Nowadays, there seems to be such a variety of skincare products available to us, which claim to have the latest discovery in creating a flawless complexion. Pay X amount of dollars for this miracle cream and it will magically erase all of your skin’s imperfections. Unfortunately, the majority of these products are loaded with plenty of toxins, which may contribute to certain forms of skin allergies, sinusitis and even possibly be carcinogenic.
More than eight percent of the cosmetic products on the market today contain one or more ingredients that have been documented to create adverse reactions. These reactions include dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), acne, hyperpigmentation and many other adverse effects. Product appearance, shelf life and cost of materials are the main factors manufacturers will usually take into consideration, when it comes to choosing ingredients. As a consumer, however, you should be aware of the contents of your skin care products and know what their functions are before purchasing. Ask for an ingredient list from the manufacturer of the product line in question and familiarize yourself with any harmful components. Today, there are many books and other publications available to the public through our libraries, many bookstores and even on the Internet, which discuss cosmetic ingredients and their negative impact on our bodies.
When you make a purchase, make sure you don’t buy items because they smell good, come in pretty colors or have unique packaging. Try to remember that the products you purchase will be applied to your skin, which is your body’s largest organ. Avoid making the mistake, of assuming that the skin forms an impenetrable barrier to chemical substances.
The layers of our skin are open to penetration and passage of synthetic substances into our bodies. It is a tragedy that American consumers are used involuntarily as test subjects for ingredients and thousands must suffer adverse reactions before these substances, are taken off the market.
If you are searching for completely natural, skin care products, you will definitely have a hard time finding them available on the commercial market. One of the main reasons is that commercial products contain synthetic preservatives, which help maintain their shelf life for about two to three years. Without some type of preservative, microorganisms would multiply freely within products, and create horrible side effects (such as skin allergies or even blindness). However, synthetic ingredients are cellular toxins and have caused allergic skin reactions and dermatitis.
Many are carcinogenic and believed to create possible systemic reactions even though, they have not been studied thoroughly. This is definitely a frightening thought, but we have other options to minimize the negative impact of preservatives.
Skin care products can be produced with natural preservatives, like essential oils or antioxidants to help maintain a limited shelf life and help to dramatically decrease side effects. There is also the possibility of these products being produced without preservatives, which would require a highly sterilized environment for the manufacturing process and definitely refrigeration once opened. Many large companies will not perform such a process, because the lack of a sufficient shelf life. You will find though, many smaller companies, especially family owned, to incorporate natural preservatives into their products to offer today’s customer a more natural alternative.
Smart Skin Shopping
Try to avoid products containing synthetic fragrances and dyes, which tend to aggravate a sensitive or reactive skin type.
Be careful of alcohol-based lotions or toners, which tend to disturb the pH level of our complexions, leaving it much more dehydrated than it was initially.
Bar soap is not for your cleaning your face, not unless it is specially formulated for your complexion with a correct pH balance. (Most soap has a pH of at least seven and often as high as 10, this will leave your skin feeling taught and dehydrated).
If a product claims it contains pure essential oils (e.g. lavender) and it is not contained in a dark glass bottle or specially lined packaging, you might think twice about purchasing. Essential oils in direct contact with plastic will break down the therapeutic qualities of these aromatic essences, which are very volatile.
Healthy and Natural Alternatives
Before the turn of the century, many cosmetics and skin treatments were either homemade or compounded by a pharmacist. Many individuals used herbs, fruit and vegetables found in their gardens to treat skin ailments. Today, we can make many of these natural remedies ourselves with supplies available at our local health-food stores, mail order, or even on the Internet. If you make your own skin care products, you will definitely have complete control over how natural the final product actually is. Search for a great reference guide, to help you determine what ingredients to utilize appropriately together. Even with natural ingredients, you must be aware of their actions and use them correctly.
To determine the right skin care regimen for yourself, you will definitely have to focus on the proper treatments for your skin type and choose those you enjoy the most. Personalization is the key. Try to remember though, as your skin or environment changes, so should your skin care treatments. The only way you are going to be able to maintain the true beauty of your complexion is to treat it appropriately. Three simple steps —-Cleansing, toning and moisturizing twice a day, every day – will help keep your skin healthy and protect it from the stresses of daily life.
Our skin renewal process takes about 28 days, more or less depending on our age, genetics, and metabolism.
Follow your skin regimen faithfully for at least three to four weeks and you will definitely start to notice true results.
Ground oatmeal and water (or milk) makes a great cleanser.
Wheat germ is high in protein, vitamin E and B, which makes this ingredient nourishing, soothing and helpful in preventing free radical damage. It’s very slight granular texture, gives a sensitive or dry skin a wonderful, gentle exfoliation.
Organic fruits and vegetables, when applied to the skin, can either have a lyposolvant, stimulating, vitalizing, or soothing effect locally. Prior to using these natural ingredients, make sure you understand their individual actions, so that way you can use the ones most appropriate for your skin care regimen.
Organic milk, sour cream, and yogurt all contain lactic acid, a natural alpha hydroxy acid that helps the skin exfoliate dead skin cells away from the surface of the epidermis. These items are also very hydrating and soothing to the complexion, especially during the colder months of the year.
Organic honey is a wonderful humectant (retains moisture) and is great for any skin type.
Fresh aloe vera gel, straight from the plant is hydrating, soothing, detoxifying, and helps to prevent or reduce the appearance of scar tissue. It also helps to heal cuts, burns (especially sunburn), and reduces the irritation of bug bites. A live aloe plant is a great attribute to any home.
Pure, Grade A essential oils are the volatile, aromatic portion of a plant and once extracted, usually through steam distillation, they are 75 to 100 times more potent then their original source. They happen to be a part of the plant’s immune system and they are found in tiny little sacs, in the root, bark, leaves, flowers or the rind of fruit. Their small molecular structure makes it very easier for them to penetrate the body in two ways—- the olfactory system (nose) or transdermal (skin). They are naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, lyposolvant and many other positive actions. However, in a neat form, they are not nourishing or hydrating, you must blend them in a carrier base (such as hazelnut oil).
Homemade Skin Therapies
Lavender Water (all skin types)
- 8 ounces of distilled water
- 20 drops of Grade A Lavender essential oil
Place in a dark glass spray bottle. Shake well before each use and mist onto complexion after cleansing, keeping facial mask moist, or as a freshener. Keep in a cool area, out of direct sunlight. (Lavender is wonderful for all skin types, because of its healing and highly regenerative qualities)
Milky Honey Oatmeal Cleanser (all skin types)
- ½ cup ground oatmeal
- ½ cup organic milk
- 1 Tbsp. Honey
Mix all ingredients well. Massage into the skin gently. Rinse off with lukewarm water. Make sure to refrigerate after each use.
Strawberry Cleanser (oily skin)
- ¼ cup pure aloe vera
- 2 Tbsp. Plain organic yogurt
- Three crushed organic strawberries
- ¼ cup Tbsp. Borax
Mix all ingredients well. Massage into skin gently. Rinse off with lukewarm water.
Apple Juice Exfoliation (all skin types)
- ¼ cup organic apple juice
Apply generously with a cotton ball. Leave on for a few minutes and rinse off. (Apple juice contains malic acid, a natural fruit acid found, which is exfoliating)
Avocado Mask (dry skin)
- Skin of avocado
Smooth skin of avocado all over complexion, let firm for 15 minutes rinse off. (Avocado is very rich in antioxidants, which are great in preventing the pre-mature aging of our skin)
Orange and Yogurt Mask (combination skin)
- Grated rind of one orange
- ½ cup of organic yogurt
Mix ingredients. Apply to skin, wait 10 minutes. Rinse off
(Oranges contain citric acid, a natural fruit acid, which is exfoliating and adds vibrancy to a dull skin)
Facial Moisturizer (oily skin)
- 2 ounces of pure hazelnut oil
- 15 drops of pure lavender essential oil
- 10 drops of pure tea tree essential
Place in dark glass bottle. Shake well before use. (Tea tree and lavender essential oils have natural antibacterial and antiseptic actions)
Facial Moisturizer (all skin types)
- 2 ounces of pure hazelnut oil
- 10 drops of pure chamomile pure essential oil
- 10 drops of pure lavender essential oil
Place in a dark glass bottle. Shake well before use.
(Chamomile and lavender essential oils are calming and soothing to a stressed out skin from daily living)
Fight Naturally Within
Achieving a healthy skin is not always determined by what you apply topically to your skin. An important component is what you take internally. We live in an environment where we are bombarded constantly by chemicals in the air we breathe, the foods we eat and the water we drink.
The way your skin looks reveals a great deal about what is going on inside your organs, tissues and cells, and about the way you live and think. Loss of skin tone and elasticity, skin dryness, oiliness, sallowness, under eye puffiness, breakouts and premature skin aging reflect the condition of each cell and the quality of the nutrients each cell receives. You can have a healthy and young skin at any age. To obtain optimal results, you must combine natural skin therapy “from the inside out”, with the appropriate skin treatments on a daily basis.
A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, Ruth Winter (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1989).
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless (Rockport, MA. Element Books,1992).
Laura M. Cummins, Esthetician, has been actively involved within the beauty industry for the past eighteen years. Truly passionate for this grand industry, her experience includes; Spa Educator for two established International Skin Care companies, plus Spa Director for luxury day spas in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area. Ms. Cummins is a television and radio spokesperson for the beauty industry, and enjoys speaking and writing on various skin care topics to help educate the general public on how to maintain their natural beauty.
Copyright Laura M. Cummins. All Rights Reserved.