Deciphering Cosmetic Ingredients

The Hair Guru is a monthly column written by Sheryle Pettet of Salon on the Square in Santa Cruz, Calif. 

How do you pronounce cymbopogon schoenanthus extract and what is it? 

Your skin is the largest organ of your body and its pores allow absorption and expiration. So what are you absorbing in your daily routine of lotions, potions and cosmetics?

Is there an agency out there that truly protects the consumer? Are there watchdog groups? Where do you find ingredient information you can trust and comprehend?

There are user-friendly resources and other resources that make you feel like you need a chemistry background.

Let’s start with the user friendly: “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients” by Ruth Winter. This book won’t answer all your questions about safety, however, it’s a good resource.

Here's a round up of consumer groups and agencies that can be helpful:

The Environmental Working Group  

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

The Science and Safety Behind Your Favorite Products

Cosmetic Ingredient Review

US Food and Drug Administration

National Institute of Health

Products Council Science and Safety

It is frustrating that there isn’t a single source of information to answer questions about safety and consumption. However, if you have time, a computer and a large cup of coffee, you can find information to educate yourself. And just in case you were wondering, cymbopogon schoenanthus is an extract from the lemongrass plant.  

Beauty Blast: Urb Apothecary's Rose Body Oil

Over the last several months, I’ve become a huge fan of Urb Apothecary, a Santa Cruz-based skin care line that works brilliantly. Combining smart science, comforting smells, stylish packaging, and effective ingredients, this line is one to watch. I’m so smitten with the line that every time a new product comes out I have to try it. My recent crush is on Urb Apothecary’s Rose Body Oil.

According to founder Leyna Allred, the Rose Body Oil, “is made by infusing sunflower and kukui oils with rose petals and rose hips. By doing this, the oils are infused with the healing properties of the rose petals and rose hips. Rose, in every form, is naturally astringent, helps tighten skin, reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines, soothes skin, minimizes redness and inflammation and acne.”

It also happens to smell great, feel great, and make your skin look great. Find this wonder oil at various Bay Area stores including Stripe in Santa Cruz, as well as online here.

Our Monthly Favorites at Whole Foods

In April, we launched an exciting partnership with the local Whole Foods stores. Each month, I scour their beauty and body department shelves for the latest and greatest offerings and pick my five favorites. I only choose things I have tried and genuinely love and use. This month, my five top Whole Foods recs are the Gabrielle mascara, Mineral Fusion concealer duo, ZOYA nail lacquer, derma e microdermabrasion scrub, and Acure cell stimulating facial mask (see photos). Next time you’re in the aisles of the Santa Cruz or Capitola locations, look for The Penny Rose tags pinned to the shelves.   

If any of the first three of this month’s items piqued your interest (or if you are simply in need of some eco-friendly staples for your makeup bag), take note that all makeup and nail color will be 25 percent off May 8-10 at the stores. (See below for instructions on how Penny readers can score a free gift on top of this!) Still stumped on what to get mom for Mother’s Day? Fret not: the Santa Cruz Whole Foods has got your back with a “Last-Minute Gift Pop Up” on Saturday, May 9 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Find more info here.) On top of all of that, the Santa Cruz location will also be offering free makeovers May 7-9.  

Put yourself in the running for a free beauty basket from the Capitola store on May 13 by posting Instagram pics of your favorite natural beauty items with the hashtag #wfmnaturalbeauty. 

Let us know if you try the May picks and what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned for our next round of our “fave five” in June.  


HOW IT WORKS: Say these words to any Whole Body Department employee and receive a free gift.

Eco-Beauty Trend Alert: Rosehips

While perusing the skincare section at the Santa Cruz Whole Foods Market this morning (The Penny Rose has partnered with the Santa Cruz and Capitola stores and will be selecting monthly beauty picks—more on that soon!), I realized that I was drawn to products that all had one thing in common: rosehips. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t experimented with this natural, supposedly powerful, ingredient in my beauty routine yet, or perhaps it’s because there are more products flaunting it as their flagship component than ever before. Whatever the reason for its sudden ascent to the top of my “must try” list, there it is. All within arm’s reach of each other in the aisle, I ogled over the Copper Moon Apothecary Rosehips Night Crème, Simplers Botanical Co. Rose Hip Seed Oil and Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream, which utilizes rose petals and hips.

But most exciting was the raw, non-GMO, sustainable and fairly traded Trilogy line, which Whole Foods just started carrying. Clinical trials of Trilogy’s rosehip oil products show that it “helps improve the appearance of scars, stretchmarks, fine lines and wrinkles.” The products—which are the skincare products of choice for none other than Kate Middleton—center around Trilogy’s trademarked rosehips-based ingredient, Rosapene, which is, in their words, an “antioxidant complex, combining essential fatty acid-rich rosehip and cranberry seed oils with antioxidants from tomato seed and acai berry oils” that “works to nourish and repair skin while protecting against environmental free radical damage.”

On that note, I have a new tube of the Vital Moisturizing Cream that needs testing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Eco-Beauty Giveaway Winner & More

Without further ado, The Penny Rose would like to congratulate Jordy Whitaker for winning our big eco-beauty giveaway! Jordy was one of dozens of entrants across Facebook, Instagram and on the blog, and is the lucky recipient of a Synergy Organic Clothing + The Penny Rose top, a variety of natural makeup from Whole Foods Market, and two tickets to this Friday’s “Spring Style Preview: Natural Beauty & Fashion” event.

Didn’t win? Don’t fret: tickets are still available (online and at the door) for $10, and are well worth the cost considering proceeds go to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. The event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 13 at Synergy’s flagship store in downtown Santa Cruz (1229 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz), and will feature skincare demos by evan healy, mini eco-beauty makeovers by Whole Foods and a look at the new spring line from Synergy.

If this fun event whets your appetite for eco-beauty inspiration, you’re in luck. Whole Foods is kicking off its first Beauty Week (March 18-24), when the local stores will participate in a celebration of all things natural beauty. They’ll offer a $60-value limited edition “Hello Beauty!” bag stuffed with exclusive samples for $18 starting March 21, will be offering 25 percent off all facial products from March 20-22, and will be showcasing a new rosehip oil-based skincare brand, Trilogy.