Fear you're being harmed by chemicals in cosmetics There IS an alternative
22:08 GMT, 14 November 2012
We may all look at food labels, but what about the chemicals we expose ourselves to every day during our beauty regime
Even common ingredients found in your lotions and potions may be linked to headaches, allergies and even cancer.
But is there a way to look your best without exposing yourself to poison Here, natural beauty expert Janey Lee Grace — author of Look Great Naturally, Without Ditching The Lipstick — and Femail's Jenny Stocks pit natural alternatives against beauty classics.
Put to the test: We pit beauty classics against natural alternatives
Easily absorbed: Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Concentrated Unscented Hand Cream, 3.59 for 50ml
EXPERT: Like many creams, this contains methylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens are artificial preservatives that can irritate skin.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that they have been found in breast cancer tumours, but they have not been proven to cause the condition, though this is still being investigated.
The industry watchdog insists that parabens are perfectly safe.
TESTER: Smelling like petroleum jelly, this gel slips over my hands and is easily absorbed — they did feel silky smooth, but my palms were a bit greasy.
Gives soft skin: Weleda Skin Food Hand Cream
Weleda Skin Food, 8.95 for 75ml
EXPERT: Two of the key ingredients are soothing beeswax and calendula, an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory extract of the marigold flower that has been used for centuries to help heal broken skin.
TESTER: Wow, I can smell the herbs before I’ve even squeezed the cream out of the tube!
The thick cream takes a few minutes to sink in, but my hands were softer and it even helped alleviate my dry elbows.
Pears Transparent Soap, 60p for 125g
EXPERT: Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a chemical foaming agent used in nearly all soap products — it’s a known skin irritant. This soap also contains CI47005, a yellow coal-tar dye banned in Australia and the U.S. as it has been linked with dermatitis.
TESTER: Yuk! This smells awful, like horrible cough sweets. It seemed quite thin in consistency, and left my hands slightly sticky after using.
Chuckling Goat Sebon Pur Oatmeal and Honey Soap, 2.75 for 90g
EXPERT: You could eat every ingredient: goat’s milk, which is anti-inflammatory; natural oils; grapefruit seed extract; honey; and oatmeal.
TESTER: There’s a subtle sweet smell, and the oatmeal gently scrubs your hands. This soap has a soft, creamy lather. My hands were left clean, but not over-dry.
Lengthens and separates lashes: Max Factor High Definition Mascara
Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara, 9.99 for 4.5ml
EXPERT: This contains propylene glycol, a synthetic solvent used to prevent toiletries freezing or melting, but it is linked to dermatitis — a skin inflammation.
TESTER: I’m a mascara junkie, and this one is great — the brush lengthens and separates lashes well.
Top marks: NATorigin Mascara
NATorigin Lengthening Mascara, 13.50 for 6g
EXPERT: This is pretty much plant-based — there’s beeswax and propolis extract (a moisturising resin collected by honey bees), plus shea butter and jojoba seed oil, which will be conditioning.
TESTER: I was desperate to try this as I have dry, sensitive eyes. The large brush gave even coverage. I’ve found a new favourite.
Olay Total Effects Fragrance-Free Day Moisturiser, 17.35 for 50ml
EXPERT: As with many beauty products, this contains butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), a chemical preservative that has been linked with liver problems and allergies.
TESTER: This is not a bad day moisturiser — standard light creamy texture, rubs in easily and left my face fairly smooth.
Tiana Rose Fresh Coconut Oil Anti-Ageing Moisturiser, 17.99 for 100ml
EXPERT: I love coconut, and this contains organic cold-pressed coconut oil that’s high in lauric acid, the same compound found in breast milk. It’s great for immunity, is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and acts as a slight natural SPF. The rose damascena extract is anti-ageing, as it hydrates the skin.
TESTER: This looks and smells like a big tub of solid coconut butter and so you need only a tiny amount. Smoothes on easily and leaves skin feeling silky.
Lasting colour: Revlon Lipstick
Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Macaroon, 7.99 for 2.55g
EXPERT: This contains petrolatum. /11/14/article-2233088-15D81A7A000005DC-369_196x75.jpg” width=”196″ height=”75″ alt=”Leaves lips soft: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer” class=”blkBorder” />
Leaves lips soft: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer
Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Fig, 6.29 for 2.5g
EXPERT: This is all natural, with a beeswax base and moisturising cocoa butter, so it will act like a lip balm, too.
TESTER: If you’re looking for natural colour, this is great — smooth to go on, and the minty tingle feels almost medicated. Leaves lips soft for several hours.
Left skin a little dry: Simple Vital Vitamin Foaming Cleanser
Simple Foaming Cleanser, 4.49 for 150ml
EXPERT: As well as SLS, parabens and dipropylene glycol, this contains cocamide DEA, a standard foaming agent that can cause allergic reactions and rashes.
TESTER: True to the name, this is pure foam and feels quite thin when scrubbed on.
It did remove the last remnants of make-up, and skin felt smooth but slightly dry.
Konjac Sponge with French Green Clay, 6.50
Weird but wonderful: Konjac puff sponge
EXPERT: This is a winner. It’s a natural sponge that contains water and French clay, which is a fantastic cleaner as it draws impurities from the skin.
TESTER: What a weird but wonderful invention — this gently exfoliating sponge slides over skin, leaving it soft and clean.
Pantene Smooth and Sleek Shampoo, 4.69 for 500ml
EXPERT: The problem here is ‘parfum’. That simple word means there could be up to 100 hidden ingredients that legally don’t have to be declared. Widely used artificial scents have been linked with everything from asthma to headaches, insomnia and fatigue.
TESTER: The smell is uninspiring — that generic shampoo scent — and after rinsing, my hair feels strange and almost squeaky.
Jason Apricot Pure Natural Shampoo, 3.99 for 473ml
EXPERT: Unlike most shampoos, this is entirely scented with essential oils. It cleanses with plant-based detergents such as grapefruit extract.
TESTER: It may be watery and hard to lather, but the gorgeous apricot smell does make up for it. My hair is left manageable and with volume, and no grease.
Little goes a long way: John Frieda Sheer Blond Moisturising Conditioner
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Conditioner, 5.59 for 250ml
EXPERT: Like most conditioners, this is far from natural — one ingredient is diazolidinyl urea, a preservative that can cause eye and skin irritation.
TESTER: This pale golden cream went a long way. A small amount made my hair easy to detangle, and left it soft and shiny.
Faith In Nature Ginkgo Biloba Blonde Hair Conditioner, 5.49 for 400ml
EXPERT: This is a great budget natural brand. The blonde shampoo contains chamomile, a plant extract that gently brightens hair, and the plant oils are hydrating.
Not good at de-tangling: Faith in Nature Ginkgo Biloba Hair Conditioner
TESTER: Like the natural shampoo, this was thin in consistency and hard to use.
It wasn’t good at detangling, but once my hair was dry and knot-free it looked sleek.
Sure Women Maximum Protection, 5.30 for 45ml
EXPERT: The whole concept of an anti-perspirant is flawed — we are meant to sweat. It’s the aluminium compounds that act as the anti-perspirant, and this one contains aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, which may be toxic on inhalation in large amounts.
TESTER: With a standard floral smell, this cream deodorant slid on easily, and kept me fresh for more than a day.
Crystal Body Deodorant Stick, 3.29 for 40g
EXPERT: All that makes up this product is a stick of mineral salts. Sweat only smells when bacteria form, and this works by leaving a fine layer of salts on the skin to prevent that happening.
TESTER: I didn’t notice any odours during a normal day, but it didn’t stand up to a 15-minute run.
For more details, visit Janey’s website imperfectlynatural.com.