Friday, October 23, 2015

Koru Naturals Trio (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)


Koru Naturals is a company that brings select hair and body care products native to New Zealand to the American market. Earlier this year, I discovered their Emu Oil and Lanolin Lip Balm, and was impressed with their quality and effectiveness.  When I had another chance to try other Koru products, I was thrilled.  This time, I received Skin Clear Creme, Manuka Honey & Propolis Soap, and Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Cream.

Skin Clear Creme

Let me start by saying I'm a bit of a cosmetic junkie.  I have sensitive skin (thank you, Irish relatives),  melasma (thank you, children), and moderate eczema (thank you, cranky immune system).  Despite the calendar saying I'm not going to see 40 again, acne is still a pesky nemesis, too.  I'm not sure how many products I've tried in the hopes of finding something that would help at least one of the problems. I've pretty much given up on finding something that works for everything, and happily trade wrinkle creams in the hopes of ditching the often deep, cystic acne.  I've tried creams, lotions and ointments from drug store, department stores, mail-order companies, and even prescriptions. It's safe to say that I was pretty skeptical when I received this one, but I figured it was worth a try.

Most lotions and potions tend to make my acne worse.  Even ones that were specifically made for acne would wind up clogging pores and leaving me with more problems. What makes this one so much better for me? Frankly, I don't know...but I'm not sure I care.  I can tell you what makes this different from every one I've used before is the ingredients.

This cream contains manuka honey, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  It contains a number of emollient oils - coconut, grapeseed, shea - that the allow the skin to hold onto moisture, which in turn helps keep the skin from producing more oil and clogging.  There are also several essential oils that also help to balance the skin. (Note: some of these are not safe for expectant moms.)

I think another thing that makes this work for me is how little I need to use.  There's a fine balance between "enough to cover your skin," and "so much that it's just glommed on in some places to make it stretch to others," and that's something I've struggled with when using other products.  This is how much of this cream you need at a one time.


Ignore the fact that these are probably the worst selfies on the planet.  But you can see how a little bit goes a long way.  You can also see the acne healing, compared to this picture from just before I began using this cream. My skin is definitely still healing, but the near-constant cysts at the bottom of my face are resolving, and the scaling from the eczema between my eyes is lessening.

When Neal and I went away for our anniversary, I transferred some to a TSA-approved container (it comes in a 4 oz tin). I filled it to just shy of the the very top, because I was concerned about running short.  After using this twice a day for four days away, and then for a week at home before I remember to snap a picture, look how much was *still* left in the container.

This is going to last me a long time!  I'm at the point where I don't want to spend a ton of money on skin care products, but if they work, then I'm willing to make the investment.  One tin (US$19.20) will easily last me four to six months, making it a better value than just about anything I've tried.

Manuka Honey and Propolis Soap

This glycerin-based soap contains anti-bacterial/anti-inflammatory manuka honey, but also a second active ingredient, propolis.  Propolis is a resin-like material from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees, and usually obtained from beehives.  It's been used since ancient Egyptian times for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  I'm probably one of the staunchest advocates of Western medicine, considering it has saved my children's lives quite a few times. However, I'm also intrigued by natural ingredients that have been used throughout time because they worked, even if the users weren't quite sure why.  Modern studies have shown that propolis' anti-viral properties work very effectively for resolving cold sores (caused by the herpes simplex virus).

Coming into cold and flu season, this is a soap that will definitely get heavy use.  Some studies have shown that propolis does not contribute to microbe resistance, and actually works effectively at eliminating resistant microbes.  While ordinary soap and water are often sufficient to kill bacteria and viruses, I'm intrigued at the idea of using something that could possibly help increase our odds of avoiding being sick this winter.  While it also makes a kiddo feel crummy, viruses throw off everything in our house; a simple cold usually leads to asthma flares while stomach viruses can land Celia and Damien in the hospital because of their nutritional status.  Anything I can do to avoid "Winter Crud" is worth a shot!  It's really moisturizing as well, making it great for helping keep the drying and cracking that accompanies frequent hand-washing at bay.

Plus, it just plain smells good! It has a light floral scent with honey tones. It's the kind of scent where you think "Maybe I need to wash my hands anyway..." just to keep it fresh on your skin.  It's a bit pricey (US$8.90 for a 4 ounce bar), but long-lasting.

Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Cream

Gravity and I are not good friends.  I'm probably the best example of how gravity wins every time you try to oppose it.  A few times, it's even resulted in broken bones.  Unfortunately, while the fractures healed, I still am left with traumatic arthritis in my wrists and elbows.  It's not debilitating, but it's still painful.  Heat is my usual treatment for the ache, but when the weather is particularly damp, a couple of acetaminophen or ibuprofen get added to the mix.  Usually I avoid topical creams because they don't really help and smell terrible.

This herbal cream contains emu oil and arnica, both anti-inflammatory, blue tansy, which can increase blood flow to where it's applied and decrease pain, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic.  Other essential oils that have been used for arthritis, such as peppermint and lavender, are included in this cream.  A warning: If you are pregnant or nursing, do not use this product.  (Arnica and blue tansy are both potential emmagogues and can cause problems.) This product is in a coconut oil and aloe base, making it spread and absorb easily.

I'm open to considering essential oil/herbal treatments for certain conditions, but am very hesitant to do a lot with them because it's hard to separate reality from hype.  Koru recommends using this at least twice daily, but I started with using on an "as needed" basis, and it did seem to work, even with more irregular use.  Did it work because of something in it, or was it a placebo effect?   After a lot of internet reading about each of the ingredients, I've come to the conclusion that it probably is the cream itself that helps, not just the application process.  Each of the ingredients has a history of treating inflammation and pain, so it makes sense to me that when combined, they really do work together to treat the problem.

In addition, this cream has no odor.  The essential oils provide a light but fresh scent -- I don't smell like menthol or camphor or any other "medicine-y" smell that most topical creams have.  I've begun using it daily at night, and that does make a difference in pain management, especially now that our weather is getting cool and often damp.  Daily use helps keep ahead of the aches, rather than constantly working to get it back under control.  If it's a bad day, I'll add a second application during the day, and that is sufficient to rein it in.  Obviously, how long it lasts depends on how frequently and how widespread you use it, but a 4 ounce jar ($14.80) will likely last me 2-3 months of daily use on both wrists and one elbow.  It's cut my need for oral painkillers down as well, which is definitely a good thing!

Koru Naturals has become one of my favorite personal care companies. I'm really happy to have found a moisturizer that works well with my skin, and an anti-inflammatory cream that helps treat my arthritis.  However, even ranking third among these products for me doesn't mean the soap isn't great, too!  The Crew reviewed several Koru Naturals products, including other skin care products and hair care items, so make sure to click the banner below to find out about all of them!  You can also follow Koru Naturals on social media:


Koru Naturals Review

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