Rant on the NMDL community..

Through my search for natural brands that used clean ingredients, No More Dirty Looks has served as an encyclopedia of knowledge, their founders Alexandra + Siobhan are passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly. They’ve helped introduce so many brands and essentially carve out this online niche for the growing community of clean beauty fans. This post really is not an attack towards the hardworking ladies whose efforts and work I’ve truly come to appreciate and respect. 

When NMDL first started, it was a welcome breath of fresh air from blogs that would essentially be paid mouth pieces (in the way of constant freebies from the giant brands) that reviewed all the same products at the same time. Through NMDL, I got to learn about truly great and effective skincare, and was introduced to so many brands before my work place even carried them such as Dr.Alkaitis, Intelligent Nutrients, Kahina Giving Beauty, & Tata Harper. I also connected with trailblazing entrepreneurs such as Spirit Demerson of SpiritBeautyLounge, one of my favorite online retail stores, and amazing bloggers such as Kimberly Loc. In essence, I give credit to NMDL as one of the most important websites in developing and cultivating this online community of educated beauty junkies.

Recently, I’ve been on it a lot less. I’ve been trying to figure out why and it has to do with many factors. For those of you who have seen their recent posts on Marie Veronique Organics and May Lindstrom, you will see they each inspired over 30 comments. I was kind of taken aback at how hostile the comments were in general. People seemed to take May Lindstrom to task for the fact that her price points are geared more towards “luxury” brands, and the comments are otherwise filled with DIY’s for how you can replicate her formulas. With Marie Veronique, the comments are even more scathing and I can understand the disgruntled observation that her products are not “all clean” – such as using emu oil and questionable preservatives, but it became a little hostile on the boards. With both posts, I believe one of the founders of NMDL had to go comment and kind of justify why they provided the post in the first place. 

So a few issues I have with this:
1. Why the hostility against NMDL for featuring luxury products? The ladies are free to post whatever they want. I personally am not interested in the DIY recipes because I like my luxury products, hence a blog dedicated to luxury beauty care.

2. What is so wrong with a company that wants to position itself as a luxury company while using clean ingredients? It seems any mention of Tata Harper or a product that is less attainable is met with the response that the brands and their customers are elitists who are unreasonable almost trying to “trick” you out of money. I know everyone has different priorities and budgets but that doesn’t mean luxury green companies are inherently bad. How can we expect green beauty brands to be successful if we ourselves take down any brand that dares to compete on a upscale market with traditional products? With the way that the commenters on NMDL behave, we’re just going to end up with glorified Etsy beauty brands. The fact is when any brand tries to expand and be an actual business, there are operational costs, marketing costs, and overhead costs which need to figure into the cost of the product to keep the company alive. As expensive as Tata Harper is, if you want the lenient return policy and generous samples – well guess what – the product pricing will reflect that! I don’t see how Tata Harper is any more “unreasonable” or “greedy” than the next beauty brand sold at high end department stores, at least she uses clean ingredients, so please – stop with the bashing of any clean brand that dares to compete in the high end market!

3. The constant “here’s my own DIY for ___” that I see in comment streams for products like Kahina’s Brightening Serum or May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt – I am fine with people sharing information but not to undermine the legitimacy of a product. The inference here is that these products can essentially be replicated at home and are not worth the cost. This goes into feeding the erroneous belief that the entire clean movement is essentially composed of products that are “homemade”. Perhaps this belief is why people are so unwilling to pay a premium for products and why people are hesitant to leave traditional products behind for the perceived “granola” green products— and also why green brands are less accepted in the luxury market. But many of us transitioned from “traditional” products that were made with lots of iffy ingredients, so we know that clean ingredients do more good and in general cost more than the iffy products/fillers- so why doesn’t it make sense for the products to cost more? If you read YULi’s post explaining the traditional ingredients list, it really teaches you about all the filler and the fact that those lotions and creams you see are mostly filled with the cheap ingredients with few good ones coming in at the bottom: go here and have a read. I think in order for the clean beauty movement to be taken seriously we have to support these brands that dare to compete in the Neiman Marcus space against La Mer and La Prairie, this is the only way people understand that this movement isn’t all just a “hippie grassroots” thing.

To be fair, I think part of the issue here is that so many emerging brands are piggybacking off of green brands that actually have good formulations, trying to position themselves as these wonderfully luxurious brands when really they’re just run by people at home who don’t have any experience as chemists or in the skincare industry, who spend all day reading about oils, then ordering bulk oils and throwing them together and slapping a $100 tag on them. I mean seriously, everyone and their mom is making facial oils now and starting their own brand because they think it is so easy to just order a few ingredients and they all have this “story”- EYEROLL. It really trivializes the challenges of actually having a long-term business with an actual business model. If you look at the ingredients list for Tata Harper or Kahina – you can’t whip that up at home, you can’t order the stem cells that go into an Intelligent Nutrients product on mountainroseherbs, and good luck trying to derive your own chiral ferulic acid from acai and biophotonic matcha in YULI’s products. Part of what you’re paying for with these brands are what makes them good, you’re paying for the fresh farm ingredients straight from Tata’s own organic farm, you’re paying for the amazing argan collective that allow Kahina to have unsurpassed argan products, you’re paying for the experienced hand of a chemist who has formulated products in the beauty industry who is going all out with her own formulations at YULI, you’re paying for an actual doctors holistic remedies with Dr.Alkaitis, you’re paying for the expertise from the founder of the Aveda empire with Intelligent Nutrients products.

In summation: high end green beauty brands have every right to exist and should not have to constantly justify themselves. 



  1. March 25, 2014 / 7:09 pm

    (if there was a fist pumping emoji I would enter it here as well)
    You know who else needs to read this? Spouses/significant others of luxury green beauty consumers, “No I can’t make it myself, honey.”

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