October 31, 2007

Mychelle Incredible Pumpkin Peel

I couldn't think of a more appropriate product to feature today, Halloween, than Mychelle Dermaceuticals' best-seller, Incredible Pumpkin Peel.

Disappointed with the options and results of natural skincare products on the market back in 2000, Myra Michelle set out to make highly effective, toxin-free cosmetics. The result is Mychelle Dermaceuticals, a stellar, under-the-radar skincare company that spends its money on quality ingredients instead of quality advertising.

Pretty factor: Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, which increases cell turnover. Its derivative, tretinoin, is the main ingredient in the popular prescription acne and wrinkle treatments Retin A® and Differin®. However, because pumpkin is natural, it doesn't cause the redness and dryness that Retin-A and Differin do.

This peel also contains pumpkin enzymes to eat up dead skin cells, revealing brighter skin. It also contains honey to soothe and ginger root oil to boost circulation. After just the first use, your face will be super smooth and glowing. After a couple months, fine lines, age spots, and acne will have faded.

Eco factor: Mychelle products are "toxin-free", lacking phthalates, parabens, propylene glycol, ureas, EDTA, and artificial fragrances and colors. The company's actively involved with a couple local animal programs.

To buy: $26 at mychelleusa.com and Whole Foods (Trial sizes are available for just a few bucks.)


October 28, 2007

Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Deodorant

A TMI confession: I've tried two deodorants from natural hygiene giant Tom's of Maine and both left my underarms like those of an adolescent boy about to ask out his crush. Because I like to play it safe and can't get past those rumors that the sweat-blocking ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminum, may cause breast cancer, I'm resolved to stay natural.

Thankfully, on Makeupalley.com, I found Kiss My Face's Liquid Rock as one of the highest-rated deodorants. And I'm happy to report that it does a decent job of keeping sweat at bay and an amazing performance at keeping underarms freshly scented.

Pretty factor: Lavender oil lends anti-bacterial and anti-smelly properties. Willow bark (the derivative of salicylic acid, the major ingredient in acne products) exfoliates and cleans out pores, while lichen extract eats up odor.

Eco factor: No aluminum, parabens, artificial colors or fragrances and the bottle's 100% biodegradable.

To buy: $4.49 at Whole Foods and drugstore.com


October 22, 2007

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers

Several months ago, I was using a popular, Sephora-sold lip gloss and began to notice slight flaking around my mouth. Now I can tolerate a little dryness from long-lasting lip stains (notorious for turning lips into a mini Mohave) but from a kid-like lip gloss? It got a disgusted chuck in the trash. Knowing how much my mom loves her Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm, I too went au naturel and bought one of Burt’s Bees lovely Lip Shimmers.

Pretty factor: Cocoa butter and sunflower and castor seed oils provide hydration that could get you through an ice age. Real peppermint oil freshens breath and stimulates blood circulation, which means a plumper pucker. Though only 6 shimmers are shown above, they come in 11 shades.

Eco factor: For over 20 years, Burt's Bees has made beauty products that are nearly 100% natural (they tell you the exact percentage on the package) and are packaged in post-consumer recycled material. In 2003, co-founder Roxanne Quimby bought a 24,000-acre tract of forest in Maine for preservation.

To buy: $3.99 at drugstores nationwide, Whole Foods and Borders Bookstores


October 16, 2007

The Best Natural Clarifying and Dandruff Shampoo I've Found

Tea tree oil is like the Meryl Streep of natural beauty. Just when you think it's impeccably performed every role possible, it plays another one. From Australia's Melaleuca alternifolia plant, tea tree oil is antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial. Studies have shown it as effective as benzoyl peroxide in treating acne—without causing redness, dryness, or irritation like BPO does. Tea tree oil is used in toothpaste to fight bad breath, in deodorants to kill odor-causing bacteria, and in shampoos to fight dandruff.

Cult favorite Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo is the best weekly clarifying and anti-dandruff shampoo I've used. I return to it time after time. Those with exceptionally oily hair, scalp itchiness, or dandruff may opt to use it every other day for a couple weeks.

Pretty factor: The one-two punch of tea tree and peppermint oils de-bacterialize, boost micro circulation (=increased hair growth), and invigorate the senses—hello new day! Interestingly, peppermint is thought to be an anti-androgen, helping to lower the production of the hormone DHT, which is responsible for excess sebum production and hair loss.

Eco factor: Giovanni products are made with natural, organic ingredients. No animal byproducts or testing.

To buy: $7 at drugstore.com and Whole Foods


October 13, 2007

Lavera Volume Mascara

For the past year, I've been on the hunt for a mascara that doesn't dry out and flake everywhere after only a few weeks of use, nor feel like I'm applying shoe shine to my lashes. I nearly lost my balance when I saw the $20 price sticker on Lavera's Volume Mascara at Whole Foods, but in the noble name of beauty research, I bought it. And I'm so glad I did. Here's why:

Pretty factor:
Thanks to jojoba and wild rose oils, this mascara didn't even start to dry out until two months after I opened it and I swear it made my lashes grow quicker. Though it's certainly pricier than the drugstore mascara you've probably been using, it will last twice as long. Also, instead of sitting heavily on lashes, it seemed to sink into them, offering a really natural look. The brush is comparable to Maybelline's Great Last Mascara.

Eco factor: Lavera Cosmetics, a 20-year-old German line, are made especially for sensitive skin. They contain organic plant oils, herbs, flower extracts and essentials oils and are free of parabens, petroleum, artificial fragrance and emulsifiers (and no animal testing, of course).

To buy: $19.99 at lavera-usa.com and Whole Foods

October 11, 2007

Jane Iredale Active Light Under-Eye Concealer

In the early 1990's, Jane Iredale, a former Hollywood producer who worked with makeup artists daily, posed the prescient question: In addition to covering and enhancing, could makeup not also heal and rejuvenate? The result of this question was a line of light-diffusing, micro-fine mineral makeup packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Over a decade later, Jane Iredale remains the finest in mineral makeup and a favorite of celebrities—Victoria Beckham is obsessed—and plastic surgeons.

One of her must-haves is the Active Light Concealer—a natural, better alternative to Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Éclat!

Pretty factor: Think of Inner Light as a tinted moisturizer for the eyes. Avocado and sunflower seed oils hydrate and plump the delicate area. Buckwheat and cucumber extracts reduce puffiness, vitamin K lightens dark circles, and white tea boosts the skin's immunity—while micronized minerals create a "soft focus" that illuminates dark circles. Available in 5 tints.

Eco factor: All Jane Iredale cosmetics are non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and free of talc, parabens, phthalates and chemical dyes

To buy: $25 at janeiredaledirect.com and skincarerx.com


October 9, 2007

Simply Organic Heat-Activated Shine Complex

I spied this spray at a beauty sale at work and learned through research that Simply Organic's founder, Gene Martignetti, worked for 20 years in the haircare industry. Then his son was diagnosed with leukemia and he began thinking about getting healthy, which included researching the ingredients in cosmetics. He learned that not only were many of those chemicals irritating, but potentially carcinogenic. So, he created his Simply Organic.

Actor Chris Notha.k.a. Mr. Big from "Sex and the City"—is a "Big" fan. In fact, he liked the products so much that he introduced Simply Organic to the stylist on the set of "Law and Order"and now the whole cast uses the line.

Pretty factor:
Unlike most shine-enhancing sprays, this one doesn’t contain silicones (e.g. cyclomethicone, dimethicone), which smooth the hair shaft but can build up over time. The star ingredient of the entire SO line is olive leaf extract, naturally anti-viral and bacterial, plus rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.

In the shine complex specifically: r
osemary oil, an antioxidant that purportedly stimulates hair growth, vegetable glycerin, which adds shine through its humectant properties (humectants draw moisture from the air) and calendula extract, which soothes and smooths the hair shaft. When I spray this on my damp hair before blow-drying, it's much shinier and softer.

Eco factor: Pure, organic ingredients and zero irritating and potentially carcinogenic chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens or propylene glycol

To buy: $24 at simplyorganicbeauty.com

October 8, 2007

Zia Natural Microdermabrasion Scrub

Once only available as a costly treatment in dermatologists’ offices, microdermabrasion loosens dead skin cells to give you a smoother, more luminous face. Used once or twice a week for a few months, the scrubs can reduce sun spots, fine wrinkles, those post-pimple red marks and even acne scars. My preferred one: Zia Natural Microdermabrasion Scrub.

Pretty factor: Unlike most microdermabrasion scrubs, which use aluminium oxide crystals, this one contains magnesium oxide, which is gentler and ideal for people with sensitive skin. The scrub's loaded with macadamia seed oil, which moisturizes and protects the skin against abrasion, and therapeutic-grade essential oils .

Eco factor:
No harsh chemicals, artificial colors and fragrances or animal testing.

To buy: $39.95 at zianatural.com and Whole Foods


JASON Super-C Cleanser™ Gentle Facial Wash

When I decided to "green" my beauty, like my lifestyle, a few months ago, my first purchase was JASON's Super-C Gentle Face Wash. Its ingredients were nearly identical to Ole Henriksen's On the Go Cleanser, a best-selling wash when I worked at Sephora—but JASON's was half the price.

Pretty factor: Gentle surfactants—no drying sulfates—remove makeup and grime without stripping the skin. A 10% vitamin C concentration perks up skin and orange essential oil lends an amazing, fresh-sliced oranges scent, making it a perfect a.m. cleanser for those with combo, oily or acne-prone skin.

Eco factor: No parabens, petroleum, animal ingredients or animal testing

To buy: $10 at drugstore.com and Whole Foods

October 6, 2007

Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 Review

If you can't be bothered with the moisturizer-then-makeup process in the a.m. or you find mineral powders drying (me: both of the above), hit up a tinted moisturizer. I'm loving Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 , which gives excellent, luminous coverage.

Pretty factor:
Mica, malachite and tourmeline gemstone create a flaws-reducing "soft focus," while jojoba gives dewy hydration. Lavender extract provides astringent and anti-bacterial properties, and Japanese knotweed—which contains the potent antioxidant resveratrol (also found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine)—prevents aging.

Eco factor:
Aveda has been dedicated to environmental responsibility long before "green" entered the public vernacular and every other celebrity drove a Prius. Its manufacturing facility in Minnesota is powered entirely by wind energy, and its cosmetics contain organic, sustainably sourced, fair trade ingredients. The tinted moisturizer, like many Aveda goods, comes in a 100% post-consumer recycled carton. No phathlates, petro ingredients, or animal testing.

To buy: $25 at aveda.com and Aveda salons and spas nationwide


If you would like your organic or more natural-based beauty line to be considered for review, or if you are interested in advertising on Eco*Pretty, please e-mail Lindsay at ecopretty at gmail dot com. Thank you!

Why Use Organic or Natural Beauty Products?

Coco Chanel once quipped that "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty." Well, Eco*Pretty believes it is up to you to use nature to give you an exquisite face at fifty!
But when you can buy shampoo or face wash from the drugstore for only a few bucks, why shell out, say, $16 on a natural or organic product—especially if you don't (yet) have Al Gore's environmental devotion? Nine times out of ten, the results are better. Here's why:

Fewer Irritating Ingredients
Our skins absorbs about 60% of what we put on it.  So why not feed it nutritious stuff? When I decided to "green" my beauty products, like my lifestyle, I started by switching to a more natural cleanser (after I ran out of my old one). After just a few uses, it was "goodbye post-cleansing ruddiness, hello even skin tone." 

Usually organic and natural cosmetics don't contain irritating and potentially risky chemicals such as:

• Parabens
(ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben)
:  Parabens are preservatives that mimic estrogen and have caused reproductive changes in lab rats. Parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue.  Butylparaben is the most potent.

Phthalates: Mostly used to soften plastics, they're also added to deodorants, hair sprays, and shampoos to make scents linger longer as well as to nail polish for chipping resistance. They've been linked to allergies, asthma, cancer and reproductive damage and are banned in Europe.  In 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning phthalates use in kids’ toys.

• Sulfates
(sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl/laureth sulfate): Surfactants found in face cleansers, shampoos and body washes that remove grime but can strip moisture from skin and color from hair. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the harshest and can also be comedogenic (pore-clogging)

• Propylene glycol
A moisture-binding ingredient that can irritate sensitive skin (and is also used in car engine coolant).

Artificial dyes and fragrance: Can irritate sensitive skin. In fact, synthetic fragrance is the No. 1 cause of allergic reactions to cosmetics.

More Nutrient-Rich, Performing Ingredients

Natural products are not only free of potentially toxic chemicals, but they often contain less fillers and cheap thickeners and more healing botanicals and seed oils.  For example, rosehip seed oil
a popular emollient in natural skin carealone contains vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids! 

No Animal Testing

Nearly every natural beauty brand refuses to test on animals.  They don't shave guinea pigs and bunnies raw and apply products to them to test for irritancy, rashes, redness and swelling
as if animal skin is the same as human skin anyway!  You wouldn't do that to your furry loved one, so why support companies that do?

About the Writer: Lindsay Baron

Lindsay Baron, Editor + Writer 
Lindsay Baron is a freelance writer and the Chicago-based Midwest Account Executive for a top organic skincare company. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University and has worked as a web producer for several major magazines in Manhattan.

Battling acne through her teen years and frustratingly trying countless products that did nothing—or worse, left her skin ruddy and raw—Lindsay applied her research savvy in college to learning about skincare products and ingredients. Soon after, she started contributing reviews to MakeupAlley, earning a Top Reviewer status.

After arriving in NYC to pursue magazine editing, she parlayed her cosmetics knowledge into a position as a skincare consultant at Sephora to pay the bills until becoming an editorial assistant at Parents.com.  She started Eco*Pretty has a fun, non-mommy outlet while at Parents.  She has since worked for Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Allure, and Self's websites and is a contributing writer for a central Indiana magazine called SOUTH.  

Jen Tanner, Contributing Writer
Jen Tanner is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist with 12 experience in the beauty industry. She has worked as a sales rep and trainer for several top natural skincare companies including Aveda, Dr. Hauschka, Jurlique, and Juice Beauty.

Jen and Lindsay became blogs buddies through an informative site that Jen wrote called Skin Rhythm, and Lindsay asked her to lend her knowledge to Eco*Pretty in January 2009.  Jen lives in Austin, Texas with her young twin boys.

October 4, 2007

About Eco*Pretty

Since Al Gore's 2006 book-turned-documentary An Inconvenient Truth, the popularity of "green" living has skyrocketed. As consumers have become more aware of what's in our air, water and food, we have also started questioning the myriad hard-to-pronounce chemicals in the cosmetics that we apply every day.  As a result, there has been an explosion in efficacious, earth-conscious, natural beauty lines.  Gone are the Birkenstock days of slapping beeswax on your face and calling it a moisturizer! 

The organic and natural sector of the beauty industry has increased 39% annually for the past several years, according to the Organic Consumers Association.  Personal Care has been the fast-growing department at Whole Foods.

Started in October 2007, Eco*Pretty is a fusion of writer Lindsay Baron's increased eco-awareness and strong interests in research, writing, and skincare.

Eco*Pretty aims to provide educated information and reviews on the many excellent, natural cosmetics now on the marketfrom well-publicized lines like John Masters Organics and from lesser known ones, such as Evan Healy. In December 2008, Skincare-news.com named Eco*Pretty the second best "natural" beauty blog in the U.S.