The cosmetic industry relies heavily on the term “Natural”. It sounds good and makes us think of rose petals, rainwater and scented herbs. After all if it’s a natural skin care product it must be good to use on your skin?
Most people think a product labelled as natural has no chemical ingredients. Unfortunately there are many natural skin and hair care products that contain a multitude of chemical ingredients, such as preservatives, perfumes and emulsifiers, with maybe a trace of a few herbs or vitamins thrown in just to make them “legal”.
Most people don’t react to chemicals in cosmetics, but for those who are prone to allergic reactions, the consequences can be alarming and even life threatening.
Chemical molecules are easily absorbed through the skin. Although our bodies can usually process and eliminate these substances quite effectively, we live in an age of pollution and breathe in enough toxins without rubbing them into our skin! These toxic chemicals can cause an excess of free radicals in our systems. This can damage our organs, particularly the liver and kidneys, and put our immune system under stress.
There are no guarantees even a natural cosmetic will not cause an allergic reaction, especially if your skin is very sensitive. For example Lanolin is found in many “home made” cosmetics. It’s a natural product which is obtained from sheep's wool. Lanolin can contain allergens and possibly fertilizers and pesticides as well, all which can be absorbed by our skin.
How can we guard against allergens and toxins in the cosmetics we buy? One thing to do is to read the label to make sure there are not too many ingredients in that bottle or jar. The more ingredients a product contains, the greater the chance that your skin isn’t going to like one of them!
What should we look for in a natural cosmetic? Essential oils are usually safe for most people, they also have some great skin benefits. Oils from fruits and nuts are ok as are any cereals eg oats. Alpha Lipoic Acid sounds alarming but is actually quite safe. Aloe vera and tea tree oil are harmless and beneficial.
What to avoid? Well the list is as long as your arm but here’s just a few: Tetra Sodium EDTA, Isopropyl Myristate, Propolene Glycol, Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Phenoxyethanol. While these may not cause any problems for most people, a build up over time could be a problem.
Remember many natural skin care products won’t have the same keeping power as their chemical counterparts so keep them in the fridge to prolong shelf life.
Wendy Owen is a health researcher and author. For information and advice on absolutely natural skin care visit http://www.just-natural-skincare.com Sign up for our newsletter and recieve 5 free beauty books