May 27, 2009

John Masters Organics SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen

While reading Time magazine last November, I came across a blurb about the very cool invention of smog-eating cement. In a town near Milan, cement was mixed with titanium dioxide, which broke down smog.  Excited, I headed to my laptop where I found this article, also about titanium dioxide's smog-reducing ability.

Both of these news stories beckon the question:  Can makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreen with titanium dioxide—a mineral sunscreen that naturally protects against UVA and UVB rays—also prevent free radical damage from pollution on our face (aka aging)?  It can't hurt to try, right?

My titanium dioxide-containing picks are Jane Iredale Dream Tint SPF 15 tinted moisturizer, Juice Beauty Green Apple Moisturizer SPF 15, and the new John Masters Organics SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen.  It contains reparative moisturizers and humectants like aloe, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid plus antioxidant-rich green tea and healing calendula. It's lightweight but does leave a slight white cast on your face.  Happy days of sunshine this summer!

May 21, 2009

NEW REN Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish

Those of you with jobs or enviable inheritances during this recession may be interested to know that REN Skincare has debuted a luxe companion for its popular Moroccan Rose Otto line: Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish—a pampered way to exfoliate before applying self-tanner or simply smoothing off dry summer skin cells.

Pretty factor: Paraguayan cane sugar smooths skin, while almond oil silkily nourishes. Caffeine from kola nut helps to temporarily reduce cellulite. A pinch of rose otto and palmarosa essential oils soothe the psyche. (We recommend saving some for winter, when you'll really need the mental escape.)

Eco factor: No petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance or colors, T.E.A., D.E.A., propylene glycol, silicones, PEGS, animal ingredients or animal testing. U.K.-based Ren donates 2.5% of its profits to environmental organizations.

To buy: $60 at

Wallet-friendly option: 100% Pure's fresh fruit scrubs ($22)

May 18, 2009

Collective Wellbeing Pumice/Peppermint Buffing Bar for Feet

An easy-on-the-pocketbook, perfect-for-everyone product for your Monday morning: Collective Wellbeing's Pumice/Peppermint Buffing Bar. This baby has completely smoothed (summer-prepped) my dry, tough feet, and it leaves an irresistibly invigorating minty scent. Plus, check out the company's commendable environmentalism down in "Eco factor."

Pretty factor: Volcanic pumice, ground walnut shell, and buckwheat hulls, set in a grime-removing base of palm oil soap, thoroughly cleanse and polish the toughest calluses. Sage, juniper and lemongrass extracts help purify and organic peppermint and spearmint essential oils give dirty summer feet a refreshing, clean tingle.

Ideal for: Women and men, who will love the scent and grittiness

Eco factor: Collective Wellbeing uses organic botanicals and no sulfate detergents, parabens, or synthetic fragrance or colors. They give to organizations that work to improve our environment and are active members of 1% For the Planet. They're also the first consumer product to join The Chicago Climate Exchange, through which they completely eliminate their carbon footprint.

To buy: $6 at Whole Foods and

May 14, 2009

Aventine Hill Bath Emporium Cleansing Grains

A blogging friend recently launched a lovely, affordable natural skin and body care line called Aventine Hill Bath Emporium. (Aventine is one of the seven hills on which Rome was built and the site of a temple to Minerva, goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, and crafts). Sheila's homeopathic concoctions include superb cleansing grains that I've been loving the past few weeks.

What are cleansing grains, you may ask? Typically oat or rice-based—and mixed with water—they've been used for centuries as a gentle, nutritional method of removing dead cells, unclogging pores and tightening the skin.

Pretty factor: My favorite among Aventine Hill's three varieties is Grandma's Herbal Cleansing Grains, which contain rice bran and colloidal oatmeal to exfoliate while soothing, and kaolin clay to tighten pores and reduce oil. Additionally, chamomile flowers calm, rose hips provide a lil' antioxidant vitamin C, and caffeine from cocoa perks up the skin.

To use: I've found that the easiest way to use cleansing grains is to sprinkle a bit into your cleanser to instantly transform it to an exfoliator. They also make an effective mask.

Eco factor: Aventine Hill products are free of parabens, sulfates, petrolatum, and synthetic color. No animal testing.

To buy: $9.50 at

May 11, 2009

10 Natural Skin Care Remedies: Fact or Fiction?

Thank you to Eco*Pretty reader Rachel, who passed along a great slideshow from Scientific American magazine titled "The Science Behind 10 Natural Skin Remedies: Why They Work—Or Don't."

The article examines the effectiveness of treatments such as applying cucumber slices to reduce eye puffiness, using fruit acids to renew the skin, and exercising to delay aging.  (Spoiler alert: Nearly every natural remedy they scrutinize works.  But we already knew that!)

May 8, 2009

Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Mask

I admit it: I'm a sucker for packaging. Despite having a journalist's quizzical mind, anything that will sit pretty in the shower or medicine cabinet raises the thought, "If the company's design taste is this lovely, then the product's performance must be!"

Though this shallow thinking has misled me many times when choosing wine, fortunately the book matches the cover with Elemental Herbology's Facial Detox Purifying Mask. Its whimsically floral packaging lured me in but its results have stamped it a skincare staple this summer.

Pretty factor: The $58 price sticker elicits an "ouch," but you're paying for excellent ingredients. To name some: Oat flour and white Amazonian clay (rich in minerals and purifying salts) gently exfoliate and absorb excess oil.  An anti-inflammatory trio of aloe, calendula and manuka honey soothe redness and help heal sunburn. And lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils kill acne-causing bacteria and enliven the senses.

Tip: Makes a great overnight spot treatment

Eco factor: Elemental Herbology products contain no parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance or dyes, or animal testing.

To buy: $58 at (Space NK is an upscale British apothecary with a few New York outposts that I frequently visited when living in Manhattan.)

May 4, 2009

Sunny, Summer Toes: Zoya Polishes and Priti Soy Polish Remover

Ready or not, summer is almost here and it's time to make your toes sandal-ready!  Our pick this season is a bold, canary yellow polish ("Pippa") from Zoya's La-Di-Da Summer '09 Collection.  It's among six optimistic shades, such as cherry red and watermelon fuschia, that look like they've burst from a Skittles bag. The colors are beautifully wearable, though, due to their opaque cream finish.

When you're ready for a new hue, enlist Priti Soy Polish Remover.  Made by the eponymous organic salon in NYC and praised by numerous beauty editors, this polish remover is 100% natural and free of noxious acetone.

Eco Factor:
Zoya nail polishes are free of toluene, formaldehyde, camphor, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate).

To Buy: Nail polish: $6 at, select Whole Foods and salons worldwide. Polish remover: $11.25 at