As a mom, you want to protect your daughter. So, when it’s time for her to develop her own skincare routine, you look for the safest products you can find. And you’re told these are natural. After all, how can something that comes from mother nature be bad for you?
Well, it can. While a lot of natural ingredients are gentle and effective, others are irritating and useless. Unfortunately, all too often, natural skincare brands use both good and bad ones in their skincare products.
Take Ottilie & Lulu for example. Their mission to create safe products specifically designed for tweens and teens and help them develop good skincare habits is admirable, but its execution leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s why:
Morning & Night Gel Cleanser ($10.0)
It is a good thing that this cleanser contains a high amount of soothing aloe vera because its formula is packed with irritants. Mandarin, Orange, and Camphor Oils have no benefits for the skin (the first two are used to impart fragrance to products and the latter for its cooling effects), but contain compounds that can cause irritations. But at least these are used in small doses.
The same can’t be said for Witch Hazel. Although it enjoys a good reputation for its natural origin, Witch Hazel contains tannins, powerful antioxidants that can be irritating for the skin. To make matters worse, it is usually distilled with alcohol, which can be drying and irritating.
Of course these ingredients won’t remain on the skin long. That, coupled with the benefits of aloe vera, ensures the potential damage these irritants could do is minimal, but there are many more, and much better, options on the market. Does it cleanse well at least? The only surfactant present is Coco-Glucoside, which is quite gentle. But unless your teen wears a lot of makeup, it should work fine.
A natural cleanser packed with too many irritating and useless ingredients.
Aqua, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Coco-Glucoside, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Molasses, Guar Gum, Caprylic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate
The Morning Facial Moisturizer is quite basic, but tweens and teens already have great skin and don’t really need any of the fancy ingredients so useful for grown-up ladies. This too contains a high amount of soothing and moisturizing aloe vera. Sunflower seed oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter all have moisturizing properties as well, while glycerin helps to keep skin hydrated by attracting water from the environment. As a result, the cream leaves skin soft and smooth for hours.
Unfortunately, this cream too contains citrus oils. They are part of the brand’s signature scent, which is fresh and appealing, but also, potentially irritating. I am a sucker for citrusy scents, but I don’t think they should be used on the face, where the skin is quite delicate. Soothing calendula and aloe vera extract, though, should counteract any damage that may occur.
A basic but very moistuirizing face cream. But I’m not fond of the potentially irritating citrusy scent.
Aqua, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Tapioca Starch, Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Organic Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Caprylic Acid, Potassium Sorbate.
The active ingredients in this spot treatment are willow bark (good), tea tree oil (neutral), and peppermint (bad). Willow bark contains salicin, a substance that, in the presence of the right enzymes, can be converted into salicylic acid. Salicylic acid can exfoliate pores from the inside, thus getting rid of blemishes and preventing new ones from forming. Unfortunately, this conversion doesn’t take place when willow bark is applied topically, but this ingredient still retains anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and calm skin.
Tea tree oil is actually effective at treating acne, but only in 5% or higher concentrations. You guessed it, there’s not enough of it here. Peppermint has anti-microbial properties, but can also be very irritating. Very used in toothpaste, it is one of the most common causes of allergic dermatitis around the mouth.
Go buy a spot treatment with salicylic acid. It’s much more effective and less irritating.
Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Organic Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Organic Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Xanthan Gum, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Tapioca Starch, Potassium Sorbate. Non-Comedogenic.
Everyday Facial Moisturizer & Sunscreen SPF 20 ($18.50)
This basic sunscreen is by far the best product from the brand. The active ingredient is Zinc Oxide, which can, on its own, provide broad spectrum protection. Very gentle, it is suitable for all skin types. The catch? It can leave a white cast, but that’s a small nuisance compared to the damage UV rays can do to your skin if you don’t protect it well.
The sunscreen also contains silicones that give the product slip and make skin soft to the touch. But don’t worry. They don’t suffocate skin. That’s because their large molecules have space between them, thus allowing skin to perspire.
A bunch of antioxidants, including green tea (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract) and Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate) are also added to help prevent premature aging. Their concentrations are small, but young girls don’t really need a lot of them. At this age, sunscreen is pretty much all you need to protect you skin from premature aging. What about irritating ingredients? Apart from the fragrance, it doesn’t contain any.
A basic but good zinc oxide based sunscreen. I just wish it were fragrance free.
Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide (16.32%) Other ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Methicone, Isononyl, Isononanoate, Dipropylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dimethiconol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Algae Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Methicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance
The Bottom Line
Natural doesn’t always mean better nor safer. While many natural ingredients are beneficial for the skin, others can cause more problems than they solve. So, before purchasing, always read the labels carefully. As for Ottilie & Lulu, I think the brand has potential. It just needs to reformulate some of their products to increase the amount of beneficial ingredients and remove those that are irritating.
Have you ever tried anything from Ottilie & Lulu?