Milk has been a staple in beauty regimes since Antiquity. Godmother of skincare, Cleopatra, used to bathe herself in the stuff in Ancient Egypt, crediting her flawless complexion to the precious white liquid. But in the modern era, where discoveries are rife thanks to technology and advances, the concept of basic milk – both as a beauty ritual and a drink – has evolved. Our milk is now supercharged, it’s raw, it comes from nuts – and it also comes from deers.

You see, across the pond, our cousins have stumbled upon a genius discovery. In the land of hobbits and breathtaking vistas, over a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir, Graeme Shaw first came up with the idea of milking a deer. He soon discovered that the milk of New Zealand’s native deer is in fact packed with incredible nutrients, containing superior levels of protein and calcium to cow’s milk. Tapping the goodness and distilling it into skincare was the dream, and after a lot of hard work, kōita was born. A skincare range that boasts unparalleled hydration, it is superbly rich and nourishing, perfect for those with dryer complexions that just can’t seem to quench their skin’s thirst.

Here, we chat to Graeme, the founder of kōtia, and Kerrie Moore, National Training Manager of McPherson’s about why deer milk really is so special.

Why deer milk initially?
Graeme Shaw: Whilst enjoying a glass of Central Otago Pinot at a friend’s deer farm, a platter of cheese was presented and our host pointed out each of the origins … cow, goat, sheep. It begged the question – where’s the deer milk cheese to which the reply was swift and authoritative … deer can’t be milked. I soon learned that deer thrived in New Zealand with the absence of any predators and diseases. We embarked on making deer milk cheese where an unexpected discovery took place and kōtia was born.

What is the difference between deer milk and cow’s milk?
Kerrie Moore: Milk provides a natural source of protein and is an important building block of bones, skin and muscles. Your body uses the essential amino acids found in protein to build and repair tissues. Deer milk contains superior levels of protein to cow’s milk, is rich in amino acids for growth & regeneration of healthy cells and helps naturally nourish, hydrate and work as an anti-wrinkle agent. Deer milk is also richer in calcium than cow’s milk which plays a key role in the epidermis to support the repair of the skin. Deer milk is also proven to be higher in Retinol (Vit A) than cow’s milk, this provides powerful antioxidants, helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and increases production of collagen. Added benefit, the Vitamin A in deer milk is absorbed much more effectively than synthetic Vitamin A, boosting its regenerative properties to support cell production and repair.

What are the advantages of deer milk on our skin?
Kerrie Moore: As history tells us the Queen of Ancient Egypt Cleopatra bathed in milk daily to help maintain her youthful radiance of her skin. Milk is rich in many vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are essential for healthy skin, and when applied topically, the goodness of milk can help fight the signs of ageing, gently exfoliate, restore skin moisture, soothe and assist to even skin tone. The Lactic Acid found in milk has gentle exfoliating properties. It also helps to hydrate the skin by increasing the water retention capabilities. The natural AHA’s found in milk will gently cleanse the skin of excess, oil soluble impurities and help minimise pore size improving skin clarity. There is no denying that milk in skincare is anti-ageing – it’s antioxidant rich, helps improve cell function and improves skin firmness.

How did you discover / learn of its benefits?
Graeme Shaw: It was an accidental discovery that led quickly to learning of the milk’s extraordinary benefits. It had been our intention to milk deer to develop cheeses and over the first four weeks waiting for the blue cheese to mature, our milk-hand noticed a complete reversal of her damaged hands and brittle nails. Her skin had become soft and supple and her nails, stronger than she could remember over her many years on the farm. Our next batch of milk was sent to a specialist dairy laboratory and their report was definitive. Everything necessary for good skin health and cell repair was in abundance in the deer’s milk.

What is the range and why?
Kerrie Moore: kōtia is the world’s first skincare range created with the goodness of 100% pure deer milk. It’s a premium skincare range formulated with a rich source of protein, vitamins, zinc and selenium. Produced to the highest standards, the potent ingredients provide rejuvenating nourishment, hydration and anti-ageing benefits while creating a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss and protect against environmental stress. kōtia has been designed to be an easy, everyday solution for the discerning, results-focused woman and provides gentle yet effective superior skin benefits.

What skin types suit kōtia?
Kerrie Moore: kōtia may be recommended for all skin types looking to enhance skin hydration and protect against the environment. It can also re-energise dull and tired skin, improve skin brightness, even skin tone and help reduce/prevent lines and wrinkles.

Is animal welfare a concern for kōtia?
Graeme Shaw: Environmental and animal welfare is one of our pillars at kōtia and we pride ourselves on taking the utmost care and operating at the highest of ethical standards when interacting with the deer. All hinds are well looked after in the absolute best of conditions.