Organic skincare has come a long way. With innovations, superstar botanical ingredients and growing public concern about the safety of conventional beauty products, organic lines are gaining momentum. They're increasingly regarded as mainstream brands rather than niche ones, often performing as well as or better than their conventional counterparts.
One such brand gaining in popularity is American-based Pangea Organics. CEO Joshua Onysko founded Pangea eight years ago after his soap-making experiments sparked an interest in all-natural beauty products. Today Pangea's products go beyond soap, encompassing skincare solutions of all sorts. Their all-natural offerings boast high antioxidant levels and superior moisturization as well as clarifying, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. All this, and no petroleum byproducts, sulfates, synthetics and artificial colour and fragrance in sight.
Lofty claims, but how do Pangea's products really stack up? I had the chance to test drive some of their most popular ones. Here's the lowdown.
The product: Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser ($30)
The promise: Egyptian calendula fights inflammation and purifies and soothes, while blood orange de-greases, cleanses and replenishes the skin with nutrients. A quick perusal of the full ingredients list also shows that this sulphate- and suds-free cleanser formula is full of natural oils, which are, as counter-intuitive as it seems, very good at combating oily skin.
The lowdown: It took a little while to get used to not having suds in my cleanser and I kept using more than was necessary. After 1-2 weeks though, I was pretty pleased with the results. This cleanser gently cleansed dirt, makeup and oil away without drying skin.
The product: Egyptian Geranium with Adzuki Bean and Cranberry Scrub ($34)
The promise: Ground adzuki bean (which has been used for centuries in Japan) and cranberry seed are both gentle, natural exfoliants. Geranium is purportedly excellent for acne, blackheads and dehydration. When combined, this powerful trifecta delivers anti-oxidants as well as anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. The result is effective exfoliation sans harsh side effects.
The lowdown: Think of this as the all-natural and much more effective cousin of the St. Ives Apricot Scrub you used in high school. It's easy to see why this is one of Pangea's most popular products. I used it at night 2-3 times a week and was rewarded by clearer, calmer, more even-toned skin as well as fewer congested pores. The adzuki bean and cranberry seed granules never felt overly rough, and I didn't experience any irritation when using it.
The product: French Rosemary with Sweet Orange Toner ($28)
The promise: When used after cleansing and before moisturizing, this toner removes any remaining dirt, cleanser residue and oil and preps skin to absorb serums and lotions more readily. As with Pangea's other products, it nourishes skin and provides a dose of anti-oxidants along with moisturization.
The lowdown: Unlike toners I've tried in the past, Pangea's toner wasn't drying. The bottle--which let me spray the product directly on my face instead of using a cotton pad to apply it--is genius. Instead of forgetting to apply toner, I actually look forward to spritzing my face and neck with the cooling, soothing mist post-shower.
The product: Italian Red Mandarin with Rose Facial Cream ($38)
The promise: Ideal for dry or mature skin, this rich face cream contains a slew of natural moisturizers--red mandarin, rose, shea butter, argan oil, evening primrose oil, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil. According to the packaging, it can be used day or night.
The lowdown: Of the products I tested, I liked the facial cream the least. It moisturized effectively and was non-comodegenic, to be sure, but its richness and lack of SPF meant it was better suited to nighttime use. Also, I simply didn't like the smell of this product and found myself wishing that it came in an unscented formula.
The product: Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai and Goji Berry Mask ($42)
The promise: Matcha tea! Acai! Goji berry! So many superstar anti-oxidant-packed ingredients combined into One. Amazing. Product. In case you couldn't tell from the exclamation points and the rah rah attitude, like the scrub, this is supposed to be a Pangea Organics cult favourite.
The lowdown: The natural ingredients made for a bizarre texture. It felt like I was smearing green tea ice cream blended with spinach onto my face. And wow, this mask was definitely green; I opted to wash it off with a paper towel instead of my nice clean white facecloth. Despite the greenness and the texture, I loved how it felt cool and soothing immediately on contact, and how soft and glowing my skin looked as soon as I rinsed it off.
Have you tried Pangea Organics or other all-natural or organic skincare lines? Would you?