A bee sting is a popular cake here in New Zealand but this post is all about NZ skincare. Earlier this year, I told you about my Korean skincare regime, using Sulwhasoo products. I do love Sulwhasoo but it’s pricey. One of their eye creams costs NZ$240.00. Whilst I was living in Rome for two months during May and June, I dabbled with some Italian skincare. The L’ Erbolario Crema Viso per Pelli Delicate ed Arrossate (day cream for sensitive skin prone to redness) is a lovely cream. But the little 30ml pot only lasted for five weeks and it did tend to make my face look shiny.

I ran out of Sulwhasoo and reconsidered the whole thing. Not only because of cost but also because Sulwhasoo skincare contains nano-particles. In fact, Amore Pacific has patented the use of lipid nanoparticles – Sulwhasoo is a product line of Amore Pacific, which is a Korean cosmetics company.

Here’s the problem – nanoparticles are so teensy weensy that they can be absorbed into the skin and get into the lungs (some mineral foundations contain nanoparticles and, when you swirl and tap, you end up with powder flying around that can be breathed in). Worse. It is suggested that nanoparticles can damage cells and organs by crossing the blood-brain barrier. If you want to freak yourself out, read up on nanoparticles and cosmetics/skincare here, here and here. Scary.

So I wanted to find a skincare line that doesn’t contain nanoparticles and one that is an organic alternative to botox. There’s a lot of talk here in NZ about bee-sting venom. It’s said the British Royal Family favours a product containing bee-sting venom. Kate Middleton and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are both rumoured to use a UK product called Heaven Bee Venom face mask and Camilla particularly received favourable press comments after treatment with the mask (including comments that said she looks 10 years younger). The bee-sting venom strengthens and relaxes facial muscles by promoting collagen and elastin production.

I discovered that the UK company sources bee-sting venom from New Zealand bees – bees from Nelson to be precise. So I tracked down the company, Nelson Honey, and found they have developed a face mask and moisturizer called Royal Nectar. The products contain Manuka honey, bee venom, shea butter and rose and lavender oils. You use the products together: in the evening, you slap on the mask for 20 minutes and then wash off (or you can leave it on overnight) and the moisturizer you use in the morning. The bee venom gently stings the skin, causing blood to flow directly to the face and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.

True to say you do feel a tingling sensation when using the creams. I have been using the Royal Nectar Original Face Mask and the Royal Nectar Moisturizing Face Lift for nearly two months. The mask is NZ$75.00 and the moisturizer NZ$60.00. Sounds expensive but you use the cream sparingly, so the product will last for quite some time. Both of them have a lovely honey smell and absorb very quickly into the skin. One thing I’ve noticed is the mattifying effect these products have had on my skin. Having combination/oily skin, most products simply amplify the problem but Royal Nectar has dramatically lessened the tendency to oiliness. Bonus!

Because Nelson Honey doesn’t have an eye cream, I found another bee-sting product called Balm of Apis. It’s a hydrating seaweed-gel, rainwater-based facial skin moisturizer that can be used around the eye area. It contains bee venom and is one of the many products produced by NZ herbalist, Malcolm Harker. The cost for Balm of Apis is NZ$49.00. I’ve also heard amazing reports about Harker’s Skin Dew day lotion.

So far, I’m really happy with the combination of Royal Nectar and Balm of Apis. All three are on the road with me to Stockholm. New Zealand skincare is something I’ve been very impressed with since living here. There are so many NZ companies with fabulous organic skincare – Antipodes and Trilogy being two extremely popular lines. I’ll do a post and review on Antipodes soon.