Deer Milk Skin Care: A World First for Beauty

Bridal beauty begins with your skin. We take a look at kōtia, the first skin care brand in the world formulated using 100% New Zealand deer milk, to discover if it's a worthy addition to your bridal prep.

  • Story by Emily Bell

Full disclosure, I’m a bit of a skin care junkie. I love nothing more than mixing up my routine, so I was excited to receive an invitation to attend the launch of kōtia , the world’s first skin care brand made with 100% New Zealand deer milk, in spectacular Queenstown.

Milk has long been associated with nourishment, longevity and life. So, in that respect, it’s a worthy addition to the beauty world. The lead up to a wedding is often a time when brides overhaul their daily routines to follow a regime with the intent to gain intense hydration to produce that radiant, picture-perfect glow. I was keen to find out whether kōtia lends itself to pre-wedding skin care.

What is kōtia?
kotia’s range is made up of a combination of deer’s milk and scientifically researched active ingredients that nourish the skin. It promises to provide not only nourishment, but anti-ageing benefits while creating a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss. It’s a range launched by entrepreneur Graeme Shaw, who pioneered milking deer to make cheese. When a milk hand mentioned she had soft hands and stronger nails post-milking he was intrigued. After sending a batch of the milk to a team of scientists at AgResearch, it was identified that the milk was rich in hydration properties, retinol, folic acid, antioxidants, nutrients and anti-inflammatory agents. Recognising an opportunity, Shaw teamed with a skin care formulator and spent six years testing and building the milk-based range. Six years later, kōtia was born.

It’s a world’s first for skin care and an evident passion project for Shaw. Stepping off the TSS Earnslaw Steamship in Queenstown and arriving at the scenic Walter Peak Farm , surrounded by mountainous landscape, Shaw introduces us to two twin fawns who have been hand reared on the farm after their mother abandoned them to the elements. The baby deer run to Shaw, who greets them. Shaw mentions the importance of their home, of Queenstown and New Zealand. It’s soon clear that it's a quintessentially kiwi product, a crucial element for Shaw; it has to work in the country of origin, first and foremost.

‘We’re unashamedly presenting a premium skin care product with the best New Zealand ingredients. Our formulator, manufacturer, designers, everything has to be New Zealand. Surrounded by smart people with a vision to produce a range with the highest nourishing factor you can get, which is deer milk,' Shaw says.

The review
Admittedly, up until now I didn't realise you could even milk deer, which are commonly thought of as primal, flighty animals. I was curious to try out the range. From the moisturisers, in particular the Regenerating Night Cream, I expected (and was dreading) a heavy, thick cream that rests on the face, clogging pores and refusing to absorb. Surprisingly, it had the opposite effect and I felt my skin could easily breathe. It also claims to transform your skin as you sleep and is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and revitalising oils. To that, I added the Brightening Eye Cream and loved it even more; fast absorbing, this light, fragrance free gel-cream fights dehydration and discomfort, causing dryness, puffiness and dark circles.

The following day after washing my face, I applied the Rejuvenating Serum which felt extremely light weight and cooling. Enhanced with softening peptides as well as purification and rebalancing properties, it's great to improve your skin's texture and elasticity (and is proven to produce younger-looking skin in just seven days). After, I added the hydrating day cream which is a little thicker in consistency but is perfect for the day ahead as it protects against pollution, has SPF 15 and preserves skin's elasticity. The duo also make a perfect base for makeup application, with your skin appearing smooth and flawless. My favourite product, however, is kōtia's Revitalising Hand & Nail Cream as thank you to the deer milk, it produces a non-sticky texture and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving nourished, hydrated hands.

Planning your wedding can be a time where multiple things need your attention and there are many boxes to be ticked. Beauty and self-care are, however, equally as important so make sure you give a little time to yourself. If you ask me, kōtia is a product that keeps on giving and would be a worthy addition to your skin care routine pre and post wedding.

To view the full range, click below.

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