Aú Natural Skinfood, from New Zealand is described as a “no nasties facial care brand that is doing things a bit differently than other skincare brands on the market.”
For starters, due to superfood ingredients such as Manuka honey, which offers deep hydration and many more skin health benefits, the brand highlights its products for their “skin nourishment” rather than skin care.
Where does the “Aú” in the name come from? Nope, nothing to do with Auckland. Manuka honey is a deep gold color and the “Aú” references the symbol for gold on the periodic table of elements. But there are plenty of other natural ingredients native to pristine New Zealand like kiwi fruit. And besides its skin food formulas, Aú Natural also makes a mineral powder foundation as well as a collagen powder to accompany the topical skincare regimen.
Aú Natural’s commitment is to be just as good for the planet as for people, emphasizing it’s all about “Refill not Landfill.” The company has eliminated single-use plastic bottles and instead created a line that provides consumers with refillable aluminum bottles that they purchase only once and then refill with packs that the brand says are completely compostable and biodegradable.
“By committing to a refillable skincare routine, each user can take a super easy step toward reducing their carbon footprint,” says the brand’s founder, Tracy Ahern. Popular products include On The Spot Acne Treatment, Superfruit Eye Serum, Facial Anti-Ageing Oil, On the Go Brush On Foundation with Sunscreen and PM Night Cream.
A Passionate Calling
Ahern said she is passionate about the subject of sustainable packaging, and often “lies awake at night, thinking about it”—and how to reduce the waste that may be incurred by single-use packaging. Her motivation in finding a more sustainable solution “is to make the habitat that we all share livable for generations to come.”
Finding truly sustainable materials can be a challenge. Ahern notes, “I understand due to availability of what is on the market currently, we have not got our packaging perfect, but we have made a start.” Sustainable choices in packaging are often considerably more expensive, she says, and as a company we are okay with this. The more companies that disrupt and adopt sustainable packaging, the more consumers will demand this and hopefully the costs will improve,” she says.
Ahern says she makes sustainability her utmost concern throughout the packaging supply chain, from the bottles and jars they use, to retail and shipping boxes and courier bags.
At Aú, these elements are must-haves when making packaging decisions: Eliminate single-use plastic; use certified food grade infinitely recyclable aluminum; vegan printing ink; biodegradable stickers; eco-friendly adhesives made from renewable sources. Cartons must be robust and reusable, fully recyclable, biodegradable, and made from 100% recycled material.
Ahern supports B Corp companies and/or companies with clear company values that Aú Natural is aligned with; choose home compostable pouches and courier bags where possible; practice circular economy—company policy is that everything in their business must be purchased secondhand.
This dedicated sustainability mission is not an easy one. One of the main challenges the company faces says Ahern, is that different countries and cities all recycle and recognize waste differently. For example, she says, “ ‘Compostable” in Christchurch is not the same in Manhattan Beach—we need a global standard for companies to meet.”
In addition, “Clear regulation for claiming sustainable and ethical packaging should be in place.” She adds, “Consumers like glitz, and we need more education out there on why people should choose earth-friendly packaging, reuse it and perhaps pay more for it.”
Another challenge for the brand: “Compostable packaging starts degrading the minute we buy it, meaning we cannot buy in bulk for fear that we will just contribute to landfill by not using our product by the use-by date.” Overall, Ahern’s passion for sustainable packaging takes precedence. She says, “There is an endless list of other challenges that we work around for the good of our planet.”
Aú founder Tracy Ahern says: “My mission as a beauty innovator is to deliver the most effective skincare treatments, in packaging that has the least impact on our environment.”