Inspired living

A Q&A with the founder of zk'in

Grace Culhaci founder of zk'in skincare natural organic beauty

Credit: Grace Culhaci

What inspired you to create the zk’in skincare range?

In 2007, I was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour on my optic nerve. This condition affected the vision in my right eye and I was in severe pain. My doctors didn’t offer me any hope, but with two small children I couldn’t give up. I commenced B17 therapy and became vegetarian, eating only organic foods, and sought to rid my environment of anything unnatural. This led to me learning how to make my own skincare products. What I observed during my early years of skincare making was that, while many women make healthy food choices, they are willing to compromise on their skincare and use synthetic ingredients — the equivalent of a junkfood diet for our skin — because they feel organic skincare, while safer, might not deliver the results they are looking for. I wanted to develop a skincare range that would offer genuine safety but was also results-based and so zk’in (pronounced “skin”) came into being.

What does zk’in mean?

The “z” in zk’in stands for our zero tolerance policy to unnatural ingredients, unsustainable business practices, animal cruelty and unrealistic photoshopping. Every zk’in product is COSMOS certified organic by ACO, cruelty free accredited and vegan. All packaging is BPA free and food grade.

Please explain your honest beauty approach.

The central tenet of zk’in is “honest beauty”. We have real clinical data to back performance, testimonials from customers confirming these results and industry awards independently testing and verifying eco credentials.   Combined with our zero tolerance policy, our honest beauty approach gives people confidence that what they will receive is honest results from an honest product.

How important is it for your products to be cruelty free, vegan and organic?

Your skin is your barrier to the world, so it makes sense to look after it and not expose it to chemicals that could compromise its effectiveness. Many pesticides used to grow crops contain known skin irritants, which consumers unwittingly transfer to their skin via their cosmetic products. Organic skincare made from pesticide-free organic raw materials offers relief from skin irritants plus delivers skin-nourishing benefits.

In regards to animal testing, the entire concept is flawed. Products react very differently to human skin than animal skin, so manufacturers can only really be sure a product is safe by adopting human trials or one of the alternative tests on human skin cells. All zk’in products are completely petrochemical free, so this removes the major source of skin irritation and greatly minimises the risk. We conducted patch-testing with human volunteers and had full safety dossiers compiled by an independent toxicologist to ensure safety. No animal testing required, and excluding animal ingredients to keep the range vegan is just an extension of the cruelty-free philosophy.

Where do you source and make your products?

We have our own GMP-certified manufacturing facility in Rydalmere, NSW, where we produce all the zk’in products. I source raw materials from around the world, always looking for the most innovative ingredients. Many of the ingredient choices are based on observation science; for example, seaweed washes up on the shore and bakes for hours in the sun yet it doesn’t die. So how does it survive? Scientists asked this question and examined seaweed, finding it contains a unique ingredient that helps it heal after UV damage. Clinical trials were done to test if an extract of the ingredient would have the same benefit to human skin and it did! We feature this ingredient in our hydrating mist to help repair UV damage.

Please share your favourite skincare remedies.

I always Travel with hydrating mist in my bag because I’m so fair; it helps reduce redness from UV exposure. I also grow aloe vera in the Garden and keep that handy for when I come Home from a salon treatment. I react badly to waxing, so a piece of aloe vera chilled in the fridge and then applied to my eyebrows works wonders to relieve redness.

How should people protect their skin in the warmer months?

I’m incredibly fair and burn rather than tan, so I opt for long sleeves to protect my shoulders and arms, but choose linen or hemp fibres so I stay cool. For days when I’m just at the office, I use mineral makeup with an SPF, but when out in the sunshine I use a sunscreen as well and wear a wide-brimmed hat so I don’t get a burnt face or nose.

What is next for zk’in?

We’ve just returned from Cosmoprof Hong Kong (an international trade fair for the Beauty and wellness industry) and plan to expand into Japan and Hong Kong within the next few months. We’re really excited by the changes coming next year to help Asian consumers more readily identify real organic products, and products like zk’in with full certification are destined to stand out!


Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan is the Editor of WellBeing and WILD. She loves surfing, creating raw desserts, flowing through nourishing yoga sequences and spending time with her new pooch, Maribou.