The Panel: Au Naturel
Natural is the word that everyone wants to see on their skincare products these days. But we’re torn, in truth. We want natural, but only so long as it still feels nice, and looks and smells nice.
When we say we want natural, a lot of the time we just want to reduce the chemicals on our bodies and in our lives, and maybe help to reduce damage to the environment. Which is just as well, because, these days, natural is applied on many labels where it barely belongs. A cream with a blob of plant extract or essential oil can be natural, while a lotion with just one organic ingredient can slap that organic on the tag, so buy wisely.
When shopping for more natural skincare, we suggest that you think about what you really want. But you don’t have to go the whole organic hog for more natural products. Read labels and ascertain what ‘plant extracts’ or ‘botanicals’ mean in ingredient terms, check the green credentials of the packaging, discern the degree to which the product is organic or partly organic. There are degrees of natural, and you can decide how far you really want to go.
Pukka Nourishing Face Oil, €40.20, selected health stores nationwide This relatively new skincare brand is all organic and so, very rigorous standards have been applied to the farming, harvesting and processing of the plants that become its ingredients. Hence, in part, the price. But the products are very good and this oil stands out for its healing, nourishing, reviving qualities. It contains, among others, avocado, pomegranate seed and evening primrose oils, as well as redness-reducing turmeric. “Gorgeous stuff; it got me through winter and saved my face from the seasonal rawness and ruddiness,” said a panellist. “Almost magic.”
BEST UNREFINED UNGUENT
Perlier Honey Nurturing Body Balm, €27, Marks & Spencer This brand sells itself as natural, based on the high plant-extract content in its products, which are fragrant and luxurious and feel very pampering. The organic element of this particular product is Italian honey and the thick balm smells beautifully of it. “A real after-bath, before-bed treat,” a panellist said. “A little goes a long way.”
BEST UNCOMPLICATED CREAM
Human+Kind All-in-One Anti Ageing Cream, €29.95, selected health stores nationwide This Irish brand boasts all-natural ingredients in multi-tasking formulations, designed, they say, for the busy woman who is time-starved but still selective about what she puts on her skin. This multi-tasker can be used all over the face, including around the eyes and includes marshmallow extract, jojoba oil and acmella oleracea, a South American ‘natural Botox’. “Decent stuff,” said a panellist, “and I like something that doesn’t ask me to spend more.”
BEST KIND CLEAN
Kaia Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths, €19.99, see www.mack.ie These wipes are described as make-up remover, cleanser and toner all in one, but aside from that, they’re large cloths with a fabulously soft texture that feel lovely on the skin. With oat amino acids for cleansing and softening, organic honey for soothing and sunflower oil to prevent a dried-out feeling. Also, as they’re made from bamboo, they are biodegradable and can be bought as individually wrapped cloths for travel. “I like that these are much wetter than most cleansing wipes,” said one panellist. “They very nearly replicate the sensation of washing your face.”
BEST PURE PEEL
Ren F10 Smooth and Renew Peel Mask, €24, see www.inhealth.ie Ren means clean in Danish, and this brand is all about the marriage between natural ingredients and high skincare performance. One is never sacrificed for the other and they’re very honest about what they use and how they use it. This is a sticky, fruity mask with an exfoliating papaya base and other botanical ingredients, including arctic blackcurrant oil, which is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. “I go to this when my skin seems hopelessly dull,” one panellist said. “It’s the best fruit-acid peel; I am always soft and smooth.”