Ditch toxic synthetics for these all-powerful, all-natural ingredients
When it comes to skin care, many of us aren’t as diligent about reading product labels as we are about reading food labels. While what goes into your body is very important, what goes on your skin should not be overlooked; your skin absorbs 60 percent of whatever is applied to it. All-natural products combine powerful antioxidants, enzymes, nutrients and peptides—derived from plants, fruits and vegetables—to nourish, hydrate, exfoliate, and revitalize.
“If you are making conscious and educated choices about the food you put in your mouth, you should be concerned about the personal care products that are applied and absorbed through your skin,” says Linda Miles, LAc, DOM, and vice president of derma e Natural Bodycare. She encourages the use of natural skin care products that incorporate nourishing vitamins, antioxidants and botanicals without harsh chemicals.
“Most conventional skin care products include chemical-based artificial ingredients tht can have harmful effects on both your skin and the rest of your body,” says Myra Michelle Eby, founder of MyChelle Dermaceuticals. While Eby has a list of what she calls the “Dirty 30,” skin care ingredients that can be hazardous to your health, her top six “worst of the bunch” include artificial colors, isopropyl alcohol, parabens, phthlates, sodium lauryl (laureth sulfate), and ureas. A brief look into these ingredients shows that artificial colors are made from coal tar or heavy-metal impurities, both cancer causing. And isopropyl comes from petroleum, which can cause headaches, dizziness, depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. The third “don’t” is parabens, preservatives that have the potential to cause cancer. And the fourth, phthalates, are chemical compounds usually found in plastics, which can negatively impact endocrine function. In addition, sodium lauryl, widely used in detergents, strips fatty acids, moisture and amino acids from your hair and skin. Finally, ureas, a common cosmetic preservative, releases formaldehyde, which is toxic to the immune system.
But are natural products as effective as synthetic? Miles says, “most definitely.” The active compounds in natural ingredients contribute to a complex range of benefits. However, they’re gentle and stimulate the body’s own power to restore balance and produce healthy, beautiful skin.
Miles suggests sticking with a consistent routine that includes cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and exfoliating, and offers three simple steps to choosing products: First, decide what skin care concern is most important. Second, do your research—determine which natural ingredients are scientifically proven to help the skin care needs that concern you. Third, when you find a product with these ingredients, research the brand and read product labels carefully.
Look for These Healing Ingredients
WHAT IT IS: Nutrient from the bark of the French Maritime Pine
WHAT IT DOES: Supports microcirculation, enhances texture and elasticity, and helps rebuild collagen and elastin.
WHAT IT IS: Harvested from micro-algae
WHAT IT DOES: Shuts down free radicals and protects the skin from UV damage and environmental stress. Can reduce inflammation and enhance the activity of defense cells.
INGREDIENT: GREEN TEA
WHAT IT IS: Unfermented Camellia sinesis leaves
WHAT IT DOES: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties slow the signs of aging, and polyphenols eliminate free radicals and protect skin from UVA and UVB damage.
WHAT IT IS: A fruit
WHAT IT DOES: The ellagic acid, punicic acid and polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, and the seed oil helps reverse signs of sun damage.
WHAT IT IS: A fruit
WHAT IT DOES: Grape seed oil’s proanthocyanidins have an antioxidant power 20 times greater than vitamin E and applied topically, the oil moisturizes, improves photo-aged skin, and protects against future damage.
WHAT IT IS: palmitoyl pentapeptide and acetyl hexapeptide
WHAT IT DOES: Smooths wrinkles and synthesizes new collagen. It also relaxes facial muscles to help smooth away lines and discourage new lines.
WHAT IT IS: An organic compound also called dimethylethanolamine
WHAT IT DOES: Firms skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and improves lip shape and fullness.
INGREDIENT: HYALURONIC ACID
WHAT IT IS: A naturally occurring substance in the body that declines with age
WHAT IT DOES: It moisturizes, holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. It plumps and smooths, resulting in firmer, more youthful skin.