Hi Michele, how did your journey to Frankie Apothecary begin?
My 18 month old daughter (now 6) struggled with severe eczema. Our journey in finding what was triggering her eczema was long, due to her triggers being fairly complex. During this, she struggled with extremely itchy, dry skin and due to her age, this effected her sleep and therefore her ability to really thrive.
One of her triggers was synthetic chemicals and fragrances and I struggled to find a skincare treatment that was truly 100% natural. Eva could not tolerate even natural skincare that also contained synthetic or natural mimicking preservatives which was a mammoth headache for me because I found every single product on the market contained these things.
I was a frustrated, tired mother on a mission to help my baby sleep. I turned to my Maori heritage to look for an answer and learned that my family in the past had used Kawakawa to soothe irritated skin like Eczema.
I was taught how to harvest according to Rongoa principles and by the change of the moon and created a little oil based balm that instantly soothed her skin and repaired all the damage the Eczema had caused.
With daily applications, Eva has not had any further skin flares which was a life saver for me. Because so many people knew about Eva's struggle and saw the dramatic difference, word began to grow very organically.
Our family doctor was so impressed that he began to prescribe this treatment to his Eczema patients and still does today. I decided to turn this wee Kawakawa Balm into a business when it won a place in the top 10 most recommended products for Mothers in the 2016 OHBaby awards.
How does the brand new Frankie sunscreen compare to other natural sunscreens on the market?
Because Eva was so highly sensitive to synthetic skincare, finding a sunscreen she could wear was a huge problem for us. I was incredibly frustrated by the amount of sunscreens claiming to be natural that just were not.
Look closely and you will find that although they contain many amazing natural ingredients, they also contain synthetics, either to preserve, stabilise or to boost the SPF levels. Even a lot of zinc based sunscreens contained synthetic chemical SPF actives.
Why? Well, after a heck of alot of research by myself and my cosmetic chemist, we found that this was likely due to zinc sunscreens leaving a white residue on the skin and because sunscreens containing only zinc as the SPF active could only achieve a very low SPF sun protection.
Very basically speaking, Zinc is a mineral molecule. When the zinc particles sit side by side, there are gaps.
It’s these gaps that lead to UVA/UVB rays finding their way through the skin and why the spf protection is generally low. Being the challenge driven person that I am and much to the dismay of my cosmetic chemist – I was not willing to let this go. How amazing would it be if I was to formulate an all zinc sunscreen that quashed both of these problems.
After most of this year in the lab and with my head in the books and studying the latest in scientific research, I found a way of closing the gaps within the zinc particles and disbursing the zinc in amazing natural plant derived oils before adding them to my formulation to ensure the sunscreen went on virtually clear. I'm over the moon that my hard work paid off and achieved a high protection SPF rating of 50.
Why did you include antioxidant rich ingredients as well as traditional natural SPF ingredients like non nano zinc?
A study by the American Academy of dermatology found that sunscreens provide a ‘passive’ protection by absorbing and reflecting harmful ultraviolet rays from the skin. But by adding antioxidants to sunscreen, it could offer a second, ‘active’ level of protection. Antioxidants boost our natural immunity to sun damage, reduce sun damage after sun burn, is protective after sun exposure and prevents UV light immunosuppression. We use a rich vitamin e which is amazing for the skin.
Kawakawa is such a beautiful NZ native, what are the benefits of Kawakawa to the skin?
Kawakawa is fantastic at soothing irritated inflamed or sensitive skin. Anti inflammatory, antiviral and anti microbial, it’s a wonderful additional to the sunscreen to protect the skin from drying out during sun exposure. It will soothe sun kissed skin, so it’s lovely to apply even after hopping out of a post sun shower. It makes this sunscreen a perfect option for people with sensitive skin or who may struggle with skin damage or conditions like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Kawakawa is also a natural bug repellent which is so often needed at the same time sunscreen is.
We’re all about results based skincare. What are some of the tests you’ve put the new Frankie sunscreen through to ensure its going to be effective at preventing sunburn especially in the dangerous NZ sun?
Absolutely! Our sunscreen has been through the full SPF testing at Dermatest in Australia according to standard AS/NZ 2604. This was done using a continuous emission xenon arc solar simulator as the UV source on 10 subjects. Which means no animal testing.