Is your beauty shelf heaving with products, some unopened, others opened, not empty but unused? Are you a victim of the promise of eternal youth and flawless skin that comes in expensively packaged pots and jars? Yip, well most of us are. Whether they provide on their promise or not, we do love the smell and feel of a good beauty product and keep adding new stuff to our shelves. Few people can resist the lure of a good marketing campaign.

Our love of beauty products is evidenced in the great success of the industry, worth about 460 billion dollars globally and expected to grow to about 675 billion dollars in two years time. But you’ll know by now that many of these products contain harmful toxins. In an interview with Twyg, Kayleigh van der Heever, who works for Esse said that they had found chemical residues – including plastics – on skin three days after nothing was applied to it. Cosmetics aren’t well regulated and for this reason we should take care of the product we put on our skin. A quick look at the labels on some popular products show that we use creams and lotions that contain chemicals including methyl paraben, propyl paraben, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium hydroxide, perfume (which could be anything), phenoxyethanol and so on. Not all chemicals are dangerous, but it certainly makes sense to reduce our intake of chemicals we’re warned against. The Environmental Working Group has a good cosmetics database, Skin Deep, for the latest research on products and ingredients.

So… that brings us to Twyg’s role. We will offer you a regular guide to ethical, clean and sustainable cosmetics. By featuring products we trust and which we have tried and tested we hope to promote better beauty care. We don’t expect brands to have achieved 100% sustainability, but we must believe that they are making efforts.

Please let us know what natural, clean beauty products you love. Here are the first three products we’re loving this month.

Eco Diva Natural 

This organic skincare brand, based in Cape Town, is the brainchild of Nicole Sherwin who personally understands the harmful effects of toxins (she once suffered mercury poisoning). She is the daughter of a naturapath and homeopath, and has always had an interest in nature and wellbeing. Nicole says the body’s largest, and very intelligent organ self-heals under the right conditions. Her products were created after consulting biochemists and have been through many trials and tests on humans. She tries, as far as she can, to use eco-friendly packaging: glass, and recycled and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene high-density (HDPE) plastic. She encourages Eco Diva bottles to be refilled at the refilling stations. All labels are printed on recycled paper using ink with a low chemical output, but the glue is not eco-friendly. “I do what I can with what is available in South Africa,” says Nicole. She says her primary interest is health, not beauty.

Product we love: Eco Diva Body Oil

This body oil is sublime. It contains 100% natural, organic ingredients. The fragrance is subtle and lingers for hours. What we love most about it is how easily and quickly it is absorbed by the skin. It feels luxurious and pleasingly non-greasy. The combination of oils (including avocado, sweet almond, marula, jojoba, grapefruit and bergamot oils) is formulated “to restore elasticity, boost hydration and feed skin with healing, nutrient-rich superfoods to maintain healthy pH balance and a youthful, glowing complexion” according to Nicole. It is unisex, organic, 100% natural, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, proudly South African.

Price: dependent on volume: R225.00 – R1,050.00

More information: www.ecodiva.co.za

Lola & Co Organics

Olwethu Yekwani caters for the growing market of conscience consumers who want natural, organic products that haven’t been tested on animals. Her range of handcrafted skincare products is made in small batches using organic ingredients such as oils, butters, spices, herbs and hydrosols to create skin food for all skin types. It’s unisex. For sourcing she uses Formula Botanica, which provides a list of eco-certified suppliers and a MSD (material safety data sheet). The MSD gives you the information you need to know about each ingredient such as how it was made, where it comes from, who made it, and how to store and use it. Olwethu formulates her own products. She uses ingredients that are kind to the environment and that won’t hurt animals or the air we breathe. She says, “We should focus on buying local and supporting small businesses which in return can help our communities grow.”

Product we love: Soap

This generously sized triangle of soap is good for both face and body. Main ingredients include mafura butter, coconut, moringa and olive oils and an assortment of essential oils. The soaps are available in lavender, rooibos and vanilla. The lavender soap we tried, has a medium hardness, which is nice and it feels smooth and waxy when dry. Even though it has a high oil content which is very apparent when it’s wet, the oil has been blended into the actual soap very well. The small lavender seeds make for a fantastic alternative to the traditional sugar or salt scrubs one often finds in organic soaps. The soap lathers easily, but doesn’t create a thick, foam. The scent, of Shea butter and pure oils, is very subtle. Wedge soaps can be awkward to use if you have smallish hands, and can torpedo out your hand if you grab it at the thin end. This bar is thick, heavy and fairly wide, so you feel like you’re getting your value for money, and once you manage to find a hold that works for you, you will have a good grip. The only downside is that it has the tendency to stick to whatever surface you put it down on if it’s wet. Keep that in mind if you have a very humid bathroom.

Price: R50.00.

Information: lolaandcoorganics.co.za

Esse Probiotic Skincare

Esse is cruelty-free, certified organic, vegan and is dedicated to the development of Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable natural products. It has won the Best Day Cream category in Sweden’s Organic Beauty Awards and was a runner up in UK’s ‘Free From’ Skincare Awards 2018. To encourage the growth of beneficial microbes on and in the skin, Esse includes live probiotic microbes in two of their serums. Other products, include probiotics which are kept whole, but are not necessary live. Esse’s natural ingredients are locally and organically grown. They use lots of glass packaging, and all their packaging is recyclable.

Product we love: cream cleanser

This caramel coloured cream cleanser is effective and gentle. It feels like a substantial product – it cleans well – while the jojoba oil keeps your skin from drying out and feeling squeeky. It removes make-up, and impurities in the skin, and washes off easily with a splash or two water – nice to use in the shower. Esse takes care to make products that don’t strip the skin of resident microbes and products that help the skin maintain a good PH balance . Active ingredients in this cleanser are marula oil, aloe vera, jojoba oil and palmarosa, caraway and rose geranium. Interestingly, in an email Esse said that their ECOCERT certification allows five synthetics – Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate. “We don’t include them all but do use Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid and Salicylic Acid at low percentages”.  Marketing and PR manager Dee Steyn says, “Of those, the Cream Cleanser has benzyl alcohol as a mild preservative.”

Price for 200ml: R429 (Faitful to Nature)

www.esseskincare.com

Image credits: Main pic Richard Jaimes/Unsplash and product images Bekah Vogel 

Correction: This article has been amended to update the list of chemicals, and the source of this list, in the section on Esse.