As global beauty brands pledge to clean up their act by 2025, the founders of Christchurch natural skincare company Au Natural Skinfood think that’s too long to wait and have come up with an innovative refill solution to replace single use plastic bottles
Imagine every eight weeks the moisturiser you’re just about to run out of magically turns up at your door. You smile in relief because your skin loves this stuff and so does the environment. It’s so satisfying to open the compostable courier bag and then squeeze the contents – a new batch of moisturiser – from a sugarcane pouch into a reusable tin and know that it’s in carbon credit.
It sounds futuristic, and it is considering many brands are working to a 2025 deadline to come up with clever solutions to a big problem, but thanks to the determination of Christchurch husband-andwife duo Tracy and Tony Ahern, it’s happening now.
In August, the Aherns launched Au Natural Skinfood and rolled out their subscription model that ticks the beauty and happy planet boxes.
Instead of encouraging people to just recycle plastic containers, they decided to make Au Natural’s packaging reusable and refillable via plant-based eco refills. The skincare products are packaged in reusable and refillable aluminium containers. The eco-refills use natural plant-based products such as sugarcane and corn starch, as the raw material – a renewable source that reduces carbon dioxide, rather than releasing it. The standard internal cardboard packaging has been replaced by reusable cotton shopping bags and orders delivered in a 100 per cent compostable courier bag. The new system has also reduced the traditional packaging size by 75 per cent.
Fifty grams of product fits into what Tracy describes as “a tin that looks like shoe polish”. She hopes even if people don’t go on to use the product continually that the tins will be reused as storage containers from paper clips to jewellery.
Their thinking-green philosophy doesn’t just apply to the packaging and delivery methods but also to the product formulations. The range is natural and made with pure, New Zealandsourced ingredients that are vegetarian certified and chemical free.
A beauty therapist for more than 30 years, Tracy says it was important “to follow our honesty”.
“We don’t claim to do anything but we want people to find out, review and talk about it themselves. There are no false claims made.”
The AM moisturiser, suitable for all skin types, is a combination of unpasteurised active 16+ manuka honey and powerful antioxidants that nourish and protect the skin’s barrier function. The PM night crème is also deeply nourishing and contains pure bee venom which helps support skin cell regeneration as you sleep. “You need a stimulant to trigger a response in the skin otherwise all you are doing is moisturising and hydrating,” Tracy explains. “If we get blood to the surface we get collagen and elastin naturally occurring and repairing.” The whole range is designed to strengthen the skin’s barrier function.
While the refillable pouches containing the product are made from corn starch – including the spout and cap – the Aderns’ are working to replace these with fully compostable ones.
They are also seeking like-minded businesses to see if they can get volume orders and get a plant up and running in New Zealand. “Our turning point was once you know there is an alternative to plastic, even though it is harder, you know you are in partnership with the environment,” says Tony. “If you know that, how do you unknow it? You can’t.”