Zia Natural

Zia Natural At-A-Glance

Strengths: The company provides complete product ingredient lists on their Web site.

Weaknesses: Several products contain one or more irritating ingredients that have no established benefit for skin; several of the sunscreens do not provide sufficient UVA protection; no reliable AHA, BHA, or anti-acne products.

Zia Wesley Hosford founded Zia Natural Skin Care in 1984, but due to a falling-out with her partners, Zia no longer owns the line herself. However, the product philosophy remains the same (which is less about philosophy and more about marketing hyperbole than anything else), embracing the world of "natural" with as much exaggeration and hoopla as you can imagine. Now, as part of the Hain Celestial Group (which also owns Alba Botanica, Jason Natural, and Avalon Organics), Zia Natural remains a staple at most health food stores and natural markets.

When shopping at these types of locations, most consumers expect that any of the "natural" products being sold there should have, with complete certainty, the real deal when it comes to plant-based skin care and makeup. Sometimes the product line is truly natural, but sometimes…, well, marketing just doesn't always lend itself to the truth, as is the case with this product line.

In terms of formulations, without question there are many natural ingredients that are good for skin, but there also are lots of natural ingredients that are extremely problematic for skin, under any circumstances. On the other hand, there are many synthetic ingredients that are beneficial, as well as many that are not. Zia Natural products fall into both categories: some of the natural ingredients they include are not better for skin, some of them are. Plus, in some cases, they include synthetic ingredients, hoping they get by under the radar. Zia also includes "essential oils," claiming they are the pure answer for skin and that all botanicals have healing properties. If only that were true, Zia Natural would be a font of earth-friendly skin-care solutions. But in the Zia Natural line, anecdotal information and blatant misinformation takes the place of what we know to be true about what our skin needs. As a result, this is not a comprehensive skin-care line worthy of your undivided attention.

What's particularly maddening is that the literature for this line states that they "only use ingredients that provide a benefit to skin, and that are not harmful." So how do they explain the inclusion of eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, menthol, and lemon juice in several of their products? Indeed, those ingredients are natural, but each of them has documented evidence of their potential to harm skin. Meanwhile, several natural ingredients that are actually helpful for skin are conspicuously absent from Zia Natural products.

Another contradiction is that for all the natural rhetoric, this line uses a substantial amount of synthetic ingredients. For example, all of their sunscreens contain synthetic actives and their moisturizers contain synthetic thickening agents such as glyceryl stearate. In short, labeling this line as all natural is a mistake on par with thinking that you can grow vegetables already wrapped in Saran Wrap™ in your garden.

Not to be dismissed outright, there are a handful of surprisingly good Zia Natural products, but guess what?!... One of the reasons they're so good is because of the natural ingredients they don't contain! Ironic, yes, but the research about this is hard to ignore. If you concentrate on Zia Natural's least natural products, your skin will thank you and, depending on the product chosen and the rest of your routine, stands a good chance of improving!

For more information about Zia, call 1-800-434-4246 or visit www.zianatural.com.

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