Beauty confession: I like my cosmetics to be synthetic and preferably chemical-laden. If my nail polish top coat doesn’t smell like airplane glue, it’s a sure sign my mani is doomed to chip before the day is out.
Foundations free of dimethicone don’t glide across the face easily enough. I like my base blended, so give me more of those silicone polymers, thank you. Admittedly, my fondness for chemicals is an odd juxtaposition with my other consumer choices.
I buy organic produce. I choose minimally processed food. My desire to avoid consuming or using chemicals and ingredients I’m unsure of has led me into the natural beauty aisle before, often with disastrous results. I will spare you the details of the time I experimented with all-natural deodorant; just know that it involved a rash that lasted for two months.
Lately, new, indie skin care brands are turning up at high-end beauty counters, bearing little resemblance to the natural products of the past. In addition to being mostly natural and organic (95 percent of a product’s ingredients must be organically sourced for the Food and Drug Administration to allow the organic designation), they are beautifully packaged, luxurious, and above all else, effective.
My general thought is that cleanser is not where to invest in your skin care dollars. A cleanser, after all, is a product that is ever so briefly on the skin before it’s washed down the drain. My exception to this is Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser (Sephora, $58), and this isn’t because it’s 100 percent natural and nontoxic, soap-free, and made of botanicals from an organic farm in Vermont (that all sounds wonderful though, doesn’t it?); I make the exception because this cleanser feels divine on the skin, gently removes oil without over-drying, and bedevils me with a fragrance derived from silver fir.
Caudalié Beauty Elixir (Sephora, $49) is a part-toner/part-serum facial mist made (mostly) of plant extracts. It’s cooling, refreshing, and prepares the skin for whatever product you layer over it. I particularly like using this after cleansing and before moving on to serums and moisturizers.
Serums are the heavy lifters of any skin care routine, and Korres Black Pine Firming, Lifting & Antiwrinkle Serum (Sephora, $74) harnesses the very potent polyphenol in black pine to help maintain skin’s elasticity, connective tissue, and boost renewal.
It’s best to think of Indie Lee Calendula Eye Balm (Saks Fifth Avenue, $42) as a protective product, not one that corrects. Calendula has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the eye area. The balm is packed with mango and lavender oils to hydrate and diminish dark circles.
Any product with “peel” in the name sets my skin care loving heart aflutter. Tammy Fender Epi-Peel (Saks Fifth Avenue, $80) is no exception. This kaolin clay mask has a toothpastelike consistency, and grit to clean and refine pores. Additional botanicals, like spearmint, have antimicrobial properties, and there’s rosemary as well, to improve circulation. This mask packs the feel of a long pampering session into just five minutes.
Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream (www.beautybar.com, $90) is a small jar of wonderful. This moisturizer is light enough for daytime use, and sits beautifully under makeup. It brightens, smooths, firms, and generally makes skin look pretty.
I don’t miss the chemicals in these products, but more important, I don’t feel I’m substituting carob for chocolate, or botanicals for efficacy.