Illustration by the Star's Angela Pittenger, who turned to nature for her inspiration. She used real beet juice to tint the lips and cheeks. Lemon peels and a hibiscus flower adorn the hair. Angela Pittenger/Arizona Daily Star

The latest buzz in the "green" movement is just how much ugly stuff is in some beauty products - carcinogens, pesticides, plasticizers and more. And, dudes, this affects you too, because even shampoos, soaps and shaving creams can contain suspect ingredients. Ugly indeed. But you have options - some made right here in Tucson.



More places to shop


Look for clean beauty and bath items in stores with an organic, natural bent (such as Sunflower Market).

Safe products are popping up in mainstream stores such as Target and CVS. Make sure to check labels carefully. For example, products might be touted as "Sulfate-free!" only to contain another questionable ingredient instead.


• 100 Percent Pure ( - This website specializes in fruit-pigmented cosmetics and natural personal products. Think something with pomegranate and strawberry on the label can't be long-lasting? Think again. The makeup stays put and smells good enough to eat.

• Spirit Beauty Lounge ( - Extremely thorough, it's like an all-natural Sephora. Spirit has everything from fragrance to hair products, and it even has eco-friendly makeup bags to put it all in. The site also sells samples.

• W3ll People ( - Don't let the "3" throw you - this is actually "Well" People. The Austin, Texas-based cosmetics line - founded by a makeup artist, environmentalist and dermatologist - offers eco-friendly beauty products with effective, natural ingredients. Products have amusing names, like Narcissist stick foundation.

• RMS beauty ( - Gisele loves this highly regarded line of organic cosmetics from New York-based makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift. Several fashion magazines have touted the Living Luminizer as a must-own product.


Natural multi-taskers

• Jojoba. "It's the best oil we can use," natural-salon owner Jordana Silvestri said. Indigenous to these parts, it's incredibly moisturizing and full of vitamin E, said Silvestri, who mixes it with rosemary for scalp treatments. Add it to lotion for an extra moisturizing boost, or rub it right onto parched cuticles.

• Coconut oil. The authors of "No More Dirty Looks" recommend using raw, cold-pressed coconut oil (which is actually a solid unless it gets above 75 degrees; then you've got a liquid) as a cleanser and makeup remover. It's also anti-bacterial and works wonders on heat rash.

• Aloe vera. If you grew up in Tucson, you already know this is the miracle cure for sunburns. The "No More Dirty Looks" authors proclaim it a "hair-care godsend" and recommend using it for styling.

Sia Botanics' Christina Mahar proclaims it "the be-all end-all that you could use for anything. The main thing is it needs to be organic aloe vera juice."

Aloe works on burns because it speeds the cellular process - the same reason it's a potent skin-care ingredient. "It repairs acne damage," Mahar said. "It has anti-bacterial qualities. It's hydrating to the skin."


Dr. Weil weighs in

Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center and an internationally recognized expert on leading a healthy lifestyle, offered the following e-mailed statement for this story:

"I am very concerned about preservatives and coloring agents such as parabens and para-phenylenediamine (PPD) found in some cosmetics and hair dyes. When you apply these products to your face and head, the chemicals they contain are easily absorbed into the rich blood supply in the face and scalp and carried throughout the body. Some of them have the potential to do harm.

"Concerned consumers can log onto the website of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group,, to review their cosmetics database and Shopper's Guide to Safe Cosmetics. Another good resource is the website of The Green Guide Institute at, which contains a list of safe beauty products, as well as the Dirty Dozen Chemicals in cosmetics.

"Keep in mind that beauty reflects good health, and both depend in many ways on how you treat your body. For healthy skin and hair, follow an anti-inflammatory diet ( and stay well-hydrated to support optimal skin blood flow; exercise regularly, both for fitness and to manage stress, and be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. In addition, avoid excessive sun exposure, and don't smoke."


Resources - The database offers ingredient lists and information on products and companies. - Scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki's foundation revealed its own list of "Dirty Dozen" ingredients. His website offers a wallet-sized shopper's guide listing the major offenders. - The blog is maintained by "No More Dirty Looks" authors and picks up where the book ends, updating on the latest research, product reviews and general health topics.



What better way to know what's in your products than by whipping them up yourself? Jordana Silvestri, who owns a salon that uses natural products, says, "You can make just about anything you can buy." Her suggestions:

• Use table salt as a skin exfoliant. Mix about a teaspoon of salt with a bit of water. The key is to be gentle and use your ring and middle fingers to make small circles all over your face. "It'll take off the dead skin without harming it," she said.

• Mix a tablespoon each of lemon juice and fresh cream or yogurt together for cleanser. "It leaves a nice acid mantle on skin," Silvestri said. "It actually bleaches skin if there's any discoloration."


Did you know

According to the website of David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and environmentalist, "U.S. researchers identified 10,500 industrial chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients." This would be toxins including carcinogens, pesticides, and degreasers, exactly like they sound - they keep grime off auto parts.