If you're reading this and you suffer from oily/acne prone skin then you are probably going to side-eye me for suggesting that the solution might lay in more oil. It's okay, I'll understand if you don't believe me. These days I think most of us are pretty attached to the cleansing routines we've been told and sold - almost conditioned into thinking that if it's not gratifyingly foamy or scrubby (yup, made that up) then it's not doing its job. BUT IT'S NOT TRUE! Oil cleansing is a super gentle but effective skincare method that has been around pretty much forever. The original oil cleansing method can be read about all over the internet, and fancy companies like Shu Uemura and Laura Mercier are famous for their cleansing oils. I'm not going to talk about any of those here though because I'm instead going to talk about my favourite EVER beauty brand and long time proponents of oil-based skincare: New Zealand's own Hema.
Ladies, I can't even say enough how much I love this stuff. Just look at the photo – the chic glass flacon (such loveliness demands a much fancier word than “bottle”) the pretty pretty design, that brilliant chartreuse colour. Ahhh. And while I'm a sucker for packaging, the most important thing is that these products work and they work really, really well.
The Hema range was created by Wellington facialist, Margaret Hema, who initially crafted these special oil blends for her lucky clients to take home. As word of these blends began to spread, Margaret went to work developing her own skincare line and in 1998 her first product - the insanely good HEMA Facial Cleansing Oil - was released.
These days there are about seven products in the Hema range, five of which are oil blends and all of which lie within Margaret's holistic philosophy of treating skin like “beautiful fabric”. All the Hema products are designed to give to your skin rather than take anything away (which makes sense, right?) and thus the range is free of water, toners, exfoliants, clay base masques, mineral oils, chemicals or artificial preservatives. Margaret doesn't like to blow her own trumpet but I've heard stories from other people of their skin being transformed by her products. I'm personally pretty convinced by them too - as is one Liv Tyler, who we all know looks like a total goddess-on-earth.
Anyway, the other week I had an appointment with Hema facialist, Seonaid Lyons. Seonaid is one of only about four people in the world to be hand-picked by Margaret as a specialist Hema Facialist, and her holistic, sensitive approach is very much in line with that of the brand. Over the course of an hour Seonaid went to work on my face, hands, neck and head using a mix of deep massage, lymphatic drainage and acupressure. My skin was cleansed with oil, lovingly massaged with oil, coated with a satisfyingly gloopy unguent of manuka honey mixed with oil, massaged with oil again then lightly sprayed with the new-ish Floral Facial Spray (which I imagine would feel like the cool breath of the angels themselves on hot summer days). I know you're probably thinking “oh my god, all that oil!” but, honestly, it was the best!!
The whole thing not only put me in a totally woozy, blissful state but also left my skin so clean and velvety that I walked out swearing that I would never put anything else on my skin/do anything naughty ever again! I then went and got quite drunk that night but my skin still looked awesome the next day!
If your skin needs a bit of a pick-me-up or if you're even looking to convert to an oil-based skin regime then I couldn't recommend this more. If you live in Auckland you can experience Seonaid's signature facial for $130, and Wellington people can visit Margaret herself for the same price. The Hema range itself I would probably place in the "top shelf" category of skincare but this is one of those cases where you really do get what you pay for. The products have a nine month shelf life and will easily keep you in beautiful skin til then. I believe they are totally worth it for anyone wanting to invest in their skin in a natural, environmentally-friendly and gentle way.