion and Eyeshadows. I think people appreciate how beneficial Kawakawa and Hemp oils are for the skin. The Micellar Cleanser is a 2-in-1 product that is both convenient and cost effective. The Rose Body Lotion smells divine and is a touch of luxury in your skin care routine. The eyeshadows are really popular because they are affordable, natural, apply smoothly and come in a gorgeous range of colours. I sell at the Whangarei markets and my customers there love that they are supporting a small, local business that sells handcrafted products.