Rights: The University of Waikato Published 27 November 2007 Download

Karen Farley launched her own natural skincare range in 2006. She met up with students from Dunstan College, Blue Mountain College, and Wellington High School via video conference.

In this session they looked at what did Karen need to find out before she could start creating her own natural skincare products?


Blue Mountain College

How did you come up with the ideas and recipes for your products?

Karen Farley

A lot of things were involved there. First of all, I was wanting the skincare range to be as natural as possible. And that was a big learning curve as well.

Like I mentioned before, you can actually make some interesting cosmetics at home, using things you even have in your cupboard. But they’re not very marketable because most of those things will not last very long.

You can do some experiments where you try different ingredients and leave them for a little while and see what happens to them, and you’ll find it’s a very far cry from the things you buy in a bottle at the chemist or different avenues out there.

So I pulled together a medical herbalist and different natural health practitioners and liaised with those people; I employed them to work with me and develop the range of skincare we have now.

A big thing is keeping things preserved so they don’t go off. Otherwise you end up with little black, sort of mucky smelly things in a bottle, which no one is going to want to buy, let alone put on their face … Looking at how to get as natural a skincare range, and liaising with people to find out what is possible …What can you put into a skin care range?

You have to have certain basics. Do you know what the best moisturiser is, for example? Water!

The problem with water is - it’s great for your skin - but it actually evaporates. To hold the water in place, to actually get it feeding into your skin and doing some goodness, you actually have to mix it with oil. It doesn’t actually work very well. It all starts separating.

So there are certain basic building blocks. I actually was doing lots of research finding out what the basic building blocks were. So I found that I needed water, the best moisturiser; and some oil - doing research into different types of oil, and what’s the most nurturing for the skin. Our products use different oils depending on the particular function of the skincare we have.

So those two [ingredients], I cannot put those together in a bottle and sell them, because they are just going to separate. It’s a bit like making a dressing: You know how the vinegar and the oil separate, and you have to shake them up to get it all to mix together again?

Do you think people are going to be very happy to get a bottle which is half-and-half, and they have to shake up before they put it on their face?

See there are quite a few things you have to think about. You actually have to use something which is called an emulsifier to bring those together. It’s a bit like putting the egg yolk into the mayonnaise.

For a skincare range you use things like fatty acids to work as emulsifiers. We have stearic acid, which is derived from coconut and palm oil, in our moisturising cream for example; something that’s actually going to put together the water component with the oily component, which is nurturing and helping to moisturise your skin too.

So there are those things. And then you’ve got, you know, scent. You’ve got other things you want to bring in for different qualities too. So there’s quite a bit of research finding out where I can get those products. What things I think are going to be best to work on the skin.