My personal mantra is that the good should outweigh the bad. Actually this probably extends beyond skin care to behavior, men, books…. Life in general. As you have gathered, I am not a purist and will overlook a few flaws if there mostly good things and some of my new favorites — Dr. Dennis Gross, SimySkin, Apothederm — fall into this category. However, I’m also sensitive to members of the Truth In Aging community who want their products to be free of nasties and not have to check up on dubious looking ingredients. Well, this year there have been some great discoveries of natural, pure yet effective products and here is a round up.
It is so hard to find genuinely natural hair care products. Too often they are nothing more than a few token botanicals mixed in with harsh surfactants. Or they might be natural but leave your hair feeling as if it was doused in swamp weed. What a welcome surprise to come across Pure Glam. The brand is about more than hair care, but I went straight for the Pure Glam Waves Sea Spray ($26). It’s the healthiest hair spray I have ever come across without compromising its beachy waves hold. The only downside is that my husband stole it and won’t give it (he have never used any kind of hair grooming product before). The Pure Glam Performance Luxury Wash Shampoo and Daily Conditioner ($26.99) have algae, artichoke, wheat and more. Plus the results gave tester Jeanne the confidence to grow her hair into a new style.
ExPürtise was launched this year filling a gap in the market that lies between anti-aging products that are full of synthetics and petroleum-based fillers and organic/natural products that don’t have the hard-working actives such as growth factors, peptides and retinols. The Effective Anti-aging Eye Serum ($65 in the shop) and the Face Serum ($120 in the shop) have growth factors and collagen-boosting peptides, vitamins including the more uncommon vitamin K, as well as organic botanical extracts. Even the latter push the envelope with daisy stem cells that are meant to contribute to the longevity of cells. There are absolutely no nasties and even the preservative is radish root ferment.
Oh, and did I mention that they work? A little goes a long way and, and as our reviewer Gina put it, they don’t top Botox, but they do deserve a 5-star rating.
New brand I Pekar has just emerged from a reformulation. The first iteration didn’t quite get the balance right between the 100% raw honey and the practical need for a cream that didn’t separate. It was a telling illustration of how hard it is to pull off a really, completely natural formulation and how stabilizers, emulsifiers and silicones can make a formulator’s life much easier. But I Pekar has come back from the drawing board with a stable formula that hasn’t been compromised by any of those things.
The signature honey is still the active ingredient and shares with peptides, vitamins and antioxidants. The light, whipped cream formulas are stable and, best of all, give the skin a lovely glow.
Completely natural cleansers are difficult to formulate, as chemical surfactants do the cleansing and foaming part. SimySkin is a new discovery of mine that formulates without parabens, mineral oil, synthetic colors, synthetic fragrances, soap, or sulfate. The Exfoliating Scrub ($40) is marred by a harsh preservative, but otherwise is a happy blend of anti-aging actives and the same goes for the Anti-aging Cleanser ($40). The serum and moisturizers are a little more compromised and couldn’t be called all natural, but even then the good far outweighs the bad.
New Zealand conjures glaciers, sparkling lakes, exotic indigenous ferns and, of course, kiwis (fruit and bird). This is home to Moana, a new skin care brand that is as pristine as those lakes and based on a form of red algae that gives, for example, the Serum ($119.50) a dose of marine glycans that comprises almost 100% of the formula. Other ingredients of note are awakawa, a bitter-tasting shrub that is a natural anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial, and harakeke, a kind of flax full of omegas.
SkinOwl’s other mission statement is to go beyond skin care and “deliver a core component of total self-care.” So far, I have only tried the SkinOwl Eye+ ($46 in the shop) and although only the herbal base and cucumber distillate are organic, the formula’s carefully chosen ingredients live up to the brand’s values. This is a great eye cream (although it is more of a solid gel) and has a ton of amino acids, a botanical alternative to hyaluronic acid and MSM. Look out for more reviews of the SkinOwl range in the coming weeks.