Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

     I want to like these products. But I don't. Well, for the most part, I don't. Let's just say I won't be adding them to my cart again any time soon. Let's begin from the left with the Juice Beauty SPF 30 Mineral Sheer Moisturizer.
     Pros: Readily available, works well to protect skin from the sun, easily recyclable in a glass bottle. Cons: It's expensive at about $29, works too well to grease up my skin,  and it's not nice on my face under makeup. I use it off-label, so to speak, saving it for my neck, chest and arms. I confess I used this last summer, as well and I'm only about three quarters of the way down into the glass bottle. Sephora now sells it in a tube instead, so that is an improvement. This is a product which scored relatively well on the Environmental Working Group's 2009 Sunscreen Guide, so it is better than many on the market. If your skin can handle the oil slick and you don't intend to put makeup over the sunscreen, it's OK I suppose. Meh.
     Next on my list of things I wish hadn't bought is Caudalie's Creme Contour. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? It comes in beautiful packaging, boxed, foiled and shiny. It's French and fancy. I love French and fancy. This stuff is OK. I thought it would be economical to spend over $50 on this product because it is packed chock-full with anti-aging ingredients, and it is formulated for eyes and lips: double duty. I want so badly to love it. But I don't. My sensitive skin gets little tiny pimples when I use it by my lips. Perhaps I should apply with a swab; maybe it's my fingers (doubt it, though because you know I wash my hands every five minutes and before I touch my face). My disappointment stems from its outrageous price more than anything. You'd better believe I will use it on my eyes till it's gone, but I don't plan to buy it again. I feel moisturized, but unprotected from Father Time.
     Cost brings me to the Alba Botanica Mango Moisturizing Conditioner. Although I don't often shop at Walmart, I found myself there after a friend told me our local store had been revamped. She said they had cleaned it up, reorganized and made shopping there a much more pleasurable experience. I stopped by and was excited to see a "natural beauty" section. I found the Alba conditioner, and thought it might make a less expensive alternative to my favorite John Masters Organics Honey and Hibiscus conditioner. At about $8.50, the Alba stood to save me about $20 over my preferred product.
     Alba gets some decent marks from the Environmental Working Group, but this conditioner clocks in with a rating of "5," which is right in the middle of the road. Better than a lot of products, but not as good as many. It seems as though the vague ingredient, "fragrance" is what concerns the EWG. See, "fragrance" is considered proprietary and therefore doesn't have to be broken down into its constituent parts. That means the delightful scent in question could contain gross stuff like formaldehyde fixatives and other gross stuff that can be toxic to our immune systems and inflammatory to allergy sufferers. 
     In my experience, manufacturers who merely list "fragrance" as an ingredient are probably using something yucky. When cosmetics companies use natural essential oils to fragrance their products, they are very proud to say so. And the cost of such products is going to be higher because essential oils are expensive. I like the smell of this Alba conditioner, but my foray into natural cosmetics began because I was constantly battling irritation, inflammation and headaches. Until Alba Botanica begins disclosing what's in their "fragrances," I'm not buying it again - even though this is a decent conditioner. In fact, I hopped over to the Beautoium (see sidebar above) to get the aforementioned John Masters