Tourmaline and Walnut Shells … in a Facial Cream?

“Feel energy from nature,” says the ad for Aveda’s hydrating facial and eye creams. Not that we’re in the cosmetics business, but the ingredients in this moisturizer made us sit up and take notice: It uses finely powdered tourmaline.

Aveda says the tourmaline does not act as a polishing compound. The company’s ad copy calls it a “natural mineral, bringing energy to brighten the skin, improving the skin tone not as an exfoliant but reacting with the other elements in the cream.”

Aveda’s public relations spokesperson, however, didn’t seem to know how it does what it does. Jewelers know that tourmaline has a hardness of 7, which is probably a lot more abrasive than any other mineral Aveda would use in facial creams, so don’t rule out its polishing potential. But more important than its hardness is tourmaline’s piezoelectric property—it truly could be electrifying. “Well, not exactly,” says Aveda’s customer service representative. “It’s just a natural mineral bringing energy to the skin.” (Thanks for clearing that up.)

How about walnut shells in skin products? You’ve probably read recently that walnut shells have been used to polish pearls, and some suspect that the high luster of Chinese freshwater pearls is achieved by tumbling them in walnut shell media. Rio Grande, an Albuquerque, N.M., seller of jewelry manufacturing supplies, sells walnut shell by the pound, loose, charged, and crushed; a 10-lb. bag costs $10. According to Rio Grande, walnut shell is an excellent carrier for other components, to charge with different compounds—e.g., polishing creams such as chrome oxide and iron oxide.

Walnut shell has been used in the jewelry industry for polishing plastics, metals, fossil ivory, and more, says Rio Grande. But the use of walnut shells in Aveda’s smoothing body polish is something new. “It is a natural exfoliant,” says the Aveda spokesperson. “It’s been ground for that purpose. And we also have walnut extract added for color in our sun creams.”

For information on Aveda products, call (800) 328-0849, or log onto For information about walnut shell and walnut shell media, contact Rio Grande at (800) 965-2329 or visit

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