More Than Skin Deep

Does Natural in Skin Care naturally mean Good?

Although Webster defines “natural” as “not artificial, synthetic, [or] acquired by external means,” it is the rare cosmetic ingredient that fits that description. Even water used in cosmetics is generally distilled, deionized, or otherwise purified. All along the continuum of “natural” products, choices have been made to emulsify, stabilize and preserve–to make the products smooth and creamy, keep them fresh, and give them an acceptable shelf life. Even if consumers want products that need to be refrigerated, distributors and retailers will not order them because of the added costs of shipping, storing and greater liability. A growing number of consumers who seek that kind of freshness have been firing up their blenders and following recipes for homemade treatments.1[1] Even these, however, call for essential oils, alcohol, glycerin, lanolin, etc., which are a long way from their natural origins. As reported in Strong Voices, the newsletter of the Breast Cancer Fund, “Approximately one-third of cosmetics and bodycare companies position their products as natural in one way or another . . . But, as you might expect, some companies are more natural than others” (Volume 7, Summer 2005).

Most people who seek out “natural” products are looking for ingredients whose sources they recognize, and that is why many companies now list the source along with the scientific name of the ingredient, as in sodium laurel sulfate (from coconut), or lanolin (from wool). Turpentine comes from pine trees. My grandmother, born in 1901, swore that turpentine helped her arthritic hands, and she may have rubbed them with lard (from bacon) afterwards to keep them as soft as I remember. Perhaps lard and turpentine are “natural,” but are they good for the skin, and along with that, what is the definition of “good?” Again, there are no simple answers. If you have found this article through the Eco-Mall, it is safe to assume that you seek out skin care that:

(1) is friendly to the environment (“eco-friendly”);
(2) does no harm to animals (commonly referred to as “cruelty-free”); and
(3) does no harm to the human body and ideally does good (is “body-friendly”).

Let us examine “natural” skin care in light of each of these issues.

Eco-Friendly
An issue rarely addressed by the cosmetic industry is whether products are environmentally friendly. The LA Times2[2] has reported that consumer products, including cosmetics, pump 100 tons of pollutants daily into southern California’s air, second only to auto emissions. These pollutants come not just from the propellants in sprays and aerosols, but also from fluorocarbons, ethanol, butane, acetone, phenols and xylene. Here’s how it works: These chemicals evaporate, and when the sun shines they combine with other pollutants to form ozone, a primary component of smog that can cause headaches, chest pain and loss of lung function. This happens outdoors and indoors, which can severely compromise the air quality in our homes and offices.

There is a class of chemicals called PPCPs (pharmaceutical and personal care products) that until recently have received relatively little attention as potential environmental pollutants. PPCPs comprise all drugs (prescription and over-the-counter), diagnostic agents (e.g., X-ray contrast media), nutraceuticals, and other chemicals, including fragrances, sunscreen agents, and skin anti-aging preparations. When phthalates, for example, get into rivers and lakes, they are known to affect the reproduction of aquatic species; and musk fragrances are known to bioaccumulate.3[3] Skincare products may contain botanical ingredients grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers that are not friendly to the environment, and some may use genetically modified plants in their botanical ingredients.

Cruelty-Free
“Cruelty-free” is generally understood to mean that the products are not tested on animals; sometimes also that there are no animal-derived ingredients in the products. Taken literally, this would imply the absence of lanolin (from wool), beeswax or honey, dairy products, etc. Some labels specifically state there are no animal ingredients.

Body-Friendly
We suggest four criteria for evaluating “body-friendly” skin care products:

· Toxicity
· Occlusiveness
· Comedogenicity
· Effectiveness

1.Toxicity

In our July article we discussed several ingredients which we prefer to avoid in skin care products. To recap, we listed mineral oils, petrolatum, propylene glycol, parabens, phthalates, SLS and SLES. We also called sunscreens into question.

Toxicity (to humans) of skin care ingredients may be divided into three distinct categories:4[4]

a. Carcinogenic, referring to ingredients contributing to cancer
b. Endocrine-disrupting, which refers to chemicals that disturb the body’s hormonal balance, and may interfere with its ability to grow, develop, or function normally. Endocrine disruptors may also be carcinogenic.
c. Allergenic, irritating or sensitizing, meaning consumers may have allergic reactions or contact dermatitis (itching, redness, rash, etc.). Individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities may become very ill when exposed to certain of these chemicals.

There are many “natural” skincare companies who include parabens, SLES, and other of these ingredients in their products.

A general note about preservatives: By their very nature preservatives are toxic. They must be toxic to bacteria, molds and yeast to keep the products from spoiling. Another preservative that is gaining use as an alternative to parabens is diazolidinyl urea. This preservative has not been banned from use in Europe, although some authors claim it is carcinogenic because it is a formaldehyde donor. Although formaldehyde is a chemical which occurs naturally in the human body, formaldehyde in the gaseous state is a known carcinogen. From all studies we have read, diazolidinyl urea, when it forms formaldehyde, does not form formaldehyde gas. Nonetheless, when used in high enough concentrations, or even in low concentrations by persons who are especially sensitive to it, diazolidinyl urea-along with almost every other preservative-has been shown to cause contact dermatitis. There are also “natural” products who claim to use no preservative. Most of these contain grapefruit–or other citrus–seed oil extract. As mentioned in Part I of this series, cosmetic chemists I have spoken to insist that these citrus seeds would turn rancid if they were not sprayed with preservative; that that preservative is concentrated in the oil when it is extracted; that this preservative in the extract is what is actually preserving the skincare product; and that the preservative used is generally a paraben.

There are also skincare products that are sold in sealed containers with airless pumps or sprayers. Although it can add significantly to the cost of a product, this type of packaging and delivery is highly desirable, as it keeps air and airborne contaminants out of the product and makes it possible to significantly decrease or even eliminate the use of preservative.

Of the large list of possible cosmetic ingredients, a relative few individually pose high risk, but many people use an array of products every day. It may be that these risks are adding up, or that single ingredients react with others to create toxic combinations, known as synergistic toxicity.

2.Occlusivity
The skin is the body’s largest organ. The lungs breathe, and so does the skin, so to speak: The “breathing” skin provides an exit for toxins and chemicals–respiration in the form of perspiration. Lotions and salves that occlude this exit may initially soften the skin by keeping moisture from escaping, but may actually inhibit the overall health of the individual, besides weighing down the skin and causing it to sag and age. Nutrients applied to the skin that improve the skin’s health may have a positive effect on the whole body, because they are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. When we choose body-friendly skin care, two important criteria come into play: that the products not be toxic to our skin or our bodies, and that they not be occlusive-allowing nutrients in and toxins out.5[5] The bonus comes when the ingredients that are allowed in also bring the skin into balance and nourish it. This is the topic of Part III of our series of articles: What Nutrients and Ingredients are Important for Healthy Skin? (late September 2005). Here we address ingredients common to “natural” skin care that may be occlusive and/or comedogenic.

Look up “occlusivity” on the web and you will find hundreds of references to occlusivity and its benefits. The reason companies tout the benefits of occlusivity is that it holds water in the skin. When water can’t escape, the skin stays soft and moist, and that sounds like a good thing. Imagine wrapping your skin with plastic wrap and wearing it around all day-an extreme example of occlusivity. Pretty soon it would start to stink in there as the toxins that usually escape with perspiration and generally evaporate into the air get trapped between the skin and the plastic. Now imagine that those same toxins can’t leave the bloodstream because the skin’s normal respiration is blocked. Where will they go? In some cases, they fester under the skin and form deep-down blemishes; in extreme cases, where occlusive lotions are used all over the body for extended periods, they may deposit in the liver and add to the body’s toxic load.

Sometimes it may be beneficial to use occlusive salves for a limited time. If you want to climb Mt. Everest, for example, or ski at high altitude where the air is thin and dry and you are close to the sun, it’s a good idea to wear a lotion that holds the water in the skin. For babies with diaper rash, it’s good to use a salve that keeps the water away from the skin! For most of us, these are not constant conditions, and treatments that hold water in over time are undesirable.
Standard cosmetics experts may disagree with this reasoning. Paula Begoun in Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me (5th ed., 2001) states: “According to many ‘natural’ cosmetics companies, mineral oil (and petrolatum) comes from crude oil (petroleum), is used in industry as a metal-cutting fluid, and therefore can harm the skin by forming an oil film and suffocating it. . . . This foolish, recurring misinformation about mineral oil and petrolatum is maddening. After all, crude oil is as natural as any other earth-derived substance. . . Mineral oil and petrolatum . . . can keep air off the skin to some extent, but . . . it doesn’t suffocate the skin!” (pp. 11-13). She also states that antiperspirants “cannot absorb into the skin . . .” (p. 14). I maintain that anything rubbed onto the skin will be absorbed, as long as the molecules are small enough to pass through the skin membrane; this is how patches work to deliver medication. Although Begoun makes a good point that crude oil is “natural,” I believe in making educated choices of which earth-derived substances we apply to the skin, and crude oil is not on my list.

It should be noted that there are degrees of occlusivity: If an ingredient is occlusive when used by itself, it will be less so when used in combination with non-occlusive ingredients. A small amount of beeswax used to emulsify jojoba and water will be far less occlusive than rubbing beeswax alone onto the skin. With that in mind, besides mineral oil and petrolatum, here are some of the more common occlusive ingredients found in “natural” skin care:

a. beeswax and other waxes
b. castor oil
c. cocoa butter
d. dimethicone
e. honey
f. lanolin
g. sunflower oil and other vegetable oils

3. Comedogenicity
Unlike occlusive oils like mineral and sunflower oil, which do not penetrate, comedogenicity refers to the tendency of a substance to get into the skin’s pores and clog them. This is especially bothersome in face care products, where clogged pores may lead to acne and blackheads. The word comedo is the medical term for blackhead, so comedo+genic means “friendly to blackheads.” Some cosmetic-ingredient glossaries equate “non-comedogenic” with “non-occlusive,” but that is a misunderstanding; while beeswax, mineral oil and zinc oxide (among others) are known to be occlusive, they are non-comedogenic. This is because they lie on top of the skin and do not penetrate. Others, like sunflower oil, may be both occlusive and (somewhat) comedogenic. Below is a list of the relative comedogenicity of some common “natural” cosmetic ingredients6[6] (source: http://www.geocities.com):

Very Comedogenic
Somewhat Comedogenic
Not Comedogenic

Capric/caprylic triglyceride
Anhydrous lanolin
Allantoin
Cocoa butter
Avocado oil
Beeswax
Lanolic acid
Capric & caprylic acid
Cyclomethicone & Dimethicone
Linseed oil
Castor oil
Ethanol
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Glycerin
Peach kernal oil
Corn oil
Jojoba
Sweet almond oil
Grape seed oil
Kaolin (clay)
Glyceryl stearate
Mineral oil (USP)
Hexylene glycol
Oxybenzone
Lanolin alcohol & oil
Panthenol
Mineral oil, cosmetic grade
Petrolatum (USP)
Mink oil
Polysorbates
Peanut oil
Propylene glycol
Safflower oil
SD alcohol
Sesame oil
Sodium hyaluronate
Sunflower oil
Sodium PCA
Tocopherol (vitamin E)
Sorbitol
Squalane
Titanium dioxide
Waxes

“Note: Even somewhat or very comedogenic ingredients can be present in non-comedogenic formulas when used at percentages low enough that the end formula won’t clog pores” (ibid.). The important point is to look at their relative position in the ingredients list. If a comedogenic ingredient is toward the top, then it is probably present in a quantity large enough to clog pores. Unfortunately it is impossible from the ingredients list to know whether for example ingredient #5 represents 20% of the formula or 2%. Thus we need to be able to trust the manufacturer when the label states “non-comedogenic.”

4. Effectiveness
Let us assume that every skincare company’s raison d’etre (before or after the profit motive) is to create products that make the skin feel and look good, and that probably means it’s soft and not dry. Add some additional goals–anti-aging, anti-acne, skin-smoothing–and you’ve covered most of the bases. Most skincare products, “natural” or otherwise, achieve these goals by using occlusive ingredients that hold moisture in and keep the skin soft and “plump.”
If, however, we are looking for the beauty of overall glowing good health in the skin, we need to ask for more than this from our skin care.

We agree with Charles DePrince, president of GoForLife Labs, who states: “The idea of ‘natural’ could mean a product containing all natural ingredients; however, I believe there should be a more significant meaning to the idea. I think the natural course to attaining beauty is a healthier and potentially more lasting one than with the use of harsh or radical treatments such as Botox, face lifts and peeling. The ‘natural’ idea would be to support the living and natural cells of our skin with nutrients that could support such things as the body’s natural ability to retain moisture, to support natural collagen development, or to reduce hyperpigmentation. This way, by supporting the natural health of the skin, I believe the cumulative effect would be to develop healthier skin as both the path to and result of beauty.”7[7]

In the third and final article of this series, to be published in late September, we will discuss skincare ingredients that work from the inside out to support and nourish the skin, bring it into balance, and keep it healthy and young-looking. Meanwhile, we recommend as a minimum that skincare products be non-toxic, non-occlusive, non-comedogenic, and soften and moisturize.8[8] We also recommend using fewer products, and avoiding synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Become an avid reader of ingredients labels!

What Does it Mean and Why Should You Care

As we get older our skin ages, and as we start to notice ageing skin our thoughts turn to skin care. Today I want to examine the problems with mainstream anti aging products, find out what all natural skin care is and why this is important for you to know.

Anti aging products are supposed to be good for us. They are supposed to reverse the effects of skin ageing and to reduce the visible results, namely wrinkles, skin sagging, fine lines, age spots and more. Using skin care products is supposed to be a positive in our life.

But unfortunately for many people this is not the case. The numbers of people who suffer from allergies, skin irritation and skin problems like eczema from the use of mainstream big brand skin care products is huge. I know this because it’s happened to a member of my family and because I spend my time researching this.

And there is one simple reason for this, a reason that does not apply to all natural skin care products.

The reason is this. Many of the antaging brands that you may take for granted and perhaps even use every day contain a range of chemical and petrochemical ingredients, many of which are known to cause cancer and many of which lead to skin problems as well as other health problems.

I spend much of my time researching skin care products and looking at the health implications of many of the chemical ingredients which are used in them. For example just this morning I was reading the results of a study done on mice which has been published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology which concluded that the use of moisturizers containing sodium lauryl sulphate increase the risk of skin cancer in mice by 69 percent.

This is just one of the hundreds or even thousands of studies which have shown that many of the chemical ingredients used in modern big brand name skin care products can have a range of health implications. Ingredients such as mineral oil, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, fragrances, petroleum products and more are all used in many if not most of the big brand anti aging products that you see on the shelves every day. And each of these has been shown in various studies to put consumers at risk of health and skin problems.

There are a wide range of well-known natural ingredients which are firmly established to be very beneficial to the health of your skin and which are perfectly safe to use in anti aging products such as all natural anti aging products. These ingredients are known to be safe and in many cases have been eaten by generations of people without negative health implications.

Of course these natural ingredients are all available to any company to use in it’s anti aging products. However with billions of dollars at stake in this industry competition is voracious, including competition on price. Whilst all of these natural ingredients found in so many good all natural skin care products are relatively expensive chemical ingredients such as mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulphate are extremely cheap. These companies use cheap ingredients so that they can market their products at a competitive price and include in the budget plenty of money for television advertising.

However this situation offers an opportunity to new players in the market, and to some older players, to develop products which take advantage of the growing awareness of the problem of chemical ingredients in anti aging products. These niche companies produce excellent all natural anti aging products using ingredients which are known to be safe and which are highly effective, and usually more so than the chemical ingredients used in the big brands.

All natural skin care products work very effectively, and if you choose wisely they are perfectly safe for you to use on your skin, regardless of skin type, and will not cause any skin irritation or allergies or any other health problems.

Note that I said “if you choose wisely”. There are many anti aging products advertised as all natural skin care products which contain many of the chemical ingredients used in the big brand names. There is no government regulation determining what can or cannot be used in anti aging products and what can or cannot be said on the label, so cheating is rife.

The best all natural skin care products offer you an opportunity for excellent skin care without risking your health or your skin. They are highly effective and they need to be, because the best ones come with a money back guarantee to ensure that all customers are able to try the products risk free to establish for themselves how well they work.

So if you’re becoming concerned about the problems with mainstream anti aging skin care products and you can be confident in the knowledge that, if you choose wisely, you can find excellent all natural skin care products that really do produce optimum skin health without the chemical risks.

Why Bother

What is Natural Skin Care?

Natural skin care is normally understood to refer to those products characterised by the absence of synthetic ingredients, such as preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils, fragrances and harsh detergents.

Typically, natural skin care products are made using natural ingredients such as plant oils, essential oils, herbal and floral extracts (both aqueous and waxy), that have been prepared in the “old fashion way”, without chemical processing or modification. Sometimes, ethically produced animal derivatives, such as beeswax, may also be present in natural skin care (1).

Natural skin care made with approved organically produced raw materials and practices can be organic certified by the relevant organic organizations.

Unfortunately, there are numerous products in the market that claim to be either natural or that are cleverly marketed for their singular botanical extract or vitamin, amongst a dense cocktail of synthetic ingredients. These are the “pseudo-natural” products (1). To help clarify if a skin care product is really natural, it is recommended to read the ingredients section in the label.

Why is natural skin care better than synthetic?

Products that are made from ingredients that have been extracted naturally from sustainably maintained plants and crops manifest the essence, the energy, the qualities and the benefits of the source raw material, in ways that synthetics ingredients do not.

Simply put, the geographical location, the soil and the water the plants are grown in, as well as the sun exposure, the seasons and harvesting times contribute to the mature plants and crop yields in unique ways.

These factors cannot be mimicked in the laboratory or controlled nurseries, as the natural exposure to the environmental conditions facilitates development of subtle differences in the plants. These are then reflected in the quality of the extracted oils, as well as on their specific composition, properties and benefits.

Besides, synthetic ingredients are produced in laboratories using scientific, yet often hazardous processes involving the use of carbon dioxide, propylene glycol or hexane based methods. Although these chemical agents may only be present is trace amounts in the final synthesised ingredients, it is unclear what effect they might have as they accumulate in our bodies, over a prolonged period of exposure (2).

Of course, some of the natural extracts and oils may also be affected or destabilised by the natural extraction methods used in their preparation. For these reasons manufacturers of natural skin care products give great consideration to the sourcing of their raw materials and how natural ingredients are prepared from the latter.

What is Special About Plant Oils?

Plant oils are made up of complex mixtures of different fatty acids (lipids). It is the specific mix and ratio of these fatty acids that determines the unique character of any oil. In addition to the main lipid fraction, there are also other very important bioactive substances such as the phospholipids, phosphatides, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones and vitamins. These bioactives are known as the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. They normally are present is small amounts and are unique signatures of the oils (3).

To demonstrate how the oil composition determines the difference in functional properties, the typical fatty acid profile of apricot kernel and borage oils as described in Kusmirek (3) are compared below.

1 – Apricot kernel oil is a mixture of 58 – 74% of oleic acid, 25 – 30% of linoleic, with the remainder 4 – 7% composed of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and alpha-linolenic acids. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 0.5 -0.75%.

2 – Borage oil is a mixture of 30 – 40% linoleic acid, 8 – 25% gamma linolenic acid, 15 – 20% oleic acid, 9 – 12% palmitic acid, 3 – 4% stearic acid, 2 – 6 % eicosenoic acid. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 1%.

Apricot kernel oil is a great nourishing and emollient oil that is easily absorbed. These properties are attribute to the high percentages of oleic and linoleic acids. Furthermore, apricot kernel oil is also an excellent source of vitamin A, present in the unsaponifiable matter.

Borage oil is known for its nourishing and penetrating properties attributed to the presence of linoleic and oleic acids, but in addition the high content of gamma-linolenic acid confers its regenerating and firming qualities.

The differences in the properties of apricot kernel and borage oils, as well as those of other oils not discussed here, demonstrate the importance to blend various plant oils for optimal skin care, so that the skin is adequately fed, continuously hydrated, smooth feeling and equipped to regenerate efficiently. These are essential to promote a healthy skin glow, regardless of age.

But, even if the synthetics oils were to reproduce the exact mixes and ratios of plant derived fatty acids and unsaponifiables, it would be nearly impossible to mimic into the synthetic oils the contribution from the energy that is held in the plant, from which the equivalent natural oils were extracted. Thus, natural ingredients are different from their synthetic equivalents.

What about essential oils and other botanicals?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts of aromatic and other volatile plant substances, sometimes containing growth factors known for their regenerative properties. They are the source of the scents of nature and may be used to add scent to natural products. Because of their concentrated nature and high cost to produce, only small amounts of essential oils are used in natural skin care. Besides, as essential oils may be irritating to the skin, they should never be used undiluted.

In contrast to oils, floral/herbal waters are the aqueous extracts from flowers/plants. Naturally produced oils and aqueous extracts are made through distillation, steaming, or infusion techniques. These are slow and often inefficient processes that add to cost. But, the products generated using non-synthetic approaches are much safer and healthier than those extracted with the use of artificial methods.

Is there a problem with the variation in natural ingredient batches?

The quick answer is NO!

Certainly, naturally produced ingredients show “batch variation”, but this is part of nature, demonstrating the cycles of change. These are natural bio- rhythms, and as with everything in nature sometimes there is abundant sunshine, other times there are only clouds. Naturally, these weather changes affect the growth patterns of the plants.

This means that periodically some of the natural ingredients may contain a slightly higher or lower percentage of one or even several of the components, but over a period of time, these variations balance out. The key point is that the overall effect of using natural ingredients is still beneficial in the long run.

Supporters of the mainstream cosmetic industry object to this variation associated with natural ingredients. Instead they advocate that synthetic ingredients are a far better option to manufacture any products, including skin care. They argue that synthetic ingredients are scientifically controlled, exacting, standardised and can be made in a totally reproducible manner. But, at the end of the day…they are not natural!

What about preservatives, stabilisers and emulsifiers?

Sure, preservatives and stabilisers extend the shelf-life of any product, natural and synthetic (1,2,4). Because of this recognition European and USA organic and regulatory organisations have approved the use of certain preservatives for which there has been long standing accumulation of safety and toxicity data, e.g. blends of dehydro-acetic acid. These preservatives were designed to replace the paraben family of preservatives in the personal care products. Though natural products ought to have the minimal necessary amounts of preservatives.

Without a doubt, preservatives such as the parabens, the phenol derivatives and the denatured alcohols are extremely effective, as they increase the product shelf-life almost indefinitely! But, they are also known to interfere with hormone balance and can be allergenic (1,2). Clearly, they are not health promoting substances. As they are readily absorbed by the skin and are long lasting, their long-term effects on distal organs are unknown, and thus undesirable.

Interestingly, vitamin E is a powerful natural anti-oxidant, as well as a fantastic natural preservative for oil blends and emulsified oils (2). Extracts of rosemary and oregano are also considered natural preservatives because of their anti-bacterial properties (2). However, these are not frequently used as they impart a strong scent and may give rise to some skin irritation. This is an example of where caution has to be exercised with natural substances. Though these occurrences are more the exception than the rule.

Alginic acid obtained from brown algae is sometimes used as a stabiliser (4). But, allantoin, an extract from comfrey root is a more suitable natural stabiliser for skin care preparations (2).

Emulsifiers are substances that help to prevent the parting of the of oil and water fractions in a cream or lotion. In natural skin care these include lethicin and the wax cetearyl alcohol (1,2,4). Lecithin is extracted from soya beans and is known to soften the skin and help penetration of the skin care product. Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of the high melting point cetyl and stearyl fatty acids derived from either animal or plant fats. In natural skin care it is preferable to have plant sourced cetearyl alcohol. Apart from its great emulsifying properties, this fatty acid mix facilitates maintenance of skin hydration.

So, what’s he take home message?

Regardless of some of the limitations of natural skin care, the natural ingredients in these products are still far more beneficial than those that are completely synthetic. Synthetics are unable to reproduce the unique heterogeneous and nourishing character of the natural extracts and oils, as discussed above.

Technology aside, it is also clear that there are major financial gains for manufacturers to use mostly, if not strictly synthetic ingredients. The cost of producing natural skin care products is of necessity higher than that of synthesising vast quantities of easy to make and use synthetic ingredients. Compared to their equivalent natural counterparts they afford versatility on the production line, on the shelf-life, as well as on profitability.

These attributes of scientifically designed skin care in the 20th century satisfied the increasing market desire for youth elixirs. However, since the 1960’s growing conscious awareness of what was in our food, demand for natural and organic products increased. This requirement extended to the personal care sector also. Indeed, the natural and organic cosmetics market has been the fastest growing sector of the personal care products since the late 1980’s.

Fortunately nowadays, the driver is not purely for skin care that makes you look good, but for products that can achieve this goal with respect for human beings and the environment.

5 Benefits Of A Natural Skin Care Routine

Having a skin care routine is a large part of any women’s life, but have you thought of the benefits of using a natural skin care routine? If there is anything that is important for any women, it’s to have good healthy looking skin, and natural skincare products can certainly help you achieve this. In fact natural cosmetic products can enhance your skin in ways that many other ‘traditional’ makeup and cosmetic products can’t. Many of the ‘traditional’ makeup and cosmetic products that are on the market contain ingredients that can actually damage the skin.

Natural Skin Care Products Don’t Clog Pores. Often traditional makeup that is used by women contains chemicals that have been artificially produced. They are not natural, and therefore are not always appreciated by the skin. However natural cosmetics and natural skin care products don’t clog pores, they have a more natural look and will enhance natural beauty.

Natural Skincare Products Contain Natural Oils. All natural cosmetics, and especially organic makeup products, contain naturally occurring oils and minerals. These are easily absorbed by your skin and help to keep your skin looking great. For example, the oils in natural makeup products will moisturise your skin. Some of the mineral foundations contain natural screen protecting, thus protecting your skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure. The end result is a beautiful complexion and enhanced natural beauty.

Natural, Organic Skin Care Products Are Gentler. Much of the traditional makeup on the market contains harsh chemicals. These chemicals can damage the skin, causing outbreaks, itchiness, red blotches. Sometimes to relieve the condition women turn to other skin products which are supposed to provide relief but only make matters worse. Natural skin care products contain ingredients which greatly reduces skin irritations and allergies. They are much gentler to the skin won’t aggravate eczema or acne. Of course, some people with very sensitive skin could still be affected by natural products, but the effects will be minimal.

Natural Skin Care Products Are More Eco Friendly. More and more people now are thinking about the ecological impact that their purchases are having. Natural skincare and organic makeup products are not tested on animals. Also, they contain ingredients that are organic and therefore biodegradable. So the environment isn’t harmed in the production of organic cosmetic products and the environment isn’t harmed when they are disposed of.

Natural And Organic Makeup Has Same Results. The big cosmetic companies spend millions of dollars each year in promoting their products. They have glamorous TV ads, have models and famous people endorsing their products and the end result is that we believe the hype. However, natural makeup and organic skincare products will give you the same long lasting results that you expect from your makeup. It’s essential to research your products first of all to make sure that you are buying quality products. In the long run, you won’t have to sacrifice your skin’s health by wearing makeup every day.
Because women spend a lot of time and money in caring for their appearance and health of the skin, it is only natural then to choose natural skin care products and organic makeup. Although at the start the price of these natural products may seem slightly higher, this ‘extra’ cost is offset by the fact that in the long run you will spend less money on moisturizers (because your skin will be naturally moisturized) and you will spend less money on products to reduce the effects of harsh chemicals in ‘traditional’ makeup.

So make sure that you choose natural skin care products for your natural skin care routine.

What Is It Really

Using natural skin care products and organic skin care products, is a growing desire for most people. You want skin care that is effective, safe to use and good for the environment. There are many natural products in the market place and an increasing amount being sold as organic.

Why choose natural and organic skin care products?
The natural vs. synthetic debate has become very intense and polarized. Which is better? Which is safer? What should you use? There is so much information – much of it inaccurate – on the internet. There are consumer groups hellbent on scaring the consumer away from buying practically anything, natural or synthetic. Every ingredient seems to be hazardous in their opinion. It’s gotten a bit out of control.

It can be made quite simple. If your desire is to use a skin care product with an effect on the skin use products that actually have ingredients that will provide that effect. Most synthetic ingredients used in skin care products are in there to make the product look good in the bottle. These are emulsifiers that keep the oil and the water from separating, surfactants that cleanse and preservatives. A majority of natural products will have mainly active ingredients in the product. This would be vegetable oils, herbals, essential oils and nutrients (though many nutrients like vitamin C, CoQ10 and others are synthetically made).

The choice in this direction is now between a majority of active ingredients or functional – just there to make the product look good – ingredients. Ingredients that are synthetically composed of petroleum are also viewed as more environmentally hazardous. As an environmental concern, natural ingredients should be sustainable, and not in danger of extinction.

There’s a lot more depth to this discussion.

Organic skin care products
It’s best if you play the role of the skeptic when it comes to labels and marketing. If a label says organic skin care it should have an official seal, like the USDA NOP certified organic seal. If an organic skin care line is coming from Europe it may have the ECOCERT label.

What is natural skin care?
The bigger challenge is in identifying what defines natural. Many ingredients labeled as natural are really synthetic. This doesn’t make them bad or dangerous, as many people are being led to believe. Several ingredients, such as vegetable emulsifying wax and cetearyl alcohol, are derived from plant sources and altered to become a new compound used in skin care. These start as natural so are often described as natural ingredients by the brands using them. Natural soap is another chemically altered ingredient that is no longer natural. Coconut oil is used in a reaction with sodium or potassium hydroxide to create a cleanser. The resulting compound, or soap, is called sodium cocoate – if made with sodium hydroxide, potassium cocoate if made with potassium hydroxide. This compound does not occur in nature so can not be defined as a natural ingredient. These two examples are used to show the difficulty in defining a natural ingredient. The ingredients are fine for use in natural products as they are safe, effective at their function for the skin care product, and are not disruptive to the environment.

What is a synthetic ingredient?
Most synthetic ingredients are easier to identify and define as synthetic. These would include any ingredient that begins with MEA-, TEA- or DEA-. The preservatives phenoxyethanol, parabens or any of the formaldehyde releasers like DMDM Hydantoin or imidazolidinyl urea are also synthetic. These synthetics are not manufactured using starting material from a plant source. Though it can be argued that it does come from a “natural” source, where some will say that starting from a collection of single electrons to fully manufacture something that does not exist in nature still has a natural starting material. Silly argument, but it has been said.

What are natural ingredients?
It easy to recognize most truly natural skin care ingredients. Coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and herbal extracts are familiar and easily identified. Other ingredients may be mislabeled, such as essential oils which are not regulated and can be synthetic fragrances. There are some new plant based preservatives that are being used, though these have not all proven to be effective enough for commercial products – these may include rose or rosemary extracts. Ethanol, mainly defined as grain alcohol or grape alcohol, is a good natural and effective preservative. Alcohol can also be an organic ingredient.

The challenge of natural skin care
This article was not very conclusive as to what you can do to ensure you are buying safe skin care or how to buy natural skin care. It’s difficult to clearly, without a long discussion and debate, define or comment on product safety. When doing an internet information search for safe natural ingredients you may find this comment – “even natural can be dangerous. Look at poison ivy.” The only real response one can make to that is – “who is the fool that puts poison ivy in skin care?”

Make your decisions based on your desired results and do your research. This will help you define natural and synthetic ingredients and find suitable skin care for your needs.