There's a lot of information out there about the bad guys, the dangers of and reasons why we shouldn't be using conventional skin care that contains endocrine-disrupting chemicals. But where's all the knowledge to explain the benefits of natural ingredients?
We want to go natural, but everything in nature is not created equal. So here are four of the more common ingredients found in natural skin care, what you can expect from each and when you should try (or avoid) them:
Aloe is from the succulent family of plants and been used forever for its health, beauty and medicinal benefits. We all know to use it on sunburned skin, and for good reason! Aloe contains two hormones — auxin and gibberellin — both of which help to heal wounds and reduce skin inflammation.
An added bonus? After you apply aloe topically, your skin actually produces an antioxidant protein called metallothionein which fights free radicals! There's no excuse for not using sunscreen, but at least you have a natural resource if you forget to reapply.
Aloe is also great if anti-aging benefits are what you're after. The plant contains long strands of sugar molecules called mucopolysaccharides, which let skin retain moisture. These molecules also stimulate fibroblasts, which produce the collagen and elastin that keep your face looking fresh.
Aloe is super-soothing, a real skin saver. Look for it in serums, cleansers and moisturizers.
2. Activated charcoal
Ever heard of it? It's a new kid on the natural beauty block and is attracting quite a bit of attention already.
Activated charcoal is simply carbon that's been treated to increase its absorbency. Having been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat poisoning, it's known to absorb harmful substances ... so it's no wonder it's a skin care powerhouse. When the dirt and oil from your comes into contact with the carbon, they stick to it and get washed away when you rinse off the cleanser or mask.
If your skin likes to give you a hard time, try adding some charcoal into your routine. You'll find it mostly in masks and cleanser.
Another medicinal favorite, calendula officinalis has been used for ages to alleviate upset stomachs, menstrual cramps and of course, skin irritations. Today, we most often see it used to treat inflammation of the skin. Because calendula has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral and immunostimulant properties, it's a super-healer for disinfecting and treating cuts, scrapes, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, diaper rash and other irritations of the skin.
What is it that makes this herb such a gem? It has high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect cells from being damaged by unstable molecules (free radicals) that can wreak havoc on our skin.
4. Carrot Seed Oil
This has been a favorite of mine since I started my green beauty journey. Maybe it was intuition or perhaps it’s the ancient wisdom we all possess, but whatever the reason, this is an oil we can all benefit from.
Carrot seed oil is actually harvested by steam distilling Queen Anne’s Lace (not from macerating carrots!). It's rich in carotene and Vitamin A, which means it has fabulous anti-aging properties. It’s also rich in vitamin B and C, helping restore skin's elasticity. And because of its cytophylactic properties, it's excellent for firming the skin.
Want to slow down the hands of time? Look for this wonder oil.
When you're buying skin care products, don’t focus solely on avoiding. Make sure you're also paying attention to the amazing ingredients from the earth that can help you achieve your skin care goals!