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A tour of Snowberry Gardens

Good editor Carolyn Enting visited the property where many of Snowberry skincare’s botanical ingredients grow.

Spread across 54 acres near Wellsford, Snowberry co-founders, wife-and-husband team Soraya Hendesi and Mark Henderson, bought the farmlet 14 years ago with a vision to create a skincare brand that took the best from nature and science in the most sustainable manner possible.

Its on-site solar-powered research and development facility is believed to be the only off-grid extraction facility in New Zealand – and possibly the world – for skincare. Plant oil extraction methods use rainwater, and the garden itself doesn’t require irrigation.

Different native plants are purposefully grown because of their unique properties, identified by rongoā Māori (traditional Māori healing). And through the process of testing and working with these plants, Snowberry has made some interesting discoveries, which is why Henderson calls them “bio-discovery” gardens.

”Harakeke’s unique fatty acid profile makes for a dream skincare ingredient in terms of reducing inflammation and providing a good-quality barrier function for the skin. The seeds are harvested annually, without damaging the plants, and cold-pressed to produce valuable oil.

Kānuka honey is also a key ingredient and Snowberry’s beehives produce honey with high anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties for skincare.

Snowberry has created its own proprietary method of extracting the key components of honey and removing the sticky saccharides without denaturing the proteins that are beneficial to the skin.

“That process allows us to create an extract that we can put into skincare at a meaningful level and provide an anti-inflammatory function,” says Snowberry’s skin scientist Dr Travis Badenhorst.

It took Badenhorst eight years to work out a unique peptide delivery system that allows the powerful peptide complexes to be absorbed deep into the skin, where they can boost collagen and elastin production. Each product also contains totarol, a natural preservative and antioxidant. Snowberry’s recently launched, best-selling super-serum, Youth Renewing Serum, combines Harakeke Seed Oil, Totarol and e-Prolex, amongst many other ingredients, and is proven by Gold Standard Clinical Trial to reduce wrinkle volume 4.5 times by helping to boost collagen and elastin.

It is clear that Hendesi, Henderson and the Snowberry team love nature. A drone view over the property reveals the heart-shaped carbon-sequestering block where visitors can plant trees.

Growing up in Iran, Hendesi used to pick botanicals from the garden and make potions for her mother and grandmother, gaining an appreciation for nature’s gifts. Later on she tried natural formulations that were nice, but ineffective.

“After many years of trial and error we have achieved the perfect balance of nature and science,” says Hendesi. “I respect safe science because without [it] we cannot make the most of nature.”

In August 2019, Snowberry won the Excellence in Climate Action – Product Carbon Footprint category at the Enviro-Mark Solutions Awards for reducing the carbon footprint of its products by 79 per cent from its base year (2012/13).

“We are proud to be the only skincare brand to have our entire range Toitū carbonzero product certified, to points of sale across the world,” says Hendesi. “We look for the best ingredients in nature and make sure we look after the environment and the future generation.”

Snowberry founder Soraya Hendesi
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