If you are anything like me, the mere mention of words such as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ where makeup is concerned will send your eyes rolling so far into the back of your head they may never return to their normal position. However, sceptical as I am, I recently tried out Zao Makeup following its Highly Commended accolade in the Natural Beauty Awards this year.
Fact is, until about 5 or so years ago because of all those nasty scare stories about such things as parabens in the Daily Mail and the like that sent the whole cosmetic buying public into an unnecessary frenzy, we really were quite happy with the selection of overly perfumed, and anything-but-the-essence-of-nature beauty products. Since then a whole slew of brands have come out that claim to have been untouched almost by human hands. That the angels themselves (who dine exclusively on pulses and the leaves of trees, of course) have fashioned together the purest and most chemically unadulterated makeup and skincare, which is free from practically everything. I am exaggerating somewhat here, but you get the drift.
However, in the so doing, alongside their zeal to appear not only to fix your dry skin, or colour your face, they occasionally removed all the ingredients that in fact made the products WORK! There were some shocking textures, and colours out there were there not?
“Why yes! It does feel like six day old porridge on my face, but at least I’m not getting any nasties into my system, and thank god it only lasts a maximum of 3 minutes otherwise the sheer joy of trying to scrape this unrefined goop onto my suffering skin 1000 times a day so you could actually see it would be totally lost!” You know the score ...
Well, mercifully there have been several improvements and some attention to details such as lasting power and texture over the last few years, and most of the brands have really upped their game as far as their efforts at claims of being ‘natural’.
Zao, the new cosmetics brand, available from www.zaomakeup.co.uk I had not heard of at all, till they got in touch, I have to say.
It arrived in these very neat little cotton type bags, fuelling my initial pre conception that again, we were going to be looking at a bit of hippy style makeup. Upon opening them up, a loud ‘Oooooohh’ issued from my lips as the packaging is rather beautiful Bamboo. Not bamboo effect, but actual bamboo chosen for its ecologically sound growth rate and sustainability over say, wood. Almost all of the products incidentally, are refillable also, so points here for being ecologically minded.
To be clear on this, I asked only to see the products that I KNOW are notoriously difficult to get right in a ‘natural makeup’ context, and these would be foundation, lipstick, and mascara.
Firstly, I didn’t receive a foundation, but a compact powder. Fair enough, as I know these can sometimes fall prey to the slightly ropey end of the spectrum too. What can I tell you about this? It’s a powder. Designed to take away shine, is talc free and has a whole host of other ingredients in it that read like an Ottolenghi cook book. One of the most interesting here is Silver. Actual silver. This runs through the entire range incidentally (save for a couple of products such as nail colours) as a natural preservative. Silver I know also has some antiseptic properties so would be a good addition in principle. It goes on well although my only concern would be to use sparingly for fear of looking a little dusty. Overall, not a bad powder by any stretch.
Next up was the mascara. Again in this rather lovely bamboo covering, the Structuring Mascara has a very nice, small precise looking wand, and the formula is not too wet, and not too thick or dry.
Containing Acacia senegal gum to grip onto the lashes, and give it flexibility, and avocado oil to nourish, when on this took a while to dry. So if you use this, be aware of looking up too soon, and save yourself a job of getting it off the top of your eye area there. Getting it off was easy, and there were no reports of any of it falling off, or flaking either. It comes in two colours, black and brown.
Now the lipstick. I asked specifically for a matte lipstick, a) because there are not that many out there, and b) I was interested to see how a ‘natural’ brand would approach this. So, firstly, and call me picky, but the matte lipstick, is not matte. It is a creamy texture, meaning that it has some shine to it, not a lot, but some nonetheless. The colour I used was No 462, or ‘Old Pink’ as it says on the website. A SUPERB colour for a very subtle coat with a hint of pink in it. Would easily suit the most fussy of natural lip colour seekers, and felt really rather good. It lasted as well, is opaque, and was a very pleasant surprise! The lipstick contains silver, as mentioned earlier, and also has cocoa butter, and pomegranate in it to nourish and also moisturise.
Overall, I am mightily impressed with Zao. The products I saw were of a very high standard, and were pretty much as described. For a brand that claims to be a natural brand, I would be happy to use this on anyone, without fear of having to retouch every five minutes, and also for anyone that is concerned about the contents of their makeup, I can recommend giving Zao a go.
The website has been translated from the original French in a rather literal fashion, which can bring a smile to your face too ...
Zao makeup is available from www.zaomakeup.co.uk
The Fine Print: PR Samples
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