Local Heroines: 8 New Zealand beauty brands and the women behind them

8 February 2024
By Sarah Murray

For such a small country, New Zealand’s not short on beauty entrepreneurs who’ve built incredible brands. Some were started in a bid to solve a personal issue, others began in the kitchen, and all have their own special stories.

Chloe Zara Hair

Chloe Zara Munro

The business founded by hairstylist Chloe Zara Munro — to fulfil her dream of creating a clean, effective range focused on building the overall health of the scalp and hair for locks that look and feel amazing — is loved for her cool-girl touch and for being free of parabens, sulphates and silicones. We’re forever obsessed with the Chloe Zara Hair & Body Perfume Oil ($110) which is formulated with botanical ingredients to nourish, protect, seal split ends, reduce frizz and impart a glossy finish. Plus, it smells amazing.

Emma Lewisham

Emma Lewisham

Developed by Emma Lewisham after the loss of her mother to cancer made her reassess her purpose and contemplating pregnancy made her prioritise her own wellness while researching what she was putting on her skin, this has become one of our most well-known local beauty heroes with a cult following — a sure sign that it works. Its 100% natural, bio-active formulas are luxurious, the packaging is refillable, and among Emma’s awards and accolades, a recent independent study showed her Supernatural Vitamin A Face Oil ($148) outperforms 1% retinol in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while bringing none of the irritation and side effects. We’re sold.

Abel

Frances Shoemack

Created by former winemaker Frances Shoemack, this brand came about through Frances’ own search for a genuinely beautiful, all-natural perfume amid a sea of petrochemical-based alternatives that are kind to neither people nor the planet. A decade on, Abel continues to go from strength to strength with a tight edit of gorgeous, genderless fragrances. One we have a soft spot for is Nurture (from $370). It was created in collaboration with children’s clothing brand Gray Label to celebrate motherhood, and with that in mind incorporates low-allergen ingredients for sensitive little ones and ginger to lessen nausea during pregnancy.

Tronque

Tanne Snowden

With its small but stellar offering, Tronque addresses “neck-down neglect” in the form of clean and ethical oils, serums, body butters and beauty tools. Founded by Tanne Snowden following health struggles that led her to research scar-reducing ingredients (now included in her Scar Concentrate, $160) and seek to avoid the endocrine disruptors found in some self-care products, the brand champions native botanicals and offers a send-back option for package recycling. If you’re anything like us, you’ll absolutely love slathering these nutrient-dense products onto your skin.

The Virtue

Brooke Lean

Designed and made in New Zealand by Brooke Lean, The Virtue’s fragrances are a sensory experience in perfume, home fragrance and incense form that instantly transport you. One of our top picks, the Castro room spray ($69), is an intoxicating scent with notes including Cuban tobacco, smoked wood and dark rum. It gives you a glimpse into another world, something Lean is adept at doing in her other guise as a photographer.

Sans [Ceuticals]

Lucy Vincent

Sans meaning ‘without’ is a clear indication of what this skin and haircare brand is about, with its range of pure and effective products free from any and all nasties. The brand is brought to life by Lucy Vincent, the co- founder of Stephen Marr hair salons, whose personal focus on wellbeing and natural science motivated her to work with a team of Aotearoa’s top scientists and cell biologists. Its multi-tasking Activator 7 Body, Hair & Face Oil ($65) has become a sell-out favourite among its many fans. With all the best letters and numbers —vitamins C, A, E and omegas 3, 6 and 9 — it’s a potent wonder you can use from top to toe — a bathroom staple.

Jeuneora

Monique Kaminski

Monique Kaminski has come a long way since her ethical, cruelty-free brand hit the scene in 2016 and went viral with its Renew+ Marine Collagen Super Powder ($99). In 2021, she launched Jeuneora Skincare, 25,000 units of which sold in the first 12 months thanks to her now B Corp- and Living Wage-certified commitment to sustainability and fair trade, and popular creations such as her Jeuneora Brightening Booster vitamin C serum ($61), Go Lightly day cream ($88) and So Whippy prebiotic cream cleanser ($58).

Atopis

Dr Iona Weir

This all-natural range designed to combat challenging skin concerns such as rosacea, hyperpigmentation, eczema and ageing was developed by internationally lauded scientist Dr Iona Weir. It was she who drew on her background in programmed plant cell death and immunology pathways to invent a patented botanical ferment called Myrecil (which you’ll find in the recently launched Atopis Intensive Restore Cream, $99) that works to heal and transform the skin at a cellular level.

Words: Sarah Murray
Images: Supplied

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly‘s Spring 2023 issue. 

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