The Flora of Aotea
Aotea is a range of therapeutic skincare, inspired by indigenous knowledge and supported by scientific research. Every single product is made, packaged and labelled by hand on Aotea (the brands namesake), an island located off the coast of Auckland, NZ.
The island is off the grid, so Aotea’s founder, Tama, and his team rely on solar power and renewable energy for electricity, grow their own food, and operate with a closed loop water system for production. They are incredibly mindful of respecting the ecosystem they work and live in, and are careful to propagate only from species that already exist in abundance on the island, or are located in their own nursery. They never pick too much from any given plant, and always leave enough manuka honey in the hives for the bees for winter.
Aotea only uses 100% natural ingredients in their products that are safe and support good health & wellbeing. The brand's pillars and range are built around the native flora found on Aotea. They use published research as well as conducting our own trials, to look into the constituents of the native flora and determine the active plant agents and their beneficial effects on the body.
These key ingredients are less commonly seen in skincare in Australia, so we’ve put together a little guide to explain what each plant is, and how it can benefit your skin -
Kawakawa is a shrub with heart shaped leaves that’s native to New Zealand. The leaves of the kawakawa plant are edible, and have traditionally been brewed to make herbal remedies or concoctions to treat conditions such as swelling, burns, rashes, toothaches; drank as a tea to soothe the digestive system; or applied topically as a compress. Aotea make their kawakawa oils by first starting with a cold infusion process, suspending the Kawakawa in sweet almond oil. After 3-4 weeks, they gently apply heat to the oil infusion over a 3 hour period, to extract the higher active compounds.
Kawakawa leaves contain the bioactive chemical compounds diayangambin and myristicin. Myristicin is antiinflammatory and antimicrobial, helping to trigger the release of nitric oxide from cells as part of the body's anti-inflammatory response. Diayangambin has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, and is particularly useful in treating eczema and psoriasis.
Harakeke is a species of flax native to New Zealand. The team at Aotea harvest the seed pods of the harakeke plant, before extracting the oils through the process of cold pressing to preserve the compounds. Harakeke is rich in phytosterols and Omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids, including linoleic acid which makes up 70% of the oil. Our skin needs fatty acids, for collagen protection, regeneration and hydration. Linoleic acid is deeply restorative to the skin, while the plant phytosterols work to reduce redness and irritation and the omega fatty acids work as antioxidants to the skin.
The Mānuka plant is a shrub indigenous to New Zealand, and part of the myrtle family (which includes Australian tea tree & eucalyptus). Mānuka grows abundantly on Great Barrier island, so is sourced locally and harvested sustainably by Aotea for use in their therapeutic products. Aotea uses their purpose-built steam distillery to gently extract the Mānuka oil from the oil sacs in the leaves of the plant. Over a wood-fired boiler, the extraction process takes 4 hours.
Manuka oil is a key ingredient in Aotea’s range due to its natural healing constituents; manuka oil is incredibly nourishing to the skin with soothing antiseptic properties. 30x more powerful than tea tree oil, manuka is a natural and potent disinfectant. The oil is rich in triketones and flavonoids, which gives it it’s incredible antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities. Manuka oil can be used to treat cuts, bruises and abrasions, as it supports wound healing by killing infection-causing bacteria. It is also cleansing, and can be used to treat acne and inflammation by clearing congested pores.
Mānuka honey is a rich source of an antibacterial & antimicrobial compound called methylglyoxal, commonly known as MGO. MGO is manuka honey’s strength rating - the higher the rating, the higher the level of antibacterial activity. Manuka honey is created when Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA) - a simple sugar found in the mānuka flower nectar - gets converted to MGO when the bees make honey. Mānuka flowers only bloom for 2-6 weeks a year, which is part of the reason why the honey is so special. The team at Aotea source their manuka from the hives in their nursery, where the manuka plant grows abundantly. They extract the honey carefully, paying attention to the welfare of bees.
As well as it’s antibacterial & antimicrobial properties, mānuka honey contains a rich variety of vitamins, amino acids and minerals, which assist with cleansing, nourishing and healing the skin.