The human skin is the largest organ of the human body. It not only has quite a complex structure, but also performs several life sustaining functions.
We can live without a Spleen, Gall Bladder, or an Appendix, and we can survive with only one Kidney or one Lung, but we cannot survive without our skin. As a result it is of the utmost importance that we take care of our skin.
Using natural skin care products is a good first step in providing the skin with the right nutrients and building materials to retain its health and functionality.
What Does Our Skin Actually Do for Us?
Our skin has many functions, most of which we are unaware of until something goes wrong. They include:
- Regulation of body temperature;
- Protection against the elements;
- Blood storage and
- Synthesis of Vitamin D.
If you want to read about these functions in more detail you can have a look at this article: “Anatomy & Physiology of the Skin“.
In summary, these functions provide us with awareness of our surrounding climatic environment, protect us against some of the bacteria and other potentially harmful bugs in our surroundings, allow us to experience touch and feel, eliminate toxins from our body, store blood, and provide the means for our body to obtain vitamin D while protecting our body from the sun’s UV-rays.
Considering these vital functions our skin has to perform, it is no surprise that we need to look after our skin and make sure it is given every opportunity to function properly and remain healthy.
Why You Should Choose Natural Skin Care Products?
With all the media and news reports warning consumers of the potentially toxic ingredients in many of the commercially available skin care products sold in supermarkets and department stores, this is an easy question to answer.
Firstly, many of the commonly used skin care products contain artificial and/or synthetic ingredients that the body has difficulties in eliminating, and as a result it tends to store these chemicals in its tissues. Research has shown that the accumulation of many of these substances can have serious health effects.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the toxic chemicals used in skin care products, please read the article ” Potentially Toxic Ingredients In Skin Care Products”. It will provide you with much information and research references for you to be able to identify what is in your skin care products and what should not be there.
Holistically natural skin care products do not contain artificial or synthetic ingredients. They should also not contain isolated, concentrated, natural substances, such as parabens (pseudo-natural preservative) and the like, that have been shown to be potentially hazardous.
How To Choose Natural Skin Care Products That are Safe and Effective?
This is where it starts to get really difficult. You see, many so called natural or organic skin care products are in reality nothing of the kind. Adding a minuscule amount of aloe vera to water does not constitute a holistically natural skin care product. It may be ‘natural’ or even ‘organic’, but it will not be effective and therefore is a waste of your money.
To have an effective aloe vera product for example, it requires at least 10% of the overall content to be aloe vera. Or, the aloe vera needs to be combined with several other active, natural ingredients that are combined to achieve a specific result.
The term ‘Organic’ is another area where consumers are being misled. Adding a single ‘organic’ ingredient and then calling the products ‘organic’, is quite simply wrong. You see the commercials on television and magazines every day… “xyz product contains organic this and organic that”… but no mention is made of the other ingredients that are contained in these products, many of which have been shown to be hazardous to our health.
There is yet another problem with natural skin care products, that is an area of confusion and potentially misleading. Just ask yourself what exactly is “natural”? What is actually meant by the term “natural”?
The word ‘natural’ congers up images of nature – pristine environments that make us feel good. A safe, natural environment that is conducive to health and a sense of wellbeing. Spring water, waterfalls, pristine lakes, a healthy salads, Rainforests, etc., are all images that we perceive as ‘natural’, or in other words ‘good for us’.
The cosmetic industry has ceased on this and is using the word natural to instil in their advertisements a sense of wellbeing and the idea that this product is good for us. Unfortunately, one or two natural ingredients does not a natural skin care product make… Far from it, natural skin care products should not contain any ingredients that are not naturally sourced. This brings us to another problem with natural skin care products.
A naturally sourced ingredient, such as the various forms of paraben, may still be potentially hazardous. Just think about it – would you put arsenic or lead on your skin? No of course you wouldn’t. But, they are natural, so what’s the problem? Natural substances too can also be deadly poisons.
Applying this to skin care products, you might be looking for a product that is natural and contains AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which we know help to remove dead skin cell layers which in turn helps to remove fine lines and wrinkles, revealing new vibrant skin.
Now, you could buy a product that lists as one of its ingredients AHAs, it might even contain AHA in its name, or you could buy a product that contains a concentrate called papain, which is a natural substance from the Papaya fruit. So, yes papain is natural and yes this product could, depending on other ingredients, be called a natural skin care product. However, papain is a concentrate and as such many people have experienced side effects because the papain is present in too high a concentration for some people.
A truly, holistically natural skin care product would not contain papain as an extract. Rather it would contain Papaya fruit itself. You see, the whole fruit still contains papain, however, it also contains other ingredients in the papaya that modify the excessively strong effect of the papain. Choosing such a product will, at least to a large extent, reduce any potential side effects from the papain, because the product is naturally balanced and contains naturally balanced ingredients that will benefit your skin rather than burn it.
The results of removing fine lines and wrinkles may take a little longer, but are overall better and you reduce the chance of ‘burning’ your skin with a concentrated AHA. Remember AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and we all know acids burn our skin.
How To Use Natural Skin Care Products?
This is actually a lot more important than most people think. Directions for use are a communication by the manufacturer of a product to their consumers about how to use and get the best results from a particular product.
It has been our experience, that most people who purchase our natural skin care products do not read the directions and use our products the same way that they have been using their previous brand. This however, may or may not be the correct way to use our products.
Properly formulated products contain ingredients in sufficiently high quantities to achieve a desired effect if used in accordance with the product’s directions. Using more does not mean better or quicker results, rather using too much can have adverse effects or no more effect than the lesser quantity.
Conversely, if for example, the product’s directions suggest that it be used 2 or 3 times a day using it merely once is not likely to produce the desired effect in most cases.
This is obvious when we think about taking medicine. We read the directions and take the drugs, herbs, or what ever, as prescribed and hopefully we get the desired result.
So why is it that we do this when it comes to taking medicine, but ignore it (for the most part) when it comes to using skin care products or other personal care products?
Reading the instructions carefully and following them ensures that a) you are not wasting your money, and b) you should get the desired results.
Good and Bad Reactions from Using Skin or Personal Care Products
There are several possible reactions you may experience. There are good reactions and negative reactions. Let’s look at good reactions to begin with.
Good Skin Reactions to New Products
Herbs, essential oils and most of the other ingredients that you’ll find in our range of products have a medicinal actions and are included for a specific purpose, that is, the formulations that make up our various products were originally designed to treat particular skin health issues. This intent, though we do not actively promote this, continues to this day.
As you probably know, there are three basic skin types; Normal, Oily and Dry. In addition, your skin may also be sensitive, prone to allergic reactions or under the influence of hormonal changes that are taking place in your body. The herbs and essential oils in our products are specifically chosen to normalize the skin given one of the skin types. The herbs and essential oils will have a therapeutic effect on the skin’s structure and function in order to provide an environment under which your skin will start to function normally again.
Similarly this is relevant for sensitive skin that tends to react inappropriately to different stimuli. It is possible, for example, that an individual with sensitive skin who is using our products for the first time, will experience a reaction which they may see as being a negative reaction.
This however, may well be totally the opposite to what is actually taking place. You see, in order for your skin’s health to improve, it has to change. This change may appear at first as a worsening of a particular skin issue and this will understandably be interpreted as a negative.
Under normal circumstances however, this type of reaction, if the products are continued with, will only last for a few days and following this time the skin will improve and end up much healthier. This process is sometimes referred to as ‘A healing crisis’, and is actually a good thing to happen.
It signifies that the ingredients are doing what they are supposed to, that is they are repairing and normalizing the skin’s functions. This is a normal and in fact good reaction.
Bad Skin Reactions to New Products
Obviously there are times when a new product may actually cause a bad skin reaction. Unfortunately a bad reaction often appears very similarly to a good reaction. So how can you tell the difference and what should you do?
The first thing to do when ever you purchase a new skin or personal care product is to test it to see if you have any adverse reactions to this product. Below is a detailed outline and links that will provide you with all the information you need to test a new product in order to determine whether or not your skin is going to react adversely to it or not.
Test the Products to Avoid Allergic Reactions
Another important aspect to using any skin care, personal care or cosmetic products, whether they are natural or otherwise, is to test the products first in order to see if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
To do this, follow the steps described in our article “The Skin Patch Test”, which will provide you with a simple, yet effective step-by-step test that you can easily do at home over a 24 hour period, to reasonably ensure that you will not experience major adverse reactions to the ingredients in products you want to use on your face, or anywhere else on your body. This test is simple and very effective.
Finally, before you purchase a product, look at the ingredients list and see if the ingredients are easily recognisable. As a rule of Thumb, if the ingredients are easily recognizable it is more likely that the ingredients are of a natural source and have not been excessively modified. If on the other hand you need a chemistry degree to understand what the ingredient is, it is likely not to be a holistically-natural ingredient. It may still be a natural ingredient, but it is likely that it has been isolated and is used in a concentrated, possibly even synthetic form.
For the most part, most ‘natural skin care products’ widely available in the market place are far from natural or that matter organic. Most have minimal quantities of some natural ingredient in an otherwise non-natural product and are referring to the one natural ingredient in the product, rather than the nature of the product itself.
Hopefully this article will clarify some of the confusion that exists about what is a natural skin care product and what is not, help you to choose natural skin care products that will actually live up to your expectations, and clarify why using natural skin care products is a healthier choice.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.
Find more information on natural and organic skin care in our Article Library.
© Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2008
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