Recently, I was lucky enough to travel to New Zealand to meet kōtia, a new brand that in a world first is harnessing deer milk to supercharge a range of skincare. While animal milks have a long history of being beneficial ingredients in skincare (remember Cleopatra and her milk baths?) the milk most commonly added to skincare is goat milk. Deer milk is certainly new territory.
The brand’s founder, Graeme Shaw, explained he had halted his original business idea, for deer milk cheese, after learning that a deer farmer’s labour-damaged hands had been softened and healed while handling the milk. Naturally, I was intrigued. And it seems so was Shaw at the time, because he had the milk clinically tested and discovered impressive levels of protein, minerals and skin-loving antioxidants.
By this point in the trip, my complexion was crying out for some TLC - the dry aeroplane cabin and Queenstown’s frigid air had stripped my skin of any moisture it once had.
Applying the mask
In need of instant hydration, I reached for kōtia’s Nourishing Cream Mask and applied it all over my face and neck after cleansing. The mask contains a small amount of deer milk (it’s a super potent ingredient) as well as moisturising shea butter and jojoba oil, and it promises to enhance the skin’s natural barrier to limit water loss. Yes please!
The formula is creamy, just how I like it; it cocooned my skin and felt soothing and calming. I was surprised by how quickly it was absorbed - was my skin really that thirsty? I followed the instructions on the pot and left it on for 20 minutes, then washed away the residue with water.
Immediately after applying kōtia’s Nourishing Cream Mask my skin felt soft and moisturised and overall much, much happier. The formula is surprisingly lightweight, in comparison to how rich the ingredients are, and could be worn during the day in place of a day cream if your skin needed some extra TLC. I was so impressed by the mask I continued to use it when I returned home from the trip. I’ve discovered my favourite way to apply it is before bed, then I sleep in it. When I wake up, my skin feels fresh and plump. Any dryness I may have is repaired overnight and my skin feels stronger and healthier.
The benefits of deer milk
New, buzzworthy ingredients crop up in skincare all the time and, while they may sound promising and exciting, not all of them can back it up with actual benefits. Deer milk, however, can. Deer milk contains a whole hoard of natural regenerative ingredients such as zinc, protein, Vitamin E and Vitamin A, making it effective in tackling signs of ageing, as well as restoring hydration and nourishment to the skin. In comparison to milks traditionally used in skincare, such as goat and cow milk, deer milk contains significantly higher levels of vitamins and minerals, making it a more potent and efficacious skin treatment.
But is deer milk ethical?
Now, you might be wondering whether the whole deer milk process is ethical, because I certainly thought the same. kōtia takes animal welfare seriously. The brand only partners with local farms that practise responsible farming. To ensure a stress-free and safe milking process, the fawn and mother deer are not separated when the mother starts producing milk. And I was told the fawn is never deprived of its necessary milk supply. During the trip, I visited one of the farms and saw the deer roaming on vast, green farms. I felt comfortable that efforts had been made to ensure the deer were happy and healthy.
kōtia Nourishing Cream Mask, $43.99; at priceline.com.au
For more articles on kōtia's beautiful deer milk range click here