OUR AWARD-WINNING KALAHARI MELON OIL PRODUCTION PROCESS
You love the soothing and barrier-strengthening oil you put on your face daily. But have you ever thought about what goes into getting our award-winning, essential fatty acid and vitamin E-rich Pure Kalahari Melon Facial Oil into your hands?
Every step in creating this pure, unrefined, virgin Kalahari melon seed oil has been thought through carefully. Our aim is to create the finest skin-nourishing product with minimal impact on the ecosystem where we farm.
From first planting right up to the moment you put it on your skin, we have crafted your Nêô Sephiri Facial Oil carefully on its journey. Let’s take a trip…
HOW OUR AWARD-WINNING FACIAL OIL IS MADE:
"Our aim is to create the finest skin-nourishing product with minimal impact on the ecosystem"
THE BIRTH OF FACIAL OIL
Even before the story of your bottle of oil begins, for over 10 years, we’ve been collecting seeds from wild melons growing in our region. We manage our own seed bank, meaning we don’t buy the seeds commercially. Everything - from seed to shelf - is managed by us. From there to your skin is up to you.
The story of your bottle begins at least a year earlier, on our organic-certified farm, situated on the fringes of the arid Kalahari Desert in South Africa.
The extreme dryness of the region is the reason we decided to switch from traditional crops, such as maize and sunflowers, to farm with Kalahari melons in the first place. The melon is indigenous to our region, and can survive and even thrive under extreme drought conditions.
With the wild fluctuations in the weather we were experiencing as a result of climate change, we realised this was a crop that would be a sustainable solution for our business, the people who work on the farm, as well as the local environment.
Our research into how the Kalahari melons are able to survive such harsh conditions led us to discovering its incredible skin-sustaining properties - which include everything from barrier repair, excess sebum (oil) control, anti-ageing and antioxidant benefits with linoleic acid and vitamin E.
Step 1: Planting and harvesting
The seeds from the previous season’s crop of Kalahari melons are planted after the first rains, usually between November and January. About nine months later, the melons are ripe and ready to harvest. Our harvesting season runs from September to November.
Nêô Sephiri founder and chief scientist, Bernard van Vuuren, explains the harvesting process, ‘By this stage of the season, the fields are relatively clean. There has been no rain for a long time. So, usually, the only things left in the arid landscape are the melons. In the early days, we collected the melons by hand – a very labour-intensive process under the hot African sun. But as the farm and demand for the melon oil have grown, we have been able to mechanise the process and redeploy our team.’
"95 % of the collected organic matter is returned to the soil"
‘We had a purpose-built harvester made, which now extracts the seeds directly from melons on the field. As the machine does so, it returns 95 % of the collected organic matter (i.e., the melon fruit) to the soil, ensuring a very high return of carbon to the land,’ Bernard explains.
Step 2: Seeds are sun-dried
The seeds are then decanted on to a large area of shade netting. Over the next couple of weeks, they are dried by the sun and wind. The drying process removes moisture left over mostly in the shell of the seed, which surrounds the oil-rich kernel.
This is an important part of the process, because eventually the shell and kernel will be cold-pressed together. Removing water also ensures there will be minimal hydrolysis of the oil (which can contribute to it becoming rancid). The waterless environment of the pressed oil also prevents the growth of microbes.
The seeds are then bagged and stored in a cool, dry space. Some are put aside and planted almost immediately for the next season’s crop. The rest are destined for pressing and filtering into oil.
Step 3: The oil is extracted
Nêô Sephiri’s goal is to keep the oil as close to its pure, natural, unadulterated state as possible. ‘We therefore do not use solvents (such as alcohol) to extract the oil. We choose cold pressing, a mechanical process that physically squeezes oil out of the seeds.,
‘Done well, cold pressing yields an oil that’s as close to the original thing as possible,’ Bernard explains.The result of this first pressing is a crude Kalahari melon oil. ‘It looks like a greyish-brown, runny peanut butter at this stage,’ Bernard explains.
Step 4: The oil is filtered
This oil is collected in a tank and then filtered through cotton to remove larger particles left over from the seed. Cotton is used because it is natural, inert and sustainable. It has no effect on the oil at all.
Natural cellulose filters are used for the second round of filtration. The oil is filtered down through progressively finer filter sheets, until what comes out is pure, crystal-clear Kalahari Melon Oil.
The production process on the farm ends here. The Facial Oil you use contains 100% pure Kalahari Melon seed oil. Nothing further is added: no preservatives, colorants, fragrances, or anything else. The unique chemistry of the oil’s fatty-acid composition is what works magic on your skin.
Step 5: Shipping and bottling
This pure Kalahari melon oil is packaged in large containers and shipped to London, which is where our founders Bernard and Olga van Vuuren are based. ‘We are a proudly British brand, with our hero ingredient produced in South Africa,’ Olga explains.
The bottles are hand-filled under sterile conditions. They are then placed securely in our custom made, biodegradable e-commerce boxes printed with vegetable ink and sealed with eco-friendly tape. They are then ready for your order, which is sent by Royal Mail in the UK and by courier if ordering from abroad.
"Nêô Sephiri’s goal is to keep the oil as close to its pure, natural, unadulterated state as possible"
Nêô Sephiri’s mission: commitment to sustainable skincare
Nêô Sephiri’s big-picture mission is true sustainability and honest, responsible consumerism. We take this very seriously in everything we do. ‘Sustainable skincare is about much more than just packaging. It is a nuanced, complex concept and, in our case, the regenerative production process – which has minimal impact on the local ecology – is a key component,’ Bernard says.
Co-founder Olga van Vuuren adds, ‘We are fortunate that, unlike many other beauty companies, we have total control and oversight of the entire process – from planting to bottling. This ensures we can control quality, choose sustainable processes and we can maintain the exacting standard we require to keep our oil as pure as possible.’
‘For the world we all want, I’d like to think that - in the future - the concept of luxury products will be just as much about what you don’t see, as what you do.’ Bernard adds.
The supply chain is almost completely invisible to consumers. For responsible, sustainable beauty brands, it should be a given that the brand refrains from sending you product in excess or ill-considered packaging.
Another invisible decision the manufacturer should make is choosing to use one supplier over another in favour of transparency and authenticity, instead of price.
We are honoured and proud to have received numerous awards for our efforts regarding sustainability. And, of course, we have also received awards for the moisture-balancing and skin-cell recovery efficacy of our pure Kalahari melon facial oil.
Our sustainable packaging
A great deal of thought has been expended on ensuring our packaging is sustainable.
Our bottles: We consciously selected a standard amber bottle, rather than a luxury glass bottle, as this type of bottle is far more sustainable. The manufacturing process is efficient; most of the bottles produced end up being used, whereas the manufacture of bespoke luxury glass packaging is very wasteful. For these bottles, thousands are produced and only the most perfect ones are picked. The bulk are recycled.
Our boxes: We’ve designed a box that allows us to ship your oil safely, without using too much packaging. ‘We didn’t want to send a box-in-a-box,’ Bernard explains, ‘So we designed a single unit specifically for e-commerce that didn’t produce additional waste.’
The benefits of cold-pressing vs CO2 and solvent extraction
CO2 and solvent extraction typically gives higher yields than cold pressing, which is why some producers like using those methods.
CO2 extraction does have the added benefit that it prevents oxidation more than the cold-press process. This is beneficial to more unstable oils like rosehip or pomegranate oil.
Proponents of CO2 extraction often promote its eco-benefits. They criticise the physical grinding and squeezing action of the cold press, maybe forgetting that, for CO2 extraction, the plant materials also need to be physically pulverised before entering the CO2 reaction chamber,’ Bernard explains. ‘The CO2 method does maybe make more sense for essential oils, but not for natural plant oils.’
‘With cold pressing, we monitor the process carefully to ensure the heat generated from the physical squeezing process does not get too high. Typically, our presses run ‘hot’ at only around 40 °C,‘ Bernard says.
How does the Facial Oil stay fresh without preservatives?
Water, light, air and heat are some of the main reasons that skincare spoils. These can oxidise the oils in the product, causing them to become rancid.
We maintain the purity and shelf life of our Pure Kalahari Melon Facial Oil - without using preservatives - through the following means:
- We use amber glass bottles to protect our oil against UV rays. Coloured glass blocks out harmful light, which is why many oils come in green and amber glass. You should always choose these when purchasing things such as extra-virgin olive oil, for instance.
- Because our Facial Oil is a waterless substance, it provides no environment for bacteria to grow in, and therefore negates the need for preservatives.
- Our oil naturally contains high amounts of Tocopherols, another name for Vitamin E, which acts as a natural anti-oxidant, further adding to the oil’s stability.
What is the shelf life of Nêô Sephiri PURE KALAHARI MELON FACIAL oil?
Unopened, the shelf life of Nêô Sephiri Pure Kalahari Melon Facial Oil is two years. It is a good idea to store the oil in a cool spot, nowhere near a window or heat source.
Once opened, air will enter the bottle. This will unavoidably cause eventual oxidation of the oil. As it is free of preservatives, we recommend that the oil should be used up within 3 months. Used daily, the facial oil should last you about 10 weeks.
Professional tip for preserving your oil
Don’t draw up the oil while the dropper is in the bottle, as this bubbles air through the oil. Air, as we know, causes the oil to oxidise.
- Remove the dropper from the bottle without squeezing the pump.
- Now squeeze the pump and hold it closed.
- Put the dropper back into the bottle and let go of the pump. This vacuum action will suck up the oil into the dropper without pushing air into the oil, preserving it for longer.
- Remove the dropper and squeeze 3-5 drops of oil onto your fingers.
- Press gently onto your face, neck and décolleté - and massage in.
Voilà! Enjoy using your facial oil!