confession: I don’t like Éminence Organics

[UPDATED: added links and screenshots from company site, and a little comment thereon.]

I’m as keen as the next chap/ess to buy local and support local companies. Unfortunately, “local” here is Vancouver, home of Lululemon, so all too often that means vacuous yogabunny purity-obsessed overpriced rare exclusive stuff and nonsense. Good old-fashioned ripoff quackery for good old-fashioned credulous fools. Or, as a very old proverb puts it: A fool and his money are soon parted. You know, this sort of thing that bugs me mightily and sets me off on particularly lengthy rants.

Éminence being one prime example of which.

And it’s been far too long—goodness gracious me, entire whole days—since I had a decent rant about something.

In the form of a collage copy-pasted from MUA Green Board commentary, here are the reasons for my dislike:


beware if sensitive, and by that I mean having actual sensitive skin… and this goes for the products claiming to be targeted at sensitive skin too.

(Ignore rest of this if you have normal skin.)

Pros/cons, depending: standard old-fashioned formulations, like about a bazillion other middle-European companies.*

Pro/con, depending: much of their stuff smells gorgeous. Walk into the shop, you feel lovely just inhaling. Alas, not all is OK on the nose; and being OK to the nose doesn’t necessarily mean OK on the skin.

—overuse of essential oils inc. phototoxic / photosensitizing ones and common allergens, I mean who puts menthol and lemon juice in sensitive-skin products?
—sunscreens: broad-spectrum but part-chemical (ZnO + octinoxate), and this information (along with other proper ingredient lists) isn’t available on their website. Though Googling will bring you to NIH datasheets and scans of product labels.

Uninformed staff too keen on sales and cult-like belief in their products: before I had a chance to read the label, a SA slapped both sunscreens (the Persimmon & Cantaloupe one and the vanilla one) on me, stating they were “mineral and all-natural” (my warning bells should have been ringing with “all-natural”). And that the main decision between one and the other would be which smelled nicer to me.

Skin then had usual lovely reactions.

Embarrassment all round. Less for me, I’m used to skin reactions and can laugh them off (to some extent, so long as I don’t end up hospitalized).

NB / warning to others: contact dematitis–anything from mild itchiness to hives, redness, swelling, burning pain, and wanting to chop off the offending body part–is a pretty common reaction to octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) and other chemicals in the cinnamate group. “Common” that is amongst the sensitive-skinned irritable part of the population, who are admittedly a minority…

Major cons, but not directly related to the products: BS-radar-triggering marketeering baloney, purity rhetoric, outrageous prices (bearing no relation to the ingredients, minimal R&D budget, complexity of formulation).

* Historical footnote of possible interest: Éminence makes the kind of skincare made in central European spas in the 19th century. Many of its makers (Hungarian and other) fled to North America in the first half of the last century (re. Communist régime changes 1917 onwards + Third Reich and World War II).

So: kind of a living relic of the great 19th-century spa. Plus fin-de-siècle romantic nostalgic cachet, especially for Americans (whether or not they were brought up on Henry James & Edith Wharton; think also Thoman Mann, etc.). And exoticism. And snobbery, aristocracy-envy, etc.

But you’ll also get classic old-fashioned stuff from the likes of Weleda, and again, with similar heavier scents (though to their credit Weleda have more unscented or less-scented products). And for many of their products you could DIY them for less. (And then maybe spend the money you saved on James, Wharton, & Mann novels.)

MAY 2011

tried (in the name of fairness, rationalism, and science)

1. There are about a bazillion small companies making very similar stuff. Many of them are cheaper. Have a look on Etsy: lots more like this that are (or look on paper) at least as good, if not better.

2. None of their stuff is appropriate for sensitive skin. I tested out some of the least-inappropriate ones. Irritation.

3. When I contacted the company (they’re based here in Vancouver, and have a large spa-boutique in an area I’m in frequently, cos Whole Foods is there; I went in and spoke to humans) about their lack of provision for sensitive-skinned people, they said all their products were suitable for sensitive skin, because they were natural.

4. I also asked if their products had been tested on sensitive-skinned people and did not receive a reply to that question. Mind you, it was also clear that I’d asked a stupid person. Then again, that shows that Éminence employs stupid people. And expects them to convince intelligent people of stupid things.

Pros: if your skin is basically normal and tougher than mine–which should cover a lot of the population–worth a try. If you like the scents in their products, great. Cruelty-free. Super-duper-organic.

On the other hand: so are lots of companies. More and more, these days. We do live in happy days, when there is such a range of organic products and companies to choose from! And that includes other companies who’ve been doing the plant-based organic thing for a similar length of time, or longer:
Aubrey’s Organics (not quite as long…)

All the claims about awards: these are in-trade ones. It’s a bit like bottles of BBQ sauce having 5 gold award stickers on the front from World Sauce Fairs. Take it or leave it: it looks to me like very heavy-handed PR: “trust us cos our peers say we’re great.”


In response to

recs for favourite sunscreen, I need a good one […] prefer “Green”

and a suggestion of the aforementioned Persimmon & Cantaloupe one; I think I was fair and even-handed (I was BLAZING at the time, when this stuff was applied to me… temper, skin, the lot… ):

unsure how “green” or “good” this is, considering the 4.5% ZnO and 6% octinoxate??



Active Ingredients
Octinoxate 6%
Zinc Oxide 4.5%

Inactive Ingredients
Persimmon Juice, CAntaloupe Juice, Aloe Vera Juice, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Methyl Glucose sesquistearate, Coco Caprylate, Glyceryl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Jujube, Marat Root, Capylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Corn Germ Oil, Shea Butter, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sorbitol, Diglycerin, Lactic Acid, Lysine, Vitamin A, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Cyclodextrin, Tea Tree Oil, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Salicylate, Cantaloupe Essence.

Interestingly, the NIH was the only source for a full properly-written ingredient list I found online (admittedly rapid search), and the product label is reproduced at the end of that database-entry; that information is as provided and registered by Éminence Organics with the NIH. The company themselves do not include full INCI-compliant ingredient-lists on heir websites.

1. the ZnO+octinoxate combo is a classic one, for full-spectrum coverage; it’s the standard one in many Asian-market sunscreens (including many that are much cheaper and have more ZnO).
2. looks like no added scent or photosensitizing/phototoxic essential oils
3. antioxidants, which may help boost sun protection
4. nice base (though unsure how appropriate it’ll be for oily and/or acne-prone skin), plenty humectants and emollients/moisturizers

1. price + company ethics & marketeering (= an ethical issue when it comes to manipulating and abusing customers)
2. octinoxate: irritant on many (YMMV), may be a water-system contaminant (depending on local waste-water-treatment; one reason I only use ZnO-only s/s)
3. some potential cloggers: Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Methyl Glucose sesquistearate, Coco Caprylate, Glyceryl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Capylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Corn Germ Oil, Shea Butter, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein,


Save your money. Go spend it on books. And anything else that makes you a better person. Better-read, more cultured and civilized, more knowledgeable, wiser, more thoughtful and considered and considerate, smarter, saner. Better able to think, make decisions, and be a responsible adult member of civil society. A better person … and at least better able to say “no” to this sort of silliness.


  • Legal action against the company for organic-washing (2010-11) and for intellectual property infringement (claim against them by Jurlique, 2013)
  • Over the last 2-3 years, on the MUA Green Board, there’s been an iiiiiiinteresting correlation (I can honestly say no more than that) between rabid blind adoration of Éminence Organics and some combination of trolling and/or foolishness(~es, of various sorts):


Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 11.53.53 AMScreen Shot 2013-04-25 at 11.53.29 AM

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 11.53.00 AM


  • Éminence plays their customers like a violin, on the historical front
  • here are the products recommended for sensitive skin (Google / go to the NIH for actual proper full ingredient lists)
  • a fun read on why organic/biodynamic is best. Mini-rant:
    • organic farming for centuries = whole world for centuries, not just Hungary; and much of the world today
    • reason = technological development, not because people wanted to use it / deliberate and informed choice
    • old-fashioned also = shorter life-expectancy, harder-working life, death in pregnancy or childbirth, medical ignorance, poor healthcare, spending most of your life with no teeth
    • the usual hilarity about what you absorb through your skin and how your skin works
    • the usual foolish abuse of the word “chemical”
    • scary purity-talk. I do seriously hope this is not related to the fact that Hungary has a, shall we say, checkered past history and rather shady present on racism: especially towards Jews and Roma / gypsies.
  • a whole bloggish bit devoted to celebrity endorsement
    • = the contemporary ad auctoritatem and what a sad indictment that is of What Counts and deserves respect in this day and age
    • for a counter, see MORAL OF THE STORY above
  • And some cheery screenshots from the site:

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 12.55.52 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 12.56.02 PM

And, um, I kid ye not, this on allergies:

adding insult to injury: how fucking irresponsable, patronising, and cretinous can you be?


  1. Paula Coles

    Love the moral. Completely agree about eminence. Nice little gimmicky pots and names but found myself balking at the idea of using a lemon cleanser from a try me gift box, which struck me as pointlessly risky in terms of sensitivity. The other products were utterly disappointing.

    • gingerama

      Thanks, and sorry to hear about your similar issues. There should be bans (or at least strongly-worded protests) about companies abusing the word “sensitive” just to target people who think they’re sensitive souls. Crap, I wouldn’t wish sensitive skin on anyone. These fools have no idea. And as for company folly, and consumer-abuse… gah, I’ll stop there. I’ve ranted enough about that sort of thing already.
      On a positive note: *high five* in sensitive solidarity!!!

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