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Natural Beauty Products {Less Chemicals Please}

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

I wish this feature was jam packed with product recommendations and that I could tell you that I am well on my way to a bathroom cabinet that is houses considerably less chemicals and preservatives.

The truth is I am yet to find that many “natural” cosmetics which I would whole heartedly suggest you purchase for yourself. Those I have reviewed either fell short on performance or actually had a negative effect – some containing ill advised essential oils and often well known irritants (“natural” in origin or otherwise).

I first became hyper aware of what I was slapping on my face and body when I was pregnant with my daughter Mabel. I had a positive experience with Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil that I used religiously across my chest and expanding torso. I didn’t gain any stretch marks and my skin was supple and smooth which made a change from my usual flaky patches and eczema outbreaks.

Let’s not kid ourselves, I’m not going to be giving up Charlotte Tilbury lipstick anytime soon, what I am doing though is endeavouring to use less chemicals where feasibly possible. Baby steps. I just don’t like the thought of putting so much unknown crap on my epidermis where the genuine long term effects are somewhat unknown. And after a series of confidence knocking breakouts recently, I’m more determined than ever to follow the “less is more” rule. i.e., the less I mess about with overloading my skin with goodness knows what, the less likely I am to suffer from rosacea, blocked pores and weird bumpy rashes.

My main win when it comes to make-up is the brand RMS Beauty (and no, unfortunately it doesn’t belong to Rock My Style). The entire range promises to be chemical free with “nourishing” formulations that are sheer and enhancing rather than heavy and potentially comedogenic. The lip2cheek that comes in a pot and imparts a believable sheeny glow on yes you guessed it, both lips and cheeks. I know I will wear it religiously throughout the warmer months. I have the shade “Demure” a rose pink but there are various other hues available. I also rate their “Un” cover-up concealer (I use shade number 11) which is super blendable and works a treat on the aforementioned rosacea. I pat it on with my finger around my nose (currently redder than a sunburnt lobster – thanks hayfever you complete arse) and on blotchy bits, I then blend it in seamlessly with my beauty blender. I also use it around my eyes for easy breezy light coverage and buff it out with my Bobbi Brown full coverage touch up brush.

For those of you that don’t like the matt finish of powder but require something to “set” your make-up in place and increase longevity then I highly recommend the RMS beauty “un-powder”. It seems to take away an overtly greasy shine yet still manages to leave a distinctly non-powdery healthy sheen. Clever.

On the subject of powder I am currently enjoying Jane Iredale Powder Me SPF dry sunscreen. It has an SPF 30 and the shade “golden” gives me a touch of much needed colour. I’m hoping as my skin clears that when we go on holiday in June I will simply brush this on with a bit of concealer on dark circles and I’ll be good to go. I bought mine from allbeauty.com as they currently have 20% off. Jane Iredale is renowned as a non-irritating mineral make-up range that is recommended by dermatologists for all sorts of skin conditions from acne to psoriasis as it doesn’t contain the usual assortment of preservatives and pore clogging ingredients often found in popular foundations, sunscreens and powders.

Natural skincare wise I’ll have to get back to you – I’m still trialling various products as I type. I have however found an amazing shampoo. Yes you read that correctly shampoo. It’s called Olsson Scandinavia Shampoo Sensitive for normal/dry hair and it’s the bomb. Seriously – no colourants, preservatives and fragrance (in fact, it doesn’t really contain that many ingredients at all) and leaves your barnet as swingy as a kilt. The brand also manufacturer various other styling products that I am keen to try.

Are you trying to use more natural beauty products? Any you would like to recommend? Please do leave links to things I need in the comments box below. Thanks in advance, yours Charlotte (slightly less chemically overloaded than last year) O’Shea

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34 thoughts on “Natural Beauty Products {Less Chemicals Please}

  1. I have also started using the Olson shampoo and conditioner and I love it too! The skin on the nape of my neck and scalp has cleared up from the frequent breakouts I suffered from – must have been some nasty or other in the regular shampoo’s I was using. Only downside is the lack of scent. It doesn’t smell bad, it just doesn’t smell at all! I do miss my hair smelling of coconuts sometimes! X

    1. Ha ha Lesley I know EXACTLY what you mean – my showers are not exactly a spa type experience. I also use very plain body lotion but I think I’ll treat myself to some (naturally) scented body oil soon x

  2. Over the past few months I have been using Lush’s shampoo bar in ‘Honey I Washed My Hair’ (recommended by the Lush salesperson for coloured hair). I had never really been a big fan of Lush, but a friend recommended the shampoo bars and as I’d been trying to cut down on the chemicals I was putting on my head I thought I’d give it a punt and I have been loving the results! My hairdresser has been so complimentary ever since about the overall condition of my hair, as well as about how well the colour has lasted and how few split ends I’ve had. It’s a bit of a change to get used to lathering up a bar and then using the later to was your hair, but one bar costs a fiver and lasts for a few months, so for me it’s been a really beneficial change on all fronts! I have really long fine hair so I’m now using the ‘Seanik’ bar with sea salt and seaweed in it and I’m finding that it has definitely added a bit more body to my barnet. The Lush conditioner bar did not work for me though, I found it left a residue on my hair, so I’m still using a small amount of regular conditioner bar, but find that I need less conditioner than I previously used.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations Jane, this bar sounds fab – I never venture into Lush to be honest as I find the scent so overwhelming (it’s also always ruddy packed which I guess proves they sell good products) x

  3. One of my favourite natural products is almond oil as a body moisturiser. It is just gorgeous. I slather a bit on whilst in shower or after if my skin is particularly dry.
    You can buy a giant (1 litre) bottle for about £7 so it’s really cheap. I then decant into a little pretty bottle for my bathroom shelf. No scent, but I prefer that in a moisturiser so it doesn’t fight with the scent of my gorgeous perfume (I’ve just started using my ‘summer’ coconutty perfume and it’s making me a little bit happy today).

  4. Hi Charlotte, I try and remain paraban and SLS free wherever possible after reading an article about how they can contribute to breast cancer. Now I’m sure there are arguments for most things in life causing cancer (there’s practically a new article every week about what we should/shouldn’t do…following by a conflicting article the week after!) but I do try and keep my skincare/wash products as pure as possible. I use Dr Organic for most things which you can get at Holland & Barrett – their snail gel is amazing, my face is always really soft after I use it and a little bit lasts for ages. But I use their shower gel, soap, shampoo, conditioner etc as well. They have loads of different flavours (is that the right word when you don’t eat it?!) and types as well.
    Funnily enough though, I’m at that age now where I’m seriously considering Botox as a lot of my friends have it. Chemicals ON my skin? No way! Chemicals INJECTED INTO my skin? Maybe! Weird isn’t it…

    1. Nancy I sort of know what you mean – I’m not adverse to the thought of my lines looking well, softer. And part of me believes that there must be rigorous tests on botox/filler etc where as it seems some stuff in skincare isn’t even approved by the FDA. It’s a bloody minefield. That said, the lack of laws in the UK as to who can essentially yield a needle full of botox and potentially paralyse someones face is shocking – if you do decide to take the plunge make sure you do your research and get recommendations x

  5. Hi Charlotte, have you tried the tropic skin care range http://www.tropicskincare.com/?
    My friend started selling this so I thought I’d give it a try as I was getting terrible breakouts despite being 35! The difference is amazing, my skin is so much clearer that I’m more confident to go out without make up on.
    Katherine x

    1. Katherine I have never heard of this but what a clever concept (obviously the geek that I am I had to read the whole website). Some of the products sound fab which ones have you been using?

      1. I started with the SMOOTHING CLEANSER complexion purifier + bamboo cloth, then I bought the toner, eye roll on, concentrated cream and brightening polish, as I was so impressed with the results of just the cleanser.
        I’m slowing moving from bare minerals to tropic as and when it runs out. The concealer is great so far.
        Definitely worth trying if your getting breakouts still.
        K x

  6. Washing powders are often to blame for skin irritation. I recently was given some biological washing powder- I hate waste so decided to use it. My skin was itchy and red from it -horrid! Went back to one I make myself -500g washing soda crystals and 2 bars of natural/organic soap grated. Works a treat, doesn’t irritate skin and doesn’t clog up your washing machine x

    1. Siobhan I use Waitrose essentials non biological washing liquid and it’s amazing – washes clothes really well and doesn’t irritate mine or Mabel’s sensitive skin. It has a lovely soft fresh scent too x

  7. You can’t go wrong with anything by Korres. Or REN, their Rosa Centifolia Express Make-up remover is just brilliant. Also just discovered Faith In Nature’s shampoos, lovely scents, no Parabens or SLS, certified Organic ingredients, cruelty free, vegan friendly, made in Britain – and they actually work. Struggling to find a good silicon free conditioner that works on thick frizzy hair however. Would be interested in suggestions.

    1. Rachel, I forgot about Korres – love their stuff. I’ve been looking for silicone free hair products recently too. I was using Paddy’s Bathroom shampoo but didn’t love it. Next on the list to try is the Body Shop’s Rainforest Moisture Conditioner (I’m going to get the shampoo too). Have you tried these? Apparently there are no silicones, parabens or colourants. There are mixed reviews on the website but at £5 it’s probably worth a try!

      Have you seen the Curly Girl method for haircare? Whether you subscribe to the method or not, if you google it there are loads of website with silicone/sulphate free product recommendations.

      1. I don’t have curly hair but my toddler does, we use the curly girl method (I have the very cringey book / DVD) and it does work. We use the Original Sprout range (both the hair and body stuff), no sulphates, parabens, lavender, tea tree oils etc and we love it!

        1. Lynsey, I haven’t got curly hair either – I’ve only ever looked at the site for haircare recommendations – but my 2 year old has a total afro and I can’t believe I’ve never thought to use the method on her. I’m going to have a go now though. At the minute it looks like her hair has never seen a brush! 🙂

  8. Hi Charlotte,

    How timely – I’ve been getting into more ‘natural’ products recently too after an outbreak of perioral dermatitis (basically horrible rash around your mouth) and trying to identify what products I used which might have caused the flare up. I actually think it was probably caused by a combination of stress and trying to fix a never ending hormonal breakout along my jawline that started when I stopped breastfeeding. Its taken months, but I’m now down to just a bit of redness on the skin which apparently does fade with time. Not a good experience and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – you don’t realise how much having good skin effects your mood/outlook until you don’t have it! Anyway onto products I have found gently and helpful:
    Lush Ultrabland cleanser – When my dermatitis was really bad the only thing I did was cleanse with this and apply my antibiotic cream. As someone with oily skin I though this thick rich cleanser would break me out but no it doesn’t. You need to cleanse it off with a flannel which is really good for exfolioating your skin a bit. https://uk.lush.com/products/ultrabland

    For breakouts I recommend Pai’s Copaiba and zinc serum – you can use it as an all over serum or just on the troublesome bits. A great alternative to things with salycylic acid if you’re pregnant too. Pai have lots of lovely products, they specialise in sensitive skin and have a 30 day return service if it doesn’t suit your skin. https://www.paiskincare.com/products/perfect-balance-blemish-serum-cobaiba-zinc?variant=26946009223

    In the makeup stakes I’ve been trying out Lily Lolo mineral foundation and blush. I’m not 100% on the foundation, I find the finish a bit dull, but the blush has lovely colours and longevity. They are only online but they do sample size pots so you can try before you buy, which I love. They’re also a British brand and suitable for vegans. http://www.lilylolo.co.uk/

    I’m in the market for sunscreen and shampoo so will be definitely trying your recommendations!

    1. Hi Emma! so sorry to hear about your dermatitis. Interestingly I have also had something similar twice (my mouth split either side so I resembled the joker from Batman – hot). The first time it was my gel nails (my eyes were effected too) and the second time it took ages to work out so I ended up having patch tests, I am allergic to Octyldodecanol, which is commonly found in lipsticks, glosses and balms. Some skincare too. If you haven’t had patch tests I would highly recommend it (I had a referral from my GP). They are a faff to do (no proper showering for 3 days) but worth it in the long term. x

      1. Oh Charlotte, poor you, how horrible! My dermatitis has fortunately almost disappeared now, just some faint red marks either side of my nose. It can come back though, so if I have another flare up (let’s hope not!) will definitely look into the allergy testing x

  9. I’m so interested in all these recommendations – always on the lookout for natural products that actually work! I love Weleda – my skin is super sensitive and dry when I’m pregnant (though the dryness goes when I’m not pregnant) and last time around I swore by Weleda Baby Derma White Mallow face cream as a night cream. I also love their body and face oils.

    Someone mentioned Dr Organic above – I’ve used their Argan Face Oil and it’s pretty good.

    And, oats. They’re great for dry skin. I stick them in the food processor and use the oat dust to make a face mask. There are loads of recipes online. You can also stick them in a muslin bag and swish it around in your bath if you have eczema/dry skin on your body. Obviously that’s not a product you can buy to replace something that’s already in your beauty regime, but I add it in sometimes when my skin is especially irritated.

    Now off to buy a Lush shampoo bar and some Unpowder! 😉

  10. Since a friend at college years ago started me on the mantra “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”, I’ve done my best to follow the natural, unprocessed route. I don’t do it all the time (we all have our exceptions), but generally I do. It’s why, I’m afraid, I don’t often read the beauty pages, because generally I know there won’t be much I can take from them, save a feeling of “dang, this no chemical thing is NO fun”. In any case, I’m a huge fan of Dr Hauschka, particularly their eyeliner (which since breast cancer I’ve worn in lieu of eyelashes 😋), but also Neal’s Yard wild rose Beauty Balm is something I’ve found to be amazing as both a cleanser and moisturiser, though pricey. And, I’m a massive fan of oat baths (tie a cupful of porridge oats in a muslin and swirl in a bay, then use the mission bag as an exfoliator), good old-fashioned bar soap (no packaging means great for the environment) and -in a pinch- olive oil as a cleanser.

    1. Oh my life. So. Many. Typos. Thank you, autocorrect-on-the-phone 🙁

      What that *should* say is that re the oat bath, that you tie a cupful of oats in a muslin and swirl in a bath (I’m not sure it’d work in a bay, and besides, I reckon the saltwater alone is more than beneficial), then use the muslin – nope, NOT the mission, as an exfoliator…. *Sigh*

      These are the days I honestly think about finding a typewriter….

      (Oh, and I can’t even seem to type my own name, FFS)

      1. Em this made me laugh, bless you I know what you mean about autocorrect! Loving all the oat suggestions – it’s a main ingredient in my Aveeno cream and seems to work well on my sensitive skin x

  11. Good topic and one I could talk about for a while. I’m a big fan of RMS Beauty. Have you tried their Master Mixer yet? I think you would like its rose gold tones. They can seem expensive but their products last forever as you need such a small amount. I’m a big fan of Pai too as mentioned in previous comments. Other brands I’d recommend are Kypris (skincare), May Lindstrom (skincare), Rahua (haircare), Soapwalla (deodorant), Tata Harper (skincare) and Green People (skin/body/haircare/sunscreen).

    I’d also recommend having a peruse of the Content website (https://www.contentbeautywellbeing.com/) where you can search by category, concern or ethos and founder Imelda Burke’s The Nature of Beauty book (https://www.contentbeautywellbeing.com/products/the-nature-of-beauty-imelda-burke). It’s got loads of tips in it and recommends products for specific skin types.

    It’s worth noting that it’s the Soil Associations Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Week (https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/beauty-wellbeing/organic-beauty-wellbeing-week/) this week. They have a list on their website of all the brands that are certified with them with a whole host of discounts for this week only including Pai.

  12. Hair wise I cannot recommend Aveda enough. It may seem quite spendy, but a bottle of shampoo lasts for absolutely ages as you only need to use a tiny amount, so I’m sure it works out cheaper in the long run. My hair never seems to get tired of it either. And, if you order online you normally get a few free samples of other products which are the perfect travel size for weekends away. Their volumising tonic is the stuff dreams are made of too.

    I rate Aveda skincare as well (I don’t work for them, honest!), but like others have said, also Weleda (especially in winter – I heard Victoria Beckham is a fan of their Skin Food) and Lush for virtually everything.

  13. I don’t know if this would fall into the ‘natural’ bucket (they don’t test on animals), but I’ve just started using Hairstory’s New Wash (http://hairstory.com/) which I got from the US. It’s a shampoo/conditioner/all-in-one thing that doesn’t have any detergent unlike most shampoos so is meant to be much better for your hair. It’s from the guy who started Bumble & Bumble which I also love.

    My hair was lovely and soft after the first wash and then I didn’t wash it out properly after the second so that was DUMB, plus I think my hair is a bit “WHAT THE HELL?” at me right now – but they suggest you stick with it for 30 days as it’s meant to be awesome. I like the idea of not having to shampoo and then condition as my hair is thick and takes FOREVER.

  14. This is great! Loving hearing what everyone else is doing. I am trying to be greener and cleaner in as many aspects of life as I can (without beating myself up about what I am yet to or can’t change) so I have started refusing straws in drinks, changed my toilet roll and tissues to the fantastically named “who gives a crap?” And even was gifted a retro soda stream for my birthday last week to save on plastic bottles. 🙂

    However beauty products are hard because I am no scientist and just don’t know what a lot of the ingredients are. However I have recently found Arbonne whose tag line is that their products are “pure, safe and beneficial”. All their products are vegan and gluten free (who knew beauty products had so much gluten?!) and they use the best of botanicals and science. They don’t use parabens, sls or mineral oils. But they don’t sell in shops and opt for network marketing so the brand awareness in the U.K. is small and limited. So far I am loving them and would recommend the primers, foundation, mascara (which leave your lashes soft not crunchy) and the RE9 skincare range.

    1. Stef I really want to try some bits from Arbonne! My pilates teacher had the most amazing (fake) tan on (I just assumed she had been on holiday) and said it was Arbonne that her niece sells. I’ve also heard someone else rave about their mascara x

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