In an overcrowded market, companies often need more than a great product to stand out. The “why” has become almost as important as the “what”, and these three new Aotearoa skincare brands pledge heart and purpose along with top-shelf staples for your face and body.

After a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign in 2022, skincare and wellbeing brand Iammi launched in July. Its first three products are the Olympia Glow Nourish Serum, the Reflection Cleansing Balm and the Reset Exfoliating Cleansing Balm. Everything is cruelty-free and made in Aotearoa with ingredients that include native red seaweed, black fern (mamaku), organic NZ blackcurrants and various nourishing oils. They’re lovely to use, but the brand is intended to be more far-reaching than just the products on your shelf.

It was created by Mimi Gilmour Buckley (a well-known hospitality entrepreneur who founded Burger Burger) along with co-founders Lucinda East Kennedy, Sydney Crocker and Christine Hames, to act as a conduit for building a positive self-care habit. This inspiration largely stemmed from a very personal experience: Gilmour Buckley’s six-year-old daughter Olympia was born with quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and the then-new mother found herself evolving her daily skincare routine from a few moments of solitude to an impactful way of building mental resilience. Iammi has also developed a free app that encourages your own daily practice with various prompts and resources, as well as several more products on the way in the coming months.

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Embodyme Daily Rituals
Another new brand encouraging more regular attention to self is Embodyme, a range of body oils that launched just this week. Auckland-based founder Sarah Reid worked in the luxury and beauty sectors for years, for Bulgari and L’Oreal. She’s channelled both her professional experience and personal journey as a working mum of three to design a brand aiming to encourage women to connect with themselves (although they can of course be used by anybody). Embodyme has launched with four body oils that feature New Zealand-grown golden hemp seed oil as their hero ingredient. Hemp seed oil is known to be high in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals which protect the skin, reducing dryness and slowing its natural aging process. They also have avocado oil, meadowfoam seed oil and flaxseed oil, as well as a plant-derived moisturising emollient called Neossance Squalane.

Each of the four oils has a different mixture of scents, with each version labelled with a word that aims to help you cultivate that quality. There’s Courage, a mix of mint, ylang ylang and patchouli; Joy, with notes of sweet orange, neroli and sandalwood intended to lift the mood; Peace, a calming mixture of lavender, bergamot and lemon; and Kindness – rose, geranium and clove. As you moisturise your body, maybe you could develop your own mantra around the oil’s corresponding word – we could all do with a bit more peace, courage, kindness and joy in our day-to-day lives.

Bye Bye Bad
Having launched in March, Bye Bye Bad is a New Zealand-made personal care brand that includes handwashes, a hand sanitiser, a minty mouth spray and a face spray designed to shield from the effects of blue light. Founders Steph and Ryan Davies decided to create the range during the pandemic, with the aim of offering thoughtful, family-friendly products without parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, phthalates, and silicones.

As well as being cruelty-free and vegan, Bye Bye Bad uses totarol from Steph’s parents’ company Bioactive Totarol as its hero ingredient. The totarol is sustainably harvested from fallen native tōtara trees, and has been sold worldwide for years thanks to its known antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

From the outset, Bye Bye Bad’s packaging looks delightful and feels great in the hand. It’s made from recycled milk bottles and comes in shades of light beige, khaki and blue that you’ll be happy to display by your sink. There are two scents of Prebiotic Handwash – aloe vera and mint, and mandarin and yuzu – as well as a version with exfoliating pumice. The Natural Hand Protector is an alcohol-free spray that claims to nix 99.9 per cent of bugs, and at 75 mils is the perfect size for when you’re on the go.