Reader Jennie – hi! *waves* – commented on my last post asking if I knew of any good natural products. My comment in reply turned into a bit of an essay so I said I would do a proper post about it instead. Thankfully it is far easier to find natural products nowadays – no longer are we confined by what is stocked in our local, dusty health food store – as companies realise that consumers don’t want products that are full of chemicals and animal-origin ingredients. It makes sense for brands to offer an alternative, especially as so many people have sensitive skin, or are allergic to certain ingredients. In particular, natural products tend not to contain mineral oil, which some people can react to. I personally don’t like it because it forms a barrier on the skin and doesn’t let anything in or out – it may feel like it is moisturising the skin when really it is just trapping the moisture that is already there, as opposed to adding moisture where it is needed.
The first brand I would recommend is REN. I have a couple of their masks and a cleanser which I adore. Launched in the UK in 2000, REN use only 100% plant and mineral-derived ingredients and all of their products are free from *takes deep breath* synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colours, animal ingredients and parabens. They are a little bit spendy (around €20 and up from there) but great quality. You can order online from http://www.renskincare.com/ or Cloud 10 Beauty, and it’s available in some pharmacies (O’Connell’s in Kilkenny stock it, I haven’t found it in Waterford yet).
US-based Origins is another lovely brand – I’m a fan of their Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask and am dying to try some of their Make A Difference moisturisers. Their Super Spot Remover blemish treatment is a cult product which tops beauty editors’ “best of” lists year after year. Their products contain certified organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils. In addition, they are free from animal ingredients, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, and DEA. If that wasn’t enough, they are very environmentally aware and have instigated several programs to reflect this. Through their “Plant A Tree” campaign, they have planted the equivalent of 2,800 acres of pine forest to date. In North America, they enable customers to return empty cosmetics packaging – any packaging, not just Origins – to their local store to be recycled. They have also donated millions of dollars to local, national and international programs which benefit people, animals and the planet. In addition to skincare, they offer a line of makeup, which I haven’t tried. Again, they are slightly spendy, ranging from €14 – €100. Origins is available at Brown Thomas, selected Debenhams stores, and you can order online at http://www.debenhams.ie/. As far as I know, if you order through Debenhams using one of the self-service order points in-store your products will be delivered free of charge.
I’m a big fan of Liz Earle‘s Cleanse & Polish which forms an integral part of my skincare routine. I have tried a couple of other Liz Earle products (they send you mini samples when you place an online order) and wasn’t crazy about the moisturisers (I found them too heavy for my combination skin) but I did like the Instant Boost Skin Tonic (toner, to the rest of us) and Caroline Hirons loves the Skin Tonic too, as well as their Deep Cleansing Mask and Intensive Nourishing Treatment. The brand promises high performance, quality and safe ingredients. They don’t use genetically-modified or animal ingredients, nor do they test on animals. They use a lot of plant oils and extracts, and only add preservatives where necessary.
Liz Earle is based on the Isle of Wight and was taken over by Avon in March 2010, and some of their formulations changed. Citing possible reactions among customers who suffer with nut allergies, they removed the almond milk from Cleanse & Polish, for example, and added cocoa butter, which is a cheaper ingredient. Some people may react to cocoa butter, just as some may react to mineral oil. In addition, if you are concerned about animal testing, Liz Earle do not test on animals but Avon do. Only about 0.3% of their products are tested on animals, but if this is something that you would rather not support you may not wish to purchase Liz Earle products. If you do, you can order them direct from the Liz Earle website. It works out cheaper if you pay in sterling.
Neal’s Yard is an organic, apothecary-style UK brand that offers skincare and makeup. Their products are free from SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate, a detergent/surfactant found in cleansers which can irritate the skin), parabens, mineral oils, silicones (anything ending in -icone is a silicone, they are fine in makeup but shouldn’t really be in every day skincare) and synthetic perfumes, and only contain preservatives where necessary. They don’t test on animals, are carbon neutral, and grow many of their botanical ingredients on their own, organic farm. They recently launched their Irish online shop from which you can buy direct, or use to locate a local seller if you prefer to buy from a human with a face. As opposed to those humans with no faces.
This is quite an expensive brand, but it is completely organic so you get what you pay for, and they seem to walk the walk from what I can tell. I have their Bee Lovely hand cream and it’s very luxurious, almost heavy. I keep it on my desk at work and like to use it as a cuticle cream. It smells very strongly of shea butter and I can’t decide if I love or loathe the scent but I find myself reaching for it quite often as it’s so moisturising. Beaut.ie has a couple of posts on the brand if you wish to research some more.
I feckin’ LOVE NUXE. French, luxurious, affordable – it ticks all of my boxes. I have two of their facemasks, a micellar water, a lip balm and their legendary body oil and I am in the love with every single one of them. I wrote a review of the NUXE Aroma Perfection Thermo Unclogging Mask on the Eyrebrushed blog here, and Emma is also a fan of their Huile Prodigieuse. Their products are quite reasonable but so luxurious, using them feels like a real treat. Their products contain no mineral oil, or animal substances (apart from honey), and an average of 80% of their ingredients are of natural origin. Their packaging contains recycled materials and their boxes are as small as possible to save on paper – no wasteful bells and whistles here – and they have a small but sweet makeup range.
If you were to only buy one of their products I would usher you towards the Huile Prodigieuse. It can be used on the hair, face and body, is incredibly moisturising, and because it is a dry oil it doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. I HATE the feeling of unctuous lotions on my skin but I absolutely love this stuff. I slapped it on in desperation one night in an attempt to cure my shin dandruff (lovely imagery for ye all there) and it worked like a charm. I used it after shaving my legs one morning and spent the rest of the day telling friends/family/random strangers in the street to feel how soft my skin was. In short, it will turn you into a total pervert, but it’s worth it.
NUXE is stocked in selected pharmacies nationwide, or you can order it from my new favourite website http://www.cocooncenter.co.uk/ at about two-thirds of the usual selling price. Warning: if you buy up all the stock I will find you.
Confession – every time I go to spell “Hauschka” I have to look it up. Every. Single. TIME.
Dr. H-somethingsomething-ka only use natural, high-quality ingredients in their products and are aimed at working with your skin as opposed to fighting against it. The website notes that “All Dr. Hauschka products carry the BDIH seal of ‘Certified Natural Cosmetics’ and are made from natural ingredients. Using sustainable resource management, the ingredients are produced by either biodynamic or certified organic agriculture wherever possible, or are wild-harvested, enabling people in economically underdeveloped countries to determine their own future.” In addition, none of their products or ingredients have ever been tested on animals. Their range includes skincare, haircare, bodycare, after sun care and makeup.
I haven’t tried any of the products myself, although I know that lots of dry-skinned people swear by the Rose Day Cream, and their hand cream is raved about. I really want to try the Neem Nail Oil Pen, mainly because Neem is what “fordinners” say when they’re trying to say my name. The Good Doctor does have a few quare ideas though, like not exfoliating or using night cream, and details his unique “press and roll” cleansing technique in this video. I don’t know about you, but to me this seems like it would only be an effective method of cleansing if you were sitting at home meditating all day and not wearing makeup. Or using sunscreen. Or sweating. The products are expensive, so it’s worth asking for get samples so you can try before you buy. There is a link to Irish stockists here but I don’t know how recent it is. If you can find it in a pharmacy it would be cheaper than buying from a notoriously-overpriced health food shop, or try buying online.
Finally, for those of us on a budget, there is always Lush Cosmetics. Their skincare is gorgeous, their face masks divine, and their bath products are, well, lush. Considering they source the best of ingredients their products are very reasonably priced. I love their Jumping Juniper solid shampoo bar (great for greasy hair), Flying Fox shower gel (the most divinely-scented shower gel ever) and The Comforter bubble bar. I love the whiff of delicious treats that you get when you walk past the shop. They are staunchly against animal testing, environmentally friendly, and supportive of both grassroots charitable organisations and human rights issues. However, their shower gels do contain parabens and SLS, and they still use a lot of plastic in their packaging, so they are not as squeaky clean (sorry!) as you might think.
Lush also offer a new range of makeup called Emotional Brilliance which features bright and cheery lipsticks, eyeshadows and eyeliners. You can buy Lush products at their stores in Dublin and Cork, or online at www.lush.co.uk.
I hope that’s been helpful, if you have any favourite natural skincare or makeup brands let me know in the comments!