some more MUAing

as a Public Service Announcement of sorts. There is a lot of this sort of thing (which has been anonymised):

fluffy kitten

Hi Everyone, I am new to this board.
I need recommendations on “going green” with my skincare routine and makeup.
Right now my skin is super sensitive and irritated, and I have red bums which may have been cause by allergies to something unknown.
I have been looking for skin care products that don’t have harsh, dangerous chemicals in them , but have found nothing! I am looking for either:
– a moisturizer with sunscreen, and a primer
– a moisturizer, and a sunscreen that can be used as a primer
– a bb cream

Any suggestions? I checked many, many products on the EWG site and they ALL had some dangerous chemical in them.

[*deep breath*]

1. moisturiser with sunscreen: none. Recommend getting two products, one to do each job. Like with shampoo and conditioner.
2. primer: Alima or Silk Naturals (various) if oilier?
3. primer with sunscreen: Becca
4. sunscreen that can be used as primer: depends on what makeup you’re using on top. Here, ones with a silicone base (not “dangerous”, BTW) remain your best bet.
5. moisturiser: oils, or bland cheap creams, but this will depend on your skin (about which you’ve said nothing)
6. BB cream: none. See for a good up-to-date source for recommendations.

On the “dangerous chemicals” business: educate yourself, and be sceptical. The EWG is not an impartial unbiased resource, nor are they always entirely accurate or trustworthy. Sure, they’re a start; and often a jolly decent one; but that’s all, they’re not the be-all-and-end-all.

For other places to look, see notepad, especially the “quick links” section at the beginning. It also has short-cuts to a couple of saved posts on here with lists of stuff, like brands and so on, might be helpful:

On “that don’t have harsh, dangerous chemicals in them”: again, respectfully suggest that you educate yourself: chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, environmental studies, plus what works and doesn’t work on your own skin. When I was a kid, we had to do this with school, libraries, and encyclopaedias. Now we have the glorious internet. Open to all.* Wikipedia, WebMD (for actual science journal articles), and good old Google. Praise the postmodern lords! And geeking out is good and fun!

Otherwise, good luck and happy hunting 🙂

* Anyone can learn, at any time. Never too late to start, even with science-y things. Never fear science, or any other knowledge: the only enemy is ignorance, and the fear/ignorance/hate vicious cycle. Which we see all too often with “natural vs. unnatural/chemical/scientific” bunkum.

Family anecdote: My grandad, who left school at 14 but then educated himself to at least BA level in a bunch of stuff thanks to public libraries, lived just long enough to meet the internet age. Which he embraced: learned to email when 85, within the next 5 years he was online, learning new stuff, making his own contributions c/o chat rooms and Wikipedia edits, done courses and then teaching other old people, been through more than one computer of his own (cos of course he had to take them apart as well…).

fluffy kitten

Thank you for the amazing reply and recommendations. This natural/chemical skin care talk is so confusing, because there is mixed information about it. I do research every single ingredient before I buy a product, and there is SO much mixed info on it! Some sources say that they are safe, (such as parabens, sulfates, and Cyclopentasiloxane), and other sources say that they cause health issues. I never know who/what to believe, but figured it would be better to be on the safe side. On the one hand, they must not be all that dangerous if they are allowed to go on cosmetics, but on the other hand, we know that the cosmetics industry is not that well regulated and research has shown that there are indeed harmful ingredients in them. I just want to be on the safe side, and my skin is SO sensitive/irritated right now, that I figured it would be good to use natural products.

mr mackey rules mkay

YVW; but please be aware, it’s not a matter of belief, and natural isn’t necessarily better

1. Natural/unnatural (just a few…)

2. Belief (ditto…)

fluffy kitten

Here’s that whole lot in full… for readerly delectation, derision, or bemusement (for we are all, in these great real and virtual worlds, mere confused fluffy kittens); and also for my own future reference, next time this sort of thing crops up, which it will, and probably soon. First set for the “natural vs unnatural” end, plus the first of the second set, which deals with that topic too. The others will be coming up tomorrow…

1.i) “anyone out there stick to natural products? what are the best lines?” 

→ o/ but not lines, & YMMV exactly like with “unnatural”products++

in that, just like with them, you’ll need to

1. do your research: including of course MUA: look in product reviews for people who’ve used and liked the same things you have, see what else they use; same thing with posters and the products they talk about on the Green Board (and indeed here). Ah, the search for your dream perfect skin-twin…

2. know your ingredients, and research any unfamiliar ones (Google is your friend)

3. for new unknown ones, patch-test

4. read ingredient lists carefully

5. go for your known “happy/good” ingredients (that your skin likes)

6. avoid the ones with which your skin breaks out, is irritated, goes zitty, etc.

7. read labels and avoid marketing, BS, cults, pseudoscience, nonsense, and other more or less fantastical fictions.

8. test test test: for initial reactions, for clogging over a few days, for interactions with other products, and do that for a good 6 weeks to see how a new product works with usual monthly hormonal fluctuations.

Some recs on my notepad; sorry, while there are some brands/ranges/lines I use or have used quite a lot, there is no line I’ve ever used where I’d say “yes this whole line is amazeballs.”

So maybe also add

9. be sceptical, trust no-one (including anyone on MUA)

10. be wary of anyone who tells you a whole line is great. If they do, have a look at their posting and reviewing history, chances are it’s someone who follows fashions and fads, falls in love fast, breaks out and changes their mind within a month, has matchy-matchy syndrome, has the attention-span of a gnat and doesn’t test stuff properly, and/or has skin like a rhino (which I envy!!!). Or some combination of these things.

1.ii) “do you think there’s any benefit to using ‘natural’ products […] vs the regular mainstream high and low end products?

(kai1) “To the earth & animals- yes. To the skin- no.” 

→ 4th: sometimes (caveats in ROP), & no benefit to skin of “natural” vs. not++

either the stuff works, or it doesn’t. That’s down to chemistry and biochemistry. And your own skin.

Your skin (and everything else under the surface) doesn’t know or care about natural vs. unnatural: ex. if it encounters an ingredient, or two very similar ingredients, that can be made from plant-based sources (or animal-based, or from minerals) or synthesized from other materials (ex. petroleum derivatives) – there is no functional essential chemical difference.

Example: my skin is irritated by many things. Some are plant-based and as natural as you get (extreme case: poison ivy); some are “unnatural.” Same goes for scents. My skin also responds well to some ingredients (and whole products) that are natural, and some that are not. It’s nothing to do with their naturalness/not.

I’m neither going to stop using or trying out “natural” stuff because I’m irritated by some, or unnatural for the same reason. That would be foolish. Equally, I’m not going to *only* use the one or the other because some items from that category work: that would be just as foolish.

There’s also other “green” issues at stake: sometimes a completely man-made product can be a better ethical choice, in terms of ingredient sourcing, manufacturing process, energy consumption, human and animal rights, and honest advertising.

There’s a heck of a lot of greenwashing around (by both “greener” more indie companies and mainstream “greening-up” ones). Palm and soybean oil and their derivatives being a classic example: seldom sustainably-sourced, but often used to “green up” a product.

1.iii) “Natural/organic vs. Medicated treatments? I feel that my skin just doesn’t do well with products that are natural or organic. I really want to adopt the “less is more” policy with my skincare, but my skin just reacts better to Proactiv that it ever did with Origins or simple cleanser from the drugstore. Anyone else have the same experience?

→ disagree: depends on the stuff++

I’ve used, and continue to use, both. Depending on what for and what’s in them.

There’s natural stuff I can’t use. There’s unnatural stuff I can’t use. What determines what I can use and what I can’t is the ingredients (and/or formula as a whole), because of specific chemicals and their biochemical pathways, not to do with what the source of that chemical compound was (by “chemical” I mean the scientific sense, molecules, H2O and that sort of thing, i.e. everything; not the green-fearmongering anti-scientific abuse of the term).

Some medicines are from natural sources, if “natural” = “plant-derived” (BHA & aspirin for example). So you can have a natural medicated treatment, with the plants involved grown according to the rules of organic agriculture (using “organic” in that sense, not the chemical one).

Some simple things are natural/organic. Water would be a classic example, or oatmeal (organically-grown or otherwise: a godsend for some eczematics, such as me; not all, mind you!).

Depends on what works on your skin, with its specific requirements and tolerances and so on. Alas: everything would be so much easier if there were cimple cut-and-dried answers…

1.iv) (discussion started by someone whose skin had improved by stopping using products containing natural extracts, and was therefore Spreading The Good Word)

→  to be biochemically fair: naturalness/not of trigger irrelevant to whether or not a reaction happens (saying this as a sensitive reactive fragile-skinned person…)

Ex. I can use many plant-based things and many non-plant ones, not have a reaction, skin happy: mineral oil, petrolatum, some plant oils & waxes (especially if refined)

I can’t use a lot of plant extracts (ex. anything from the ragweed family, most essential oils, high-oleic oils), and also can’t use many non-plant (“unnatural,” artificial, man-made, synthesized, etc.) ones either: AHA, most chemical sunscreens.

Octinoxate’s a good example: my skin doesn’t give a damn what its source-material is (plant-sourced cinnamates turn up too), skin’s reacting to the chemically-same molecule…

So: a question of figuring out one’s own individual triggers, and reading all labels for all ingredients.

J: true, but “natural” can be a disaster for many prone to eczema, PMSD (that I can vouch for) and so on. Essential oils and extracts gave me some of the worst SD outbreaks ever.

G: *some* natural: that does not mean *all* natural (and I have eczema). Tarring all “natural” stuff with the same brush is the exact same fallacy–from the particular to the general–that the extreme granola green anti-science brigade deploy for knocking *all* “chemicals” and “toxins” and evidence-based science. It’s the same flaw, and equally wrong (in reasoning terms–ethics is a whole other can of worms) no matter which side uses it.

What I’d agree with, though, is that there’s less regulation of “greener” skincare finished products and their manufacturers’ claims, and there’s a lower probability (given the frequent anti-science, pro-kitchen-sink, small indie mentality) that stuff will actually have been tested out on sensitive-skinned (and indeed eczematic) people, and be remotely suitable for them.

I use skin stuff from both sides, and individual ingredients, irrespective of source: all I’m interested in (on the skincare front, putting other ethical considerations to one side) is that the stuff works on my skin.

Ex. mineral oil, but also sunflower, sweet almond, borage, argan, neem oils…

J: hence the “for some of us”

G: sure thing! looks like we’re agreed on the main important stuff, & of course MO 🙂
oooh, and let’s not forget poor old rocks in the “natural” camp, and minerals ex. ZnO

1.v) “Hi! Visiting from F[amily] B[oard]: Do you know of any blogs focused on natural/organic beauty & skincare . I’m trying to update my beauty arsenal with products that are effective but also where I recognize more of the ingredients. TIA!!”

→ there’s plenty less-/non-natural ing & products that are recognizable & simple (ex. mineral oil) [and]basically,  there’s plenty “unnatural” skincare that’s simpler, just as there’s also unnatural that’s more complicated

and natural that’s simpler
and natural that’s more complicated
and fragrant excesses and irritant abuses by some (and not all) on both sides of the fence…
… plus a quite substantial grey area in between: companies that are slightly but not completely natural. With greenwashing a sad problem for both sides of the divide…

My apologies on behalf of the state of the skincare universe 🙂

Best bet is to start doing your own research, educate yourself, don’t let yourself avoid anything just because it looks complicated or you don’t understand it: use that as a reason to go and find out. Knowledge is power, empower yourself, learning’s for life and a lifelong process, never too young or old to start, and all that! There’s plenty info around, open to all, and for free–public libraries, plus of course online–from absolute beginners’ chemistry upwards. Happy hunting!

2.i) “Best all-natural skincare?

→ I can’t and wouldn’t recommend a single line for everything, same as for “unnatural” stuff++


It’ll depend on what you’re looking for, and depend on your skin. Watch out for essential oils and any of your own known irritants, cloggers, etc; and test test test, for a good length of time (6 weeks, and properly). Like with any skincare.

YMMV: if you’re sensitive and are irritated by or break out from products, I’m assuming that by now, you’re in the habit of
1. reading ingredient-lists on everything,
2. keeping lists & diary of your own personal individual known irritants,
3. and avoiding them.

And I’m assuming you know that
1. no single brand can be “completely trusted” and suchlike,
2. you need to go product by product,
3. there’s no such thing as one single magic miracle product (let alone a whole brand) that suits every individual skin–not even water or mineral oil–because individual skins vary.
4. there’s no necessary connection between price and quality & suitability for *your* skin*

Caveats over…


1. In general:
Garden of Wisdom
Mountain Rose Herbs (a lot of my stuff is single oils or DIY from them & GoW)
Silk Naturals
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods own-brands have some good stuff
food! oils, fruit pulp, juices, oats, yoghurt, teas as toners, etc. Also eating it.

2. Some oldies but goodies, at Whole Foods and other health-food shops:
Badger (the unscented balm)
Dr. Hauschka stuff (not by any means all + YMMV for scents)
Derma E (the pycnogenol stuff, but + YMMV for scents
Earth Science (+ YMMV for scents)
Lavera (the Neutral unscented lines and Basis but + YMMV for scents)
NOW foods
Weleda (but apart from the Calendula Ointment, + YMMV for scents)

3. Some green board posts for lists of (IMHO) OK-er/-ish “all natural / organic” skin care:

“greener” skincare for more sensitive skins:

list of “green” skincare that’s not stuffed with (and, in many cases, actually manages to be free of) essential oils:

my main “green-ish” (but more-or-less, YMMV-as-ever, skin-tolerable) skincare list:

affordable “natural” skincare:

(probably less useful) my “organic” (for whatever that’s worth to whomever) list:

* No need to buy expensive stuff, there’s at least as much BS around in “natural” as in “unnatural” skincare. Maybe more: the sales & marketing assumption seems to be that “greener” customers are less savvy and smart, worse-educated, scientifically illiterate, believe everything they read, can’t read very well anyway, and are very open to manipulation, fear-mongering, blind belief in cults, and… well, basically, more BS-able.


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