Regular readers know that I want to keep things as natural as possible. No nasty chemicals. No sulphates or parabens. I also try to stay away from The Brands as much as possible. I don’t buy designer clothes. I don’t follow trends. My only weakness is makeup but I try very hard not to get sucked into the latest must-have item (except for the Urban Decay palettes!).

And so it is with skincare and shampoos. I try to find shampoos without sodium laurel/laureth sulphate and natural skincare that hopefully doesn’t contain nanoparticles. The skincare range I have been using recently is Madeleine Ritchie, which is a New Zealand natural range and, before this, I was using another NZ brand, Nelson Honey. I very much like the Madeleine Ritchie products and will be repurchasing. The Nelson Honey range I also liked but I find it a tad expensive and I don’t think it did as much for my skin as Madeleine Ritchie.

I’ve just discovered Liberty Market in Christchurch. I’ve seen it before but never managed to get around to visiting this organic store until a few weeks ago. I was nearing the end of the Madeleine Ritchie skincare and wondered what goodies Liberty Market might offer.

Well…I have now discovered my HG of eye creams and my HG cleanser. Let me tell you about the cleanser first. It’s by an American company called DermaE and their products are all paraben-free, phthalate-free and do not contain sodium lauryl/laureth sulphates, petrolatum, mineral oil or artificial colors. The products are also 100% vegan, cruelty-free and manufactured with wind energy.

After much reading of labels – because Liberty Market carries a LOT of interesting organic, natural skincare ranges – I settled on the DermaE Vanilla Bean Cleansing Mousse Age-Defying Facial Cleanser. OMG. Amazing vanilla smell and by far the best cleanser I’ve ever used. I just need two small pumps to cleanse the whole face. Add a dash of water and everything comes off. No tight skin feeling and really calms the skin. It contains green tea, sea kelp, chamomile, lemongrass and horsetail. After using this cleanser for a couple of weeks, my skin is really feeling great. Pretty inexpensive too at NZ $18.95.

At the same time, I picked up the DermaE Tropical Solutions Anti-Aging Day and Night creams. (These creams are now called Vitalizing Day Creme with Tamanu and Pomegranate and Vitalizing Night Creme). Both the day and night creams are pineapple-mango scented. Not as heavenly-scented as the cleanser but they have a lovely tangy smell. Avocado, aloe, acai, tropical tamanu and pomegranate are key ingredients. The night cream is quite rich but quickly absorbs and the day cream is light enough for my combination oily skin. Both are hydrating and the day cream comes in a 60ml travel-friendly pump. So far, I’m really liking these two products and I am keen to try other DermaE stuff. Both creams were NZ$29.95 each.

For eye-makeup remover, I’ve always used Neutrogena’s Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover. It’s been a consistently great product but I thought it was time for a change. At Liberty Market, I spotted Earth Science Chamomile and Green Tea Eye Makeup Remover. It’s fragrance-free and is a clear liquid gel that is non-irritating. Very effectively removes all traces of eye makeup. Think this will be a permanent addition to my skincare range.

I ran out of my Oasis Sun SPF30 sunscreen, which is an NZ brand, and picked up Nature’s Gate, another American brand. The sunscreen is called Face Block SPF25 and is specifically designed for delicate facial skin. It’s non-greasy and is cruelty-free and vegan. It contains guava and almond extracts, Vitamins C and E, tomato extract, cucumber, aloe and chamomile. A VERY effective sunscreen and quite inexpensive at NZ18.95. I think I’ll be sticking with this as it’s also far easier to travel with.

And then….I spotted a range I’ve heard a lot about but never seen in New Zealand. Desert Essence. Yet another American brand. For ages, I’ve read about their organic Jojoba Oil for hair and skin. Liberty Market had this oil but since I’m currently using NZ Sweet Almond Oil, I didn’t buy it. Instead, I bought the Italian Red Grape shampoo for colour-treated hair and the Coconut conditioner for dry hair. I do have other shampoos and conditioners that are sulphate-free but these little babies were very seductive and I was keen to try a Desert Essence product.

OMG. The conditioner is amazing with a capital A. With organic shea butter and organic sunflower oil, it is rich, creamy and a little goes a long way. Fantastic coconut smell that lingers and I like that this is a multi-tasking product. I have used it as a regular conditioner and a deep treatment (leaving it on the hair for 20 minutes).

As for the shampoo, I’m not too keen on the smell. Red grapes from Italy are the key ingredient, along with organic grape extract, red wine extract, coconut cleanser, organic kelp and nettle extracts. The red grapes account for the fruity wine scent and you need to use just a little because, for a sulphate-free shampoo, it lathers surprisingly well. The scent is a bit overpowering for me but it doesn’t linger so I can deal with it. I’ve been using this shampoo for a couple of weeks now and my hair is nowhere near as dry as it usually gets in-between trips to my hairdresser. When I finish this shampoo, I’m keen to try the Desert Essence Red Raspberry shampoo or the Coconut one. From memory, the cost of the Coconut conditioner was NZ$12.95 and the shampoo, NZ$15.95.

And now to the HG of eye creams. For years, I’ve used Sisley Eye and Lip Contour cream. But it’s VERY expensive – I think I paid around Euro 130.00 (NZ $205.00) for the pot I’ve just finished. I bought it in Rome and, although it’s extremely luxurious, it was time to find something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

More searching of the Liberty Market shelves and I spotted Nature by Canus. This is a Canadian brand started by two people from Montreal in 1994. They started making goat milk soaps and lotions and this has now expanded to more than 70 products. The goat’s milk is sourced from a cooperative of family farms throughout Canada and around 40,000 goats provide daily milk. I like this back-story a lot.

I chose the All Natural Firming Eye Cream with Fresh Goat’s Milk, which contains enriched ingredients of the tiger nut plant along with cupuacu and muru-muru butters. Sounds very exotic. I like that the company lists all the ingredients and benefits. The eye cream has a silky, creamy texture and is fragrance-free. It certainly seems to tighten up the eye area. The glass jar is small – 15 ml or 0.5oz – but you only need a little to dab around the eyes. Really, really like this eye cream and will be sticking with it. It cost NZ$24.95.

I can get all of these products online from iherb, so I might get them shipped from the US next time. The DermaE Vanilla Bean Cleansing Mousse, for example, is US$10.85 this week (which is NZ$13.20 and far less than the 18.95 I paid). I have to figure out whether the shipping costs make it worthwhile but….iherb.com does carry far more DermaE products than Liberty Market. They also have another organic range I’m keen to try – Acure Organics – heard a lot of positive stuff about this range.

Desert Essence Italian Red Grape shampoo & Coconut conditioner.

DermaE Vanilla Bean Cleansing Mousse – absolutely awesome product.

The Nature’s Gate sunscreen.

DermaE Tropical Solutions Day & Night Creams and the Nature by Canus All Natural Firming eye cream with fresh goat’s milk.

Earth Science Chamomile & Green Tea eye makeup remover.