Today's review is going to be about Ethique skincare! Ethique is a skin and hair care brand from Christchurch, New Zealand, which specialises in solid products, eliminating the need for bottles and containers. Their mission statement is simple:
"Ethique is a 100% solid skin and hair care company based in Christchurch, New Zealand. We are committed to making amazing-smelling, seriously bubbly hair, face, and body bars using natural ingredients and compostable or reusable packaging".
Ethique brand logo
95% of my skincare routine comprises of Ethique products. The only things that are not from this brand are my eye cream and my face masks, as the Ethique line does not carry these products - yet! I have been using these products for over a year now, so it's safe to say that I know that they work.
I came across this brand in a magazine about a year ago, and bought a sampler of their skincare out of desperation. My skin care story before this discovery isn't the nicest!
During my early teens I was very oily and acne-prone, and no skincare seemed to be able to treat the pimples that blanketed my face. Then when I turned 17, almost overnight, my skin became extremely dry, while remaining acne-prone. It's pretty awful trying to get enough moisture in your skin to be comfortable while dealing with permanent patches of acne all over your face. Thick moisturisers, slapped on three layers thick to stop my skin feeling tight and sore, clogged my pores, and didn't fix my dryness. Acne creams and cleansers stripped my skin of all moisture, made my skin burn and crack, and gave me semi-permanent eczema around my mouth. Eczema creams, designed to deal with the crust around my mouth and the patches on my cheeks, clogged my pores further and added more pimples to the mix.
I was really unhappy with my skin, and I had tried so many products, both high and low end. The closest to a breakthrough had come with using Shiseido skincare, but it still wasn't perfect, and I wanted to use products that were cruelty-free. This was during the period when I was transitioning to using all cruelty-free makeup products as well.
And I'm not kidding you, within two weeks of switching to Ethique skincare (then known as Sorbet Cosmetics), the patch of acne that had been lurking around my bottom lip was gone, my skin had stopped hurting, and my fine lines had decreased. It was like someone had waved a magic wand over my face and made my skin healthy again. It wasn't perfect, but for the first time in many years, I felt comfortable. People who have had super dry skin know how painful it can be!
Over the past year I have been able to cut down on the amount of serum and moisturiser I need to apply, and am now down to one semi-thin layer per product. I believe that this skincare range has not only helped to minimise the issue, but has helped to heal whatever caused it in the first place.
My latest order: The Perfector, Saving Face, and an adorable mini sample!
So without further rambling, let's move onto my review of the products that I use.
In Your Face Cleanser: $NZ28
This glorious pink bar lasts for ages. You could cut it into pieces if you store it in the shower and don't want it to get wet, although I haven't tried it. It does dissolve quite easily if you leave it under the water stream, so beware!
The In Your Face cleanser was created to imitate the feeling your skin gets after swimming in the sea, in particular the positive effects that salt has on the skin. It is made with coconut oil, mandarin essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, cocoa butter, raspberries, and salt.
This comes in one large pink block, which lasts for ages and ages. I'm at the end of my fourth month of my current block and it's still going strong. I'd probably only need to buy a new one every six or seven months. It isn't much to look at, but you can seriously feel it working when you put it on your face. It has a slightly tingly feeling, that feeling that you get when you're swimming in the sea, and your acne feels tingly and warm in a way that you just know means it's disinfecting and cleaning out your gunky pores and sore pimples.
For reference, the block on the left is a new one, and the block on the right is the one I've been using for four months. Look how much there is left!
Texture-wise, it has a slight foaming action if you rub it enough on your face, although it's not hugely noticeable. Mostly it's just thin and slippery, and you only need to glide the block once over your face to get enough product to massage into your skin. It smells like salt, but really it doesn't have much of a scent at all.
This cleanser doesn't leave my skin feeling tight or stripped of moisture, which I think is amazing as it is marketed for people with problem skin and acne. I was worried when I first tried this as I thought that it would be like every other cleanser for acne out there and leave my skin feeling like a piece of dry sandpaper, but it doesn't. I credit this product to clearing up my acne, 100%.
Ingredients: Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, sodium chloride (NZ sea salt), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), sodium hydroxide, theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter oil, Ricinus communis (castor) oil, and mandarin (Citrus reticulata) & sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oils.
Gingersnap Exfoliant: $NZ22
I don't have the new packaging for Gingersnap - I bought my last product when Ethique was still known as Sorbet. I think that shows how long these little cubes last! But I did receive a small heart-shaped sample with my last order, which is the photo to the right.
(Although having said that, I have got some in my mouth before when using it and... It was actually kind of nice...)
This product comes in 16 small blocks that you snap off like a chocolate bar. They are supposed to last for two uses, but I find that one block lasts me about two, sometimes three weeks, assuming that I use it three times a week. So that's six uses, minimum!
This is a really great exfoliator that can be gentle or more vigorous, depending on how you use it. If I want to lightly exfoliate, then I just rub it gently over my face, moving the block in circular motions on areas that I want to work on. If I want a deeper scrub, I will rub the block gently in the same way, but repeating the process a few more times until there is more product on my face, and then I will rub in it again with my fingers. The best thing is that even if you work the product more firmly against your skin, it doesn't feel like you're scratching or hurting your face - it just feels like you're doing a better job of exfoliating the dead skin cells away. I really like this versatility, because some days you want to scrub your life away, and other days you just want to give your skin a quick go over and be done with it.
This is a perfect exfoliator for dry skin, because it doesn't strip the skin of moisture. It can be used as a cleanser on its own, but I prefer to use two products. I really love how clean and smooth my skin feels after using this, without being sore or irritated.
It's also important to mention that this product does not contain microbeads. Microbeads are found in many beauty products, especially face and body exfoliants, and are very bad for the environment. Once washed down the sink, they travel through water filtration systems as they are too small to be detected, and so eventually find their way to the ocean. Once there, animals absorb or eat them, which is not only terrible for their health, but also for the humans that eat the animals that have eaten the microbeads. So you're doing the environment and your own health a favour by not using products with microbeads.
Ingredients: Sucrose (organic brown sugar), Sucrose (white cane sugar), Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, Garcinia indica (kokum) butter, cetearyl alcohol, glyceral stearate, Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, candelilla (Euphorbia cerifera) wax, stearic acid, ground ginger (Zingiber officinale), ground cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), and vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) essential oil.
(As Ethique states that they do not use animal products and are certified cruelty-free, I think it is safe to assume that the stearic acid they use is vegetable-based.)
Saving Face Serum: $NZ41
Saving Face comes in pink, sleek, graphic packaging, wrapped in pink paper. You get three disks, which have small imperfections on the top due to - I assume - being poured into moulds to set.
These little cream-coloured disks are liquid gold. Truly. This serum is made with cupuacu, shea, and illipe butters, as well as rosehip and pomegranate oils, so it's pretty much just a magical formula full of antioxidants and fatty acids. This product is well worth the $41 - you pay a lot more for more traditional brands that have only half the amount of goodness that this product has.
Each box comes with three disks. One disk lasts about a month - probably more if you aren't as dry as I am. All you need to do is gently wipe the bar across your face, which melts slightly on contact. You only need one swipe to get enough product on your skin, which you then massage in. It's a very creamy, spreadable texture, which feels rich and sits on the skin for quite awhile after application. This might not be good for oily skin, but I appreciate a layer of product that sticks around.
You can use this as a serum under your moisturiser, or as your moisturiser itself. I use this as a serum: I have tested it as just a moisturiser, but my very dry skin needs a second product. This is a necessary product for me, as The Perfector moisturiser isn't moisturising enough on its own. But pairing these two together works perfectly. It doesn't break me out, so don't be afraid if you're acne-prone. I think for a more normal to combination skin type, this would work very well on its own.
Scent-wise, I can't really identify it. It's definitely a herbal-type scent, but it's not strong. You can't smell it once it's on the skin - it doesn't have any added fragrance, so it's just the scent of the ingredients that you can smell.
Ingredients: Theobroma grandiflorum (cupucau) butter, Garcinia indica (kokum) butter, Rosa canina (rosehip) oil, Punica granatum (pomegranate) oil, Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, Euphorbia antisyphillitica (Candelilla) wax, caprylic/capric/stearic glycerides, and Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter.
The Perfector Moisturiser: $NZ45
The Perfector comes in the same sort of packaging as Saving Face, but in a purple box rather than a pink one. The disks are a deeper cream colour than the serum bars.
The Perfector moisturiser is described by Ethique as 'the Lewis Rd chocolate milk' of moisturisers (for non-NZers, Lewis Rd Creamery released a chocolate milk that was made with Whittaker's Creamy Milk chocolate in 2015 which the whole country lost their collective shit over - I'm talking security guards at the chiller to make sure people only took one, and lines half an hour before the supermarkets opened). It's made with kokum and cupuacu butters and coconut oil.
Like the Saving Face serum, this moisturiser comes in three cream-coloured disks that you glide over your face then massage in. One disk lasts about the same amount of time as the serum, which is around a month. I wait for a few minutes for the serum to sink in, and then apply the moisturiser over the top. It helps to leave a gap in between the two, as it allows the serum time to sink in further.
The Perfector isn't as thick as Saving Face, nor as spreadable. It's still smooth and creamy, just not as heavy. I like this as a top product; a finishing coat to end my routine. It gives my skin an extra boost of moisture that the serum alone doesn't give me. I think that this would be a good single product for someone with more normal to combination skin without the serum, although I'm not sure if I'd recommend this for someone with oily skin, due to its tendency to sit on the skin after application. For dry skin this is a good thing, but it's not so good for someone who likes a matte face.
Ingredients: Cupuacu (Theobroma grandiflorum) butter, Kokum (Garcinia indica) butter, aqua, rosehip (Rosa canina) oil, coconut (Cocos nucifera) oil, candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphillitica) wax, glyceryl oleate, soy lecithin, hyaluronic acid (vegan), sodium lactate, silica microspheres, kaolin clay, frankincense and ylang ylang essential oils, vanilla absolute, benzyl alcohol, and dehydroacetic acid.
Ethique has a number of green credentials. The scope of their charity and commitment to using natural, sustainable products is extremely wide and sets a very high standard for other businesses. I need to break these up into sections, because they literally do so much charity and sustainable work:
Ethique contributes monthly to HUHA (Helping You Help Animals - New Zealand's leading no kill animal shelter), World Animal Protection, Greenpeace, and sponsors and Orangutan named Monti through the Orangutan Project. Every two months, proceeds from a certain bar sold on the website are donated to a different charity.
All Ethique products are packaged in compostable boxes, and they use no lamination or chemical sealants. All packaging is made in New Zealand. The in-shower containers (which last up to five years in the shower) are made of bamboo and sugar cane, and are compostable.
All ingredients are chosen keeping in mind that everything that goes down the plug hole eventually ends up in the ocean - this means no micro beads and no ingredients that can pollute the ocean.
Ingredients are chosen from sustainable sources, are put through as little chemical processes as possible, and are organic and local wherever possible.
They do not use in their products:
Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate
Ingredients that form nitrosamines or dioxins
Palm oil and its derivatives
Ethique is also certified carbon-neutral by climatefriendly.com.
Ethique does not test on animals, nor do they use ingredients that have been tested on animals. They are certified cruelty-free by three organisations: PETA; SAFE NZ; and Choosecrueltyfree.org.au. They do not appear to have a vegan accreditation, although they do claim to not use any animal products.
Ethique is currently working with SAFE NZ and other organisations to get cosmetic animal testing banned worldwide, which has recently been made law in New Zealand. Ethique also actively supports research into in vitro methods of testing ('in glass') that will eliminate the need for and use of animal testing.
I hope that this review was helpful - I genuinely adore Ethique, both their products and the brand itself, and I would love to see the business grow. I like to support New Zealand business, especially small ones, but I do want to use things that work the best.
Ethique proves that skincare can be both effective and good for the environment. It can be good for sensitive skin, it can be environmentally friendly, it can use organic ingredients and not test on animals, and it can work.
What I haven't gone into is Ethique's hair, body, household, and pet products. I have not tried anything from their other lines, although I am intrigued by their Laundry Bar. If I do try more products, then I'll be sure to review them on this blog.
Have you tried anything from Ethique? Has this review made you interested in using any of their products? Let me know in the comments below! :)