I'm a little leery of the term "all-natural." What does it really mean? I mean, Botox is made from nature's own botulinum poison; chocolate chip cookies are man-made. I wouldn't take a bath in either of those, but I know which one I'd take to a potluck.
But I checked out Look Great, Live Green from the library because I figured if I'm going to be selling skin-care products, I should be prepared to answer questions from the die-hard natural skin care contingent (which includes quite a few of my friends). No single product is right for everyone, and if people have specific concerns about ingredients, I want to be able to address them, accurately and honestly.
There's a lot of useful information in here. Did you know many natural care companies have been bought out in the past decade? Burt's Bees (Clorox), Tom's of Maine (Colgate-Palmolive), Aveda (Estee Lauder), and The Body Shop (L'Oreal) are all now lines of larger companies. Also, Burnes gives clear information about the benefits of different types of products--the different types of masks, for example, or why toner is important--and how those benefits can be achieved most naturally. The "skin care makeover" section in the back of the book was also interesting, even though the author mostly replaced a variety of brands with one brand: hers.
That's right, Look Great, Live Green was written by a woman with her own line of all-natural skin care products. Hardly the objective source I was looking for. (This is not to say that it's three hundred pages of advertising--in fact quite a few other companies are included in her lists of recommended products.)
The author's bias is clear, though. She advises steering clear of certain ingredients even though the research is inconclusive or not specifically relevant to skin care; in fact, some of them are specifically recommended by dermatologists. For every type of cosmetic, she lists the ingredients of a particular product that illustrates things to avoid--but doesn't indicate the reasons. As you might expect, many ingredients appear in both the Ingredients to Avoid and Ingredients to Look For products. In fact, a person skimming the lists could come to the conclusion that water is to be avoided at all costs--after all, it's listed in nearly every product Burnes avoids!
In short, I finished the book feeling somewhat more conflicted, but no less confused than I'd started out.