If you think sustainable design is an oxymoron then a new organic skincare brand called Amala will prove you wrong. All the products come in chic cylindrical tubes with a cork lid that had a visiting designer friend swooning. And don't be concerned that this is style over content: the products are thoughtfully put together with potent botanicals and without harsh chemical preservatives or fillers. I started with the Rejuvenating Toner ($40) to get a quick fix on the brand and I am impressed so far. Check back in over the coming days and weeks for Dare To Try It as the nice people at Amala sent over a very generous cache.

Amala is an offshoot of the German brand, Primavera, makers of the Natural Balance Hydrating Mask. Primavera's products seemed to be very well-intentioned but somehow didn't quite cut it in terms of effectiveness or make the grade in being completely chemical free. Amala, however, hasn't compromised. Check out the website for pictures of their fair trade partners around the world.

The signature ingredient in Amala's Rejuvenating range is cocoa extract. The research on the consumption of cocoa, which is high in flavonoids is very convincing. In a Geman study, women drinking the high-flavonoid cocoa had 15% less skin reddening from UV light after 6 weeks of cocoa consumtion and 25% less after 12 weeks of the trial, plus the skin was denser and less scaly. Some scientists say that cocoa molecules are just too big to be absorbed through the skin to make effective use of flavonoid’s antioxidant properties. The truth is that topical use hasn't been researched that much, although I did come across a French study that concluded cocoa polyphenols on human skin improved elasticity.

Euterpe oleracea is acai, a berry with plenty of antioxidant punch. Plantago lanceolata is ribwort and a favorite of the Primavera range. This plantain removes impurities from the blood and helps with ezcema, irritations and cuts. Licorice root is good at improving skin tone.Hibiscus is an antioxidant and healer of wounds.

For people who like their toners to be pore tighteners while removing any residues of cleanser or makeup, they won't be disappointed by this refreshing spritz. However, its touch on the skin is as gentle as the light fragrance.

In the meantime, I've expanded my test of the brand to Rejuvenating Neck and Decollete Cream and will be reviewing it in full in a couple of weeks.

Confusingly the ingredients list on the website is quite the same as on the packaging. I have gone with packaging in the list below.

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Ingredients in Amala Rejuvenating Toner

Water, aloe leaf extract, bitter orange flower water, alcohol, cocoa extract, rosa damascena flower water, hibiscus extract, vanilla extract, euterpe oleracea extract, plantago lanceolata leaf extract, willow bark extract, licorice root extract, glycerin.