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How Green Was My Shampoo?

by Alexa BrazilianWall Street Journal
January 25th, 2013

FOR MANY, THE TERM "organic beauty" is associated with sad packaging, the scent of patchouli and, worst of all, products that simply don't work. But a number of new brands dedicated to organic ingredients are making highly effective and luxurious creams, scrubs, perfumes and more.

"Products now have to deliver on many levels: efficacy, texture, packaging and be organic," said Anna-Marie Solowij, a former beauty director at British Vogue and co-founder of the blog Beauty Mart, which will launch an online store next month. "We're including organic products because of demand, but also because they're good—the fact that they're organic is a bonus." Ms. Solowij is part of a growing group of retailers and consumers who believe that organic skin care will soon be the rule, not the exception.

Parsing organic labels, however, is not simple. There is no federal regulation in the U.S. enforcing how the "O-word" can be used by beauty brands. "There's still a lot of consumer confusion," said Joe Dickson, the global quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market. Mr. Dickson recommends looking for third-party certification on products making organic claims, specifically stamps from the USDA or the NSF/ANSI 305 (a certification for personal-care products which contain organic ingredients).

We scrubbed, rubbed and dabbed our way through a selection of these new lines to uncover our six favorite finds. Most are 70% certified organic, and many do double- and even quadruple-duty. Another bonus: They all smell delicious. There's never been a better time to go au naturel.

1. Estelle & Thild Rose Otto Advanced Age Prevent Facial Oil and Serum $72 and $73, One of the Scandinavian brand's most popular products, the face oil is made from the concentrated juices of rose petals (at least 30 per drop), helps repair broken capillaries and is ideal for use during the winter months. The serum is wonderful layered underneath the oil or alone in the summer.

2. RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream $18, This raw oil, sourced from Thailand, has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. Officially a makeup remover, it can easily tackle waterproof mascara and heavy foundations. But it's also an exceptional body moisturizer, hair conditioner and even a deodorant (brand founder, Rose-Marie Swift, swears it works).

3. Ila Body Scrub for Energizing and Detoxifying $71, In addition to being a satisfying exfoliator, Ila's scrub simultaneously cleans and moisturizes the skin, so no soap is required in the shower and no cream is needed afterward. The mixture includes argan oil, juniper berry and Himalayan salt. Brand founder Denise Leicester recommends applying the product to dry skin and then soaking in a hot bath.

4. Odacité Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser $40, Each Odacité product is marked with the date it was made and the date it expires. This cleanser has detoxifying tamanu oil from Madagascar and comes with a facial sponge made of plant-derived cellulose.

5. Lurk Perfume Oil RSW 005, PRJ V1 and AS 01, $50 each, Lurk offers five subtle scents that contain no fixatives or preservatives. We love the PRJ V1's quiet blend of jasmine, rose and petitgrain (an essential oil extracted from bitter orange plants).

6. Tela Beauty Organics By Philip Pelusi Balance Shampoo and Conditioner $28 each, Finding organic hair care that works is tough. This shampoo and conditioner leave hair shiny with no residue. Both use reishi mushroom to strengthen hair and sea buckthorn berry to protect against pollutants. And the shampoo isn't drying, so you can use it daily.