Over the past ten years I have become increasingly conscious what I put on my sensitive combination skin, and now wince slightly at the memory of my skincare routine at university (full of drying foaming ingredients, alcohol, synthetic fragrances and most likely parabens).
As I got more interested in nutrition and complementary therapies, I read more about some of the ingredients commonly used in skincare. Even now it can still be a bit of a minefield knowing what ingredients may be best to avoid if your skin is prone to irritation, or even for health reasons.
Obviously products for sale in the shops must have been through extensive testing and be widely considered as ‘safe’, but there are grey areas that now exist, with some researchers and groups questioning the use of certain ingredients like paraben preservatives and phthalates found in synthetic fragrances. On the other hand there has been an explosion in the ‘green beauty’ market, with many products promoting themselves as ‘natural’. Yet it can vary how natural these products really are, and for some individuals natural essential oils can be a source of skin irritation.
Whether you’re just starting to dip your toe in the water or have been interested in natural skincare for a while but are still confused, there is a really helpful guide here from the sensitive skin care brand Pai that gives a simple and clear explanation of some key ingredients you may want to look out for on labels.
If you’re going through cancer treatment like me, there is a fantastic article here by Judy Johnson on choosing products at a time when skin can become (even more) sensitive. It seems to me the key thing is to look for gentle, hydrating products that don’t strip the skin. The Johnson article introduced me to the brand Twelve Beauty, which is a small but fantastic range of skin care products formulated by the eminently qualified pharmacist and cosmetologist Pedro Català.
My 5 favourite places to buy natural skincare online are:
- Naturisimo – a really wide range of ‘natural’ brands stocked, although I still read the ingredients list carefully as some include alcohol and glycols. It’s worth signing up to their mailing list as they have discount offers fairly regularly.
- Content – offer a curated collection of brands, and very conscious about ingredients. They also have a lovely bricks-and-mortar in Marylebone if you happen to be visiting London. Great brands include de Mamiel, Idil Botanicals and Twelve Beauty. Again worth subscribing to their mailing list for discounts and free gift offers.
- MyPure – probably the first ‘natural beauty’ website I discovered. Their range isn’t as comprehensive as some other stores, but they have a great ethos and some good deals.
- LoveLula – a good mixture of classics like Trilogy and smaller brands like OOH! They also have a relatively low order threshold of £15 to get free shipping.
- Alyaka – offers some brands that aren’t commonly stocked in the UK, such as Mahalo, In Fiore and Siam Seas. They also offer sample kits for some brands including Mahalo and de Mamiel – you pay about £20-30 pounds for samples of 4-5 products (enough for one use only), then get a voucher for the value of the sample set to use on a full size product above a specified price. Personally I think you have to be pretty sure you want to buy something to make it worth spending the money on the sample set, but if you know you definitely want to buy one of the products from the range it’s a nice way to see what a few different products are like.
How important is it to you to choose ‘natural’ beauty products? What are your favourites?