Natural Skin Care – Why Bother?

What is Natural Skin Care?

Natural skin care is normally understood to refer to those products characterised by the absence of synthetic ingredients, such as preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils, fragrances and harsh detergents.

Typically, natural skin care products are made using natural ingredients such as plant oils, essential oils, herbal and floral extracts (both aqueous and waxy), that have been prepared in the “old fashion way”, without chemical processing or modification. Sometimes, ethically produced animal derivatives, such as beeswax, may also be present in natural skin care (1).

Natural skin care made with approved organically produced raw materials and practices can be organic certified by the relevant organic organizations.

Unfortunately, there are numerous products in the market that claim to be either natural or that are cleverly marketed for their singular botanical extract or vitamin, amongst a dense cocktail of synthetic ingredients. These are the “pseudo-natural” products (1). To help clarify if a skin care product is really natural, it is recommended to read the ingredients section in the label.

Why is natural skin care better than synthetic?

Products that are made from ingredients that have been extracted naturally from sustainably maintained plants and crops manifest the essence, the energy, the qualities and the benefits of the source raw material, in ways that synthetics ingredients do not.

Simply put, the geographical location, the soil and the water the plants are grown in, as well as the sun exposure, the seasons and harvesting times contribute to the mature plants and crop yields in unique ways.

These factors cannot be mimicked in the laboratory or controlled nurseries, as the natural exposure to the environmental conditions facilitates development of subtle differences in the plants. These are then reflected in the quality of the extracted oils, as well as on their specific composition, properties and benefits.

Besides, synthetic ingredients are produced in laboratories using scientific, yet often hazardous processes involving the use of carbon dioxide, propylene glycol or hexane based methods. Although these chemical agents may only be present is trace amounts in the final synthesised ingredients, it is unclear what effect they might have as they accumulate in our bodies, over a prolonged period of exposure (2).

Of course, some of the natural extracts and oils may also be affected or destabilised by the natural extraction methods used in their preparation. For these reasons manufacturers of natural skin care products give great consideration to the sourcing of their raw materials and how natural ingredients are prepared from the latter.

What is Special About Plant Oils?

Plant oils are made up of complex mixtures of different fatty acids (lipids). It is the specific mix and ratio of these fatty acids that determines the unique character of any oil. In addition to the main lipid fraction, there are also other very important bioactive substances such as the phospholipids, phosphatides, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones and vitamins. These bioactives are known as the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. They normally are present is small amounts and are unique signatures of the oils (3).

To demonstrate how the oil composition determines the difference in functional properties, the typical fatty acid profile of apricot kernel and borage oils as described in Kusmirek (3) are compared below.

1 – Apricot kernel oil is a mixture of 58 – 74% of oleic acid, 25 – 30% of linoleic, with the remainder 4 – 7% composed of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and alpha-linolenic acids. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 0.5 -0.75%.

2 – Borage oil is a mixture of 30 – 40% linoleic acid, 8 – 25% gamma linolenic acid, 15 – 20% oleic acid, 9 – 12% palmitic acid, 3 – 4% stearic acid, 2 – 6 % eicosenoic acid. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 1%.

Apricot kernel oil is a great nourishing and emollient oil that is easily absorbed. These properties are attribute to the high percentages of oleic and linoleic acids. Furthermore, apricot kernel oil is also an excellent source of vitamin A, present in the unsaponifiable matter.

Borage oil is known for its nourishing and penetrating properties attributed to the presence of linoleic and oleic acids, but in addition the high content of gamma-linolenic acid confers its regenerating and firming qualities.

The differences in the properties of apricot kernel and borage oils, as well as those of other oils not discussed here, demonstrate the importance to blend various plant oils for optimal skin care, so that the skin is adequately fed, continuously hydrated, smooth feeling and equipped to regenerate efficiently. These are essential to promote a healthy skin glow, regardless of age.

But, even if the synthetics oils were to reproduce the exact mixes and ratios of plant derived fatty acids and unsaponifiables, it would be nearly impossible to mimic into the synthetic oils the contribution from the energy that is held in the plant, from which the equivalent natural oils were extracted. Thus, natural ingredients are different from their synthetic equivalents.

What about essential oils and other botanicals?

Essential oils are concentrated extracts of aromatic and other volatile plant substances, sometimes containing growth factors known for their regenerative properties. They are the source of the scents of nature and may be used to add scent to natural products. Because of their concentrated nature and high cost to produce, only small amounts of essential oils are used in natural skin care. Besides, as essential oils may be irritating to the skin, they should never be used undiluted.

In contrast to oils, floral/herbal waters are the aqueous extracts from flowers/plants. Naturally produced oils and aqueous extracts are made through distillation, steaming, or infusion techniques. These are slow and often inefficient processes that add to cost. But, the products generated using non-synthetic approaches are much safer and healthier than those extracted with the use of artificial methods.

Is there a problem with the variation in natural ingredient batches?

The quick answer is NO!

Certainly, naturally produced ingredients show “batch variation”, but this is part of nature, demonstrating the cycles of change. These are natural bio- rhythms, and as with everything in nature sometimes there is abundant sunshine, other times there are only clouds. Naturally, these weather changes affect the growth patterns of the plants.

This means that periodically some of the natural ingredients may contain a slightly higher or lower percentage of one or even several of the components, but over a period of time, these variations balance out. The key point is that the overall effect of using natural ingredients is still beneficial in the long run.

Supporters of the mainstream cosmetic industry object to this variation associated with natural ingredients. Instead they advocate that synthetic ingredients are a far better option to manufacture any products, including skin care. They argue that synthetic ingredients are scientifically controlled, exacting, standardised and can be made in a totally reproducible manner. But, at the end of the day…they are not natural!

What about preservatives, stabilisers and emulsifiers?

Sure, preservatives and stabilisers extend the shelf-life of any product, natural and synthetic (1,2,4). Because of this recognition European and USA organic and regulatory organisations have approved the use of certain preservatives for which there has been long standing accumulation of safety and toxicity data, e.g. blends of dehydro-acetic acid. These preservatives were designed to replace the paraben family of preservatives in the personal care products. Though natural products ought to have the minimal necessary amounts of preservatives.

Without a doubt, preservatives such as the parabens, the phenol derivatives and the denatured alcohols are extremely effective, as they increase the product shelf-life almost indefinitely! But, they are also known to interfere with hormone balance and can be allergenic (1,2). Clearly, they are not health promoting substances. As they are readily absorbed by the skin and are long lasting, their long-term effects on distal organs are unknown, and thus undesirable.

Interestingly, vitamin E is a powerful natural anti-oxidant, as well as a fantastic natural preservative for oil blends and emulsified oils (2). Extracts of rosemary and oregano are also considered natural preservatives because of their anti-bacterial properties (2). However, these are not frequently used as they impart a strong scent and may give rise to some skin irritation. This is an example of where caution has to be exercised with natural substances. Though these occurrences are more the exception than the rule.

Alginic acid obtained from brown algae is sometimes used as a stabiliser (4). But, allantoin, an extract from comfrey root is a more suitable natural stabiliser for skin care preparations (2).

Emulsifiers are substances that help to prevent the parting of the of oil and water fractions in a cream or lotion. In natural skin care these include lethicin and the wax cetearyl alcohol (1,2,4). Lecithin is extracted from soya beans and is known to soften the skin and help penetration of the skin care product. Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of the high melting point cetyl and stearyl fatty acids derived from either animal or plant fats. In natural skin care it is preferable to have plant sourced cetearyl alcohol. Apart from its great emulsifying properties, this fatty acid mix facilitates maintenance of skin hydration.

So, what’s he take home message?

Regardless of some of the limitations of natural skin care, the natural ingredients in these products are still far more beneficial than those that are completely synthetic. Synthetics are unable to reproduce the unique heterogeneous and nourishing character of the natural extracts and oils, as discussed above.

Technology aside, it is also clear that there are major financial gains for manufacturers to use mostly, if not strictly synthetic ingredients. The cost of producing natural skin care products is of necessity higher than that of synthesising vast quantities of easy to make and use synthetic ingredients. Compared to their equivalent natural counterparts they afford versatility on the production line, on the shelf-life, as well as on profitability.

These attributes of scientifically designed skin care in the 20th century satisfied the increasing market desire for youth elixirs. However, since the 1960’s growing conscious awareness of what was in our food, demand for natural and organic products increased. This requirement extended to the personal care sector also. Indeed, the natural and organic cosmetics market has been the fastest growing sector of the personal care products since the late 1980’s.

Fortunately nowadays, the driver is not purely for skin care that makes you look good, but for products that can achieve this goal with respect for human beings and the environment.


1. Morrison, K & Whelligan, F. 2007. About Face. Random House NZ. Auckland.
2. Hampton, A. 1987. Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care. Organica Press. Tampa, Fl.
3. Kusmirek, Jan. 2002. Liquid Sunshine – Vegetable Oils for Aromatherapy. Floramicus. Somerset. England.
4. Winters, R. 1994. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. Three Rivers Press. NY.

Copyright – Fernanda da Silva Tatley – All Rights Reserved.

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Choosing the Right Anti-Aging Skin Care for Your Skin Type

How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered how old people think you are? When was the last time someone saw an old photo of you and commented on how little you have changed? Is it time to start looking at some sort of anti-aging skin care?

It’s a real crime that even though all of your body can change and age over the years your skin is the biggest tattletale when it comes to age. It’s not as if we can hide it either, so we need to start looking at ways to combat the signs of aging. Using anti-aging skin care treatments are a great first step.

Anti-aging creams

Most of us are aware of the different skin creams that are available. These are really just a form of moisturizer that contains a few extra special ingredients like AHA, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin C, and retinol.

Some creams come with the added protection of a sun block and have a tint added to help hide skin blemishes while protecting and re-hydrating the skin. Some are available as concentrated serums, which contain certain beneficial ingredients at higher doses to make them work faster to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Buying the right anti-aging skin care cream for your skin type.

There are so many types of skin, from the dry to the oily, the sensitive and those that have a combination of all skin types. Younger skin also needs different treatment to older skin but fortunately, most skin care creams have which skin type they are suitable for clearly labeled on them. So let’s look at a few of the different skin types and the creams that are most suitable.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is skin that is easily irritated and choosing the wrong skin cream can leave your skin looking inflamed and irritable. In some severe cases you can also end up with rashes, dermatitis and eczema. If this sounds like you then you need to be on your guard when looking for a good anti-aging product for your skin.

Most people will advise that you look for anti-aging skin care products that have the reputation of being organic and natural. But the reality is that there are ‘natural’ skin creams for all types of skin, some of these are pretty potent, so make sure that you read the label properly.

One of the worst ingredients for sensitive skin is salicylic acid. It is a potent ingredient used in many acne prone skin preparations because it easily breaks down dry scaly dead skin. This makes it great for treating blackheads, whiteheads, warts and psoriasis, but lethal for skin that is easily irritated.

Skin creams that are labeled as being suitable for sensitive skin are often lighter in texture and feel than regular creams, this does not make them less effective, just less irritating.

Oily Skin

If you have oily skin I bet that you were told that it was OK because you would age less quickly than those with dry skin. To a point this is true, which is why most anti aging skin care treatments focus on moisturizing, but oily skin still needs help as we age so those creams that are light and contain retinol or AHA are usually fairly suitable. Serums are actually a great idea for oily skinned people because you get the benefit of the ‘special ingredients’ without the bulk and grease of the cream base.

Normal or younger skin

If this covers you then you are pretty lucky in that you can pretty-much use whatever you like without dire consequences. Younger skin does require less moisturizing than older or drier skin, so just try a product for a month and see how you feel about it. If you like it continue with it, if it makes you break out in blackheads or it just feels too thick, then discontinue using it and try something else.

Anti-aging skin care for men.

The beginning of the 2000’s saw a huge increase in the amount of anti-aging skin care products aimed at men. Biologically there is little difference between the skin of men and women so it makes sense that the same creams would work for both sexes, however men do have a tendency toward having greasier skin than women so a lighter cream will work better in most cases.

Fortunately as the demand for male skin care products has grown, so has the variety of products available and it is possible to get anti-aging skin care products that are very ‘manly’ in look and fragrance, but that are also light enough to be absorbed without irritating the skin.

Of course, along with anti-aging skin care creams, living a lifestyle that is healthy and eating the right types of foods should also be included in any anti-aging plan.

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How to Choose Anti Aging Skin Care Products?

Aging is part of life and no matter how much we hate it is bound to happen. Many people especially in the youth and Middle Ages fear the idea of growing old. This is especially due to the physical changes that come with aging. Aging need not be something to be dreaded. There is a way one can age gracefully without having to carry the wrinkles and other not so likable changes that come with it.

Choosing the right anti aging skin care products is not easy. Actually it can be a very long and stressing process. This is because the market is filled with such products. With the liberalization of markets in most countries the options have become uncountable and even more confusing for the shopper.

The skin care products come in many different forms, sizes and designs so as to cater for the many different buyers. The different sizes and quality differences ensure that there are products for people with different budgets as well as the many different preferences. There are those who prefer anti aging skin care products that are all natural, while some others are okay with almost any product, including those have been scientifically manufactured.

Most of the skin care products available on the market have been manufactured in such a way that they reduce signs of aging on various parts of the body like the face the neck and the shoulders. One thing that makes choice of the anti aging products so difficult is that they don’t have similar effects on all people. A skin care product, say a cream, may have one effect on a person and a totally different effect on another. This makes choice of skin care products a delicate exercise. Considering the fact that every one wants to choose an anti aging product that is right for her skin type as well as her budget among other factors, one has to undertake the exercise paying all the due attention. What everyone wants from the anti aging skin care products is a skin that is healthy and maintains the youthful glow not a skin that will force him take numerous trips to the dermatologist to treat effects of using the wrong skin care products.

Factors to consider

There are several considerations you need to make in choosing the right skin care product for you. First you have to know your skin type. There are those whose skins are very sensitive and those whose skin types are not too sensitive. If your skin is the sensitive type, you will have to be more careful with the kind of products you use lest you use one that can react negatively with your skin. There are also those whose skins are oily while for others it’s the dry type. Dry skins and oily skins may not use the same kind of anti aging products. Those whose skins suffer from acne or other skin problems also may also need to choose different products from those that don’t suffer such troubles.

Determine the cause of your skin problems before you decide on what to buy. For instance if it’s the wrinkles, you must fist know whether they are caused by things like the sun or by the habitual facial expressions. Those resulting from the sun will need a different solution from those others. Wrinkles may also result from sagging of skin due to aging and this too will require a different treatment.

When choosing skin care products it is always advisable that you choose on a type of products that you will stick to as opposed to mixing many different types of products together. For instance if it’s the anti aging creams there are those who will choose to stick to nature based products while others will rely on ingredients such as chamomile royal jelly and others. Here, choose on that fits your tastes and preferences. Some frequent users have their preferred ingredients while others who may not be so conversant may not have. Those who have will obviously choose products that contain their favorite ingredients. The important thing to note here is that different skin care ingredients function differently. Hyaluronic acid for instance, increases the amount of moisture ones skin can absorb and state hence making it less prone to wrinkles. Vitamin C and royal jelly are also known to help skin suppress aging and reduce wrinkles.

In case you are not sure of the anti aging products you should use, try seeking help from a specialist say a dermatologist. Once the specialist examines your skin he will be able to tell you the right kind of skin care products for you.

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Skin Care Do’s and Don’ts for Perfect Skin

Before the age of 25, you have the skin your mother gave you. After age 25, you have the skin you gave yourself. Evidence for the truth in this skin care mantra can be seen in the faces of women all around you. Up until their mid-twenties, most women enjoy naturally vibrant, glowing skin. As the thirties approach, however, the skin begins to lose its elasticity and suppleness.

Fortunately, there are certain preventative measures you can take to keep your skin looking its best. Furthermore, certain products (such as Clarisonic’s deep pore cleansing system) can help you uncover your most radiant skin. Make the skin care dos listed below a part of your daily skin care regiment in order to see radiant skin for decades to come. On the flip side, by avoiding certain harmful skin care no-nos, you can prevent your skin from looking wrinkled and tired as you age.

Skin Care Dos

Do wear sunscreen. Everyone loves to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin, but remember that UV rays can cause wrinkles, sunspots and even skin cancer. Take care of your skin by applying sunscreen whenever you anticipate being out in the sun, even if only for twenty minutes. As a bare minimum, apply sunscreen to the face, chest, neck and hands, as the skin on these areas is generally the most sensitive to UV rays. A product such as Uber Dry Sunscreen SPF30 by Peter Thomas Roths.

Do eat healthy foods. Food writer Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food advises readers to, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan’s simple, liberating approach to diet is certainly healthy for your skin as well. Vegetables and fruits are chock full of antioxidants, or special chemical compounds that break down cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Free radicals also cause cell damage to the skin. For healthy skin from the inside out, include colorful vegetables and fruits with every meal, and especially aim to ingest plenty of vitamins C, E, A and beta carotene.

Do drink plenty of water. Water flushes out toxins and improves circulation. Drinking 64 ounces (eight glasses) of water every day will keep your skin looking soft and supple. Additionally, it’s good to have a couple of versatile moisturizing products on hand for those days when you know your water levels are low. For instance, after a night of heavy drinking, you might notice your cuticles drying out, causing painful, unsightly hangnails. This is a sign that there may be other areas of dry skin that need a little TLC.

Rather than buying a whole shelf of separate moisturizers for occasions like this, it’s best to have a few go-to products that will perk up your skin every time. A product like Smith’s Original Rosebud Salve, for instance, can be applied to dry lips, minor burns and patches of rough skin, such as on the knees and elbows. And best of all, Rosebud Salve is easy to keep on hand for whenever a skin care emergency pops up, since it is packaged in a small, round tin.

Do apply eye cream. The skin around your eyes is some of the most sensitive, delicate skin on the entire body. Take care of it (and avoid those telltale crow’s feet!) by applying a daily eye cream. In case you’re looking for a recommendation, check out Peter Thomas Roth’s Un-Wrinkle Eye, which consumer studies have shown reduced wrinkle size up to 72% in just 28 days.

Skincare Don’ts

Don’t smoke. If you need motivation to quit, just take some time to examine the skin of long-term smokers. Yellow, papery skin with plenty of wrinkles around the lips – this is what smoking will earn you. Quit. Today. Your skin will thank you for years to come.

Don’t skimp on moisturizer. Moisturized skin is happy skin. Indeed, you’ll notice that just after applying moisturizer, your skin will naturally plump up – sometimes enough to fill in those pesky wrinkles. Apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp from your shower or bath – this will lock in moisture and keep your skin looking plump and healthy all day long. Body oil is an especially luxurious way to moisturize your skin. Like all oils, Patyka’s Absolis Precious Woods body oil creates a barrier layer that moisture cannot penetrate.

Don’t be sporadic about your skincare. Cleanse and moisturize every day to offset the pollution and other toxins your skin is exposed to on a daily basis. Whatever skincare products you choose to apply, use them religiously. An investment of just five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening can make a huge difference for your skin over a lifetime.

One way to encourage yourself to complete your skin care regimen is to invest in enticing products that make you excited about taking care of yourself. For instance, it’s hard to put off using a Clarisonic Mia skin care brush, when just one daily application of your Clarisonic brush leaves skin looking almost brand new. (The Clarisonic brush vibrates back and forth more than 300 times per second, which thoroughly cleans skin and leaves pores so open that they actually absorb other skin care products better.)

In the end, your daily skin care choices will determine how youthful (or aged) you appear as the decades march on. Nurture your skin by following the dos and avoiding the don’ts listed above, and you’ll enjoy perfect, healthy skin well into your golden years.

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Why Is Organic Antioxidant Skin Care The Very Best For Your Skin?

These might at first glance sound like easy questions to answer.

1. Are all skin care products out in the market place safe?
2. Can you develop skin conditions just from using certain skin care products?
3; Can skin care products actually cause serious harm to your health?
4. Are there skin care products that are effective and also good for your health and cause no harm to your skin?

Question number one is a resounding no! There are many skin care product lines that are widely sold in the market place that are not safe. Many of these skin care products contain caustic chemicals, preservatives and many other additives that can cause not only skin reactions but can also lead to serious conditions both on your skin and for your overall health.

The answer to question number two is yes. Many people develop skin conditions from the products they are using and don’t even know that the products are the source. They keep using the products they are familiar with and use makeup to cover the problems. When a skin care product has a variety of synthetic chemicals in it the potential for negative reactions to the skin are widely different for different people.

Question number three’s answer is also yes. Long term use of chemical ingredient skin care products can cause many forms of long term health issues. Like cancer, auto immune disease. There are many types of illnesses that are related to the absorption of toxic compounds through the skin. It’s bad enough that we all absorb toxic compounds just being exposed to the environment, we live in a very toxic world these days. Then to also add more toxic chemicals willingly through the skin care products you use is insult to injury.

Question number four is answered yes. There are definitely skin care products available that are not only very effective but also good for your health and for your skin.
This what the rest of this article is about, the positive message that you can take great care of your skin, stay looking younger, heal and prevent skin conditions and prevent serious health problems that can start through your skin.

The concept of organic skin care has gained a lot of attention. The idea that what you put on your skin should be pure, chemical free and have no synthetic ingredients makes perfect sense. If you believe it’s better to eat organic food, as opposed to food grown with pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, or foods processed with preservatives, additives and other unnatural food compounds, then the same should go for skin care.

Of coarse you should be conscious and concerned about the food you eat and it’s effect on your health, you should also be conscious about what you put on your skin.

Your skin being your bodies largest organ is the filter and the protector for your body from all the toxicity you are exposed to in the modern world. If you have healthy well treated skin that has been fed lots of antioxidants and your are internally also healthy with a strong immune system, you can fight off all the free radicals that attack you through your skin and can potentially cause serious damage to your health.

Antioxidants are if not the most important compounds, they rank right at the top of the organic compounds we all need in our bodies and on our skin. We have to add them daily and keep the absorption of antioxidants at a consistently high level. It is sad to say but we do live in a very polluted world and much of this toxicity in deliberately added in the quest for profitable products. Companies get their products approved without the longer term health studies that should be completed so the consumer can be assured the products are safe.

The only real clear way to know for sure whether a specific skin care product has no harmful side effects, is to only use organic products that have zero synthetic additives, chemicals or other ingredients that are not from the natural world. Of coarse there are compounds in the natural world that are toxic, and ingredients in organic products that can effect different people in different ways, so as with any product or food, read the labels and know what you are eating or putting on your skin. If the company is a reputable company with a positive track record and their skin care products are all organic it is a good bet they will do you no harm.

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