New Zealand Cruelty Free Beauty Brands

60cc6f698efa317df7fbcdb98d5b8316.jpgNew Zealand has many amazing cruelty free, vegan and organic skincare brands. For the sake of this article, I will focus on cruelty free brands (although many of these are vegan and organic too). When I was living in Australia, there was also an awareness of ethical brands and the ability to choose cruelty free and eco-friendly options.

There are many beauty and skin care products that promote ethical production. As we have increasingly more access to information online, there is more awareness about the brands we use. I’ve listed below just some of the cruelty free brands. However, if you have any that you know, please feel free to comment them down below!

Makeup Apotheka |Belle & Sage | Karen Murrell | Living Nature | World Organics

Haircare Belle & Sage | Earthwise | Ecostore | Essano  | Evolu | Lust | SavarThe Herb Farm

Skincare  Antipodes | Apheleia | ApicareApotheka | BeautousBelle & Sage |BestowBlue Earth | Bon Bon Vegan | Do No Harm | Ecostore | Essano | Ethique | Evolu | Geo Skincare Goodness | La’bonicLinden LeavesLiving Nature | Moana | Nellie Tier |OasisOlive |Only Good Orania | OxygenPlantae Sansceuticals | Skinfood |Snowberry | Stella For Cruelty FreeSurmanti | Tailor  | Tonic RoomTrilogy |Tribeca|  The Herb Farm | The Cruelty Free Shop | World Organics | You Are Loved

Washing Earthwise | Ecostore

Photography by Elias and Theresa Carlson

Ruby Autumn/Winter Collection 2017

I was walking on High Street during the weekend, and couldn’t help walking into Ruby. I’ve featured my favourite pieces from the A/W Collection 2017. Ruby is a New Zealand fashion label that is best known for its designs that effortlessly embody youthful elegance and adventurous charm. From streetwear origins, RUBY has enchanted its audience under the direction of designer Deanna Didovich to become one of New Zealand’s most exciting brands. Check out the complete collection hereruby-viso-jacket-viso-jean-and-58b3ad77621a6ruby-pizzo-longsleeve-and-bambi-58b3afcfbcd03ruby-occhio-t-shirt-and-stella-d-58d3245f17c05ruby-ophelia-coat-bambi-shirr-58b3adfe86c66ruby-otto-turtleneck-and-rooftop-58b3b02656fd4ruby-paloma-wrap-top-and-paloma-58b3b18506268ruby-luna-dress-58b3b1d75af27pizzo-longsleeve-and-viso-jean-58b3ae90cb0c0

Photography from Ruby

Eugenie Autumn/Winter Collection 2017

Eugenie is a New Zealand brand designed by Elizabeth Wilson. Her designs are all made in New Zealand, and she has a boutique in Ponsonby. Wilson studied at Otago University to be a product and graphic designer, then went to work in advertising at Y&R. She completed a graduate diploma in fashion. From there she worked as a design assistant for Karen Walker’s design assistant. Then she went back to graphic design working at Mi Piaci and Overland.

Eugénie is designed to celebrate modern, smart, creative women. It emphasises the character, wit and individuality of the wearer through a look that blends tomboy cool with art-house chic. The main focus is on fresh day wear, where the practicality and pure cut of menswear shine through, for an evening a sensuous streak emerges, with pieces that celebrate the fun and power of the feminine. As a feminist label, Eugénie is committed to ethical manufacturing.


Photography by Imogen Wilson for Oyster Magazine

Pros And Cons Of Living In Auckland

131eb524fac8d24d0d7fab3c28007589.jpgGrowing up in Auckland, I spent a chapter of my life in the North shore suburbs, by the beach and a chapter of my life in North Auckland in the country side. A small portion of my time is now living in the city for the third year, which is the pros and cons I will touch on. When I asked a friend who had visited Auckland city for the first time from overseas, I asked what was their first impression. They said that it felt like a country side city, which I thought to myself may be the reason some people often call Auckland a town.


The beaches, lifestyle and outdoors. Auckland is a great place for people who love to be outdoors. There are a lot of places to go around the city and many beaches.

There is less advertising in your face. Every city has advertising and billboards everywhere, but it’s far less in Auckland. There’s less bright flashing lights, billboards or huge posters throughout the city.

Job opportunities may be higher. This depends on what sort of field you want to work in, but compared to other areas in NZ, there may be more job opportunities in Auckland.

Finding places to go and things to do. After living in Sydney, I always felt there was something to do in the city. I didn’t really need to search for it. However, Auckland does have its variety of things to do, but it’s just a matter of finding and discovering them.

There is less materialism and stress. It’s not a city where you’ll constantly hear cars beeping, loud noises and there is also far less materialism. That isn’t to say there isn’t any materialism, but it’s definitely a lot less.

The blue skies and oceans. A great day is when the skies are blue with a few clouds, and the sun is bright. The beaches are also some of the most beautiful places to visit.

Most people are willing to help. There’s always someone who’s willing to help you, whether you have a question or need directions.

Enjoying the simple things in life. You’ll see many people on the weekends out for a walk near the harbour and in the city.

More space, less people and better air. When I’m in the city at a busy hour, of course it’s going to be crowded. However, Auckland is already at a lower population, compared to most cities. That makes it feel more spacious. There’ll be the smoker walking in front of you from time to time, but the air is much less polluted and breathable.

A great place to raise a family. In terms of living in the suburban areas eg. North Shore or other areas a little out of the inner city. I think NZ in general is a great environment for children to have the freedom and peace to grow up well.

It’s less overcrowded and relatively safe. Statistically speaking, it’s a safer place to live than cities with high crime rates. There is also far less overcrowding and feeling as if you’re shoulder to shoulder with the person beside you.

People are mostly very friendly. There’s always the odd person that’s rude, but most Aucklanders are pretty friendly and easy going.

Most places can pay by Card. I don’t know if this is because in the last two years that I lived in Sydney, there were many places that only accept cash. You always need to have cash on you, as some places don’t have an eftpos machine or they will require a surcharge, which can be anything from $0.10 to $1.00. However, in New Zealand, pretty much most places will have a card machine.

A multicultural city. There’s quite a lot of diversity, and there are different cultures, foods and things to do.


The living prices are rising. Most of the rent prices are rising, and I feel that the living fees are higher than a few years ago. It can get quite competitive, and many people are chasing to get the best prices and location.

Four seasons in a day. One of the many reasons I temporarily moved to Sydney, was because of the Auckland weather. I don’t really like the city weather, during the colder months. However, it’s always good to have an umbrella on you and a layer of clothing during those times.

Most places require driving. Within the city you can get by on a bus or walk to your destination. However, if you are travelling outside of the city, you will need to drive as the Auckland is very spread out.

It’s an expensive city to live in as a student. Perhaps it may be expensive as well for those who are working, but in terms of my experience living in the city, I have only lived here as a student.

There is less individual style. This may be changing, but I used to feel that Aucklanders don’t embrace their individual fashion style as much. A lot of people dress very similarly. Most people aren’t as fussed about what they wear, but in cities such as Auckland and Taipei, I feel there are more people who just wear whatever they want, regardless of if it stands out or not.

There’s less competition and more at the same time. There are limited job opportunities, and many people may apply for the same opportunity and be more competitive to get it. At the same time, there’s less competition because there’s less people. Individually speaking, it’ll be different. In terms of sports, that’s a different thing entirely.

The cost of daily needs and other. The cost of dental care, groceries, travel and others can often add up to be quite a lot.

Parking and traffic hours. If you drive, the parking may not be the best in the city. Some of them may be far from the destination you need to be at, which means you may need to walk. During end of work there will be traffic on the way home.

Pros & Cons

You will often see people you know. This one is sort of a mixed feeling for me. What I really loved about living in Sydney was that I rarely saw anyone I knew. There was a feeling of anonymity.

There’s a no worries and laid back nature. It makes Auckland a far more relaxed and less stressed city to live in. It also gives most people a healthy work life balance. However, I find it can also cause there to often be a nature of doing things more slowly, or cause people to take their time.

The pace of life is much slower. Touching on the previous point, Auckland is at a slower place to live in,  in some senses when you do compare it with larger cities that never sleep. It’s good in the sense that people aren’t always rushing through life, but it also means that individually you need to have that self motivation to push yourself.

Public transport in certain areas. Generally, New Zealand is a convenient place to travel around, if you have a car. The buses in the city are also easy to navigate. However, within the city there may be areas where there are much less frequent buses.

The city has its own feel and yet it doesn’t. This is a personal view, but I always felt that Auckland is the sort of place that has its own special things about it, but it also doesn’t feel like it does. Auckland as an area is scattered and it doesn’t have as much of a distinct and strong identity as some cities do.

You need to be self motivated, driven and passionate. These should be applied anywhere, but there are cities that naturally push you to succeed and do well, because of the culture and environment. But, because Auckland is much more laid back in contrast, there is an extra push in staying motivated.

Art by Yuliya

My Love Hate Relationship With Auckland

artwork.jpgSince I will very likely move back to Auckland in the next year or so, I wanted to write about this topic in a little more depth. Auckland is the place I grew up and experienced a majority of my life in. After spending two years in Sydney, I truly love it as a city. The weather, people, lifestyle and things to do. I can safely say Sydney is one of my favourite cities to live in. Many people in Auckland (who haven’t been to Sydney before) mentioned that Sydney is the same as Auckland but with a bigger population or they mention that it’s a racist city. Sydney is like a bigger Auckland, but it is vastly different in many ways. In terms of racism, unfortunately it happens anywhere.

Auckland is the kind of place I never felt particularly crazy about. I think it was more the experiences that shaped how I felt growing up there. I loved living in the country side, with the clean air and being surrounded by nature and animals. There is a certain purity and freshness. The moments I loved growing up were living beside the beach in the North Shore suburbs just outside the city and the years living on the farm. The only thing is that it’s not very convenient living in the country side. Especially if you are still young and would like to have more access to different places, events, experiences, people and so on. The saying that there are four seasons in a day is so absolutely true, that you often need to carry an umbrella and a layer of clothing on you, just in case!

New Zealand is a place where it is difficult to navigate if you don’t have a drivers license. However, if you live in central city you can probably travel on public transport. Although, I feel that if you can walk to certain places, you can save more money. The public transport in Auckland is not the most efficient, if compared to bigger cities, but I’m sure it will improve a lot in the next several years. The rent in Auckland can be expensive. This depends on how many people you live with. The more people you live with, the more possibility that the rent will be lower. If you live a little further from central city, it will be cheaper, however you will need to take into account the travel costs.

There are not many things to do in Auckland, especially if you don’t drive a car. There are wonderful beaches in walking and busing distance, but for the adventurous, it’s convenient to have a car. I loved second hand shopping in Auckland and there are several shops spread across the city. The only thing is that Auckland feels more like a big little city. Queen street is extremely short when compared to Sydney’s George street. I like the feeling of emptiness and a lower population of people. It’s a lot more spacious and the air is far more breathable and clean if you compare to cities with very polluted air.

My favourite suburb is Parnell. I lived there for one year. It’s partly because I lived with two people who were very kind to me and I had neighbours who lived beside me who I went to church with every week. Although, it’s considered one of the pricier suburbs, I think if you can find a reasonable price, it’s one of the most comfortable, convenient and safer suburbs to live in. Your living environment can really shape your experience living in Auckland. If you’re a clean freak like me, it’s important to live somewhere you feel calm and sane in. When I lived in the small town Warkworth, I would always see at least 2-3 people I knew. Similarly, in Auckland city, I would always see at least one person on the streets that I knew. It’s something I love hate, because I love seeing people I know, but sometimes I just want to be quiet and reserved, but it may come off rude not to say hi. Can anyone relate to that feeling?

Making friends in Auckland is one of those things I’m still trying to figure out. When I talked to my sister, it sounds like it is much more easier to make friends in Wellington, because Auckland tends to be more cliquey. People tend to stick with who they know in Auckland from my personal experience. However, I found from personal experience, that if you join a community or go to a regular church, it is easier to make friends in those areas. As previously mentioned, there isn’t an excessive amount of things to do in Auckland, which means that there is definitely a drinking culture in New Zealand. Socialising in student life often involves drinking, going out and partying. I think it’s important to find people who are like minded in that sense, if you are not a drinker or party person.

The places I loved going to regularly when living in Auckland was the Art gallery, Museum, Auckland Library, Albert Park and Mission Bay. I find the fashion in Auckland is not as distinctive. There are a lot of people who wear black, which I like (coming from someone who wears a lot of black clothes). However, I find that there are less people with distinct styles, compared to the streets of Sydney. People aren’t as afraid to express their individuality in Sydney or Wellington. There is definitely quirky, stylish and funky fashion. Whereas I find in Auckland, there definitely are very stylish people, but less in the sense that people in Auckland are more judgmental and more people tend to conform (from my observation, but maybe it will be more different when I return).

It can feel very empty in Auckland at times, because it’s so spacious. There are areas that are great for shopping, such as K-road and places near Queen street with thrift stores. I feel that Auckland is slower than the rest of the world in many areas, but I think it has so much space for growth and development. People are far more laid back in Auckland and everyone is generally pretty friendly. I previously talked about how I didn’t experience much racism in Sydney. The truth is that it is definitely an issue in Australia, however I’ve only lived there for two years now. My experience for the past several years in Auckland, is that I definitely have faced racism. I grew up in the country side, where I was one of the only Asian students in primary school and living in the city there might be one or two people you encounter who are not too nice, but unfortunately racism happens everywhere.

I love Auckland’s relaxed nature, as I mentioned before. There’s a certain no worries nature, that is great for a healthy and balanced work/life style. However, sometimes it can make one feel a lack of motivation and urgency for certain things when you live in a city that’s more slow paced. It’s a personal challenge to push yourself. In Auckland, the transport is slower, whereas in Sydney an Uber will often not wait for you if you don’t show up for 2-3 minutes. I love Auckland because it’s the place that I know I want to settle down and have a life in. It’s the place I imagine growing old in. I feel so grateful to have moved to Australia short term, because it gave me an immense amount of new experiences that I just wouldn’t have had in  New Zealand. I think that’s really important, because Auckland is the sort of place that it’s easy to just stay there and never leave or live anywhere else for a few years.

It’s a comfortable city with it’s pros and cons like any city has. The internet in Auckland can sometimes drive you bonkers. But if you have a good plan then it should be fine. I felt that there are less job opportunities in Auckland, especially when compared to Sydney. Australia is a good place to work for several years and gain experience, then return to Auckland. Perhaps in the next several years, job opportunities will grow. The thing I love about New Zealand, is that we’re proud to be Kiwis. We come from a country that is situated at the corner of the world, yet there is so much potential and many amazing people who have done incredible things. Auckland has a high percentage of Asians and so it was very convenient to go to the Chinese supermarkets nearby. I feel as if I could list several other things about Auckland that I felt were pros and cons, but I think I’ll leave it here. If you ever have a chance to visit, it’s a great place to travel as there’s lots of sights to see. It’s somewhere where you can call home.

Art Work via

Growing Up As An Asian In A Western Country

bf35c6a5d2aaf2c206c1ecfcd424fc4f.jpgI was born and raised in New Zealand all my life, before I moved to Australia just under two years ago. I grew up being taught Mandarin and went to a Chinese school every Saturday. Unfortunately I was pretty lazy during those classes, as English was always a language I felt a huge interest with and put more time and effort to learn. I loved reading English literature from Jane Austen to Shakespeare and writing short stories from my wild imagination. However, being a Taiwanese Kiwi I feel a deep respect for my cultural background. Perhaps some fellow Asian sisters (and brothers) can relate to some of these points, if they grew up or moved to a western country at a young age.

When I was younger, many children didn’t understand to respect different cultures. I was told how disgusting my lunch box food filled with red bean buns and asian food looked (might I add they tasted delicious). You will always (inescapably) be asked the question “Where are you from?” even when you respond with “I’m from Auckland.” Racism in our culture is very often seen as black and white. However, Asians are very often seen as the minority that is made to seem okay to be racist towards, teased, joked about or called names. It will never be okay. I cannot tell you the amount of times I was told “Konnichiwa” growing up, even though I am not Japanese, or the amount of times someone will say “你好” when they find out I speak Mandarin.

Growing up in an Asian house hold, yet being raised in a Western school and society, there are definitely certain experiences one will face. I grew up in a predominantly western school, with small groups of minorities (mainly international students). However, I never actually had any close friends who were Asian, simply because there were less Asian people in the country side during that time. It was only when I left home and moved to the city, I realised that the Asian community is far more larger and tight knit than I thought. To some extent I find the teachings in an Asian household is more firm in comparison to Western households. Although, I consider my parents more relaxed, there are aspects that tend to be a lot more strict.

I wrote in a previous post here about how I was placed into ESOL (English for Speakers Of Other Languages), even though I was fluent in English. I was 8 or 9, and I tried to explain to the teacher that I didn’t need it. Thinking back, I can understand it may of been because I was extremely shy and quiet, which can be a quick assumption that I didn’t know any English. Being pretty much one of the only Asians at school, I faced my first lessons looking at images of cats and dogs, and acing every single image. You can be sure I was no longer in ESOL after that first lesson. There were many hints of subtle (and not so subtle) hints of racism throughout my schooling years and even til today. As an Asian brought up in a Western country, I don’t feel fully Asian. It’s difficult to express that feeling.

Whenever I go back to Asia, there are always people who ask me “You’re a foreigner, aren’t you?” I feel it may simply be from my mannerisms and appearance. One thing I do notice is that Asians are less likely to speak loudly about how they feel about something in that moment. Whereas in Western countries, most people are very open on their thoughts, even if they may be negative. Though this may not be for all individuals, but it’s definitely one of the cultural differences I’ve noticed. When I was in high school, I had a teacher who used my “being an Asian”, as an excuse for my grammatical mistakes in English class. Bearing in mind English was one of my favourite classes, it seemed unfair that when my Kiwi friends had grammar mistakes, they were simply written in red pen with the teachers corrections.

When I visited guest’s homes, I was surprised as a young girl that some people wore shoes inside the house. It’s a custom in Taiwan (and many other Asian cultures) to provide slippers for guests. In many Asian cultures, we call our elders Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect. It is extremely rare to call an elder by their first name. Respecting the elders is heavily taught from a young age. Another thing I learned was how high my tolerance for spicy food was. I grew up in a household where at least one or two dishes each night would have spices in them. I noticed that in Western countries, some people have a very low tolerance for spicy food, which is only natural because they aren’t brought up having spicy Asian food everyday.

Asians are hugely under represented or absent from the media. I do hope this can change, but at the present time it is still extremely slow. Having subtitles on was a huge habit from a young age. It was because my parents did it ever since they arrived in New Zealand, and that was one of the ways they learned English. I remember sleeping over at a friends house, and before bed time she would always say “I love you” to her Mum. At the time, it felt strange to me, because (as some people may be able to relate), in Asian culture many people are less likely to say I love you to their parents. After being long distance from my parents for years, I try to say it more often.

Since living in Australia, I realised how much people love to tan. I’ve always been the sort of person that doesn’t like to expose my skin to the sun. This means I tend to wear a lot more long sleeved clothing. That was always a personal decision, but I do feel in some ways that Asian fashion is more cute, whereas Western fashion shows more cleavage and low cut tops. This example is purely from looking at current online stores. I am someone that loves cute things, but this aspect is far more normal and accepted in Asia. Whereas in Western countries, some parts of it can seem childish. You don’t normally see a woman carrying a Hello Kitty bag in the city, but it’s completely normal in Asia.

Whenever I go back to Taiwan, I feel the reverse feeling of being surrounded by Asians and feeling surprised or noticing whenever I see a western person. Western children are raised to be independent as soon as they leave home, whereas I noticed some Asian children will have their tuition paid until they graduate and find a job. This isn’t everyone, because I know for myself that I left home at 16 and had to learn a huge level of independence. As touched on before, the ideal of beauty is definitely very different. I was raised to always wear sunscreen. My fellow classmates would be lying on the grass beside me as I sat in the shade, and they’d talk about getting their legs more tanned. I think in Asia there is an emphasis on good skincare and keeping the body healthy and young as possible.

If I got good grades in class, my parents would usually answer with one word, which was “Good.” That was enough for me to feel satisfied. However, I noticed some of my fellow Kiwi classmates were often paid money or treated by their parents if they could reach a certain grade. Taking a lot of photos is completely normal in Asia. Whereas in Western countries it may seem strange to whip out the phone to take a photo of everything. I am not used to it, because I rarely take photos. I noticed whenever I go back to Asia I start taking a lot more photos. It may also be because I really want to document those moments, since I don’t get to see my family very often. Of course all of these things I’ve mentioned are from my personal experience. Everyone will have a different experience!

What was your experience like growing up in a Western country as an Asian?

Art by Maggie Chiang (I chose this illustration because it reminded me of the days being surrounded by nature in the country side, beach, farms, forests, rolling hills and mountains in New Zealand).

New Zealand Fashion Week – Street Style 2016


I feel quite possibly each year, I tell myself that I have to go to NZFW at some point. Perhaps when I next move back, I will go. It’s always good to see the amazing designs of the creative and talented New Zealand designers. My favourite street styles are always the ones that stand out from the crowd. They have their own quality of style and confidence. My favourite look this year is Talisa’s Day One Outfit from Eugenie. She makes minimalism and simplicity look so chic, effortless and stylish.

Happy birthday @jaimeridge! Love the team at @nzfashionwk photo by @Parker #NZFW

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that #flow

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Back to Blak for NZFW Opening Night. For more, check out the blog [link in bio]. ✨✨ #nzfw #nzfw2016

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Rain rain go away, colour, colour here to stay! Especially on my P9! Beautiful model at #nzfw @nzfashionwk @huaweimobilenz

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Team @SimplyYouMag #NZFW photo: @hsburg

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