My eyes often glaze over when I read press releases from natural beauty companies. They’re often filled with words such as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘innovative’ when in reality, they’re nothing more than home-based businesses creating eco beauty products from their kitchen, using proven natural beauty methodologies like throwing in a few certified organic ingredients and using cute recyclable feminine packaging.
No offence to small natural beauty businesses, but that’s not exactly my idea of revolutionary or innovative. That’s more like, yeh, get in the general eco beauty line LOL.
So when Au Natural Skinfood reached out and I read “premium skincare”, “scientifically formulated”, “scientifically proven”, “subscription membership” and “sustainable packaging” and I saw the well-styled product images, my eyes widened and my ears pricked up.
Now here’s a brand that seems to be backing their ‘revolutionary’ claims, I thought. Scientifically proven, big tick. Subscription membership for a complete natural skincare range is innovative indeed and super useful to people like me who leave things to last minute to make another purchase and forced to wait days and sometimes weeks for products to arrive.
As for the packaging, I particularly liked that all packaging is sustainable (compostable, reusable, recyclable) from the courier bag to the product container and everything in between.
Intrigued, I decided to snoop around the website and found more evidence of ‘innovation’.
On the minimalist-designed home page, there was an image of products in what looked like aluminium packaging. Some coated in black and white colours. Unisex appeal, well done, I thought. On the tail end of the millennial generation, I’m a sucker for anything that’s not millennial pink or cutesy.
On the page, I also noticed an option on the top navigation menu, “Risk-Free Trial” it read. Personally, I’m not exactly risk-averse, but I do like that the brand is thinking ahead, trying to win over converts by making it as easy for people to give the products a try.
I click on the words and it takes me to a scrolling page designed to win me over with a stylish pic of the products, details of benefits such as free shipping and up to 40 percent off, information accompanied with product images about what’s included followed with five-star customer reviews. The call to action for trialling? $16.95 for $45 worth of product. This eco-beauty brand knows a thing or two about UX and conversions. I worked in digital marketing in a past life so this sort of thing is refreshing to see.
I click on the ‘About’ and am met with logos and words such as “NZ Vegetarian Approved”, “Pregnancy Safe”, “Paraben Free Preservatives”, “Cruelty-Free” and “BPA Free.”
I click through to the ‘Science’ section and learn that objective scientific research is completed on the products by Trinity BioActives Laboratories in New Zealand. I’m impressed to learn that these independent tests show skin cell renewal increased by 80 percent and that products with Kiwifruit extract had skin whitening effects. Better tell my mum, I thought. Filipinos have an obsession with white flawless skin and buying formulated skin whitening products laden with chemicals is a thing.
What impressed me, even more, is the accompanying tables and graphs. It’s not often one sees this sort of thing on a beauty website.
After what I learned and saw, I wanted to find out more. I went back to them with a heap of questions. Here’s how our Q&A went down:
Eco Warrior Princess: Tell me about your origin story. What was the spark that created the idea?
Au Natural Skinfood: Au’s original focus was on crafting beautiful, highly effective skincare formulations using only the best New Zealand natural ingredients. While working hard to eliminate everything harmful within the products we recognised the need to address that which was harmful on the outside.
Skincare and beauty packaging contributes to the devastating plastic pollution threatening our planet; the carbon footprint linked to its production is high. Whereas other skincare companies have largely ignored the packaging challenge, Au Natural saw this as an opportunity for innovation with the chance to make a difference. The Au focus was quickly refined, the team was extended, and the #AuNaturalRevolution for a more conscious concept of skincare began.
EWP: Describe the research and development stage. Are either of you founders scientists or botanists? How did you develop the products?
ANS: Independent scientific research was conducted by Trinity BioActives Laboratories in New Zealand on the Human Skin Cell Proliferation Testing commissioned by Natural Health Products Limited with the assistance of a New Zealand Government Ministry of Science and Innovation grant. The objective of the research was to test the effects on skin cell proliferation/stimulation of eight test samples which contained various BioActive ingredients from the Au Natural Skinfood range.
EWP: With sustainability being a priority for many shoppers nowadays and greenwashing increasingly rampant, how can customers be assured that your products are natural and eco-friendly?
ANS: We engaged the independent guidance and validation of professional organisations. All our ingredients are put through rigorous testing to ensure their efficacy on the skin, that they are ethically sourced and grown, and that they deliver the best results in a healthy way. Our aim is to provide transparency in the information that we use to market our products, ensuring it is reliable and easy to understand. We are Vegetarian Society certified, we carry the New Zealand Fernmark and New Zealand Natural Product mark amongst other certifications and endorsements. We don’t just say that our products work, we actually prove it through our scientific research.
EWP: Tell me about the subscription model – why this model?
ANS: The lighter packaging and the subscription model allow us to provide high-quality products at 40% off retail price. Plus, you never run out of your favourite products as you receive everything automatically straight to your door.
EWP: I like the idea of refillables to reduce packaging waste. Can you tell me about the packaging of your products and the decision process – why those packaging materials?
ANS: We are working on a compostable version of our eco-refills, but it’s proven quite difficult to find a material that doesn’t compost once in contact with wet goods such as skincare products. The next best option was the material we are currently using – a pouch made for the 85 percent of corn starch or sugarcane, totally recyclable and made from annually renewable resources.
We chose aluminium for the containers, as it can be used over and over again and it can be constantly and easily recycled. Plastic, on the other hand, can be recycled only a limited amount of times and needs to be disposed of in a certain way to be actually recycled (needs to be dry, with no product residue in it). The amount of plastic ending in landfill is much higher compared to the aluminium.
EWP: What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received from a customer?
It’s hard to choose one single bit of feedback! We often hear that people see an improvement in a few days, and our products have significantly improved critical situations (such as severe acne or dry skin) where a lot of other products have failed.
EWP: What is something you rarely advertise or publicise that you wish your customers knew about you or your business?
ANS: People often think that extracting bee venom or using bee products is not ethical. In our case, that’s totally wrong! Our bees grow and live in an organic apiary in the North Island of New Zealand, where their venom is extracted in total safety, for the workers and for the bees. A glass sheet is placed into the beehive along with a very weak electrical current running through it. When bees sit on the glass, the weak current encourages them to stick out their stingers and pump out a small amount of venom. This does not remove their stingers or harms them in any way. Due to the pheromones that are released by the bees who stung the glass sheet, other bees in the beehive follow suit.
We have recently received the Vegan certificate for our On The Go Mineral powder foundation with sunscreen, and for other products that we are going to launch soon.
To learn more about Au Natural Skinfood, click here.
Liked what you read? Want to give Au Natural Skinfood a try? Use our code ecowarrior15 which gives you 15% off the first two months’ subscription to their monthly plan. Please note: The discount kicks off after the trial and doesn’t apply to the annual subscription.