Fashion Shoes BootsBeautiful Makeup

Market for organic skin and hair care products expands

By Jennifer Fong, Edmonton Journal

A staff member demonstrates Kiehl’s Marvelous Mineral Mascara at the new Kiehl’s store at Southgate Centre. the store, which opens Wednesday, is the new York-based chain’s first in alberta.

“Natural” and “organic” have been marketplace buzzwords for a while now, used to tout everything from tortellini to Tide.

Now the buzz has zipped into the beauty industry, where cosmetics made with organic fruit extracts and sourced-from-the-earth minerals are all the rage.

“I think the customers really appreciate it,” says Kristin Armstrong, vice-president and general manager of Kiehl’s, well-known for its brand of natural skin and hair-care products, especially popular among celebrities. The New York-based chain opens its first store in Alberta Wednesday at Southgate Centre.

“I think it makes (customers) feel safe using products that can be used on sensitive skin, that’s been tested on sensitive skin. I think it’s reassuring that the products come from nature,” Armstrong says.

While some retailers, such as Kiehl’s, have long emphasized natural ingredients in their products, mainstream cosmetic manufacturers are only now really picking up on the selling point.

“Products like this have always been around, if you wanted to look for them,” says Annie Do, buyer and manager at Lux Beauty Boutique. “In the last few years, they have proliferated and it’s more readily available.”

Lux carries a number of natural skin-care lines, including botanical-enzyme-rich Astara natural skin care, and Coola sunscreens, made with certified organic ingredients. Do says Lux has sold Astara products since her store opened 10 years ago, while Coola is a bestseller, picked clean off shelves every two to three weeks by enthusiastic customers.

At the new Kiehl’s Southgate location, designed to look like a New York storefront, the walls are lined with creams, cleansers, and conditioners with ambitious names and exotic ingredients. Kiehl’s Rare Earth pore minimizing collection is made from fair-trade, mineral-rich Amazonian White Clay, while a soon-to-be-in-stores damage-repairing skin care collection contains “super-antioxidant” organic acai berry, said to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and even skin tone.

Kiehl’s makeup selection also emphasizes natural ingredients, with lip glosses that contain apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, and rose extract, and a Marvelous Mineral Mascara that gets its colour from iron oxides, mica and bismuth oxy-a chloride.

Natural cosmetics, especially those made from minerals, are great for skin, says Dr. J. Y. Liao of the Dermatology and Hair Transplant Centre on Jasper Avenue.

“The mineral makeup is the best of all makeup,” says the dermatologist, who also teaches at the University of Alberta’s division of dermatology.

Ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and mica, she says, reflect light, and act as a natural sunblock from harmful UV rays. On top of that, Liao says, mineral makeup washes off easily and doesn’t clog pores.

“It helps the skin look translucent; it illuminates it,” she says. Minerals also thwart bacteria, Liao says, so this type of makeup is often preservative-free, too.

Organic cosmetics derived from plants has its benefits too, she continues, but consumers should be wary of allergic reactions that can develop at any time.

Licorice root extract, for example, found in Ole Henriksen’s Sheer Transformation creme, has antiinflammatory properties; while grapeseed oil is a common ingredient known to rejuvenate skin, Liao says.

While Kiehl’s has had its own section in Holt Renfrew for some time, consumer demand pushed the chain to establish its own boutique–a sign, perhaps, that going natural is here to stay. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” says Armstrong.

“It’s a healthy approach for us, for our customers, for the environment and that’s very important to us.”