Natural Skincare - What's All The Fuss?
Wellness, superfoods, natural ingredients, antioxidants, minerals ….just a few of today’s popular buzz words. So why the ever increasing interest in natural skincare? Is it a passing phase or a trend set to stay?
After researching the pros and cons of natural skincare products it became evident that natural skincare products are not only of value to our skin but are in fact essential. But why exactly are natural ingredients so important and what are the dangers of seeking out products claiming to be natural?
Firstly, what is natural skincare?
In a nutshell, natural skincare covers a broad spectrum of products but basically means using topical creams and lotions made of ingredients available in nature. That means ingredients derived from plants like essential oils, herbs and roots. This is mostly good, but there are things to watch out for.
What you put ON your body vs what you put IN it
One of the main functions of our skin is to act as a barrier, to protect from mechanical impacts, variations in temperature, micro-organisms and radiation. However, our skin also acts as a sponge and it’s very efficient at absorbing whatever it comes into contact with. So if you put chemicals on your skin they don’t just affect your skin. Those chemicals can be absorbed into your bloodstream which then circulates round your entire body.
At the start of every day, most of us happily apply shower gel, deodorants, skincare products, perfumes, hair products and dental products without a thought. Yet these products can contain a phenomenal amount of toxins which are instantly absorbed into our bodies - artificial colours, fragrances, preservatives and stabilizers.
Putting immediate reactions and irritations to one side, the long term effects of many of these chemicals are unknown so erring on the side of caution and avoiding exposure has to be wise when safer, more natural alternatives are out there.
You wouldn’t dream of ingesting these with your food, but applying them to your skin can invite those nasties into your body just as quickly.
How can natural ingredients benefit our skin?
The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to avoid the nasties and choose products which not only avoid the toxins but actually feed our skin with nutritious, beneficial ingredients. So it’s a double whammy. Avoid the bad and increase the good.
There are so many different ways your skin can benefit, it just depends on the ingredient. Plenty of scientific and clinical evidence exists to support how various natural ingredients are known to:-
Hydrate the skin
Plump the skin
Help diminish the appearance of scarring
Offer antibacterial protection
And as an added bonus, the incredibly fresh scent from natural ingredients makes products much more pleasant to use. What you smell is what you get!
A few key ingredients to look for in skincare products
Green tea extract – to detoxify and purify.
Tamanu oil - known to help scarring, eczema and rashes.
Almond oil – to soften uneven skin texture.
Acai and elderberry – antioxidant rich.
AHA fruit complexes – to refine and tighten pores.
Ginger extract – to kill bacteria which can cause blemishes.
Goji berry extracts – to calm the skin and reduce redness.
Marula oils – for deep hydration.
Green clay – to draw out toxins and tighten pores
Also look out for products containing naturally derived hyaluronic
acid – for intense hydration.
What to avoid
Unfortunately, the words "natural" and "all-natural" are not regulated labelling terms. Some products claiming to be natural actually only include a small percentage of natural ingredients alongside other ‘hidden’ ingredients in the form of not so natural preservatives, surfactants, emulsifiers and humectants. Don’t be afraid to examine product labels, and if you're not sure of something do some simple research on Google.
I’ll look at individual nasties, like parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate, in more detail in future blogs.
Look beyond the list of ingredients
Sadly, not all natural ingredients are sourced ethically, so whilst the ingredients themselves might benefit your skin, their collection could be damaging to our environment.
Plants and fruits from tropical climates can be packed with things that are good for us, but they need to be sustainably sourced.
Just one example of what to consider in terms of the environment and natural ingredients is the current focus on the protection of our bee population. Honey and beeswax can be found in natural skincare products but unfortunately larger beekeeping operations often exploit the bees for pollination and honey. Bees are willingly exposed to pesticides/fungicides, subject to poor nutrition and transported all over the country on semi trucks.
Animal welfare is an important consideration, so look for products that are never tested on animals or use derivatives which can cause animals distress. Cruelty Free International, PETA and the Vegan Society are good judges of what products are safe for animals and the environment.
Natural skincare should be an essential part of our daily care. The skincare market boasting natural or organic ingredients is growing, but beware of the small print. Product integrity is as important as the properties. So don’t just look at the active ingredients highlighted by the manufacturer. Look beyond what is advertised. Consider the entire list of ingredients and how those ingredients are sourced.
Coming soon – Summertime Skin, Naturally – including recommendations for fabulous natural skincare products you can trust.
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