Hered­i­tary herbal­ist

Hor­ti­cul­ture, herbal­ism and good taste are in the blood of skin­care range cre­ator Kati Kasza.

Element - - Beauty - By Re­becca Barry Hill

It’s no won­der evolu founder Kati Kasza was al­ways mak­ing po­tions as a child. When her Hun­gar­ian im­mi­grant par­ents moved to Hawkes Bay in the 1950s, her fa­ther set up as a wine­maker and her mother as a herbal­ist and hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ist.

“I was al­ways help­ing with her­bal reme­dies if we were sick or in­jured. I vividly re­mem­ber hav­ing a ter­ri­ble bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dent and my mother made this in­cred­i­ble tinc­ture with thyme. I didn’t have any scar­ring.”

Kasza founded evolu skin­care in 1997, and now, with a staff of just nine, the brand has grown to the point where it is stocked in 100 stores around the coun­try. Their botan­i­cal prod­ucts are also sold online and are poised to go into Am­cal Unichem phar­ma­cies. Evolu is al­ready in Sin­ga­pore and Kasza hopes to ex­pand into Korea and Tai­wan.

For­merly an English and French teacher, Kasza later be­came an in­ter­na­tional flight at­ten­dant – a life­style that was great for her French but not so good for her skin. “I just couldn’t find any skin­care prod­ucts that were so­phis­ti­cated like a lot of the syn­thetic brands with that lovely silky feel, but I didn’t want to put chem­i­cals on my skin.”

So she threw her­self into study­ing the ben­e­fits of plant-based ex­tracts. At the time her mother was the Pres­i­dent of the Auck­land Herbs So­ci­ety so she at­tended the meet­ings, read as much as she could about bioac­tive ingredients and even­tu­ally en­listed the help of sci­en­tists to come up with the evolu for­mu­las. The idea was to cre­ate a nat­u­ral range that could be suited to an in­di­vid­ual’s skin­care needs.

It might seem a brave move com­pet­ing with the plethora of ex­pen­sive anti-age­ing prod­ucts on the mar­ket but evolu’s pop­u­lar­ity and high-end po­si­tion­ing (guests at the five-star Kauri Cliffs are privy to evolu fa­cials) is proof there’s a de­mand for lo­cally-made prod­ucts with de­ci­pher­able ingredients. The evolu range con­tains no parabens, petro­chem­i­cals, min­er­als, ph­tha­lates, sul­fates, ar­ti­fi­cial colours or fra­grances, and no an­i­mal prod­ucts other than beeswax and lano­lin. And while the pack­ag­ing is sourced off­shore, it is re­cy­clable.

The key mes­sage be­hind the brand is that of main­tain­ing skin’s nat­u­ral bal­ance. Per­haps it’s partly to do with Kasza’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for her fa­ther’s wine, but each evolu prod­uct also has a dis­tinct aroma.

So can ba­sic plant ingredients such as man­darin and manuka honey fight the signs of age­ing as ef­fec­tively as all those fancy sci­ence-based com­pounds? Yes, says Kasza, whose less-is-more ap­proach to her for­mu­las means the po­tency is higher.

“It’s a bit like cook­ing. The fewer fresh herbs you use the bet­ter be­cause you can ac­tu­ally taste those ingredients. Our for­mu­las are sur­pris­ingly straight­for­ward, there’s a lot that we avoid. That’s what peo­ple love about evolu. We take away all the mys­tery.”

Kati Kasza Photo: Ted Baghurst

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