This highly fragrant facial scrub contains walnut shells as the abrasive agent. Although natural, the irregular shape and jagged edges of ground-up walnut shells can scratch and tear at skin. Ironically, synthetic polyethylene (plastic) beads are much more gentle, but this product doesn’t use them!
The abrasive nature of the walnut shells is softened somewhat by the inclusion of plant oils, but the amount of oils in this scrub makes it difficult to rinse completely. The biggest issue, however, is the inclusion of several fragrant plant oils known to be irritating. Lavender oil is a particularly troublesome addition, as discussed in More Info below.
The only enzyme in this scrub is bromelain, which occurs naturally in pineapple. Like all enzymes, it is notoriously unstable and most likely ineffective in a scrub. (Once it’s mixed with the other ingredients or with water, it simply doesn’t remain stable for long.)
If dull skin or signs of aging are your concern, an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliant will provide results superior to those you can get from any scrub; even a soft washcloth is preferred to this product. For a great AHA or BHA product, check out our list of Best BHA Exfoliants for some remarkable options.
Research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application causes skin-cell death (Source: Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229). Lavender leaves contain camphor, which is a known skin irritant. Because the fragrance constituents in lavender oil oxidize when exposed to air, lavender oil is a pro-oxidant, and this enhanced oxidation increases its irritancy on skin (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 143–150). Lavender oil is the most potent form, and even small amounts of it (0.25% or less) are problematic. It is a must to avoid in skin-care products, although it’s fine as an aromatherapy agent for inhalation or relaxation (Sources: Psychiatry Research, February 2007, pages 89–96; and www.naturaldatabase.com).
Slough away dull, flakey, rough, dead surface cells to uncover skin that is soft, smooth and vibrant. Fruit enzymes, finely ground walnut shell and soothing, calming botanical extracts create a gentle but effective exfoliation that won’t burn or irritate skin.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Stearyl Alcohol, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Rhizome/Root, Lavandula Intermedia Leaf /Flower/Stem Extract, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Citric Acid, Bromelain, Maltodextrin, Potassium Hydroxide, Pumice, Stearic Acid, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Limonene, Linalool, Coumarin
Avalon Organics At-A-Glance
Strengths: Avalon Organics provides complete ingredient lists on their Web site; excellent lip balm; a few well-formulated moisturizers and serums.
Weaknesses: Several products contain irritating plant extracts and/or fragrant oils; moisturizers contain only a tiny amount of state-of-the-art ingredients; none of the sunscreens have UVA-protecting ingredients; there are repetitive formulas within the sub-brands (and the only differences between them won't make any difference to your skin); average to poor cleansers and toners; no AHA or BHA options; no anti-acne or skin-lightening options; jar packaging, which leaves the air-sensitive ingredients unprotected and subject to deterioration after opening.
Avalon Organics is one of many companies owned by Hain-Celestial, a company that specializes in marketing "natural" products. Along with various food and beverage brands you often see lining the shelves of health food stores, Hain-Celestial is also behind several other cosmetics lines, including Alba Botanica, Jason Natural, and Zia Natural (and just to be clear, none of these are all natural in the least).
Avalon Organics is most similar to Alba Botanica, but strangely enough, Avalon in many ways is the inferior line. Relative to the Alba Botanica line, Avalon Organics products cost more and their formulas aren't nearly as state of the art. A major thumbs down for Avalon Organics is the fact that none of their sunscreens contains sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients. In addition, many more of the Avalon Organics products contain irritating plant oils (lavender, orange), and almost all also feature a plant tea concoction that includes not only lavender but also arnica, a problematic plant if ever there was one (Sources: American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, June 1996, pages 94–99; and www.naturaldatabase.com). It is these natural ingredients that sabotage many of the Avalon Organics products.
Avalon does include several helpful natural ingredients (among them willow herb, licorice, borage oil, and aloe), but their benefit is diminished when they must overcome the potential skin problems presented by the not-so-helpful plants. Moreover, several Avalon Organics products contain a blend of unidentified essential oils. These are used for fragrance, but Avalon opted to list the generic term "fragrance" as "other essential oils," which means that consumers do not know exactly what oils they're applying to their skin. This goes directly against FDA regulatory requirements: "other essential oils" is not a legitimate ingredient term.
It is indeed admirable that Avalon Organics is dedicated to organic farming and to sustainable agricultural practices that improve the environment, but such a mission doesn’t translate into great skin-care: farming is one issue, but brilliantly formulated products is another. In this case you can't rely on Avalon products to take care of your skin without some careful consideration. There are a handful of recommended products to consider, especially if you prefer a ratio of ingredients that favors natural over synthetic. (Note, however, this is not an all-natural line, any more than munching on Skittles candy is like eating real fruit.) But taking "the time to honor yourself" (Avalon's statement) by using products only from their line, or being swayed by this brand's "Consciousness in Cosmetics" for the sake of your skin, would be a mistake.
For more information about Avalon Organics, call (888) 659-7730 or visit www.avalonorganics.com.
Note: Avalon uses the term "other essential oils" on their ingredient lists, which does not comply with FDA or international regulations. These regulations state that you must list by name ALL the individual ingredients you include in your product for this category of ingredients.
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