NAT­U­RALLY NICE

The jury is out on whether nat­u­ral prod­ucts are any bet­ter, says Sarah Caden, but it feels good to be vir­tu­ous

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - THE PANEL -

If it feels good to take care of your­self, it feels bet­ter when the prod­ucts lit­er­ally feel nice, and that’s only ramped up fur­ther when we in­dulge in nat­u­ral prod­ucts. Luxury is one thing, but vir­tu­os­ity is even bet­ter. It’s like mak­ing that ex­tra ef­fort to take care of your­self, even if nat­u­ral prod­ucts don’t nec­es­sar­ily work any bet­ter than their chem­i­cal-laden coun­ter­parts. But sim­ply ac­cess­ing one’s in­ner Gwyneth can feel fan­tas­tic.

Fully nat­u­ral and or­ganic prod­ucts are rather rare. Most nat­u­ral prod­ucts are partly nat­u­ral, and if that makes you happy, that’s fine, so long as you’re not be­ing fooled. The most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents that ex­perts say we should avoid are parabens and sul­phates. There are con­cerns about overuse of parabens and how they might be stored in the body and al­ter oe­stro­gen lev­els, in par­tic­u­lar. Sul­phates, then, are foam­ing agents that some con­sider a health haz­ard, par­tic­u­larly with overuse. These are the two ma­jor bo­gey­men these days, and while the jury is out on whether they are ac­tu­ally dan­ger­ous, maybe overuse of them, and flush­ing them into the en­vi­ron­ment, is no good thing. And with the prod­ucts listed, you can dodge these and other so-called nas­ties.

BEST OVER­ALL L’Oreal El­vive Low Sham­poo, €6.29, avail­able na­tion­wide

Most of us would agree that we over­pro­cess our hair these days, with a lot of us wash­ing it daily in the shower, not to men­tion load­ing it with styling prod­ucts. L’Oreal’s new Low Sham­poo range con­tains no sul­phates, which means there is no foam. None. And, yes, this is dis­con­cert­ing ini­tially, but used ac­cord­ing to the in­struc­tions, hair is both cleaned and con­di­tioned and no­tice­ably soft and shiny. “If you get over your ob­ses­sion with suds, this is a charm, said a pan­el­list. “Used twice or three times a week, I think my hair is less frizzy and more shiny.”

BEST DEEP TREAT Al­fa­parf Pre­cious Na­ture Dou­ble Cream with Fig and Wal­nut, €14.95, se­lected sa­lons na­tion­wide, tel: (045) 856-490, or see xpert­pro.ie

This line of hair prod­ucts is aimed at “Hair with Bad Habits”, which means all that heat and prod­uct ex­po­sure and too much wash­ing. The range is soap-free and low-foam, with in­gre­di­ents more com­monly used in Ital­ian cook­ing, in this case, figs and wal­nuts. This thick cream can be used as a leavein prod­uct for very dry hair, or as a weekly treat­ment for ev­ery­one else. “It smells like a creamy dessert,” said one pan­el­list. “and was a great mois­ture boost.”

BEST NAT­U­RAL NAILS In­glot O2M Breath­able Nail Enamel in 536, €15, In­glot shops na­tion­wide, see in­glot.ie

We’ve all been told to give our nails a break be­tween man­i­cures, par­tic­u­larly the long-wear va­ri­ety. In­glot was the first to of­fer breath­able nail polish as a no-dam­age man­i­cure. The idea is that the nail and nail bed are not be­ing suf­fo­cated and dried out by var­nish, though there is a counter-ar­gu­ment that a por­ous polish can re­sult in trapped mois­ture and in­fec­tion. “This is a fab­u­lously glossy red,” said one pan­el­list. “And I like the idea of nails that are not her­met­i­cally sealed. I think my nails seemed less brit­tle on re­moval.”

BEST PER­FECT PINS Mustela Light Legs Gel, €17.10, se­lected phar­ma­cies na­tion­wide

Newly ar­rived in Ir­ish phar­ma­cies, this is a brand that skin­care-savvy moth­ers have been haul­ing home from con­ti­nen­tal hol­i­days for years. It’s not just gen­tle, it’s ef­fec­tive on sen­si­tive skin and spe­cific skin con­di­tions, and the small ma­ter­nity range is very im­pres­sive. This is a won­der­fully cool­ing and skin-im­prov­ing gel for “heavy” or tired legs, with no parabens or al­co­hol. “Great re­lief after a long day or high heels,” one pan­el­list said. “A plea­sure to use.”

BEST LESS LATHER Surya Brasil Sapien Women Shave Gel, €17.99, health stores na­tion­wide, or see your­tonic.com

Sum­mer is a while away yet, but book­mark this as a great ad­di­tion to the hol­i­day toi­let bag. It’s a re­ally gen­tle shave gel that also works well as a wash, and a lot of what we now know as “nas­ties” are omit­ted. In this case, these in­clude sul­phates, ar­ti­fi­cial fra­grance, al­co­hol and min­eral oil, among oth­ers. It’s also suit­able for all over your body, and is en­riched by a num­ber of Ama­zo­nian oils. “Smells de­li­cious, with a glid­ing tex­ture for shav­ing, and a skin­soft­en­ing ef­fect,” a pan­el­list said.

Pic­tured, from left, L’Oreal El­vive Low Sham­poo; Al­fa­parf Pre­cious Na­ture Dou­ble Cream with Fig and Wal­nut; In­glot O2M Breath­able Nail Enamel in 536; Mustela Light Legs Gel; Surya Brasil Sapien Women Shave Gel

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