Don’t panic, it’s organic. Every year, many companies rake in millions of dollars from natural skin care products. More people now prefer to go green and choose organics over chemicals. But are their promises based on science and not just pure marketing? And does natural always mean better?
If you use natural skin products, you should learn to choose them wisely. You need to know how natural ingredients work and how they are useful. More importantly, you should be able to look beyond false labels and see that you’re getting exactly what you pay for.
Cut The Chemicals With Natural Skin Care Products
The skin is the largest organ in your body. When you apply products to your skin, a small amount goes into your blood. Every year, studies show that women absorb as much as five pounds of chemicals through their skin. Some of these compounds are irritants, while others are linked to cancer.
Up to 10,500 unsafe chemicals are used in to make skin care products. They are harmful to both human health and the environment. If it’s something that you would never think of eating, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin.To avoid the risk of harm from these compounds, it’s easy to see why more people are choosing natural skin care products.
There are a few things you should keep in mind about natural skin products. Even though they are much safer than chemicals, they are not 100 percent risk free.
Even natural compounds can cause allergies in some people. Many skin care products are not tested enough for their use or side effects. They may contain natural products, but the amount may be so small to have an effect.
Finally, do not be fooled easily by natural or organic labels. Not all of these claims are true. Marketing labels are not regulated and some companies get away with using them under certain technicalities.
Is It All Natural?
1. Learn To look Beyond Labels.
There is no legal definition of the word “natural” in food and skin care products. Natural skin care products should contain more than 90 percent natural ingredients with no synthetic compounds. However, no governing bodies police the use of this term. The same goes for the term organic. Organic skin care products should use between 70-95 percent of natural ingredients which are grown with no artificial fertilizers or pesticides.
Manufacturers use other definitions that can also fall under this label, which may be misleading, but not illegal. Other terms that have vague definitions include nontoxic, hypoallergenic and fragrance free. Watch out for claims that start with “derived from,” because it means that the substance has been changed and can be harmful.
The good news is that you can trust some product seals. Products that have The Natural Seal by the Natural Products Association are safe and all natural. They have not been tested on animals and are earth friendly.
Organic certifiers include Ecocert in Europe, USDA Organic in the United States, Australian Certified Organic and Canada Organic.
2. Look At The Ingredients
Some products may have natural substances, but the rest of the ingredients may be harmful. The law requires that all the ingredients of a product be listed. They are arranged in order of how much is contained in a product.
One way to look at the list is to divide it into three parts from top to bottom. The top part makes up about 90 percent of the product.
The middle and bottom parts make up around 8 percent and 2 percent of the product, respectively. If a substance is shown in the bottom third, there may be too little of it to be of any use.
Natural ingredients are listed by their scientific names, which may be italicized or written in parenthesis. For instance, chamomile is listed as Matricaria recutita. Chemicals have very long, complex names. Some of common chemicals used in products include:
Parabens – Used as preservatives in makeup and are linked to breast cancer.
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) – Solvents used in nail polish to make them less brittle. They can cause gene mutations and developmental defects.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) And Compounds – Used in products to make them creamy and to adjust the pH. They are found in soaps and moisturizers. They cause skin and eye irritation and are linked to several types of cancer.
- P-Phenylenediamine – Used as dyes in many products and are listed as C.I. followed by five digits. These are proven carcinogens.
- Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives – Used as preservatives in many products. They are strong irritants and are harmful to the environment. These include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and methenamine.
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) Or Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – Used in moisturizers and cosmetics as antioxidants. They cause allergies and are toxic to humans.
- Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs) – Petroleum based compounds used as cream bases. They are harmful to human development and can cause cancer.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Or Sodium Laureth Sulfate – Used in many products to make them foamy. They cause skin irritation, eye damage and respiratory problems.
- Heavy Metals – Such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel are found in some products.
They build up in the body over time and cause many serious illnesses including skin allergies, cancer and problems in the kidneys, the nervous system and the lungs.
- Aluminum – Widely used in deodorants and acts as an antiperspirant. It is linked to brain disorders and breast cancer.
- Talc – Used in powders and is a major cause of ovarian cancer. When inhaled, they cause chronic respiratory problems.
3. Smell The Product
Natural skin products should not have synthetic fragrances or perfume. Even if they are labeled as unscented or fragrance free, use your own nose. Fragrances are irritants and cause respiratory problems especially in asthmatics. Fragrances are also used to mask the scent of harsh chemicals in a product.
4. Check The Packaging
Containers can be a source of chemicals that leach into your products. Polycarbonate and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic contain poisonous compounds that are bad for you and the environment. The best choice is always glass containers. Safe plastics include polyethylene phthalate (PET) and polypropylene.
What Are The Natural Ingredients With Proven Benefits?
Now that you know how to tell if a product is truly all natural, you should also know which ones are backed by science. Here’s a list of some of the most studied natural skin care ingredients:
- Soy – Extract from soy has antioxidant and anti cancer. It is used to lighten the skin, increase elasticity, decrease oil production and acts as a moisturizer.
- Green, Black And White Teas – The active ingredient in tea extracts are polyphenols and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory substances.
They have anti aging properties, reduce UV induced skin damage and protect against skin cancer.
- Chamomile – This plant is an age old herbal remedy. It has many active compounds, which give it antimicrobial, anti allergy, antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects.
- Caffeine – This is a stimulant with both antioxidant and anti cancer effects.
- Coffeeberry – This plant contains high concentrations of polyphenols, making it a potent antioxidant. It is used for skin rejuvenation and anti aging.
- Lycopene – This substance is a carotenoid found in various red vegetables and fruits. It acts as an antioxidant and has cancer preventing effects as well.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin is obtained from fruits and vegetables, and acts as an antioxidant. It protects the skin from UV damage and is very useful in lightening the skin. It also increases collagen production, making skin younger and firmer.
- Vitamin E – Tocopherol is found in vegetables, seeds and meat. It is a lipid soluble antioxidant that protects the skin from UV damage and cancer.
- Silymarin – This is a natural flavonoid derived from milk thistle plant. It protects against sun damage and is used in sunscreens.
- Resveratrol – This polyphenolic compound is found in grapes, fruits, nuts and red wine. It protects the skin from UV stress and damage and has anti aging effects.
- Grape Seed – This extract has compounds, which act as antioxidants, and fights aging. Pomegranate Fruit: The phenols from this fruit extract also work as antioxidants, which protect the skin from UV damage.
- Aloe Vera – This plant is loaded with many active compounds including vitamins and enzymes. It speeds up skin healing. It also has anti aging and moisturizing effects.
Nature offers many benefits for your skin and health. Natural skin care products can work as well as synthetic ones, without the harmful side effects.
The trick is to find truly natural skin care products free from harmful additives. Look for products with the least amount of ingredients. When it comes to skin care, less is always more.