How It’s Made: This Natural Face Mist is Magic For Dry Skin
Welcome to How It’s Made, where we go behind the scenes with your favourite brands to find out how their most popular products are produced. For our second installment, we ventured to country VIC with wellness leaders Swisse for a first-hand look at the nature-powered production process behind the brand’s mineral-rich face mist.
You might know Swisse as your go-to for supplements (they are the makers of Australia's #1 multivitamin range, after all), but there's a second prong to the company's offering that's similarly top notch—skincare. I became acquainted with the brand's sizable collection a while ago (there are 28 products in the range and counting) but my education on what made every last cleanser, moisturiser and BB cream special was undercooked. I knew every formula was based around a star ingredient (each of which is called out in the product name—handy), but what I didn't understand is just how committed Swisse is to sourcing said ingredients. That was until I was invited to go behind-the-scenes for an in-depth look at how the mineral-rich, skin-boosting salt used in the brand's Deep Sea Hydrating Mist Toner ($12), is obtained.
Setting off on a trip to Mildura in country VIC, I had no idea what to expect. Would I be interviewing a cosmetic chemist dressed in a white lab coat and hair net whilst standing on a beach? Was I about to observe a complex lake-side manufacturing process? The experience I had was actually refreshingly down to earth and brought me face-to-face with a team of people supremely passionate about the products they create. I can't say I'd ever given thought to where my favourite pink flake salt comes from, but I was so impressed by the Mother Nature-powered production process that I came away feeling both patriotic (more on that later) and impressed with what natural ingredients can achieve. Moreover I was excited to discover that this mineral-rich salt has myriad beauty benefits and is at the heart of one of my favourite toner mists.
Keep scrolling for an insider look behind-the-scenes!
Courtesy of Swisse
Science lesson: salt comes from evaporated brine. Also? Not all brine is created equal. The stuff used to create Murray River Gourmet Salt (the pink flakes you've doubtless sampled at high-end cafes and restaurants, and which also happens to be the star ingredient in Swisse's face mist) is unique in that it is an inland salt, and free from pollution. In fact, prior to being pumped up to the surface, the brine has never seen the light of day. (The snap above is an extraction point.) Leighton Schmidt, general manager of Murray River Salt, says this is what gives their product unique beauty benefits: "The mineral content, as opposed to a sea salt, is higher in minerals. It's got magnesium, potassium, iodine and iron in it—these are all beneficial minerals not only for consumption but also for use in skincare products." For the skin geeks out there we're talking a magnesium content of around 700/800 parts per million, and a potassium level of roughly 150 parts per million. Says Schmidt: "These are very beneficial levels, you can mix the salt into other products and still get really good benefits."
Courtesy of Swisse
The technique used to turn the brine into salt is also refreshingly unadulterated: "It's a pretty straightforward process. We pump up the mineral-rich brine and direct it into man-made ponds where the sun evaporates it until it gets to a saturation point. Then, the salt starts to form, and that's pretty much the end product right there," says Schmidt. It's then washed (in salt water so it doesn't dissolve—I asked) and dried before being graded and packaged. While there's something beautifully honest about the largely natural process by which the salt is extracted and evaporated, there's another eco element to this story—the brine in question is actually diverted away from the Murray River, and Adelaide's drinking water. "That's what we hang our hat on," says Schmidt. "We're trying to be environmentally sustainable, we're trying to work in with the local government bodies, and also help the consumer at the same time." Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?
Courtesy of Swisse
You're not alone in thinking that all salt = some sort of skin kryptonite, but Swisse's head of skincare Jason Buesst says this misunderstood ingredient often gets a bad rap: "Salt can actually be a very hydrating thing. The analogy I use is you can take a bath, sit there for half an hour and shrivel up like a prune, but if you go for a swim in the sea or have a soak in a mineral-rich salt bath, you'll come out rejuvenated." That said, the salt used in Swisse's face mist is not your average salt. "This particular salt is mineral-rich, that's the big difference between it and table salt. It has a high level of magnesium, a lot of potassium, and lots of other different minerals which also occur within the natural moisturising factor of our skin so it's a perfect skincare product," he says. Buesst actually set out researching Dead Sea Salts (famously used in many beauty preparations) for potential inclusion in Swisse’s face mist but kept coming across Murray River’s pink salt: "I realised that in our own backyard, we have a salt source that is as mineral-rich if not purer than the salts out of the Middle East." The rest is history.
Swisse Deep Sea Hydrating Mist Toner ($12)
The product itself is a joy to use—it combines the moisturising factor of the salt with an ideal balance of other nourishing ingredients. "I think we went through about twenty different samples over time getting the percentage of salt exactly right. It's got just enough of that mineral content that we're adding much more hydration than before," explains Buesst. The formula also includes refreshing aloe vera (also known to help with healing), as well as glycerin to help maintain the barrier of your skin.
I recommend keeping a bottle nearby at all times (there's one on my desk as I type this), but don't take my word for it: "Hydrating is the key to really healthy skin. If your skin is hydrated, you've won the battle," says Buesst. "If you're in an office environment, if you're travelling a lot, if you're in an air-conditioned environment at home, your skin is getting zapped." Even after my insider education on this unassuming ingredient, I have to say the biggest lesson I learned from my trip to Mildura was from Buesst—mists aren't just for your face: "After a shower your skin sucks up like a prune and you're in need of hydration, believe it or not. Towel off, do a quick spray of the hydrating mist toner, and again all of those minerals, the aloe vera, everything that we've got in there will boost your hydration back up." It might cost me a few more bottles than I'm used to, but this is one skin habit I'm definitely taking on board.