Slow beauty, big impact: Slo Naturals paves the way for sustainable self-care

Slo Naturals, a natural beauty brand from New Zealand, is transforming the beauty industry with its sustainable, eco-friendly products. Meet this innovative brand.

Heather Carter, Associate Editor

May 24, 2024

8 Min Read
Slo Naturals' natural deodorant
Slo Naturals

At a Glance

  • Slo Naturals, which is based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a 100% women-owned and operated company.
  • All Slo Naturals products are packaged in recyclable, compostable paper that will degrade even in the garbage.
  • As passionate environmentalists, the founders donate to the Royal Albatross Centre for every product sold.

Fast fashion. Fast food. Fast beauty. In today’s society, these industries run rampant—and most consumers have helped them flourish, whether they like to admit it or not.

However, one thing they all have in common is their negative impact on the environment. By doing things “fast,” these industries steadily contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions, overuse of landfills and water contamination, just to name a few.

Enter the “slow” movement—a more clean, sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach to production—where fashion, food and beauty brands are diligently working to create products that are better for both humans and the planet.

Slo Naturals, which is based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a natural beauty and healthcare brand pioneering the slow beauty movement, as its name implies. Co-founded by Vanessa Farrington and Monica Budd in 2016, the 100% women-owned and operated company is dedicated to producing sustainable, natural and organic products using the highest-quality ingredients.

“Slow beauty is a new sort of clean beauty,” Farrington said. “It’s a mindful approach to self-care, wellness and beauty consumption. It’s really about making sure that we’re looking at what products we need to actually manufacture that people are going to use rather than the latest, coolest thing that’s going to be a one-hit wonder. We’re looking at products that are necessary and essential like deodorants, toothpastes, moisturizers and hair care.”

Advancing the slow beauty movement

According to Budd, the concept is the equivalent of the slow fashion movement in the beauty industry. “There is a slow movement across all platforms and on the planet at the moment,” she explained. “We’re really trying to lead the charge and drive the slow beauty movement so that beauty doesn’t get left behind. It’s the last on the bus, basically. Slow fashion and slow food have been around for ages, and beauty very much has been a fast beauty change for a long time.”

Slo Naturals' Rose and Vanilla natural deodorant

And leading that charge they are. On top of sourcing plant-based and organic ingredients that are PETA-certified, vegan and cruelty-free, Slo Naturals places sustainability at the forefront. All of the company’s products are wrapped in recyclable, compostable paper packaging, which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). That means they can be disposed of in garbage cans or recycling bins.

“The big problem with the wheel today is people don’t have time,” Budd said. “They’ll say, ‘I don’t have time to recycle. I don’t have time to compost. I don’t have time to do any of these things.’ You can make your product as amazing as you want, and consumers still don’t have time. So, we needed a product that if it goes in the trash, which is where most stuff goes, it’s not going to be a problem.

“It just takes away that barrier of guilt [for consumers],” she went on to say. “Our packaging will degrade in the garbage. It’s not going to be there for hundreds of years and it’s also not going to leach anything bad into the soil while it degrades. You can just chuck it in the trash and walk away, because unfortunately that’s what we are, a throwaway society. We have to make the products that work for everybody.”

Crafting sustainable beauty products

Currently, the company offers seven products, including nine scented deodorants, five flavored lip balms, five scented body moisturizers, two scented dry shampoos, three types of hair clays, two flavored toothpaste tablets and a mint-flavored powder mouthwash. However, it all began with a trio of natural deodorants, two of which are the top-selling scents (Rose + Vanilla and Zesty Bergamot + Lime).

Slo Naturals' lip balmsBudd, who was raised on an organic farm and always had a knack for making her own things, revamped a family deodorant recipe to remove animal-based and unsustainable ingredients that are present in the majority of deodorants on the market. After Budd concocted the ideal recipe, Farrington infused her beauty knowledge from her 14-year tenure with L’Oréal to help craft the perfect packaged product for retail.

For the last three years, the duo has worked with Shieling Laboratories, a BioGro- and GMP-certified co-manufacturer based in Auckland, to scale the deodorants, moisturizers, dry shampoos and hair clays. The oral care products were created by Budd’s dentist and are also manufactured in New Zealand. The lip balms, however, are still created in-house.

“Generally, a lip balm is made with a couple of filler oils, a few high-quality oils and a colorant of some sort, usually mica,” Budd said. “We did it really differently. We used only high-quality oils, so there’s no coconut or shea fillers. There aren’t any cheap bulk filler oils. It’s like an oil balm instead of a cream balm like a lot of lip balms. It’s really a lip oil in a solid form, so it’s incredibly nourishing and has a great shine.”

The proprietary lip balm formula incorporates a range of organic essential oils from New Zealand, including jojoba oil and rosehip fruit oil, as well as cold-pressed organic olive from Spain, organic cacao butter from the Dominican Republic and radish root extract.

“We strayed away from mica [for the colorant] because of the question mark around child slavery,” Budd explained. “Only 20% of mica is apparently mined the right way. Our colorant comes from the outside of your common garden radish, so it doesn’t need to be mined. It’s something you can grow in the garden and it’s edible, whereas mica isn’t something you’d normally eat. And because you’re generally ingesting [a portion of] your lip balm, we didn’t want that. The skin of the radish is also really high in antioxidants and anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant in dark-colored vegetables, which is why they’re so good for you. That is really good for your lips as well. So, we’re giving consumers a bit of an anti-aging cure at the same time, as well as getting a better color.”

Now, almost a decade after they began their journey, Budd and Farrington’s products are infiltrating the worldwide market and nabbing awards left and right. The Cherry Blush Natural Tinted Lip and Cheek Balm was the winner of the 2024 NEXTY Award for Best Beauty and Skincare Product.

Slo Naturals co-founders Monica Budd (center) and Vanessa Farrington (right) accept their NEXTY Award at Natural Products Expo West 2024. Credit: Bryan Beasley Photography

Since winning the NEXTY Award, the brand has garnered extra exposure, according to Farrington. “It was huge for a New Zealand company to win something like that,” she said. “It’s very cool to be on the other side of the world and win such an esteemed award in America.”

Shortly after winning the NEXTY Award, Budd said retailers from all over the world contacted them.

“Overnight, we got an email from a retail chain in Florida that has 15 stores that said they wanted our product. They’re going to launch us in July, so that’s exciting,” she said. “We even had retailers overseas that reached out to us. Natural Products Expo West just pulls so many people from all around the world. It’s not just an American base, so that’s the cool thing about it. There were people there from Australia and all around the world that were like, ‘Actually, we need to talk to you guys.’ It was amazing.”

Aside from the Slo Naturals website, the products are also available on Amazon and in natural grocers across the United States through a recent partnership with KeHE Distributors.

“We launched in the California area to start as our test market and it’s taken off,” Farrington explained. “Since winning the NEXTY Award, we’ve been working on expanding into other regions. We’re going into the mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest and Southwest regions. We won’t be fully national, but we’ll do those regions to start with. Then, as we grow, we’ll go into more.”

Making a difference

Since Budd and Farrington are environmental enthusiasts, they’re also passionate about battling worldwide plastic pollution that claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of marine and land animals annually. Slo Naturals donates 5 cents for every product sold to Otago Peninsula Trust, which goes to one of its initiatives, the Royal Albatross Centre, to help protect the southern royal albatross population.

“It’s nice doing a boots-on-the-ground thing,” Budd said. “They email us and let us know, ‘That amount went to buy an incubator and the amount before that went to buy a water filtration system so that the birds have water in the summer when we’re having these unusually long dry spells, and the moms can’t find any water to feed their chicks.’ We know exactly where our money is going.”

“We try and cover every base,” Farrington added. “That’s the whole point of the business. It’s not just to cut corners. We’re trying to make accessible products available to everyone, but we’re just trying to do them at the highest quality we can so that we know when consumers get the product, they’re going to fall in love with it.”

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About the Author(s)

Heather Carter

Associate Editor, Food & Beverage Insider

Heather Carter is the associate editor of Food & Beverage Insider at Informa Markets. She has worked in trade publishing for nearly a decade, covering a variety of topics, from tile to bedding. Reach her at [email protected].

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