Thursday, 12 August 2010

Product Replacement

Here is what happened: I promised you that, as each one ran out, I would replace all my skincare products and cosmetics with healthier, purer alternatives. Recently I squeezed out the last drop of my MAC tinted moisturiser. Well I did intend to research the alternative but then I was right there in Harrods and I just happened to be near the MAC counter... “Can you tell me what is in this?” I asked, holding up a tube of tinted moisturiser. There was no list of ingredients either on the tube or on the box. The sales girl looked bored as she flicked open a huge folder of MAC product information. “It’s not listed,” she said. “Oh well, I’ll take it anyway. Will you be so good as to email me the list of ingredients?” I added, somewhat sternly.  “Yes, write down your email address.” That was about six weeks ago.

Have I had an email from her? Have I hell. I subsequently sent an email to MAC customer services requesting the information. They have not replied. Their reticence can only lead me to assume the worst.

But this product replacement is tricky. I’ve realised that just waiting until something runs out and then wondering what to replace it with is leaving it too late. I’ve decided to take it upon myself to do the research, so you don’t have to.

I paid a visit to Imelda Burke at her wonderful shop Being Content in Bulstrode Street, Marylebone. To make Imelda work on your behalf, I took with me a huge bag of all the beauty products that I use regularly and challenged her to come up with an alternative for each one.

I will review these products in-depth when and if I ever get around to actually bringing them home. This will be a long enough post as it is. But I want to give you an overview of the kind of things that are available.

Body lotion.

I currently use: cheap coconut oil from Tesco.
Imelda says that is fine as far as it goes but be aware that they bleach the coconut oil to make it white and also heat it in the extraction process. It would be better to use a certified organic raw coconut oil. I will get onto that. Coconut oil is fine but a bit boring. What if we want something a touch fancier? Imelda’s first suggestion is

The Evolve brand has been developed by Laura Rudoe. She was formerly head of development at Nude Skincare. Her aim is to bring certified organic and natural skincare to the mass market. And she seems to be succeeding. Evolve products are now available through Ocado. The body lotion has a creamy consistency and smells like cake. Certified organic by Ecocert.

This is a much thicker body cream made with organic shea butter. It has a heavenly floral fragrance. Certified organic by Ecocert.

This is a thick lotion designed for sensitive skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties so is ideal if you have itchy skin or eczma. Pai products are certified as organic by the Soil Association.

When it comes to organic skincare, Weleda is the trusty go-to brand. Great products at reasonable prices. This lotion is runnier than the others, more like a body milk. It smells gorgeous and is cooling on the skin. Certified organic under the Natrue system.

I currently use: REN Rose 012 Ultra Moisture Serum.
“Very good,” says Imelda. “But,” say I, “it is very expensive. Perhaps you could recommend an alternative for daytime use?”

This moisturiser contains therapeutic herbs that are great for irritable or very dry skin. A lot of men like this product: it has a fresh smell and is great for after shaving. Also it is multi-purpose, a bit like a Swiss Army knife.

An outstanding and popular moisturiser. It absorbs well and smells lovely.

We started at the reasonable end of things but, as is the case with face products, prices are soon rocketing.

The standout claim of Nude Skincare is that their products contain natural peptides, which are anti-ageing. They are mostly derived from milk: milk protein; whey protein; bifida ferment lysate and lactose. I don’t know what Professor Jane Plant would have to say on this matter but it sure is a lovely moisturiser.

This is a really interesting range. Dr Alkaitis is an Ethnopharmacologist, whatever that may be. He starts from the premise that the sheer number of synthetic chemicals that we are subjected to on a daily basis bears a correlation to the seeming epidemic of cancer that we are experiencing. Dr Alkaitis claims that his products contain only ‘living’ plant materials and that no ingredient is heated to more than body temperature. The face creams are so organic and natural that apparently one could spread them on toast, although at £65 for a 50ml bottle you might be better off sticking with the caviar.

The U.S.P. (unique selling point - dummy) of the Amala brand is that they have done lots of clinical testing in Germany to prove that their natural products are as effective as the synthetic equivalents. This may go some way towards justifying the price - £60 for 30ml.

That’s enough beauty products for today but there are lots more to come. Stay tuned...