Product Reviews

Normal People's Product Reviews: Explanations of products for normal people, not experts.

Search for a product using the Google search bar on the top right! It searches the whole blog!

Check out our catalogue.

Bon Ami Cleanser: Good Friends Are Forever

posted Oct 24, 2012, 9:40 AM by

There are a lot of ways to get things clean.  A close friend of mine simply drenches everything in bleach, rinses with water, and lets surfaces air dry. Needless to say, my friend’s house has to be medically cleared before I agree to eat there. Unlike my friend, I never have time to evacuate after cleaning, I usually have to clean during lulls in other important activities, like writing.  While most things in my home can be easily cleaned with my preferred product, Method Surface Cleaner, some things require a bit more upper body work.  Growing up, we always had a container of Ajax around to clean sinks, tubs, or other troublesome spots.  But the smell always got to me.  Now that I don't have to clean mom's way anymore, I use Bon Ami's great power cleanser. Unlike some of these newfangled products, Bon Ami has been around FOREVER. The folks at Bon Ami have been keeping it simple and green since 1886.

While some green products are still a bit pricier compared to conventional cleaners, Bon Ami is really reasonable. For about $3 you can get a reliable, affordable green alterative to more popular brands.


Ingredients: Limestone (Calcium Carbonate), Feldspar, Alkyl Polyglucoside (Biodegradable Cleaning Agent), Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate), Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Keeping Things Clean Since 1886

Gud by Burt's Bees Natural Body Wash Orange Petalooza

posted Oct 9, 2012, 9:30 AM by

Burt’s Bees products are generally well made, and usually, worth the price.  In the past, we have reviewed Burt’s Bees body butter, and we loved it.  I like to think that it’s pretty hard to make a truly bad body wash.  It’s rare that I ever try a body wash that makes me want to stop using it in the middle of my shower.  So I am easy to please in that department.  When I first started to use this body wash,  I found the scent pleasant and the lather adequate.  So I kept using it.  But now that the bottle is nearly empty, it’s starting to hit me.  This product is GREAT.  The wash rinses clean (off your body and your shower surfaces) and it leaves a subtly pleasant, fruity scent behind. Gud by Burt's Bees Natural Body Wash Orange Petalooza is, like most Burt’s Bees products, a little pricey.  But for under $8 you can get 10 oz. of shower delight.  This product is widely available, I got mine at my local Walgreens.



Water , Sodium Coco Sulfate , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate , Sodium Chloride , Fragrance , Coco Glucoside , Glycerin , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil , Hyssopus Officinalis Extract , Juglans Nigra (Black Walnut) Leaf extract , Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract , Rosa Canina Fruit Extract , Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract , Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride , Citric Acid , Alcohol Denat. , Potassium Sorbate , Phenoxyethanol


Yardley of London Skin Soothing Bath & Shower Gel, Lavender & Rosemary

posted Sep 16, 2012, 3:52 PM by

I have been a big fan of Yardley soaps for years. I usually use Yardley bar soaps as a supplement to whatever natural-seeming body wash happens to be on sale when I shop.  At some point, I have used so many different body washes that it’s hard to identify I clear preference for any of them. So now I just look for things that provide adequate moisture for my skin, have a pleasant smell, and come in a fully recyclable bottle.  The clean and robust lather definitely filled my shower with a pleasant, uplifting fragrance. So Yardley of London’s Soothing Bath and Shower Gel, Lavender and Rosemary has climbed its way to the top of my list of favorite beauty products. You can get this great product at almost any place that sells personal care products for a reasonable $5.


Ingredients: Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Stearyl Citrate, Coco Glucoside, PEG 5 Cocamide, PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Potassium Chloride, Fragrance, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Sea Kelp) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Glycerin, Cocamide MEA

Zoya Nail Polish Review

posted Jun 27, 2012, 9:14 PM by   [ updated Jun 27, 2012, 9:33 PM ]

Last summer, I reviewed an eco-friendly nail polish by Scotch Naturals. At the time, I was pretty satisfied with the polish because it was water based, it dried quickly, and it was available in a number of different shades.  Soon after, I discovered that Scotch Naturals colors had some specific limitations.  The biggest problem was the amount of effort needed to remove them. Using the natural polish removers from Scotch Naturals, it took me twice as long to remove the nail colors.  Besides that nuisance, the colors chipped rather quickly, and lacked the luster and shine that we take for granted with conventional polishes.  In light of that experience, Zoya polishes seemed like a great alternative. Here is the good news: Zoya polishes behave pretty much the same way that conventional polishes do. They are shiny, easy to apply, and they come in a range of rich hues.  Zoya colors generally last longer than Scotch colors, which is a huge plus when you consider how much effort is required to remove Scotch colors. Zoya polishes are about half the price of Scotch Naturals colors Zoya is also a great option for natural beauty consumers who have anxieties about committing to products that may not work well for them. Zoya sells color spoons so you can test out wild colors before you shell out the cash. Bad: There really aren't quite as green Scotch products, and they have a pretty chemical-ly smell.

Ingredients: butyl acetate, propyl acetate,
ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose, isopropyl
alcohol, polyester resin, camphor,
steralkonium hectorite, benzophenone 1,
titanium dioxide. May contain D&C red
#6, iron oxide, ferric ammonium,
ferrocyanide red #7

Zoya nail polishes are available for about $8 a bottle at and many other places.

I’m loving Loving Naturals!

posted May 16, 2012, 6:02 PM by

It’s been Spring for almost two months now, and the weather is more consistently warm and pleasant. Before we know it, Summer will be here, so it’s important to make sure that your newly exposed skin is properly protected from the sun.  It used to cause me anxiety when I would search for a sunscreen that had a high SPF (it’s a joke among my friends that I have to use SPF 60 or higher), was not super greasy, did not leave an ashy cast to my skin, and was not chock full of potentially dangerous chemicals. If you have ever perused the sunscreen aisles at the local pharmacy or even a bigger retailer, you would understand how hard it is to find a sunscreen that meets all these needs.

Fortunately, I found two sunscreens that I am generally happy with, and meet some of the criteria for an acceptable skin protector. The sunscreens are by Loving Naturals, a company that claims that the ingredients used in their products are 100% natural and organic. The past summer, I used Loving Naturals Clear Body 30+ SPF for my body and face. It is formulated with non-nano zinc oxide, a stable, broad-spectrum blocker of damaging solar rays. Previously I used ‘screens with oxybenzone and avobenzone, and I freaked out because of reports that they are unsafe and may not be very effective. The Clear Body ‘screen is somewhat greasy (it’s a little hard to remove; scrubbing is recommended), and gives a slightly white cast to brown skin (mostly noticeable when spread over large areas), but the tradeoff is acceptable because I don’t have to worry about what chemicals my body will absorb when I spend a day in the sun. As for the SPF, 30 is a little low for me, but I make sure to reapply when outside for a long time.

The Loving Naturals Clear Face 30+ SPF sunscreen lotion, on the other hand, is close to perfect for me. It’s not greasy, has a brownish tint that blends well into skin, and also uses non-nano zinc oxide. I love Clear Face, and I have been using it on my face since the beginning of Fall. Better yet, it’s vegan and safe for babies (but for the precious little ones, I would try their Adorable Baby sunscreen first)! *The company also has a vegan body sunscreen.* I love that the facial lotion has no scent, so it doesn’t irritate delicate facial skin. The body version is not scented, but it smells like vegetable oil.

The sunscreens are a bit pricey ($12.99 for 2.5 oz, and $21.99 for 4.3oz), but I think they are worth it, and the facial lotion can last you a while!

So come Summer, when you’re having your fun in the sun, don’t forget your sunscreen! You have safe options!

Clear Body ingredients (non-vegan): Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide - 24.7% Ingredients: Grape Seed Oil, Organic Sunflower Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (from Coconut Oil), Organic Beeswax, Stearic Acid (from Palm Oil), Organic Honey, Sea Salt, Purified Water

Clear Face ingredients: Active Ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide - 24.7% Purified Water, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (from Coconut Oil), Organic Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol (derived from Organic Coconut Oil without the use of chemicals), Non-GMO & Organic Corn Starch, Stearic Acid (from Palm Oil), Organic Raw Sugar, Sea Salt, Wild Harvested Aspen Bark Extract



Philosophy: Purity Made Simple Facial Cleanser Review

posted Mar 22, 2012, 6:15 PM by   [ updated Mar 22, 2012, 6:16 PM ]

Unlike some of the other products reviewed on NPR, I got this product as a reward for accumulating so many points at Sephora - a consumer bonus, you could say.  I am still using the Bareminerals cleanser, recently reviewed on NPR, but I decided to grab this one just to see how it worked.  Honestly, I am not all that picky about cleansers. I have my favorites, but I will often mix it up. 

I especially like the idea of the Philosophy brand. The wordy packages always get my attention. For example, this Purity cleanser features a full definition/description of the vision that the makers had for this product. How cool is that? This product is intended to simplify your cleansing routine. It is a “one-step” product. I, like many of you, don't necessarily want my beautiful routine to be a multi-step process. I was optimistic about this product.

My Experience: I decided to use Purity to remove my makeup and I found that, while the product was effective, it wasn’t anything special. All of my makeup came off, but my face was a little drier than I like.  Purity Made Simple did not irritate my face, did not give off any offensive odors. All good things. This product would probably work well for someone with “normal skin”. And by that I mean skin that’s not too dry. If you have dry skin, you made want to avoid this product. As cleansers go, it's fine. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. This cleanser comes in a few different sizes, so if you only want to commit a little, you can get 3oz. for about $10, and if you decide that you want to delve in, you can get a 32oz pump bottle for about $50.   The bottle I had was made in Canada, so I couldn't tell what kind of plastic it was made of. Sorry guys.


Ingredients: water (aqua), sodium lauroamphoacetate, sodium trideceth sulfate, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, coco-glucoside, cocos nucifera (coconut) alcohol, peg-120 methyl glucose dioleate, aniba rosaeodora (rosewood) wood oil, geranium maculatum oil, guaiac (guaiacum officinale) extract, cymbopogon martini oil, rosa damascena extract, amyris balsamifera bark oil, santalum album (sandalwood) oil, salvia officinalis (sage) oil, cinnamomum cassia leaf oil, anthemis nobilis flower oil, daucus carota sativa (carrot) seed oil, piper nigrum (pepper) seed extract, polysorbate 20, glycerin, carbomer, triethanolamine, methylparaben, propylparaben, citric acid, imidazolidinyl urea, yellow 5 (ci 19140).

Dangerous Lead on Your Lips

posted Feb 15, 2012, 1:50 PM by   [ updated Feb 15, 2012, 3:44 PM ]

 List of 10 popular lipsticks with lead!

For some time now, fabulously natural (and those aspiring to be) folks have been raising serious questions about the contents of some of our favorite cosmetics.  Many people now know to avoid nail polishes with formaldehyde, for example. A recent FDA study revealed that we may be exposing ourselves to other harmful beauty additives as well. Specifically, lead. Below is a list of 10 popular lipsticks with disturbingly high lead content. Check to see if yours is on the list, and definitely check out the Normal Product Review blog here on where we try to provide reliable and accessible consumer reviews of natural beauty products. Remember to always look out for products that provide the maximum about of information about ingredients. You should know what’s in your lipstick, where it comes from, and why it’s necessary. Many eco-friendly cosmetic companies are moving resolutely in that direction, so no need to eat lead when there are plenty of other great options.


1.Maybelline Color Sensational (Pink Petal)


Lead Content: 7.19 ppm


2. L'Oreal Colour Riche (Volcanic) 


Lead Content: 7.00 ppm


3. NARS Semi-Matte - (Red Lizard) 


Lead Content: 4.93 ppm


4. Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues (Ruby Remix)   


Lead Content: 4.92 ppm


5. NARS Semi-Matte - (Funny Face)   


Lead Content: 4.89 ppm


6. L’oreal Colour Riche (Tickled Pink)  
Lead Content:  4.45 ppm
7. L’oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor (Heroic)
Lead Content:  4.41 ppm
8. CoverGirl Continuous Color (Warm Brick)
Lead Content:  4.28 ppm
9. Maybelline Color Sensation (Mauve)          
Lead Content:  4.23 ppm

10. Stargazer Lipstick (103 c)  


Lead Content:  4.12 ppm


We aren't doctors or experts of any kind. But we thought that you might want to be reminded why lead isn't supposed to be in your lipstick. If you'd like to know more about the bad effects of lead and symptoms of lead poisoning click here.


 We found a list of less toxic alternatives. If you are ready to make a switch, you can see that list here.








  Lead doesn't belong on your lips....
#4 Offender   Cover Girl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues

Method Le Scrub Natural Mild Abrasive Cleaner

posted Feb 13, 2012, 5:01 AM by   [ updated Feb 13, 2012, 6:05 AM ]

Better than Comet!

I grew up using Comet and Ajax abrasive powders. We used them to clean the bathroom, the kitchen sink, and various counter surfaces. We preferred using Ajax to soapy products, because we somehow felt that that gritty grainy texture of the power was working a sanitary wonder in our house.  As I moved towards greener products, (which in my case involves a lot of non-toxic sprays), I still longed for the feel and the outcome of abrasive cleaners.  Method Le Scrub Natural Mild Abrasive Cleaner goes on smooth, but it ultimately provides a greener, effective alternative to conventional abrasive products.  This product has a pleasant Eucalyptus Mint scent that will not overpower or overwhelm you or the room.

I love Method Scrub Natural Mild Abrasive Cleaner because not only is the product effective, but the folks at Method do a pretty good job communicating to consumers what’s in their product and why. Even though many of the ingredients are not ones that we can easily associate with plant or fruit products, Method stands out for its work to explain to consumers  the function, purpose, and the green profile of its ingredients. The container is made of # 2 recyclable plastic. This cleaner is affordable, at just under $6 for a 24 oz. bottle, and it is available at a wide range of retailers.

purified water


non–toxic; safe in environment; widely available

calcium carbonate

finely milled marble abrasive

not irritating to skin, not toxic if ingested; disperses safely in the environment; sourced from natural marble

sodium laureth sulfate

surfactant (cleaning agent)

low skin irritation and not toxic in use; biodegrades readily; derived from coconut oil

fragrance oil blend


free of phthalates and other dirty ingredients, not irritating to skin or toxic in use; partial natural essential oil content, partially synthetic ingredients

ethoxylated lauryl alcohol

surfactant (cleaning agent)

low skin irritation and not toxic in use; biodegrades readily; derived from coconut oil

magnesium aluminum silicate (clay)


not irritating to skin, not toxic for people; disperses safely in the environment; sourced from natural clay

xanthan gum

thickening gum

not toxic if ingested or in skin contact; biodegrades inherently; naturally fermented from corn sugars

sodium borate decahydrate

cleaning salt

low irritation to skin or eyes, not toxic in use; disperses safely in the environment; widely available resource

boric acid

cleaning salt

low irritation to skin or eyes, not toxic in use; disperses safely in the environment; widely available resource


Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat litter

posted Feb 6, 2012, 8:29 AM by   [ updated Feb 6, 2012, 8:41 AM ]

Biodegradable and Effective!

Deciding to adopt a pet is a serious commitment. Pets need to be fed, entertained, rubbed, and nursed.  They need places to sleep, places to do their business, room to be on their own, places to play and places to relax.  And while it is true that high maintenance people probably have high maintenance pets, even those of us who try to be minimalist and conscientious consumers find that we too have to buy many products to keep our pets happy and clean. 

As a cat caretaker, I have tried over 3 kinds of beds, 4 kinds of wet food, 2 kinds of dry food and  have spent many hours assessing and selecting toys and other accessories that I thought might make my cat happy.  As I made these choices, I always preferred products that were biodegradable, made of natural or organic products, and of course, durable. I approached my choice about cat litter in the same way. While I had been initially drawn to the litter options like FreshStep because they are widely available, a product by Arm and Hammer caught my eye really early on. 

Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat Litter is made of biodegradable corn fibers, has a pleasant smell, and does a good job of absorbing my cat’s liquid waste.  It’s not sandy like some litters can be, so if your cat has respiratory issues, Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat litter may be less likely to irritate him. I generally change the entire litter pan once every week, but I remove waste daily.  To help to enhance the odor-suppressing qualities of the litter, I usually treat the clean  litter pan with baking soda or another naturally derived litter deodorizer. I have been using this litter for at least 7 months, and I am very pleased with it.  The litter is made of mostly corn, but it has some other stuff too. 

Ingredients: Corncob grit, 10yoxrp cob, Mineral oil, Guar Gum,  Sodium bicarbonate 

Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat litter is sold in 7 lb. and 10.5 lb. packages. This litter is available at most retailers that offer natural pet care products.  The prices vary, but it seems like the best deals are available online.

Bareminerals Deep Cleansing Foam

posted Feb 4, 2012, 3:16 PM by   [ updated Feb 4, 2012, 3:19 PM ]

Gentle and Effective!

I usually prefer to purchase facial cleansers that leave my face squeaky clean.  I don’t have acne prone or especially oily skin, but I generally avoid facial wash that is too rich.  This winter, I thought that I might try something different.  Because of the cold temperatures and dry heat at home, I have noticed that my skin has been looking rather dehydrated.  During a recent trip to the mall, I decided to replace my Bareminerals foundation, and was persuaded by the saleswoman to consider this product.   Bareminerals Deep Cleansing Foam is a creamy formula that effectively removes all the dirt, grime, and makeup at the end of a long day.  And to my great delight, the product leaves my skin REALLY clean, but not so clean that it feels tight or dry. A small amount of the product goes a very long way—you can work up a great lather with a pea-sized amount. A quick glance at the list of ingredients would suggest that this product has a more complex (and perhaps less natural) composition than some other cleansers on the market. And to be fair, Bareminerals does not attempt to boast about the natural composition of this product (as it does with its foundations for example). This product’s main claim to fame is something called a ActiveSoil Complex.  Underscore complex.

Take a look for yourself. 

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Stearic Acid, PEG-8, Myristic Acid, Glycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Lauric Acid, Alcohol Denat., Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Propanediol, Polyquaternium-7, Soil Minerals, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil (Glycine Soja), Trisodium EDTA, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia), Lavandula Hybrida Oil (Lavandula Hybrida), Linalool, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil (Vitis Vinifera), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil (Persea Gratissima), Punica Granatum Seed Oil (Punica Granatum), Phytosteryl/octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Limonene, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil (Anthemis Nobilis), Averrhoa Carambola Leaf Extract (Averrhoa Carambola), Tocopherol.


Bareminerals Deep Cleansing Foam can be purchased for $20 (4.2 oz.) at any Bareminerals retailer.


1-10 of 63