Having trouble keeping up with our increasingly organic, eco-friendly world? Let me be your guide! From all-natural makeup to the best in eco-conscious jeans, I will test and review the products and treatments that are best for you and the planet.
Forget pumpkin pie and holiday cheer — it’s that other time of year. The time when I fear that my sandpaper-dry hands could harm somebody during handshaking, the time when my elbows crinkle and crack and that little spot on my chin becomes tight and itchy.
The air is chilly. The radiators are pumping. It’s time to moisturize.
This column is dedicated to the best of natural moisturizers, that is, to those that proudly boast no synthetic or toxic ingredients. I’d like to take moment to remind GreenDAY readers that when seeking out personal care products that are truly “natural,” it’s important to be as interested in what a product doesn’t contain as what it does contain. According to a recent “New York Times” article titled “Natural, Organic Beauty,” “in the absence of FDA standards, dozens of beauty companies and stores are using words like botanical, herbal, natural, pure and organic to market brands, each using its own in-house definition.”
The lesson? Do not trust the natural or organic claims of any product — even the one that’s squeezed between the wheatgrass powder and the flax seeds on the shelf of the crunchiest health food store in town. Turn that bottle around and scan the ingredients one by one. (It’s OK — you can take the two extra minutes! The meeting won’t start without you; dinner won’t get cold.) Products that are actually made from earth-derived ingredients — plant extracts, water and such — will let you know in a clear and concise manner and may even help you along the way with English definitions of Latin terms and explanations of infrequently used compounds.
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As I’ve mentioned before, though there have been some studies into the damaging effects of commonly used synthetic ingredients, the FDA stands by the safety of all personal care products available today. So, like the food we consume each day, the deodorant, toothpaste and lotion we use also become a choice. Will you choose a Twinkie or a carrot? Cheetos or an apple? Triethanolamine or aloe vera?
When it comes to maximum moisturizing, it’s now easier than ever to make a healthy choice. And since I suffer each fall and winter from instant “elephant-ization” of the skin (dry, itchy, always uncomfortable), I’ve gathered an arsenal of completely natural lotions and creams that keep me baby-soft until spring. Below you’ll find my top picks. (Note: Since these products don’t contain the heavy perfumes found in mainstream brands, they are conveniently — or inconveniently, if you don’t like to share — unisex):
Avalon Organics Lavender Hand & Body Lotion ($9.95, 12 oz) is my go-to for all-over daily moisturizing. Rich, creamy and available in a long-lasting 32-ounce bottle, the lotion has yet to let me down. Supporting “consciousness in cosmetics,” Avalon is refreshingly honest about which products are entirely natural and those that still contain some synthetic ingredients. The Ingredient Philosophy walks consumers through the choices that the company makes and comprehensive (and easy to understand) ingredient lists are always available on the back of every bottle and online. Not into lavender? Try peppermint, rosemary, lemon or ylang ylang, and look for Avalon’s facial treatments, too.
When I’m in the mood for an exotic splurge, I turn to Pangea Organics’ range of sumptuous lotions. Options like Chilean Red Clover with Geranium and Grapefruit and Egyptian Basil and Mint ($17, 8 oz), are not only fun to say, but will leave you wondering how you survived your college years using nothing other than Vaseline Intensive Care. The best part is that all of Pangea’s products are made using ingredients harvested from organic farmers around the world and contain no petrochemicals, parabens or other synthetic ingredients.
When things get really, really dry and the itchy patch on my chin threatens to travel to my cheek, neck, or some other unwelcome location, I don’t mess around. I zap that thing with the most potent natural moisturizer I’ve ever found: Purity Cosmetics Organic Healing Moisturizing Balm ($25, 2 oz). Warning to those who like their moisturizers light — this is not your product. The “Balm” on the container’s label is just a hint of the heavy-duty moisture contained within. With avocado, shea and almond butters (butters!), Purity has produced a facial treatment that goes the distance without sacrificing its 100 percent natural ingredient list.
For everyday moisture, Aubrey Organics has created a line of creams that are formulated for differing skin types. I’m a Moisturizing Cream, Dry Skin 1 type of girl, but you may be a Dry Skin 2 (combination skin). I can’t get enough of Aubrey’s super-short, highly readable organic ingredient list. While the 4-ounce bottle isn’t as cheap as I’d like ($16.28), it’s not as expensive as many other facial products that are nowhere close to all-natural.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.