We are all obsessing this week about Michelle Obama's beauty and style choices. I'm sorry but I agree with Bonnie Fuller on her Huffpo blog, she was wearing what looked like upholstery on inauguration day (she looked stunning in the ball gown though). Of course, that's an entirely gratuitous introduction because here at TIA we are only really interested in her skin care routine. Obviously, the First Lady can't endorse any products, but an enterprising PR person at Decleor let it slip that Michelle is a fan.

I've been dubious about Decleor ever since, in my 20s, a friend tried to wean me off Clinique by introducing me to Decleor. I persevered for some time (my friend was very determined) with many products from the Decleor range and found them all to be overpriced and absolutely useless. Now I know a bit more about these things, I can say with confidence that my early instincts were right. As much as anything else, Decleor presents itself as all natural and its simply not true. Take a look, for instance, at Decleor Nutri-Delice Delightful Extreme Protection Cream.

For a start, there is every paraben under the sun and the formulator clearly likes preservatives because there is also phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin, both of which are known irritants and, because they can depress the central nervous system, were the subject of a recent FDA warning to breastfeeding mothers. As if that wasn't enough, there is also another preservative, methylchloroisothiazolinone. This is toxic and causes chemical burns at high doses, as well as being a skin irritant. It has largely disappeared from use in many cosmetics accept those that are rinse off.

I hope Michelle has a tough constitution because the irritants don't stop there. Also included is lanolin, which is highly comedogenic, and a perfume called butylphenyl methylproprional.

If you are willing to overlook all of the above, there are some nice botanicals. Barley (hordeum vulgare) has antioxidant phenols and quinoa is another grain that is a powerful antioxidant, along with oat and rice bran. Less obvious is imperata cylindrica. It was thought that this was an inflammatory, but that has been dispproved in clinical tests.

Ingredients in Decleor Nutri-Delice

Water (Aqua), Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Spent Grain Wax (Hordeum Vulgare), Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Acetylated Lanolin, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Sorbitan Isostearate, Ozokerite, Peg-2 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, Chenopodium Quinoa Extract, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Angelica Archangelica Root Oil, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Rosa Centifolia Flower Wax, Acacia Farnesiana Flower Wax, Narcissus Poeticus Flower Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Fragrance (Parfum), Peg-8, Triethanolamine, Propylene Carbonate, Carbomer, Tocotrienols, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylchloroisothiazolinone , Methylisothiazolinone.