If you want to scare yourself – I mean genuinely chill yourself to the bone – go to the Cosmetics Database and look up your favorite products. It tells you all the ways that those unpronounceable chemicals in your makeup and shampoo are polluting your body. The first time I did it, I saw that my mascara was affecting my hormones and upping my risk of cancer. It was a terrifying wake-up call and opened my eyes to a harsh fact: what we put on our bodies affects what happens in them.
For Carolyn Balint, the search for clean beauty didn’t come from the luxury of choice - it came from necessity. Her skin reacted badly to even the most gentle sensitive-skin products, and her family had similar concerns, dealing with eczema, allergies, and chronic illness. When the products available in stores were no longer options, she started studying herbalism and formulating her own completely natural skincare at home: a balm to treat eczema breakouts and chapped skin, soap and face wash, moisturizing oil for the face. When her friends in Narragansett started asking her to make products for them, a lightbulb went off. She launched Herbalicious Skincare this spring on Etsy, and it’s just now making its way onto local shelves, like at Simply Natural at Narragansett Pier.
When the giant box of Herbalicious Skincare appeared at my front door, I was like a kid in a candy store, presuming the kid is in her mid-30s and the candy store is designed for beauty junkies. Everything, from the glass jars to the raw cotton bag that holds the face mask, is completely natural. First to catch my eye was the soap, made with coconut and olive oils and uses poppy seeds as a natural exfoliant. Next was the jar of dried flowers that you add to a hot bowl of water to steam your pores. Over the next few weeks, I used only Herbalicious’ products, to see if I could perceive a difference in an all-natural regimen.
The next morning, I started with Rosemary Cleanser, a light and herbaceous face wash, and the poppy seed soap in the shower. I loved that they were lightweight and seemed to leave no residue. Once I was out of the shower, I swiped my chin with Balancing Toner, made mostly from apple cider vinegar and rosewater, then applied the super-moisturizing Nourishing Face Oil, made with fruit seed oils and frankincense. I especially loved the face oil - so much that I’m still using it - because it delivered major moisture without feeling oily at all. Once a week, I used the Purifying Clay Mask, which comes as a powder that you mix with the cleanser to make a paste and then apply with a brush. The mask, made from Moroccan clay with lavender, rose petals, chamomile, and peppermint, did this magic thing of cleaning out my pores while softening and brightening my skin. Steaming my face afterwards with the floral Facial Steam: heaven.
The trouble with all-natural products is that you can never tell if you’re getting something toothless or you’re getting the real deal. I loved Herbalicious because it does a great job harnessing the power of plants while making everything super gentle. I didn’t notice any of my trademark dryness, even with the more intense products, and didn’t get any breakouts at all, which, for me, is a bit of a miracle.