It’s fitting that Living Nature – one of the world’s first companies to produce skincare without the use of preservatives or parabens – is based in Kerikeri, in the far north of New Zealand, surrounded by rolling green hills, kauri-filled forests and a spectacular coastline.
Having spent two days at the Living Nature headquarters, which is in the same location that the company began some 20 years ago, it was obvious that the company and its 80-odd staff are collectively passionate about one thing – nature.
The New Zealand-owned company firmly believe that healthy skincare is skincare free of potentially harmful synthetic ingredients and preservatives. Their vast skin care, hair care, body care, spa range and cosmetics also are all certified 100 per cent natural and aim to protect, nurture and enhance your skin, without the adverse effects chemicals can cause.
Each Living Nature product is developed to harness the powerful purifying, healing and nourishing properties of New Zealand botanicals, most of which are found in Northland and are unique to New Zealand. Over 80 per cent of New Zealand’s plants are not found anywhere else in the world, making Living Nature products unique and therefore attractive to other parts of the globe such as Asia and the United Kingdom.
Ingredients such as active manuka honey, harakeke, totara, manuka oil and kumerahou form the basis of the Living Nature range and are used according to their varying potential. Active manuka honey, for example, is known for its healing and rejuvenating properties so is used in products such as the Balancing Day Lotion and the Nourishing Day Cream.
Kumerahou flower has a natural foaming ability, making it the perfect ingredient for cleansers, shampoos and conditioners and therefore replaces the usual synthetic ingredient that is commonly used for this purpose, sodium laurel sulphate.
In fact, in the pioneering days, kumerahou used to be called “gum diggers soap” as the gum diggers would mix the flowers with water to cleanthe sticky gum off their hands.
Another ingredient in the range is nutrient-rich kelp from the sea and halloysite clay (which is extracted from a nearby clay mine) used for its exfoliating and deeply cleansing properties.
The unique formulations at Living Nature are developed by a research and development team, which is headed by the Design Engineer, Brett Alexander, whom I was fortunate enough to spend some time with during my trip as he proved to be a walking encyclopedia on the topic of natural skincare and all that it involves.
Passionate about producing the most natural, safest and effective skincare in the world, Alexander has spent the last four years developing new techniques and machinery that can live up to these expectations. Before he came on board over four years ago, formulas were being mixed together in a bucket with a wooden spoon and then squeezed into containers using a plastic bag with a hole in the bottom.
Now, high-tech, patented machinery has allowed for further development, faster production and higher accuracy. For example, one vessel that Alexander designed in particular and which is used to produce all 32 formulations of Living Nature products, makes 2000 litres of cream a day with one person operating it – compared to the three workers and two days it used to take to produce half the amount.
Another plus about the Living Nature range is that every product undergoes rigorous testing for purity and safety and samples are kept of every tested ingredient that goes into a product so Living Nature can deliver to consumers the rigour of their claims.
The ingredients and products are also independently tested for effectiveness by ABICH Laboratories and certified natural by BDIH Germany, a world-leading independent auditor of natural skincare and cosmetics.
Having been shown around the factory at Living Nature and from spending time with Alexander, it became apparent to me that the success that Living Nature enjoys today is only the beginning and it really is a matter of watching this space as they continue to develop their formulations, unlock potential natural ingredients and further their scientific developments. “We are constantly developing mechanisms to improve our systems and that’s key,” said Alexander, “because if you sit here for five minutes, everyone else catches up.”
On a finishing note, if you haven’t been to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand before, I’d suggest planning a journey there as the sheer beauty of the nature that surrounds you is breathtaking and if you live a fast-paced, city lifestyle it certainly helps bring you back down to earth again. As Alexander said, “everything derives from nature and to go forward we must go back to it and learn from it.”