My mother used to claim that, on account of her eczema flare ups, Almay was the only makeup brand she could wear. So it has stuck in my mind as a benign old-fashioned brand with a light hand on the chemical trigger. Still, I associate it with mainstream chemical formulas nontheless, which meant I didn't really believe it when the ad for Almay's new Pure Blends Makeup ($13.99) claimed the product is 94.7% natural. It turned out my doubts were completely unfair; this is what it says on the label.

In fact, Almay's new Pure Blends Makeup is mostly a pretty posy of botanicals in a rich moisturizing base of jojoba oil, glycerin, squalane and sweet almond oil. There is antioxidant acai berry extract and lotus (which we also recently found in L'uvalla creams). Of particular interest is yuzu, a Japanese botanical that is a key feature the OOKISA hair thickening shampoos and conditioners. Yuzu looks like a small and ugly grapefruit and Korean researchers claim it has more vitamin C than other citrus fruits and it also contains hesperidin, a flavonoid anti-inflammatory that appears to be able to tackle dark under-eye circles. Extract from pansy has traditionally been used for acne and also skin imperfections, including inflammatory conditions such as eczema or pruritus. Meanwhile, papaya is useful as a gentle exfoliant.

I am a little surprised to see stearic acid, a fragrance ingredient, surfactant and emulsifier. One or more animal studies showed brain and nervous system effects, respiratory effects and skin irritation at very low doses, and in vitro tests on mammalian cells show positive mutation results (leading to its designation as a potential carcinogen).

The other ingredient to mar what would otherwise have been an impressive product at any price, is the highly toxic sodium borate (it is also in one of the few Burt's Bees products that we don't like). Infants are especially prone to sodium borate poisoning, but thankfully it is no longer used to clean nurseries. Spillage on the skin will cause blisters and red rashes. Still Almay's Pure Blends have done my mum proud.


Water (Aqua), Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba), Squalane, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Sweet Almond), Euterpe Oleracea Sterols (Acai), Sucrose Laurate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cellulose, Stearic Acid, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract (Acai), Citrus Junos Peel Extract (Yuzu), Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract (Lotus), Cymbidium Grandiflorum Flower Extract (Orchid), Viola Tricolor Extract (Wild Pansy), Carica Papaya Fruit Extract (Papaya), Phospholipids, Aniba Rosaeodora Wood Oil (Rosewood), Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa Seed Oil (Carrot), Xanthan Gum, Glyceryl Stearate, Alcohol, Silica, Sodium Borate, Caprylyl Glycol, 1, 2 Hexanediol, May Contain (+/-): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499)