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8 August 2016 16 comments

As many of us are, I'm guilty of falling for the androgynous, minimalist apothecary aesthetic of Aussie brand Aesop. But unfortunately, some of their products leave me wanting after scrutinising the ingredients list, their Parsley Seed Serum and Hydrosol Mist for example, filled with alcohols and potentially phytotoxic irritants - all a bit fur coat and no knickers. Thankfully, there's another antipodean skincare brand to consider in Grown Alchemist, with equally uber-cool packaging. It's a brand I've not previously tried so I thought I'd gather a few items to test out. Let's see how it stands up..

Vanilla & Watermelon Lip Balm £14 | A metal, slimline monochrome tube makes this just about the most Instagram-able lip balm out there. And what's on the inside doesn't disappoint either. The top ingredient is castor oil, which is plainly obvious from the thick, oily texture, followed by a vegetable-derived, sustainable emulsifier and quite a few fruit/plant oils. I can't discern any vanilla scent whatsoever frankly, but the watermelon is lovely and summery, and not at all overpowering. Most importantly of all, this balm does it's job, leaving my lips happy, hydrated and moisturised.

Ingredients: Castor Seed Oil, Bis-Stearyl-Ethylenediamine/Neopentyl Glycol/Stearyl Hydrogenated Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, Beeswax, Parfum (Hypoallergenic), Tocopherol, Watermelon Seed Oil, Tangerine Peel Oil, Sweet Orange Peel Oil, Rosehip Fruit Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Vanillin, Limonene.

Balancing Toner £22 | A soothing and refreshing toner, this contains aloe vera, cucumber and glycerin to soothe and hydrate, as well as ginseng, lactic acid and vitamin c to envigorate and brighten. Some people report a sensitivity to the preservative phenoxyethanol, although it's considered one of the least irritating for use in skincare, far better than parabens - but obviously go with what works for you. Although not an exfoliating toner, this feels like a similar but much more toned down version of Pixi's Glow Tonic, and makes a great second toner if your first one leaves your skin feeling a little stripped or tight.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Ginseng Root Extract, Lactic Acid, Kola Nut Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Chamomile Flower Extract, Rose Flower Oil, Bergamot Fruit Oil, Chamomile Flower Oil, Geraniol, Citronellol. 

Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser £26 | A lightly foaming gel cleanser predominantly consisting of water, aloe and two gentle surfactants. It's got the texture of an asian peeling gel, with a subtle, herbal scent. The ingredients list in my view is ok but not overly inspiring, and it's definitely only second cleanse suitable, as this is certainly not going to remove makeup effectively. Once again, beautiful packaging though, and the full size comes with a pump, perfect for standing alongside your sink.

Ingredients: Aqua, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Potassium Sorbate, Geranium Leaf Oil, Sweet Orange Peel Oil, White Willow Bark Extract, Mandarin Peel Oil, Bergamot Peel Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Chamomile Flower Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Citronellol.

Hydra Repair Day Cream £29 | This cream claims to be a bit of a wonder product, improving hydration, balancing oil production and protecting against premature aging. There's a lot of talk about polysaccharides and phytosterols, triglycerides and flavanoids, all having magical effects on the skin. In reality I'm not 100% sold - it's definitely 'nice' but there are better out there. The base of aloe and oils are sure to moisturise, which you can feel from the rich, creamy texture. It settles to a matte but not dry finish though so would be a more than viable option for combo skins. The packaging, again, is one of it's best selling points - a slimline, cream, metal tube.

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Purified Water, Sweet Almond Oil, Cetearyl/Sorbitan Olivate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Rosehip Fruit Oil, Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Tocopherol, Geranium Oil, Sweet Orange Peel Oil, Mandarin Peel Oil, Sucrose, Carrot Root Extract, Camellia Seed Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, White Willow Bark Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Chamomile Flower Extract, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Linalool, Limonene, Citral, Geraniol, Citronellol.

Antioxidant Rosehip & Camellia Seed Facial Oil £25 | A rich, certified organic and 100% natural (apparently) facial oil, this contains very few ingredients - predominantly a base of rosehip and camellia with some essential oils, and I've had no irritation from them so they must be in very small quantities. I love rosehip, with vitamin A and omegas to improve fine lines, and camellia retains moisture excellently, with more oleic acid than olive oil, and contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Whilst I've found this oil to moisturise and hydrate, it sinks in rapidly, and without leaving an oily film on the surface of my skin.

Ingredients: Camellia Seed Oil, Rosehip Fruit Oil, Lavender Oil, Geranium Oil, Sandalwood Wood Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Citral, Geraniol, Citronellol, Farnesol.

Desert Lime & Amino Peptide Hydra Mist+ £18 | Who doesn't love a good facial mist? I'm becoming a little obsessed with them in the summer months, either to prep and hydrate my face before makeup, or as a refreshing spritz throughout the day. This one contains a whole host of lovely ingredients, such as lactic acid, sodium hyaluronate, kelp and hibiscus, and it feels incredibly refreshing and almost zesty on the skin, but it contains alcohol (as so many facial mists seem to do) which I'm not pleased about. Bergamot can be an irritant aswell so that's also something to keep in mind, especially if you have sensitive skin. I think due to the alcohol content, I'll continue to use this as a spray-throughout-the-day - the small bottle is perfect for throwing into your handbag - and probably use it to house the Balancing Toner when I've used it up.

Ingredients: Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Purified Water, Camellia Seed Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Lactic Acid, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Bergamot Peel Oil, Wheat Amino Acids, Kelp Extract, Bilberry Fruit Extract, Fucus Algae Extract, Hibiscus Flower Extract, Desert Lime Fruit Extract, Pomegranate Fruit Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Echinacea Extract, Ylang Ylang Flower Oil, Lime Peel Oil, Patchouli Leaf Oil, Vanillin, Linalool, Limonene.

Let's just sum things up then. Toner, lip balm and facial oil get a big thumbs up, as does the packaging in general - how can you resist the minimalist, monochrome beauty? Hydra mist, day cream and cleanser are a 'meh' from me, although the Facial Kit is a handy one for travel and includes just about everything you need for a basic routine. I'm definitely wanting to try their Vanilla Orange Hand Cream and Deep Cleansing Masque next (and they have particularly beautiful packaging!). I think to call themselves a 'green' brand is a little farfetched - I know that true, hardcore natural beauty fans won't fully approve of the ingredients, but I'd definitely recommend Grown Alchemist to those looking to transition into a more natural skincare routine.

Have you tried any Grown Alchemist products?

P.S Have you seen What's In My Travel Makeup Bag??

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