know that so many of you are interested in making the transition to a more natural lifestyle and natural beauty is a BIG part of this. It can be pretty overwhelming to know where to begin as there are so many products that all claim to have natural ingredients and it’s not always clear which ones are really natural and nourishing for the skin and which ones are not.
It can be a confusing experience when shopping for ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ skincare. Firstly, you are often switching from products you have used since you were a teen and have to start over to find products you like, which can take a little trial and error. Secondly, these terms have been adopted by many brands to help sell beauty products, which often aren’t much more natural than mainstream products. Thirdly, after a while you need to adjust your skincare regime and use different skincare products as your skin is alive and dynamic and changes with time, environmental impact a change in lifestyle.
Both ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are unregulated terms meaning they can refer to products that include anything from one percent to completely botanically sourced and organic ingredients. It is commonly assumed that any ‘natural’ product also excludes synthetic ingredients, however, this is often not the case! In addition, many of the initially brands that started as natural and then bought by big corporation, their formulation change to increase the margin and become less natural-like. So always check the label even of brands you have been using for years! Where many brands do omit these ingredients, many more just add a few natural or organic ingredients to a largely synthetic product to allow usage of these terms when referring to their ingredients. It helps to know what you are talking about so a good place to start is to take a look at some commonly used terms:
“With a basic understanding of what to avoid you can move onto the really exciting part, discovering the natural alternatives”
‘Natural’ Skincare – unregulated and broadly used by brands to denote usage of natural ingredients such as oils, butters, herbs and essential oils. It has slipped into common use when referring to brands that exclude undesirable synthetics, you need to check the label!
‘Organic’ Skincare – unregulated although brands can choose to be certified by an independent body. An important point to note is that organic is a method of growing ingredients, just as with food. When a product is certified organic both the extraction methods and formulation are also regulated.
‘Food-State’ Skincare – I use this term a lot to describe brands that are formulated from ingredients which are ‘edible’ for example spices, honey, sugar, seaweeds, seed oils (pumpkin seed) fruit or vegetable powders. They are often powdered products, which can be fun to mix with kitchen staples such as avocado or coconut oil.
A basic understanding of these six terms are worth checking the labels for and leaving on the shelf instead of putting in your shopping basket.
Methylisothiazolinone: This preservative gained media attention in 2013 due to concerns from UK Doctors who highlighted it as the trigger of one of the worst skin allergy outbreaks ever seen, causing dermatitis and rashes.
Propylene glycol: Found to provoke reactions in those prone to irritation and eczema.
Bismuth oxychloride: often used in mineral make-up that can cause redness, itchiness and stinging. It makes me want to scratch my face off!
Sodium lauryl sulphate: Found in body washes and shampoos. It can make the skin more permeable, and can upset our own protective layer of oils.
Parabens: used as preservatives in a wide range of products. Controversy over their safety still remains due to a study that found they were stored in breast tissue. Parabens have been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen, which may contribute to a greater risk of oestrogen dominant conditions.
Other commonly used ingredients to generally avoid include Disodium EDTA, mineral oil and synthetic fragrance – the list goes on!
With a basic understanding of what to avoid you can move onto the really exciting part, discovering the natural alternatives. Or even start with formulating your own to tailor it to your needs. Keep these tips in mind when shopping…:)
Label Check: This takes a guess work out of shopping. Look for independent certification stamps, this means someone else has done the hard work and checked the formulation for you.
Switch to Plant Oils: Switch out any products that contain mineral oil (liquid petroleum) to products that contain plant oils and butters. These provide the same ‘oily’ feel but have more beneficial properties for the skin. Jojoba Oil for example is the oil most similar to the skins own oil.
Fragrance: What could be better than using a scent that actually has a therapeutic benefit for your wellbeing. I mix them up all the time; lemon and grapefruit for focus and lavender to unwind. You can easily ditch the synthetic fragrance for essential oils blends and natural fragrance.
Make-up Makeover: Lipsticks often ends up being eaten, so it makes perfect sense to switch to colours that have a more edible base. Look for products that are based on coconut oil and cocoa butter for your lipstick – they taste better too!
Explore your Kitchen Cupboards: I use staples such as coconut oil as a make-up remover, body moisturiser and as a hair mask. I use my coffee and mix it with Olive Oil, brown sugar and a few drops of lavender to create a face scrub to get rid off any dullness and get the blood circulated. Banana can be used for hair masks or superfood powders (spirulina) can me mixed with yoghurt (the lactic acid works as an exfoliant), just water or a nourishing oil for a skin food mask. Note: water-based products do not last more than two days! So if you use large quantities of water, keep it in the fridge and use it up quickly. Unless it includes natural preservatives and have gone through stability testing, it won’t last for very long.