Knowledge is power when it comes to caring for your skin and keeping it healthy. Here at Agnes&Me we believe in sharing information to help you make the right decisions about your skincare products and routines with the ultimate of goal of keeping your skin young and glowing.

Learning how to read labels. Understanding ingredients and why they work. Deepening your knowledge about your skin’s physiology. Knowing what works and what to avoid. All this will help you look younger and feel better. After all, our skin, as you learned in high school science, is our largest organ and has a critical job in keeping us healthy.

This page is guide to skincare. It’s also an overview of what we believe in and a brief introduction to our products.

How your skin works

If you think of your body as a house, then your skin is the cladding. It protects everything inside from the elements that lash it on a daily basis.

The one difference to a watertight house is that our skin is permeable. Water can escape in the form of perspiration which is a vital part of our cooling mechanism. And if water can get out, water can also get in which is why a face cream works so effectively (but more on that later).

Layers of cells create the skin. The top layer, the epidermis, sheds cells on a daily basis. The dead cells are replaced by an army of new cells from below, the dermis. Other cells in your skin include those that have an immune response. They react to foreign substances and can cause rashes as they do their job. There are also cells that create melatonin. All play a role in healthy skin.

Another critical component of your skin is the sebaceous glands. They release oils that keep your skin soft, supple and flexible as well as helping form a protective barrier to keep your skin healthy – like paint on your house.

Your skin protects you against infection. It regulates temperature and fluid balance. It even processes sunshine into Vitamin D!

This video probably says more about your skin and why you need to care for it than we can in a few words!

Why use natural skincare?

As we’ve noted, your skin is your barrier to the world.

You need to keep it intact – if you get a scratch your skin is most obviously not intact. However, what we’re more concerned with is microscopic cracks in the skin. These small cracks can be caused by a number of outside forces. Sunlight. Dehydration. Detergents. Abrasion through excess defoliation. The seriousness of small cracks is apparent when you understand research now indicates that food allergies may start with food particles getting into the skin and sparking an immune reaction. That’s how sensitive our skin is and why you need to take good care of it.

Sadly we are often responsible for our own skin damage, particularly with our face from over-washing and over-scrubbing. Our obsession with cleaning ourselves and applying products to our skin is, ironically the cause of poor skin health, as it causes the microscopic cracks that cause our skin to become dry and sensitive.

Other elements of our modern lives don’t help either. Air conditioning – either in summer or winter – dries out your skin. Alcohol, smoking and diet have an impact too.

we've got great tips on how to fix your dry skin
We all battle dry and dehydrated thanks to our modern lives

So keeping your skin looking great is one thing. Keeping your skin healthy is a wonderful byproduct of your routine.

Maintaining moisture levels in the skin will improve the way your skin looks while applying oils will have a dual function of lending a hand to your sebaceous glands as well as doing repair work. That’s thanks to things like antioxidants and omega fatty acids in certain oils.

We love and believe in the power of oils to deliver goodness to your skin but we also are huge fans of hydrating your skin with a cream.

Why water is so important to our skin care

Our skin constantly loses water, at a rate of 300-400ml per day, and this is before you start sweating from exercise. Our body replaces the lost water on the top layer of skin by pulling up water from the lower layers. It’s a natural process but sometimes the body lags behind; it struggles to deliver water fast enough and we end up with dry skin.

We need water in our outer layer to maintain skin elasticity so that we’re less prone to damage like cuts and scrapes. Our skin also contains water-activated enzymes responsible for maintaining our natural skin barrier, which is needed for health.

The body falls behind in this process because water loss is accelerated by modern living. Air-conditioning really dries out your skin. The more time we spend in offices, at home with heat pumps running or even driving a car with air-con, the more we dry our skin.

Your skin needs water

Second, our obsession with cleaning ourselves doesn’t help with skin care and good health. Washing with detergents like soap, shampoo and other cleansers strips the skin of its vital oils, which play a critical part in holding water in the outer layer.

Third, the New Zealand climate is harsh on our skin. Heat and humidity in summer, at least in the north. Cold in winter, when our skin’s temperature regulation often sees blood vessels contracting away from the skin surface. And of course the wind, all the time and any time.

Finally, aging reduces Natural Moisturising Factors. These are a complex array of amino acids, fatty acids, sugars and minerals that combine to create a humectant – or water-attractor – that keep keeps moisture in the outer layer of skin.

Why a moisturiser works

A good moisturiser works by helping the skin cope with this water lag.

The effectiveness of moisturisers has been proven time and again by scientists. There is no disputing that a good moisturiser can deliver water back to that top layer. The longer you can retain water in the top layer of the skin the better it is for the health of the cells and the work of valuable enzymes in that region and therefore your overall health.

Here’s how.

A face cream is made with three different elements:

  • a water base which delivers the needed hydration;
  • a humectant which draws water up from our lower tissues to deliver more hydration to that outer skin;
  • oils that help keep water locked in and which also work to nourish and protect your skin. 

I believe it is a night-time essential for most of us, so our mothers were right when they advised using a good thick night cream. I’ve written a longer post on why moisturisers work.

At night our skin is more permeable, that is holey, leaky. Or as the Oxford dictionary says “allowing liquids or gases to pass through it”. We literally lose more water when sleep. And as we age our skin loses those vital Natural Mositurising Factors and gets thinner so this worsens.

But fear not the flip side of being more permeable at night means our skin is also more absorptive. So what we deliver to it soaks in like a sponge. So a good face cream applied at night is going to effortlessly feed you, giving your skin that much needed TLC and all the associated health benefits.

Why choose Agnes&Me skincare

There are so many products on the market for your skin needs and so many marketing claims. Many are just downright misleading and others mislead through lack of knowledge.

What you get with Agnes&Me is genuine health care experience, and no bullshit. I started this business almost unwillingly. I made products for myself and for friends. It was only because people offered to start paying for them that I realised I could possibly make a business from from my passion.

In making the change from creating skincare for self-love to making it for other people, nothing changed. It’s the same ingredients, same process, same care.

I started teaching myself how to make skincare products more than 15 years ago. Part of it was about making sure I put only the best ingredients on my skin. I wanted natural, high-quality ingredients because why would I skimp when it came to looking after my skin health? But I also desperately wanted to reduce waste in my life. Why should I buy products often in plastic, sold inside a box, often wrapped in another layer of plastic? It was all so wasteful. You can read the longer story of my journey to clean and green beauty here.

Our core values: natural and simple

Our core values are honesty, simplicity and good health.

Honesty. We won’t sell you something you don’t need. we won’t make false claims about what our products can do.

Simplicity. If you want loads of steps or a complicated skincare routine we’re probably not for you. My mantra is simple. Clean your face. Moisturise it. Use a cream or an oil. Or both, it’s up to you. I don’t have a whole range of products such as toners or misters because you don’t need them.

Good health. Looking good is important to us all but as a nurse what I also care about is good skin health. It’s probably the most under-rated organ and we neglect it at our peril. Poor skin health is responsible for so many problems – not wrinkles.

What our products do: face cream

Our face cream is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients and has a natural humectant. Below are the skin-loving ingredients I choose and why.

Jojoba

A highly penetrating oil that closely resembles skin’s own sebum and is a great barrier to moisture loss. Contains myristic acid, which is anti-inflammatory. Especially good for mature, dry and oily skin. It balances, softens, and soothes and leaves the skin silky and smooth. It improves elasticity and suppleness, has anti-oxidant and astringent qualities.

Jojoba oil is great for skin health
Jojoba oil resembles the skins own serum

Marula

A luxurious oil that is a powerful antioxidant that nourishes and protects from free radicals. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, redness while leaving a youthful glow. It is a natural anti microbial

Rosehip

Another antioxidant powerhouse, full of  fatty acids and vitamins. High in linoleic and linolenic acids as well as Vitamin A and C, which are essential for skin. It promotes skin regeneration, and can improve skin flexibility and permeability and is one of the best anti-aging oils.

Evening primrose

Full of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which helps skin retain moisture. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties and promotes, strong skin cell regeneration. It’s an exceptionally nourishing oil that assists with dry skin and is regarded as an anti-wrinkle agent.

Glycerin

A natural plant sugar lubricates the skin and draws moisture from both the lower tissues and from the air to makes the skin feel softer and smoother.

Don’t take our word for why this face cream works so well, check out what our users say by clicking the “review” tab on the product page.

What our products do: Face oil

Our face oil is a potent hit of protective antioxidant oils. They are all cold-pressed and organic to give your face a real blast of goodness.

There’s so much scientific research showing face oils work to repair and maintain damaged skin, limiting the signs of aging – in fact a good face oil is a powerful tool in your beauty kit. And if you’re going to put something powerful on your skin you have to make sure it’s the right thing.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s in the Agnes&Me face oil and why it works so well:

Camellia oil

Camellia oil is the skincare secret of the Geishas in Japan.
Camellia Oil is amazing.

Super rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega oils 3, 6 and 9. It absorbs quickly, penetrates to the deepest tissues, has outstanding moisture retaining ability and anti-inflammatory properties so it’s great for mature, dry, sensitive and damaged skin.  Here’s a great tip: it is the “beauty secret” of the geishas of Japan and has been used for centuries in Eastern Asia for its highly regenerative and restorative effects in the skin. 

Macadamia oil

A velvet smooth, healing and moisturising oil. It’s rich in rare Omega 7 oils that help repair skin damage. High in regenerative antioxidants as well as anti-bacterial. A quick word here on the benefits of omegas, which are truly remarkable ingredients for skin. They serve as the essential building blocks of skin’s surface layers, creating a smoother, more even, younger-looking, and healthier complexion, no matter your age or skin type.

Safflower oil

One of the richest sources of linoleic acid and it helps in production of ceramides – if you imagine your skins cells are like bricks, then ceramides are the mortar, so are integral to maintaining the skin’s integrity.

Avocado oil

Renowned for its nourishing and healing properties and is great for inflamed or irritated skin.

Evening primrose oil

Rich in omega 6, high in antioxidants, extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties. Works superbly alongside macadamia oil for anti-ageing effects.

Frankincense essential oil

 Smells amazing and has a rejuvenating effect on the skin as well as helping smooth out facial lines.

You can read much more about the face oil here.

What our products do: Blam Blam Balm

Our Blam Blam Balm is the ultimate skin care

What our products do: Body oil

Other than the feel good factor here is why I have become body oil fan:

  • It’s a concentrated blend of oils and nothing else so it is mega-skin food and it lasts all day
  • There is no need for preservatives as there is in a body lotion, butter or cream because there is no water base
  • It really does soften your skin and who doesn’t like having their skin feel velvety soft?
  • read more here

Labels and their importance

Be wise when buying. Don’t be fooled by marketing and the front of labels; it’s what’s on the back is critical.

Descriptors like “natural” and “organic” are such buzzwords and some people throw them on the labels in a deliberate attempt to capture you. Sadly there are no standards for this in New Zealand and people try to fool you by using these descriptors.

Others advertise themselves as having “no nasties” or being “free of chemicals” but these are vague terms that are often sins of omission: they tell what’s not in rather than what is.

We’re not fans of this negative marketing. We choose to look at what we do put in and why it works. But we know from experience that when you’re out shopping you can find it incredibly difficult to both read and understand a label.

A label should list all the ingredients in the order of volume. So if a label has the phrase “Organic Rosehip” on the front, you would expect to see organic rosehip that high up on the label. If it’s near the bottom of the list of ingredients you can bet there’s less than 1 per cent.

Other people talk about not buying products that have hard-to-pronouce names in the ingredients. But a company that’s doing the right thing should all have the ingredients listed to conform with the international labelling system known as INCI. This means you use the Latin name of the product so that if you’re France, Russia or New Zealand there’s standardised naming system.

Would you not buy a kumara if it was labelled ipomoea batatas? Or avoid an eggplant because solanum melongena sounds like a disease? It’s the same with skincare. Some names look complicated but they’re not.

However, not all companies put down the translated name either. Maybe they do this for space or to deliberately confuse customers. If you see a long list of Latin names it’s natural to switch off and not check what these name actually mean. That’s why we put the English name after the INCI name.

Harmful ingredients

Trying to figure out what ingredients might cause you harm can be really difficult and you have to put a lot of trust in the maker. But there’s a great website called EWB where you can type in the name ingredient and they will tell you if it’s likely to cause harm.

So, if you’re worried about things that might be harmful, to you, the environment, or animals, do your research online before you go shopping.

On the subject of moisturiser, if you’re buying a face cream you want to see Aqua (water) as the main ingredient – if it’s not there the jar hasn’t been labelled correctly so there’s an immediate lack of trust. A mosituriser is an emulsion of oil and water and the water is critical to the process. Also, Anything with water in it must have a preservative because water is always at risk of contamination. If a preservative is not listed, the manufactuer is either fibbing or the product will not be safe. We use an E-Cert approved preservative in our face cream. – if someone says their cream doesn’t have a preservative they’re either fibbing or the product is not safe.

With organic ingredients, the bottom line is that we don’t boast. We use organic when we can but it has to be certified. We don’t use it to promote ourselves because we’re not organic certified, that’s an expensive process for a small business. You will be surprised to see that people who have organic in the name of product might not have that many organic ingredients listed.

Some people boast about active ingredients. That’s another thing to be wary about.

What we stand for

What we stand for is truth, honesty, and good information.

Our aim is to produce the best possible product at an affordable price that gives us a living wage. We deal with a small number of local suppliers and we make sure we’re getting ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients to make products that actually work for you.

The Agnes & Me range is boutique but there’s everything you need to cater for nearly all your skin needs. That’s because we also believe that simplicity is key.

We’re small, nimble and enjoy the relationship we have with our customers so we’re always here to answer questions and help you with decision making and offer tips on skincare and skin health.