Press - 2017

Cult Original - Margaret Hema Skincare Review
August 4, 2017


~ Photo by Lucy Revill

I’ve been using Margaret Hema’s skincare products and having regular facials with her for the last 2 years almost.

I’d heard about her from when I was a girl seeing her products at Zambesi and in magazines, but it wasn’t until I started The Residents and asked to interview her that I began practising her skin care philosophy. Many people have heard of Margaret Hema but they don’t know what her products are all about. I decided to share her products, and my favourites, to tell you why this Wellington Skincare Business woman stands apart from the crowd. She isn’t on social media. She doesn’t need to advertise. She does facials only. She hand-blends all her own oil products herself. Despite this, her line has received international acclaim from actors and magazines the world over, and her clientele is exclusive people of Wellington who could choose any range they wanted – but they choose Margaret. And there is a good reason why.

Margaret is still regularly facialling clients who have come in for 20+ years. She isn’t interested in being part of Big Brand Beauty Inc. She’s the genuine article – as are her products. While oil based skincare is now quite popular, Margaret started the movement almost single-handedly, back in the early 1990’s when she started her own range after finding herself disillusioned by brands like Clarins and Decleor, with whom she had trained with extensively. Today, she has no fewer than 9 qualifications in aesthetics and skin care. If there is a massage technique for facials, she’s learnt it. Margaret adapted the techniques she learnt to create her own signature facial. It is only now that the science of facial massage and the ingredients she’s utilized for years, like Manuka Honey, are being widely recognized. Her range is rich in antioxidants, botanicals and nourishing organics which help skin heal and reduce the signs of stress and tiredness by creating a healthy glow, based in science.

The Philosophy

Margaret Hema Skincare is all natural, hand blended and bottled in Wellington by Margaret herself, available in limited quantities. Margaret uses mostly organic ingredients and always has done. If she ever doesn’t it is because the product isn’t freely available (i.e. sometimes organic avocado oil is hard to find). All her products, bar the toner/mist and facial moisturizer is oils. Margaret knows that only oil based products work to equally nourish the skin as well as cleanse it. At age 71, she is a living testament to her life’s worth with a smooth, well cared for face. 

The Products

Margaret Hema’s products retail at the higher end of the market, around $60 - $160 and are fittingly premium in quality to anything else available from New Zealand. They use ingredients such as Manuka Honey UMF 15+, Extra Virgin Avocado Oil, Kiwifruit Seed Oil, Certified Organic Totarol - from the New Zealand native tree Totara and Certified Organic Flax Oil. Many imitate and none match the expertise Margaret has in creating her products. It has to be felt to be believed. I’ve heard people say that they think her products are expensive, starting from $60, yet don’t blink at dropping $200-$300 dollars on eye creams, night creams, day creams and more at stores like Sephora or Strawberry.Net. People maybe hesitate that a local creator can be truly a cult skin care originator. However, Margaret Hema Skincare is the original cult line before people were even talking about cult beauty. 

The Routine

Margaret has a very simple routine she recommends: cleansing with her Facial Oil Cleanser, moisturizing with her Organic SPF12 Day Cream and treating with Millennium Oil.

Facial Cleansing Oil: This is my favourite product from her collection and is unable to be improved on. The scent is divine and you only need a little too thoroughly remove all traces of makeup from the skin. Wash with warm water and exfoliate with a flannel. This facial cleansing oil is the original inspiration for many, many main stream brands who have copied the concept. If I can only have one product to use for the rest of my life, including makeup, this would be it. Ingredients include Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Certified Organic Camellia Oil, New Zealand Extra Virgin Avocado Oil Organically Grown Grape Seed Oil, New Zealand organic Pacific Blue Essential Oil of Lavender, Rose, Frankincense and Sandalwood. This gives it a floral and woody scent which is intoxicating.

Millenium Oil (125ml): A rich nourishing oil perfect for the night. Margaret Hema created this product in 1999 and it’s a classic. This can be used as a whole body oil and lasts for ages. I had a bottle from the start of 2016 and it lasted until early this year. To keep ultra-fresh, store in the fridge if you like. Smooths the skin and hydrates. Ingredients include Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Certified Organic Camellia Oil, New Zealand Extra Virgin Avocado Oil, Grape Seed Oil, New Zealand organic, Pacific Blue Essential Oil of Lavender and New Zealand certified organic Totarol. Grassier smelling, it is super nourishing and rich.

Organic Day Cream (30ml): This crème is incredible. It is packaged in a light proof, an air-proof container which I’ve only ever seen used by boutique UK skin care range Kate Sommerville. Amongst the natural oils listed above, it also contains Nano Zinc Oxide New Zealand, Certified Organic Beeswax and GE free Lecithin. It is rich and creates a barrier between your skin and the harshness of city living.

A facial with Margaret is the most relaxing experience anyone can have. Margaret recommends a balanced diet, lots of water and exercise as the foundation of good skin. She’s not going to sell you snake oil or up-sell you or make promises she can’t deliver. Her approach is honest and trusted: she does faces and she does them well. At 71, she’s booked out months in advance and maintains a busy yet balanced schedule. In my opinion, Margaret Hema’s skin care will long outlive her and is certainly the best brand I could recommend coming from Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Residents of Wellington blog – Lucy Revill – Content writer, researcher and photographer.
August 2017