How Terrible Gardening Skills Created a Cottage Industry Product and a Little Circular Economy

One day I looked out my kitchen window and realised my little Kawakawa shrub had grown in to a tree. Right under my nose, a tree. I'd bought the shrub because I had spent quite a bit of time and money making a vege box outside my kitchen window. I'd had visions of merrily going out each day to harvest my crops and cook wholesome soups with my produce. My vege garden was a massive failure. I think there were a few defining factors when it came to its, probably inevitable demise i.e. lack of sun, lack of care and attention, lack of planning around what to plant and when, and finally (and most importantly) lack of water. The initial intentions were good though.

So I rooted out the weeds and the poor deprived remnants of seedlings I'd let waste away, did some research and worked out that a plant that required minimal sun, care and attention but could still be useful was a Kawakawa. Off to Leacroft I went and made my purchase. Then I forgot about it.

Next minute, I can't see out of my kitchen window because it's so massive. It was like Jacks' beanstalk.

Having my view obscured reminded me that I originally bought my Kawakawa to make use of it. Also around that time, I'd been looking at alternative skin creams. Not only was I tired of buying beautiful jars that I really had no use for when the cream was used, but I'd started to read about some of the harmful things that go in to many commercial skin creams.

You've got things like mineral oil (can be a possible human immune system toxicant or allergen and not good for acne sufferers), propyene glycol (can be an irritant and not great for people with sensitive skin like me), fragrances (another irritant), synthetic dyes or colours (colours can trigger allergies and irritation in the skin, and are suspected to be carcinogens), parabens (parabens are preservatives commonly used in cosmetics, however, they may disrupt hormone production and have been linked to breast cancer), retinol (good for the skin but is another known irritant for sensitive skin sufferers), alpha hydroxy acids (can cause redness, swelling, itchyness and discolouration), petroleum based substances (can block pores and lead to blackheads), astringents (can strip the skin of it's natural oils), rice flour (can dry the skin and give it a dull appearance) - the list goes on.

After reading about the healing properties of kawakawa used both externally and orally as a tea, I thought it was time to start experimenting with making my own facecream, using this wonder plant.

The thing with kawakawa is that it has really high levels of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps heal cuts, scrapes and skin inflammation.

It has antioxidants for improved skin health, appearance, and antibacterial properties which work to prevent acne, scarring and skin infections!

It really has so many natural anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties – and also being alkaline, it's good at neutralising yeast and fungus skin infections (not that I had any of these on my face, but good to know all the same)

It made total sense to use my abundantly growing kawakawa in my skin cream creation - especially given my sensitive skin. But how? Well, there was a lot of experimentation. And even up to the last batch, my final product was still a little unstable in terms of it's structure. Like a very good quality peanut butter, the various components would tend to separate and so the user would need to sometimes shake or mix to recombine water and oil components. And the look of it wasn't always smooth and pretty as you would expect a commercial product to be. The beauty of it though, was knowing exactly what was going on to your skin and being absorbed by your body.

My chemistry skills are definitely refining though because the latest batch not only feels great on your skin but also looks the part.

An added bonus of purchasing a jar of 15k is knowing that once you have finished your cream, you can bring it back in to swap for a new jar at a discounted price - a beautiful little full circle, no waste process.

Alternatively if you don't live in Wellington, I will send you your jar with free shipping to anywhere in NZ with a return pre-paid courier bag. Simply click here to make your purchase. Follow 15K Complexion on Instagram

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