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Freshly peeled beauty.

IT'S time to make room in the fridge. Soon your milk and yoghurt will be sharing shelf space with... your face mask!

The new trend towards "green" cosmetics means products are now so natural, they have to be kept in the fridge so they won't go off.

Likewise, beauty products have strict use-by dates and face packs contain enough fruit and veg to satisfy the recommended five portions a day healthy diet.

Back to Basics is no longer just a political slogan - it is the new trend in the beauty market.

It started with the Body Shop and has now been taken a step further by Lush, which came to Birmingham this month.

Walk into the unique Corporation Street store and you might think you're in a delicatessen... if it wasn't for the smell.

Lush, launched in 1995, is proof that the new "natural is best" trend is gaining momentum.

They have stepped out of the mail order business and into the high street, expanding from London and north of the border to Brum.

Lush offers the ultimate in green cosmetics. Products are made from herbs, fruit, vegetables, clay and cereals.

All are fresh and preservative-free; have little or no packaging; ingredients are all marked; items suitable for vegetarians and vegans identified and nothing is tested on animals.

The chain already boasts Madonna, Princess Anne, Paula Yates, Jodie Kidd, Gillian Anderson and Lady Helen Windsor as its biggest fans.

Indeed, Madonna was all in a lather over a large bar of mint chocolate.

The After 8.30 Massage Bar actually contains white and dark chocolate and looks as if it is straight out of a Cadbury wrapper.

Yet it isn't for eating, but for massage. And it doesn't cost a single calorie.

Customers can also serve themselves with refrigerated Fresh Treats for the hair, face and body and use pick 'n' mix skincare with a selection of Gourmet Toppings at the Cleansing Bar.

Meanwhile soaps, displayed whole in huge cakes, look just like loaves of freshly baked bread.

It seems women are turning their backs on the more clinical beauty treats, in favour of alternative or natural products.

And celebrities are leading the way. Top model Caprice, star of those pizza adverts with Jonathan "Woss" Ross, has revealed a new use for tomato ketchup - as a beauty treatment for hair.

She swears by the powers of ketchup to return her blonde tresses to their silken grandeur after a dip in the swimming pool.

Caprice, 26, told Harpers and Queen: "The chlorine in swimming pools turns my hair seriously green, but I've discovered that tomato ketchup is the best thing to combat that."

The oft-married actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is said to take a banana and allow it to turn black and full of potassium before putting it on her face as a mask. Then she plonks it in an old bra, wearing it for an hour to firm her breasts.

Model Cindy Crawford is said to use her morning coffee grounds to massage her legs free of cellulite.

Jerry Hall, wife of Mick Jagger, allegedly rubs lard over her body to avoid stretch marks when she is pregnant, and

Joan Collins, who still looks ultra-glamorous, uses Lurpak on her complexion.

Women are willing to give most things a bash. They are using everything from pile cream for wrinkles; porridge as an exfoliant; egg mayonnaise or cat litter for a face mask; haemorrhoid cream for puffy eyes; vodka, stout or brandy to add shine to hair an d mashed aspirin in a bottle of shampoo to prevent dandruff.

Every woman knows cucumber, with its high mineral and water content, or cold teabags are great to soothe the eyes.

But did you know you can use lemon juice as a cheap toner? Likewise, that you can mix brewer's yeast with plain yoghurt and apply to the skin to prevent a pimple coming through?

Other handy hints include using green tea to prevent plaque and washing your hair in lentil water to give it shine.

Seemingly, tomato ketchup can also be rubbed on feet to deodorise.

Even chaps are apparently getting in on the act. Alternative remedies include Marmite to stimulate their failing follicles.

But natural products received a doubting reception from the experts.

Judy Brown, senior staff nurse at the Birmingham Skin Centre in City Hospital, said: "It is true that quite a few people are allergic to the chemicals in traditional beauty products and the problem is growing.

"We don't quite know why but more and more people are becoming sensitive and perhaps natural cosmetics and skin-care can help combat this.

"However, there will still be a lot of people that are allergic to the ingredients in natural products, such as fruits and vegetables, and we can't recommend it."

Dr Sarah Wakelin, senior registrar at the St John's Institute for Dermatology in London, also warned: "Natural cosmetics are not something we would usually advocate to use on diseased skin.

"It is a popular concept but in my personal opinion, that doesn't make it any better or safer than traditional products. As far as I'm aware there is no robust scientific evidence to prove they work.

"Perfume, which can be found naturally in plants or trees and will still be in these products, is one of the most common causes of allergies. About 8 per cent of people who come to us with suspected skin allergies are allergic to fragrance.

"Perhaps fruit should be eaten to be healthy and not put on your face."

What do you think about natural products? Do you have your own favourite home treatments? Write to Talkabout, Sunday Mercury, 28 Colmore Circus, Birmingham B4 6AZ.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 27, 1998
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