Exclusive: Emma Lewisham Sets A New Benchmark In Sustainable Beauty

Founder of the eponymous brand, Emma Lewisham, sits down with marie claire for an exclusive interview.

As one of New Zealand’s leading luxury beauty brands, Emma Lewisham is constantly making waves in the industry with her new way of thinking, efficacious natural science-backed range. Now, she’s managed to create the world’s first carbon positive beauty brand and 100% circular designed business model.

Rivaling even the most eminent global brands, Emma Lewisham has also released her ‘Beauty Blueprint’ – her intellectual property for her circular designed product packaging and carbon positive model – in the hope of accelerating the movement towards a circular beauty industry.

It’s an industry that generates 120 billion units of waste every year (yes, you read that figure correctly).  This innovation is the only viable solution to the beauty industry meeting global climate targets.

Speaking on Emma Lewisham’s pioneering achievement, environmentalist, etholist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall, comments “Emma Lewisham is demonstrating what it means to be a truly sustainable business… creating environmental prosperity and showing their peers that this business model is not just possible, but paramount if we are to make a meaningful difference.

marie claire was given the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Emma herself and discuss what New Zealand beauty means to her, why she’s so passionate about circularity and sustainability and how to achieve the ‘Emma Lewisham’ look.


How would you describe New Zealand beauty?

I believe the New Zealand beauty industry reflects much the same as the rest of the world – our customers want products that are good for the skin and the planet. 

From the start, we have been clear that to make a meaningful difference in beauty we needed to be in the game to change it. This meant, first and foremost, having highly efficacious products that were equal to or better than the status quo and why we are ruthlessly product focused.

We back up our performance with independent science-based testing that proves Emma Lewisham products’ outperform the status quo, which is truly ground-breaking in beauty.

Couple that with our industry leading circular and carbon positive model, we believe we truly can change the game of beauty and make a meaningful difference from Aotearoa New Zealand.

What does it mean to you to be a leader and pioneer in the beauty industry? Especially since starting out as a small indie brand?

To me, being a leader and pioneer in the beauty industry comes down to thriving by giving more than we take and profiting from preventing problems, not creating them. I founded Emma Lewisham to set a new benchmark in beauty, and having only been on the market for 19 months, I’m so proud of what we have been able to achieve from New Zealand in this short time.

Since our inception, I have been determined to create a circular model of beauty, where we reuse what already exists –  keeping our resources in circulation, eliminating packaging waste and significantly reducing carbon emissions. All while proving that natural, sustainable skincare can outperform even the most recognised, high performing brands on the market. I knew that if we could match all of these things, that we could lead true transformation in the beauty industry and bring about systemic change.


Can you tell us about the process to becoming carbon positive and circularly designed?

Our carbon positive certification means that we take more carbon emissions out of the atmosphere than we put in – which creates a ‘positive’ environmental impact. To become certified Carbon Positive, we worked with Toitū Envirocare, who are a world-leading independent environmental certification agency.

Over 12 months we measured the carbon emissions emitted at each stage of our products’ lifecycle. This allowed us to clearly see where we could reduce carbon emissions and enabled us to implement an extensive carbon reduction strategy as a first point of call. After reducing each product’s carbon footprint as much as possible, we then offset our remaining carbon emissions by 125%, to become the world’s first certified Carbon Positive beauty brand under Toitū’s Climate Positive programme. 

This leads us into circularity and how it is inextricably linked to mapping our carbon. The production of this single use packaging is the industry’s largest contributor of carbon emissions. So, if the beauty industry is to play its role in meeting global climate goals, this carbon has to be reduced. And so, to reduce this carbon, we have to reduce packaging.

That’s where circularity comes in, because its founding principle is to eliminate waste and pollution through keeping materials in use. So being 100% circularly designed means that all of our packaging has been specifically designed to be refilled many, many times before being recycled through our specialised partners, as a final point of call. We invested heavily into the research and development of innovative packaging, machinery and business processes that allow each product to be refilled and ensure that our packaging is kept in circulation and diverted from landfills.

What do you hope other beauty brands will take from your Beauty Blueprint?

We hope other beauty brands can capitalise on our innovation and investment to accelerate their transition to a circular and carbon positive model. Sharing our Blueprint wasn’t a decision I made lightly, as it is undoubtedly one of our brand’s competitive advantages. However, none of it matters unless other brands join us on a circular and carbon positive path. The problems we face are so much greater than the success of one business or brand, and if we are going to solve them, collaboration is key. We genuinely want to see change and we won’t be able to make a dent in the beauty industry’s waste and carbon problem alone. But if we collaborate instead of compete, we have the ability to create real change.


What are three essential Emma Lewisham products everyone should have in their beauty cupboard?

If you were only going to invest in 3 products, I would recommend starting with our Illuminating Oil Cleanser, Skin Reset Serum and SPF 30 Skin Shield. Our SPF 30 Skin Shield Créme is our ultimate beauty hero, protecting against UVA/UVB rays, pollution and blue light to prevent the signs of ageing. You also definitely want to try our Skin Reset Serum as it has become a cult favourite for its results in evening skin tone, combating hyperpigmentation and restoring radiance. Its unparalleled brightening technology has also been proven to outperform even the most recognised luxury brands on the market. And finally, our Illuminating Oil Cleanser is the perfect everyday cleanser packed full of antioxidants and nutrients for full spectrum cleansing and hydration.


Are there any secret tips or tricks to emulate the Emma Lewisham look?

Wear your sunscreen! I cannot press this enough; it is your best anti-ageing weapon. Up to 90% of ageing is caused by the UV rays emitted by the sun so if you do nothing else – remember to always apply your sunscreen. Our Skin Shield was our other founding product as I truly believe that investing in any other skincare product is pointless if you aren’t properly protecting your skin. In addition to my Emma Lewisham products, I always make sure to drink lots of water and eat a predominantly plant based diet with lots of fruit and veggies.

With 2022 on the horizon, can you tell us what’s next for Emma Lewisham?

We are dedicated to leading an industry wide movement towards circular, carbon positive and transparent beauty, while continuing to set new benchmarks in beauty. Our next big goals are to halve our products’ carbon footprints by 2023 and cut them to virtually zero by 2030. It’s a huge challenge but we know it can be done. We will also be working to become a certified B-Corp business by 2023.

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