When I was contacted by PurPicks and asked to be a judge for the Clean Beauty Awards, my first reaction was ‘who is this?’ (distrustful, in true Parisian style) and then ‘is this legit?’ (the cynical Londoner in me). It turns out that after over 10 years in the beauty industry I don’t know every beauty award out there, especially when it hails from Canada. Now in its 4th year, Clean Beauty Awards celebrates the best in clean free from beauty using healthy ingredients. The awards are hosted by CertClean, an American certification body for skincare, and managed by PurPicks, the TripAdvisor of organic beauty products. Products range from body care to mascara from the likes of Inika, Oilixia and Good Karma Skincare. Quite a few of the niche brands represented haven’t made it to the UK yet, so when I received my parcel of goodies I hadn’t heard of any of the brands. Which makes this even more exciting. So here’s a review of the natural skincare products I’ve been trialing and rating these last few weeks, hoping that my favourites make the cut to finalists in the 2018 Clean Beauty Awards!
Despite my propensity to flit from one beauty product to the next I always aim to keep my skincare routine as simple as possible. I’ll admit to owning a sizeable skincare collection, but I aim to focus on 3 to 4 products at any one time. I find the classic 3-step cleanse, tone, moisturise perfectly efficient, as long as it’s tailored to your skin’s needs. Out of those three steps though it’s usually the toner that gets knocked off in favour of an oil or serum. But not with the Honey & Sage Co Orange Blossom + Aloe. In the mornings I apply with a cotton pad instead of cleanser, taking in the refreshing scent of rose, neroli and aloe vera. Featuring only five all organic ingredients, it gently hydrates, calming any redness and relieving dry skin. This toner delivers on ingredients, sensorial experience and results, the only criticism I have is purely aesthetic: the packaging is plain (clear glass bottle, black cap) and the label design and print quality doesn’t do it justice.
Having just praised the three-step routine I did make an exception here and used 5 of the 6 the Clean Beauty Awards skincare products together, just switching the moisturiser for the oil at night. They seemed to fit so well together it would be a shame not to. And my skin certainly isn’t complaining. California Clean’s Hyaluronic Hydrating Primer introduced a new step in my skincare routine, coming in after toning to prime skin before the serum. I’m not convinced this justifies a separate product: surely hyaluronic acid (this primer’s key ingredient) is easy enough to find in serums? The vegan and cruelty-free fluid itself is a delight to use: one pump of the ultra-light oil-free texture quickly sinks into skin, giving a smooth hydrated result – with the help of only four ingredients. The packaging is sleek and makes the primer look more expensive than its £30 price tag, however with only 15ml that’s deceptively less than expected.
Since working in beauty product development I tend to pay close attention not just to the texture, ingredients and performance but also to packaging, which for luxury brands plays a huge part in the overall look and feel of a product (and the cost of it). This 100% natural antioxidant serum makes a great first impression: the outer box made of molded pulp (like egg cartons) affirms the brand’s sustainable credentials, the frosted glass bottle and green cap gives off luxury eco vibes and its Asian origin (hailing from Taiwan) promises some serious skincare know-how. Containing broccoli sprouts extracts, cucumber, aloe vera and the ubiquitous hyaluronic acid, this light serum sinks into skin incredibly quickly and with only one pump results in a revitalised complexion. At HK$ 330 for 30ml – around £32.50 at the time of writing – I feel this is a fair price for a natural serum. This one gets a big thumbs up from me.
It used to be that French beauty products automatically gained a sheen of authority and desirability. But the current reigning skincare destination is now South Korea, with promises of glass skin and a flawless finish. This olive-derived squalane oil comes in a clear plastic bottle with pipette, housed in a cardboard box covered in Korean writing. Luckily it’s also heavy on the logos so I can see at a glance that it’s cruelty-free, vegan, 100% natural (it is literally just squalane), dermatologically tested and verified by the Environmental Working Group. Applied in the evenings after the Greenvines Antioxidant Serum, you only need a couple of drops to moisturise your whole face and neck. This fluid oil claims to be lightweight and quickly absorbed but I find it leaves an oily residue on the skin. Not a problem in itself if applied in the evenings and you don’t have silk pillows. On the plus side it is a wonderful ingredient for fighting dry skin and age spots. If you prefer drier oils then Fushi’s Organic Rosehip Oil might be more suitable.
The sweet biscuit smell is often what lets down self tanning products and this one, although a gradual tanner, certainly has a distinct sweet caramel scent. Once it sinks into skin though the scent does fade away. After a couple of self tan mishaps in my early career days (three applications the night before a presentation in front of the whole sales team didn’t go unnoticed), I now approach this beauty ritual with caution. B Natural’s US-made offering is vegan and cruelty-free and comes in an unassuming tube. Packed with natural ingredients – healing organic aloe vera, anti-ageing squalane oil, nourishing vitamin E – I really wanted this moisturiser to deliver on its promises, but after applying every other morning for a week post-serum, I can’t say there was much tanning going on.
And my favourite for last: developed in Turkey, Akita Rose Water delivers the final step in this all-natural skincare routine. Rose essential oil is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which are preserved during the distilling process. Skin feels refreshed, hydrated and revitalised thanks to this single ingredient, and the glass apothecary bottle is finished with a spray that spritzes the finest mist I’ve come across. This will become a desk staple come summer.
Have you heard of any of these brands or tried their products? I’d love to hear which one you think deserves a place in the finals for the Clean Beauty Awards face care category. Please leave a comment below to let me know!
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