Supercharged Serums & Hair Heroes: These Were NZ′s Best Beauty Launches For 2023

By Ashleigh Cometti
This year’s best new local beauty launches encompass skincare, makeup, haircare, body care and more. Photo / Emma Lewisham

Local beauty brands brought their A-game in 2023. Here’s what really stood out.

At the start of each year, we compile our predictions of the trends, ingredients, and consumer preferences that will prevail by December 31. And although this civic duty of ours isn’t always spot on, most

As we move steadily towards the end of the year, now’s an excellent time to look back on the accuracy of our predictions and reflect on the many wins in the beauty world in 2023.

From the skincare innovator receiving global recognition to the bodycare brand democratising beauty on the supermarket shelf, here’s every new brand launch, groundbreaking innovation and impressive rebrand from homegrown beauty brands in 2023.

Left to right: Emma Lewisham, Raaie, TWYG and Antipodes.
Left to right: Emma Lewisham, Raaie, TWYG and Antipodes.


Documenting the developments in the skincare space is a story worthy of its own column, so consider this the TL;DR version to sum up a year’s worth of innovation.

Nobody sleeps on Emma Lewisham (I’m convinced Emma herself doesn’t sleep either) with the latest product in its cohort being the Supernatural Blemish Serum, a live probiotic serum containing Q24 — an ingredient backed by 20 years of clinical research. Its unveiling was rivalled by the news that Emma Lewisham was expanding into the UK market, having been picked up by premier department stores including SpaceNK and Harrods.

It was also a busy year for Raaie, with founder Katey Mandy adding two new products to the range — a tinted mineral sunscreen in February and a cosseting new moisturiser in October. Housed in the same curvaceous packaging for which the brand is now known, Raaie’s Sun Milk Drops Tinted SPF50 highlights non-nano zinc oxides to fend off harmful UVA and UVB rays, while the Cocoon Ceramide Cream looks to ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids and mānuka honey to support and protect a healthy skin barrier.

Another brand making headway in the packaging space is newcomer TWYG (pronounced twig), which launched in November with an edit of three products housed in sculptural, rust-orange bottles. Inside, the formulas highlight hero ingredient bioactive totarol, an ingredient sourced from naturally felled totara trees to protect, nourish and restore skin.

Antipodes revealed three new products in its line-up of youth-bringing skincare with the Lime Caviar Collagen-Rich Firming Cream in February, the Anoint Depuffing Eye Gel in May, and the Eve Bio-Retinol Line Reduction Serum in September. All three products align with the brand’s ethos to deliver skincare that highlights New Zealand’s natural, efficacious ingredients that don’t compromise on results or harm the planet.

Dr Iona Weir, New Zealand cell biologist and founder of Atopis, underwent a reformulation in September, but still with the breakthrough Myrecil ingredient showcased throughout the reimagined Intensive Restore and Radiant Balance skincare systems.

A creamy cleanser and an SPF were on the cards for Jeuneora this year, with the former — So Whippy Prebiotic Facial Cream Cleanser — revealed in April, while the latter — FullStop SPF50 Daily Glow Screen — was shared in November. It’s the first time the brand has taken on sunscreen, and the lightly tinted version includes ingredients to defend against both UV rays and blue light.

Left to right: Jane Iredale and Aleph.
Left to right: Jane Iredale and Aleph.


Jane Iredale is nothing if not consistent, and its two newest products can attest to that. The mineral makeup creator expanded its ever-popular ColorLuxe Lipsticks to encompass shades that deposit high-impact colour in just one swipe back in September and followed this with the new PureMatch Liquid Concealer in November, a creamy, long-wearing concealer available in 16 shades.

It seems Aleph Beauty has the local makeup market cornered, with its selection of multi-use makeup crafted using vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO ingredients. But in August, founder Emma Peters released her first skincare-only product with The One, a day-to-night moisturiser containing adaptogenic herbs, bio-actives and hyaluronic acid to promote smoother, softer, healthy-looking skin. Ending the year on a high note, Aleph revealed its holiday offering with two bundles containing the products needed to create a sun-kissed makeup look.

Left to right: Chloe Zara, Ethique and Monday.
Left to right: Chloe Zara, Ethique and Monday.


It’s been a busy year for Chloe Zara. In the past six months alone, she launched a heat and UV protectant in the Glossifying Hair Mist, partnered with Auckland salon M11 to perform her Scalp Facial (accompanied by a Scalp Facial Kit — a permanent fixture in her eponymous haircare range), and worked with Northland artist Ophelia Jones on the packaging design for her new Summer Essentials Kit. Phew.

It’s the brand that pioneered shampoo bars in Aotearoa, but now Ethique founder Brianne West has her sights set on the wellness space with the advent of the world’s first effervescent drink tab, which comes housed in compostable packaging. Brianne’s new venture, called Incrediballs, uses new technology which ensures her product doesn’t react with either water or air. Watch this space.

Similarly in March, affordable haircare range Monday crossed over into wellness with the launch of its Hair Gummies, a chewable supplement containing a dose of biotin alongside vitamins C and E, said to support hair growth and collagen formation.

Left to right: Abel, Zambesi and Gloria.
Left to right: Abel, Zambesi and Gloria.


Abel continues to reframe the way we think about fragrance, with its selection of 100 per cent natural, sustainable personal fragrances with the modern muse in mind. In October, founder Frances Shoemack sought to diversify Abel’s offering by stepping into the world of home fragrance. The launch saw three room sprays lay the foundation for the home fragrance arm of the business — allowing Abel loyalists to scent their world like never before.

The fragrance-fashion connection is well-documented, with many luxury fashion houses having branched out into scent as a means of bottling the brand’s DNA but without the designer price tag.

It seems the crossover is catching, with three New Zealand fashion designers collaborating with established fragrance houses in the pursuit of parfum. The first, Zambesi, launched its inaugural parfum in 1979 last week, a sultry, magnetic scent created in collaboration with Brooke Lean, of The Virtue. Read our exclusive interview here.

Kristine Crabb, of Gloria, teamed up with Curionoir founder Tiffany Jeans on Gloria extrait de parfum, a heady bouquet of white florals inspired by her grandmother’s garden, life and independence, while Lela Jacobs tapped Nathan Taare to create Oud Elixer, with notes of Sichuan peppercorn, wet rocks, oud Assafi, horse saddles, suede and ambergris.

Left to right: Embodyme, Tronque, Aotea x Campbell Luke.
Left to right: Embodyme, Tronque, Aotea x Campbell Luke.


Acting as a reminder of the importance of self-care, newcomer Embodyme shook up the local body care market in August with its selection of four body oils, each named with a feeling to impart during a self-massage practice — Peace, Courage, Joy and Kindness. Each oil contains a blend of powerful botanical ingredients, all of which were handpicked by the founder Sarah Reid for their restorative and nourishing properties when applied to skin.

In the time since it first launched two years ago, Tanne Snowden’s Tronque has expanded its clean bodycare offering from three products to five, along with two body contouring tools and a trio of minis. Most notably this year, the brand teamed up with Tonic Room for the Tronque Summer Body Prep Treatment. Read our review here.

Off the back of a successful presentation at New Zealand Fashion Week, designer Campbell Luke worked with Aotea on a limited-edition skincare pack: Campbell Luke x He Oranga Ngākau. The launch and accompanying installation served as a reminder of the connection between Rongoā Māori and the whenua, or how Māori medicine can be used to nurture and heal.

Left to right: Ecostore, Formation and Essano.
Left to right: Ecostore, Formation and Essano.

Supermarket Beauty

Building on the success of its cleaning concentrates in 2021, Ecostore disrupted the market once more with the introduction of two new foaming hand washes and an accompanying 50ml concentrated refill in September. One month later, it revealed two nourishing new soaps would be added to its range of sustainable home, body and baby care products — both of which are crafted with oat milk.

If you need any further proof that serums need not cost the earth, look no further than Formation Skincare. In June, the local skincare maker launched its Niacinamide Serum, meaning cost-savvy beauty aficionados could get their hands on one of 2023′s most popular ingredients.

Essano has always performed strongly in the FMCG market, delivering its selection of home fragrances to the discerning supermarket shopper. Three new body care offerings were unveiled in July, with hand and body wash products highlighting natural fragrances and housed in minimalist packaging to fit with any interior aesthetic.

Left to right: Only Good and Karen Murrell.
Left to right: Only Good and Karen Murrell.

A Time To Refresh

While most local beauty brands were busy in the lab, developing products worthy of subbing into our routines, others had decided to go to ground — only to resurface a few months later with an entirely new brand identity, or reformulated product.

Our 2023 predictions included values-based buying, and this certainly rang true for several brands that onboarded consumer feedback and responded appropriately.

Only Good is one such brand, pulling every bottle off the supermarket shelf and relaunching into the New Zealand market in early September. In line with its moniker, the brand was mindful of its impact on people and planet, ensuring every element of its relaunch was efficacious and sustainable. This transparency extended from certified natural New Zealand ingredients in its formulas, through to its manufacturing processes which support local businesses.

In a bid to appeal to a more diverse consumer base, lipstick maven Karen Murrell reimagined the design of her outer sleeve, with the final designs revealed mid-October. It took Karen and her team 18 months to dream up 22 stylish women of various cultural backgrounds to accompany each of her signature bullets, to reflect the essence of the brand and the women she hopes to connect with. The redesign also saw Karen shift from a dual-ended box to a singular one, removing an extra box from the manufacturing process and the environment.

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