Look Great, Live Green

A book cover "Live Green"

Look Great, Live Green

Author: Deborah Burnes

Pub: hunter house

Price: £14.99


In this age of ‘going green’, many consumers opt for natural or organic products in their kitchens, and this is extending to the bathroom. Deborah Burnes’s Look Great, Live Green is a detailed analysis of the ‘$60 billiona- year Goliath’ that is our cosmetics industry. The book covers a brief history of beauty before a more detailed examination of everyday cosmetic products, with Burnes lamenting their contents and urging us to consider their detrimental impact on the planet, as well as to our bodies.

The first part whips through organic versus natural, advertising propaganda, waste packaging, market domination – even combining chemical pollution and animal testing in one paragraph. Burnes then advises the reader by comprehensively examining individual products’ ingredients formulating lists of ‘Good, Better and Best’ options.

Look Great, Live Green includes a series of useful tips to make the consumer question their purchases. For example, a label showing juicy raspberries doesn’t mean there are actually raspberries in the product, and both ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ are unregulated terms in the cosmetics industry. The book ends with several pages of relaxing and delicious-sounding recipes for hair and skin masks, bath soaks and oils, many of which can be created using the contents of your fruit bowl. The book has made me consider my normal practice, if only in light of the sheer quantity of cosmetics we are using – in a shocking revelation, Burnes suggests the average American uses eight products every day. That said, she does run her own natural cosmetics company, Sumbody, which creates a conflict of interests that materialises as a series of contradictions in the book. Burnes also manages to alienate the reader with unsubstantiated claims and scare-mongering tactics, at times so extreme they border on comedy. She casually drops facts and statistics that I had to question, such as: ‘women ingest several pounds of lipstick per year’. With a lipstick weighing around 3-4 grammes net, we would need to consume 126 of them per year to hit even the one pound mark. True, I’m not an avid make-up wearer, but I fail to believe that even a fulltime circus clown pasting layers on daily could get through such an enormous quantity. Burnes’s enthusiasm is clear, though as the reader is inundated with haphazardly arranged information, the book can read like a stream of consciousness of her beliefs and personal guilt about her industry. I feel Burnes’s early (rather hysterical) promise that Look Great, Live Green wouldn’t be another ‘we-are-all-doomed-and-killing-ourselvesand- our-families-daily’ type of book has been broken.