Beauty bi­ble

On a mis­sion to find half-de­cent or­ganic make-up

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Lisa Arm­strong

The search for great or­gan­ics

OR­GANIC MAKE-UP. Such a cud­dly sound­ing topic. So full of thorns. Not sure if I’d have waded in if I’d known from the start. Elit­ist rub­bish is one view. We need parabens and cer­tain other chem­i­cals to stop our cos­met­ics get­ting manky and giv­ing us in­fec­tions.

The ri­poste: ‘why over­load the skin with yet more chem­i­cals? There are nat­u­ral preser­va­tives in cer­tain plants. We don’t need a cocktail from the lab to pro­tect us.’

I’m para­phras­ing. Both sides of the de­bate tend to get heated and both have un­earthed ev­i­dence to back them up. Parabens and ph­tha­lates have been linked with en­docrine dis­tur­bances and can­cers, ac­cord­ing to the an­ti­chem­i­cals lobby. Dis­cred­ited stud­ies, say the pro-chem­i­cal lot.

And so it goes on. The prob­lem is that while there are clear guide­lines as to what con­sti­tutes or­ganic food – few or no pes­ti­cides – things aren’t as clear-cut in the beauty in­dus­try. The word ‘nat­u­ral’ gets bandied around as a catch-all cover, but it’s al­most mean­ing­less on its own be­cause nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents are of­ten chem­i­cally mod­i­fied to make them work in a de­sired way. Also, there are plenty of nat­u­ral poi­sons.

There’s an­other is­sue – and I bring this to the ta­ble with a heavy heart. Quite a few or­ganic make-up prod­ucts aren’t as good as the con­ven­tional ones… yet. But they are im­prov­ing all the time.

I’ve spent months try­ing out or­ganic eye­shad­ows, mas­caras, lip­sticks and so on, not be­cause there are so many to get through, but be­cause it takes time to find ones that I’d hap­pily swap my more con­ven­tional make-up for.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, I’d come across one that brought ac­tual joy into my makeup rou­tine (The Or­ganic Phar­macy’s coffret), only to learn that it was about to be dis­con­tin­ued. Oh well. Its eye­liner and shim­mery blush (still go­ing: £19 each at the­o­r­gan­icphar­macy.com), are ex­cel­lent.

If you like intense pig­ment and some glam­orous pack­ag­ing, then Kjaer Weis cream eye­shad­ows (£32, net-a-porter. com) are for you. They take a bit of blend­ing, but pa­tience is re­warded with sub­tle, deep colour.

My eye favourites, though, are Dr Hauschka eye­shad­ows. Not as soft or as shim­mery and but­tery as Nars – the gold stan­dard in eye make-up – but a more than de­cent stand-in. There are three pal­ettes, con­tain­ing four colours and three dif­fer­ent tex­tures, in­clud­ing iri­des­cents (£27, drhauschka.com). Easy to use, with min­eral pig­ments and medic­i­nal plant ex­tracts such as tea and silk to nour­ish the frag­ile area around the eyes, they are also free from syn­thetic fra­grances, preser­va­tives, min­eral oils, sil­i­cone and are not tested on an­i­mals.

Mas­caras, mean­while, are trick­ier. Most of the or­ganic ones aren’t bad, but not as good as Eyeko’s up­mar­ket range and they prob­a­bly won’t give you the same vol­ume (thank you, fi­bre) as May­belline. We must wait.

Lip­stick is where it seems most sen­si­ble to go or­ganic if you can, given how much of the stuff you in­gest. Ve­gan brand Ax­i­ol­ogy has nice tex­tures and some really bold shades (£25, na­tur­isimo.com). I also like Or­ganic Phar­macy’s lip balm glosses (£25, the­o­r­gan­icphar­macy.com); hydrating and with lovely colours – but not much longevity.

The hard­est quest has been find­ing a liquid foun­da­tion or tinted mois­turiser that I could love. A lot sim­ply do not cut it. Al­though Dr Hauschka Il­lu­mi­nat­ing Fluid (£25, drhauschka.com) isn’t tinted and doesn’t pro­vide much in the way of cover, it is flaw­less when it comes to tex­ture and im­part­ing a (sub­tle) gleam.

Five stars from me – and I’ve got rid of all my other bases. And I can’t speak more highly than that.

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