My natural, non-toxic “ah-ha” moment came as soon as I saw the second line show up on my home pregnancy test. All of a sudden my choices were no longer just having an impact on me; they were influencing the precious being that I was taking responsibility for bringing into the world. This epiphany shifted the way that I ate, what I put on my skin, hair, and nails, how I cleaned my home, and so much more. In the beginning, I had a harder time finding the right products to support this new approach to health. I suspect this was due in part to me not knowing where to look and in part to fewer healthy options being available 13+ years ago than there are now.
Fortunately, I was not the only person to connect the preciousness of babyhood to an enhanced desire to avoid toxins. By the time that Eva was born in 2003, I had discovered some brands and products that I felt good about using on her skin. A handful of soaps and creams, an all-purpose hair and body wash; they got the job done.
As Eva moved through her tween years, I began to see a shift. Her skin and hair were changing. She was more conscious about the clarity of her skin. She was noticing the types of products that I used on my face, and was wanting to emulate some of my skincare routine. I let her peruse my stash of cleansing and skincare products (thanks in large part to my subscription box habit, I have a lot to explore). Unfortunately these forays into my stash yielded few attractive options; my products were not a great fit for her tween/teen skin type, and the packaging often failed to intrigue or compel her.
As a result of these experiences, I am always on the lookout for natural brands and products that target older children and teens. Surprisingly, this product niche has lagged significantly behind natural personal care products marketed for women, babies, and even for men. It can be downright difficult to find natural skincare lines for teens and tweens. If you haven’t yet raised a tween or teen, I can offer this bit of insight; hygiene is often not their greatest strength. Having products that they want to use and that are effective can not only help build good personal habits, but can be a blessing for the whole family.
You can only imagine how pleased I was when I was contacted by Darling Naturals and invited to have Eva (almost 13) and Alina (9 1/2) review their Just Darling Pretty Clear Skin Regimen. The Just Darling line is designed for children ages 10-15 years to serve as an introduction to multi-step skincare regimens and overall good hygiene. The products use many plant-based and organic ingredients and are free from GMOs, petro-chemicals, artificial perfumes and dyes, and parabens. They are also vegan and cruelty free.
The products arrived boxed into a kit with three bottles and a palm-sized natural sponge. Each bottle was clearly labeled and numbered to indicate where it should be used in the skincare sequence. I spent a few moments with the girls, explaining how they should use the products. They’ve had years of face-washing experience, but toner and moisturizer were less familiar. I also provided the girls with a stack of organic cotton rounds to use with the toner, and then set the products in their bathroom for them to use at their leisure.
I checked in with the girls periodically over the next week to ask their thoughts about the products.
Consistency of the face wash, toner, & gel moisturizer
Step 1: Face Wash for Problem Skin (4 oz., $12.95)
Ingredients: Organic aloe vera juice, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium laurel lactylate, kosher vegetable glycerine, calendula distillate, tea tree oil, pink grapefruit oil, black willow bark extract, plantain extract, ethylhexyl-glycerine, phenoxyethanol.
Both girls said that they found the scent of the lightly-foaming, gel face wash to be strong and somewhat medicinal. This makes sense when you consider that it uses ingredients like tea tree and pink grapefruit oil to balance skin and control excess oils. Tea tree oil in particular can have a pronounced and sharp scent. Despite noting this feature, the girls did not find it to be a big deterrent to using the face wash. I however was a bit concerned that the tea tree oil might be too harsh on the girls’ skin. Fortunately the product also includes a host of soothing herbal ingredients such as calendula, plantain, and aloe, which I hoped would provide balance to the formula.
Eva has particularly has sensitive skin and sometimes has reactions to products. She said that with her first use of the face wash, she felt that it burned a bit on her skin. She added that in hindsight she thought that she used too much product at first. She said that on subsequent occasions, she used less product and did not find it irritating to her skin at all; rather it had a mild cooling sensation that faded after a short while.
Both girls were a bit wary of the natural sponge at first and unsure about how to use it. I showed them how a bit of water transformed the mound of crunchy swiss-cheese into a silky soft sponge. Eva continued to prefer using her hands, but Alina delighted in the softness of the sponge and the way that it helped the face wash to lather on her face. The first several nights of using the products, Alina flitted about the house, marveling at her soft skin and inviting us to stroke her cheek.
Step 2: Toner for Problem Skin (4 oz., $10.95)
Ingredients: Organic aloe vera juice, tea tree oil, green tea extract, kosher vegetable glycerine, calendula flower extract, black willow bark extract, polysorbate 80, pink grapefruit oil, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexyglycerin.
I was curious to hear the girls’ thoughts about the toner, and was pleased to discover that the didn’t find it harsh as toners can often be. Unlike most conventional toners, the Just Darling product does not contain any alcohol or witch hazel, which can be irritating to sensitive skin. The toner is an aloe-vera juice base enhanced with plant ingredients such as tea tree oil, calendula flowers, black willow bark, green tea, and pink grapefruit oil. The fragrance is of moderate intensity, but did not seem to stand out to the girls. I think that Eva and Alina both found this new-to-them toner step to be a novel addition to their skincare routine.
Step 3: Moisturizer for Problem Skin (2 oz., $12.95)
Ingredients: Organic aloe vera juice, kosher vegetable glycerine, calendula flower infusion, carbomer, triethanolamine, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexyglycerin
Interestingly, both girls commented that they really liked the smell of the light gel-moisturizer. Reviewing the ingredients, I am not sure what gives the moisturizer it’s scent, but it has a zippy, lime-like, citrus fragrance. The girls agreed that the light moisturizer felt just-right on their skin and was perfect for the dry winter months.
I asked the girls for their reviews after a week of using the 3-step Pretty Clear Skin Regimen from Just Darling. Eva said that she didn’t love her first experience with the face wash because she had a difficult time getting the product to create a lather on her face using the dime-size amount on her fingertips as instructed. This led to her using an excessive amount of product which she said made her skin burn. With subsequent applications using less product, Eva said that she liked the face wash despite the strong smell. She indicated that she had a red blemish on her face at the start of the week, and she thought that it faded over time with use of the products. She stated that she very much liked the ritual of the three steps, especially before bedtime; adding that the ritual felt like a nice way to wind down before bed. She said that she felt like she was, “pampering her skin like being at a relaxing spa.”
Alina independently shared that she too liked the multiple steps of the regimen. She very honestly reported that she generally does not like having to wash her face. She felt like the three step ritual elevated the experience, making her feel more, “responsible and important.” As mentioned, she took a great deal of pride and delight in how soft her skin felt when using the products.
Although some of the multi-syllable ingredients rated in the moderate range on EWG’s Skin-Deep Database, I was pleased with the products all being organic aloe gel-based, and they were well tolerated by the girls’ skin. I was thrilled that the girls found the product packaging, texture, and fragrance to be attractive enough to keep using again and again without prompting all throughout the week. Unprompted personal hygiene is not a common thing around here. I know that they will continue to use the products, and I think that they especially like having products that are made just for them. I think that the natural sponge in the kit that we received was a nice option, but not necessary to enjoy and use the products. In Eva’s case she preferred to use her clean hands versus the sponge when working with the face wash. Alina enjoyed using the sponge, so I suppose that it would depend on the preference of the child.
As much as we appreciate that Darling Naturals has developed a line of natural products just for tweens and teens, they also have a Darling Baby line and a Darling Mommy line for new babies and expectant and new mommies. For the time being, I think we’ll continue to focus on the tween and teen needs. I have my eye on the Good Hair Day Detangling Spray. Maybe it will be the answer for Alina’s long, tangle-prone locks.
What do you think about the Darling Naturals line for tweens and teens? Do you have any secrets for keeping older children clean and smelling fresh?