Five minutes with: Elizabeth Barbalich

Where does your passion for skincare come from?

I have always been interested in skincare ingredients. As a family we have a genuine interest in organic products and we live by an organic lifestyle on a daily basis.

My original desire was to bring to the market premium fully certified organic products from fully sustainable sources, which can be used every day by everyday women.

Where do you get your inspiration?

New Zealand nature provides me with the inspiration for the key ingredients, and I am discovering more unique and incredibly functional ingredients in this part of the world – the antipodes.

I am highly inspired by the fabulous and dedicated scientists we have in New Zealand, who are as passionate as I am about formulas.

We are now working alongside biotechnology companies to increase our knowledge and bring more science to the brand. This is evident in our Hosanna Intensive Hydrating Serum and Grapeseed Butter Cleanser, which feature our revolutionary vinanza grapeseed extract. This is scientifically proven to have the worlds highest levels of antioxidants in grapeseeds, and clinically proven to increase elasticity and firmness by 15 per cent.

I am also inspired by music, fashion and design.

What is your favourite Antipodes product?

It is hard to pick as I do love all of them, so much focus and intensity is involved in each product at the development stage. Then of course I name all the products according to either function or a metaphor of the amazing spirituality in New Zealand native bush.

My current favourites are the Grapeseed Butter Cleanser, followed closely by Rejoice Light Facial Day Cream.

What makes the new Grapeseed Butter Cleanser so special?

Ageless beauty begins with perfectly cleansed skin. Therefore the most important product in my view in terms of investment has to be a highly functional cleanser.

Grapeseed Butter Cleanser is ideally used at night and has the ability to quickly diminish acne, bring calm to red and sensitive skins, whilst also providing nourishment and refinement to more mature skins. It is perfect for any skin condition with a sensitivity and we have received very high accolades on this product.

Why are Certified Organic ingredients important?

Organic products mean using premium ingredients, which are non refined and non modified, offering you the most luxurious offering from nature. However, my view is only to produce certified organic products if they are premium and results-oriented.

Organic raw materials come from fully certified farms, which means that these farms are providing fully sustainable options for ingredients, without putting pesticides into the soil.

The raw materials are then processed according to strict criteria under IFOAM, meaning that they are not subjected to any over refinements or processing.

Therefore less carbon emissions are imparted as part of the process and we have a genuinely light carbon footprint.

You travel a lot for your work, what is your favourite destination and why?

India. Because it’s exotic, intoxicating and invigorating. It’s life right before your eyes.

Followed by London.

What are you must-have travel products?

  • Grapeseed Butter Cleanser – as your skin is often prone to breakouts when travelling, so this product clears and plumps the skin.
  • Divine Face Oil – for an intensive moisture boost.
  • Vanilla Pod Day Cream – hydrating, luscious, evens out texture.
  • Reincarnation Facial Exfoliator – a must.

Which songs are on rotation on your iPod at the moment?

No ipod! But I do love Carla Bruni, Kid Rock, Bic Runga, Goldenhorse.

What do you do to unwind?

Sleep. Or if I am very lucky, read a book on the weekend.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

My three children. The occasional luxury magazine to read – favourite is MiNDFOOD and fresh raw vegetable juice every morning processed in our juicer.

Natural success

Founded on Kati Kasza’s personal view that the key 
to lasting beauty is to maintain the skin’s own 
natural balance, the Evolu skincare range is based on a simple yet potent botanical system. Driven by Kasza’s desire to create natural skincare without the usual trade-offs, as well as her ongoing passion for botanical ingredients, the evolution of the range is not surprising, particularly considering her upbringing.

Kasza’s parents arrived in New Zealand in 1950 as refugees from Hungary. Her father was a winemaker, her mother 
a horticulturist and herbalist. Their appreciation of fine natural ingredients and the power of nature was passed on to Kasza at a young age. “At the time I felt we stuck out like a sore thumb because we were drinking freshly squeezed juices and real coffee and eating bread homemade with ground rye – things that no other Kiwi was drinking or eating in the ’60s and ’70s,” Kasza says. “When we were sick we had natural remedies rather than [pharmaceutical] medicines. They always worked.”

As an adult Kasza was eager to learn other languages and she started working as an international flight attendant. While it benefited her French, it was unfortunate for her skin. “My skin became problematic because of the constant time-zone changes, the climatic changes, airconditioning, the stress of travel and, of course, lack of sleep,” Kasza says.

Frustrated with being unable to find skincare products that helped her skin complaints, Kasza resolved to look for her own solution. Using her deep knowledge of botanicals, which she had gained from her mother, and avoiding synthetics ingredients, Kasza set to work in her kitchen, creating a small batch of products with one aim in mind: to restore balance to her skin.

Satisfied that her products were effective on her own skin, Kasza had her fellow flight attendants try the homemade concoctions. “When someone told me they would buy them if I were to make them to order, the entrepreneurial spirit in me reared its head and that was the beginning of Evolu,” Kasza recalls.

The essence of each Evolu product is a unique base of pure botanicals and 100 per cent New Zealand spring water. The 
plant extracts used in the products include kiwifruit seed oil, kawakawa oil, kanuka oil, manuka honey, avocado oil, grapefruit oil and lavender oil.

While Evolu products have moved out of the kitchen and into a professional laboratory, each product is still inspired, customised and perfected by Kasza and her husband, Paul Westlake, who is 
a joint shareholder and director of the company.