Saving the world one face at a time

The saying: ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ is true but using cosmetics and treatments that are good for you and the environment is just as important.

The billion dollar beauty industry sells numerous brands and regimes that claim to be planet-friendly and beneficial to consumers.

The move towards more natural products is part of the larger green bandwagon much evident in healthy living and eating circles.

Growing interest in the environmental impact of the chemical cocktail found in household products has also resulted in the move towards using more plant-based products for beauty and skin care products.

With so much choice now in the marketplace, the Observer on Sunday focused on a large retailer and a small business to find out what green beauty products they carry.

Kirk Freeport is the Islands’ largest beauty and cosmetics retailer. Its top selling green beauty and skincare range is Clarins, a French company that has been at the forefront of creating environmentally conscious products since 1954.

Ahead of the times, Clarins’ philosophy has always been to incorporate the use of high-performance plant extracts with the help of modern techniques.

The first French company to stop animal testing of its products; its ethical stance also led to it eliminating the use of animal based cellular extracts over a decade ago, long before it was fashionable to do so.

In fact, Clarins Laboratories use more than 50 food extracts from more than 130 plants, including rosemary, basil, hazelnuts, geranium, tomatoes, and pomegranates.

Its face, body and sun care ranges – perennial favourites among women – are now enjoying similar success in its men’s skincare ranges.

Tracy Purdon is Clarins in-store beauty consultant at the La Parfumerie II. Trained to identify which of Clarins’ many products will best suit your skin type, she not only sells the merchandise but has been using the beauty products since she was 18.

“I’m very passionate about our products and am fascinated by the way Clarins’ scientists observe how plants survive and adapt to extreme environments and use their properties in all our ranges,” she said.

According to Purdon, the brand’s bestsellers include:

Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser for normal to dry skin is infused with peach flesh for its “invigorating and refreshing properties”. The cleansers regenerative active ingredients and carbohydrates are said to give skin “a fresh, velvety complexion”.

The Hydraquench range of moisturisers contains the key ingredient katafray bark extract, which is said to increase the skin’s hydration and restore moisture balance. The line also contains E3P, designed by Clarins as an anti-pollution complex.

Another popular green product in the same brand is the HydraQuench Cooling Cream-gel SP15 which, it is claimed, “provides the skin with year-round protection from the effects of very hot weather as well as the reinforced moisturising action”.

Along with cangzhu root, aloe, sunflowers, moringa seed and dozens of other natural ingredients; rice starch is another ingredient harnessed in the company’s skincare and beauty ranges. A mainstay of Asian skincare, rice starch is prized for its absorbent properties and is used in Beauty Flash Balm, which is said to “brighten and firm the face and neck area while erasing the visible signs of fatigue”.

As well as growing its own plants and herbs in the Clarins herbarium, the company sources natural ingredients from fair trade partnerships with local growers from across the globe. Purdon says that Clarins’ respect for the environment is also seen in its commitment to using lightweight and recyclable packaging and its practice of promoting sustainable development.

Vanity Hair & Nail Design carries several eco-friendly brands including the Aveda (hair and skin) care; Phyto and Eco Freak skin and hair care.

Aveda’s high botanically-based hair range of shampoos, conditioners, hair treatments and styling products list a slew of natural ingredients including neroli, flax, lemon, grape extracts, avocado, sage seaweed and bilberries.

According to the salon’s manager, Leslie Slaybaugh, all of the brand’s ingredients “have been carefully chosen for their restorative qualities that keep hair in tip top condition”.

Aveda has done as much as any beauty company to raise awareness of green issues such as pollution, recycling and the responsible sourcing of raw products,   Slaybaugh says.

Popular products in the Aveda family include its Rosemary Mint Shampoo. For all types of hair, the product is popular as a frequent use shampoo which is mild while guarding against build-up, stripping and static. Containing peppermint to stimulate the blood supply and awaken the senses, the other main natural ingredient rosemary is supposed to help protect the hair from environmental damage. Its pure plant aroma naturally energises and motivates your mind and body.

Another of the brand’s lead products is the Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Shampoo which contains palm conditions, ylang ylang, buriti oil, purified bananas and pomegranate.

Like many other more natural shampoos, it does not contain chemicals which cause rich lathering; however Slaybaugh says “it pumps moisture back into dry, stressed tresses”.

She says that the frequent use shampoo “adds body to fine hair—without stripping, build-up or static electricity.”

Aveda’s Be Curly hair care range not only promises to tame tresses but boost shine and enhances volume. Its conditioner contains an aloe and wheat protein formula said to expand when wet and contract when dry to lock in moisture and define curls.

The brand’s Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother is a blend of guar bean, organic tapioca, aloe and maize, which are said to smooth hair. Apparently, the tapioca guards against humidity for up to 12 hours and the product’s wheat protein protects against surface damage from heat styling.

Another Aveda favourite is its Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution. The leave-in daily treatment spray claims to significantly reduce flaking and prevent reoccurrence by promoting a healthy scalp and relieving itching. The solution includes natural extracts lippie, a purifier and clarifier; sugar beet extract, which is a conditioner, and   salicylic acid, a gentle exfoliator.