Sunday 16 June 2019

Ruth Griffin: Natural beauties... petrochemical-free products


Tata Harper
Tata Harper

Ruth Griffin

There was a bit of a stir caused in London recently by a billboard campaign which read: "Even cars are rejecting petrol. What about your skincare?" For many people who saw this advert, it was the first time that they realised that they are putting products on their skin - and that of their family - that are laced with petrochemicals.

The campaign was the brainchild of Previse Dermapothecary Skincare ( I met with the company's CEO, Seán Harrington, who told me how he had worked for major global beauty brands for decades and eventually came to the conclusion that there are far too many synthetic chemicals used in skincare. This inspired him to found his eco-conscious, all-natural skincare line.

Known as petroleum, petrolatum and paraffin, petrochemicals have been widely used since the early 1900s to help heal skin from cuts and burns. As well as petroleum jelly - which is familiar to most consumers - many skincare manufacturers use petrolatum to add bulk, texture and silky feel to their creams and lotions.

While there is no evidence that petroleum itself is harmful, Seán says that petroleum compounds are also widely used to make artificial fragrances, which concerns him as there is little research available into the long-term effects of 'aerated' petrochemicals. He references studies which claim that, from skin rashes to headaches and asthma, at least 30pc of the population is affected by the petrochemicals used in synthetic fragrances.

As well as concerns about petrochemicals, for Seán, there was also a more personal reason for setting up Previse Dermapothecary Skincare. Having suffered from eczema from childhood, in his teenage years he developed acne that "hurt so badly I couldn't sleep". He says that he didn't want anyone else to ever feel as he did growing up, which inspired him to start a line of plant-based, holistic skincare. And it's in good company - there are now lots of gorgeous skincare and make-up lines available on the Irish market that have eliminated petrochemicals from their recipes. Read on for my picks of these conscious cosmetics gems.

5 of the best petrochemical-free products

Green queen

Tata Harper's eponymous skincare line is making waves for using only the purest and most effective of ingredients. Brighten your skin with the Resurfacing Serum, €90, from Arnotts, Space NK and Harvey Nichols


Previse SOS Healing Salve, €39, is a hard-working all-rounder that can be used on any part of your skin that needs some TLC, including hands, feet, dry patches and, especially, stretchmarks and scars. From Harvey Nichols.

Caring hair

Aveda is an amazing haircare line that makes gorgeous naturally derived - and strictly petroleum-free - products that actually work! Try Aveda Damage Remedy Set, €20, from Brown Thomas, Arnotts and selected salons.

Good enough to eat

ECOOKING is new a skincare line whose name references the natural ingredients that go into each product that are pure enough to eat. Developed in creator Tina's kitchen, the line is made with 100pc organic oils, is paraben- and petroleum-free and mostly vegan. Try the fragrance-free ECOOKING Day Cream, €39.95, from

Green glow

Dr Hauschka is a skincare and make-up line that has been a powerhouse of conscious cosmetics for decades. Its new Regenerating Day Cream Complexion, €61.95, is a foundation/BB cream that also uses plant extracts and minerals to plump skin and add glow. From pharmacies, health food stores and

Breathe deep

If perfume is giving you headaches, try rollerball natural oils. One of my favourite is the Yogandha line which uses oils that are proven to positively affect mood. Yogandha Feel Balanced Oil Trio Set, €51.50; or in 'Ground', 'Balanced' and 'Salute' for €19.95 each. From health food stores and

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