keep it natural
Want to choose safe natural products for your family? Follow our tips on how to avoid chemicals and make the best choices
If you are just starting out with natural skin care products, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. You will find synthetic chemicals in pretty much every type of cosmetic and toiletry that you can think of – that means everything from soap to sun lotions and deodorant to day cream. If you are planning on changing over to all-natural skin care, you will probably find that some of your old favourites are
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in danger. Most of us have a trusty face cream or cleanser that we’ve been using for years and that we think we just can’t live without. These don’t have to go at first – replace some of the items you are less satisfied with and settle on a brand that offers a natural alternative that you enjoy. However, as you start using natural products more, you’ll fall in love with them. Their gentle action on the skin is noticeable immediately, whilst many people do see improvements in their complexion. Also, synthetic perfumes do not come close to the scent of essential oils and you’ll probably find yourself noticing the difference between perfumes and the beautiful scents that nature has to offer.
Chemicals to watch out for It can be difficult to find out which ingredients to avoid in your skin care products because there are so many different chemicals used, some with very little testing. Here are some common ones to look out for. By no means is this an exhaustive list or a recommended one, just a guide to some of the chemicals which people tend to be wary about:
DEODORANT – parabens, aluminium chlorohydrate, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, parfum
CREAMS & LOTIONS – parabens, petrochemicals, lanolin, ethyl alcohol, propylene glycol, urea, parfum LIQUID SOAP AND SHOWER GEL – sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate (SLS/SLES), triclosan, ethyl alcohol, propylene glycol, DEA, TEA, parfum
As you can see, there are quite a few ingredients to watch out for. Whilst in some cases it has not been proven that they have harmful or unwanted effects, you may choose to err on the side of caution by avoiding them. As well as being less likely to contain these ingredients, natural products do also tend to be gentler, making them ideal for people who have sensitive skin. However, it is important to stress that no matter what you think you are buying, you should check the label. Even a skincare product with beautiful packaging that has a natural theme may contain some of the ingredients listed, as some companies like to give the impression their products are more natural than they really are.
The added benefits of organic skin care To find a natural skin care brand that is truly good for your skin, look for signs that it is organic. Logos from The Soil Association, Organic Food Federation or Ecocert on the packaging indicate that the products will have been made with a high percentage of organic ingredients. Each of the certification bodies also has a list of chemicals that it does not allow in its certified products so this also helps you to avoid unwanted ingredients. There are some natural skin care products which are difficult to get certified as organic, however, so it is always worth having a quick glance at the ingredients list. This should highlight organically grown ingredients so you can see just how much of the product is organic. Another benefit to choosing organic skin care products is that they do not contain the pesticide residues which may be present in natural, but not organic, beauty products. The effect pesticides have on the human body is still being
HOW ABSORBING The skin is the body’s largest organ. In the average adult, it covers about two square metres whilst being less than 2mm thick in most places. Made up of several layers, it is an impressive physical barrier designed to protect us from the world around us. The surface layer, the epidermis, completely renews itself in 45-75 days. The outer layer is made up of about 15 layers of flat, dead cells – this can be penetrated quite well by some oils and alcohols, so they are often used in skin products to help carry the active ingredients into the deeper layers. This means most of our exposure to the chemicals in cosmetics is via the skin.
Once the cosmetic product has been applied, absorption begins – we are only briefly exposed to the chemicals in products that we wash off, such as soaps and shower gels, but have a far greater exposure to the chemicals in products designed to be left on. In an experiment conducted with hairdye under actual-use conditions, 43 micrograms (millionths of a gram) of the dye paraphenylenediamine (PPD) was detected in the user’s urine after only 30 minutes. Nowadays we are all exposed to many more synthetic chemicals than we were decades ago – not only from our cosmetics and toiletries but also from the chemicals now ubiquitous in our air and water.
researched but they do seem likely to have some potentially serious negative effects. Some have been found to cause illness in those who are exposed to them often, such as farmers and gardeners, so it would seem sensible to avoid contact with pesticides where possible. >
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