I've always had finicky skin. Synthetic ingredients don't work for me, so natural skin care has always been my only option. I knew it was better for my health to use all-natural products, but when I turned 40 and started to notice fine lines and wrinkles on my face, I wondered if I was doing everything I could to keep my skin looking its best.
At the time, I was working as the doctor in a world-renowned spa, so I started asking the estheticians about natural skin care products they loved. Their responses? “Natural skincare is OK, but it doesn’t work.”
I wasn't happy with this answer: I wouldn't settle for "just OK" on most things in my life, so why would I accept it when it came to skin care? So I started digging into the research.
What I discovered, is that natural products do work ... if they’re made correctly. These days, we have the science and technology to have clean, non-toxic ingredients that are also incredibly effective at keeping skin clear, calm and young.
Here are the three crucial factors for making sure your natural skin care is not only good for you, but also as effective as possible:
1. It needs to be free of toxins.
The European Union has banned over 1,000 ingredients in personal care products. The FDA has only banned 11. While manufacturers and the FDA may claim certain ingredients are safe in small amounts, I’m not convinced.
Many conventional skin care products contain known hormone disrupting chemicals. Fragrance, for example, contains a number of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), a class of chemicals that, in studies, are associated with conditions such as thyroid problems, infertility, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (such as prostate and breast).
And, that’s just one ingredient. There are many others of concern such as formaldehyde-releasers, oxybenzone, DEA, and parabens. What you put on your body can penetrate your skin and end up in your blood stream, so it’s time to take a closer look at ingredient labels.
We know that a natural part of aging is changes in our hormones, which in turn contribute to the aging of our skin. Fine lines and wrinkles are going to occur naturally — it's virtually impossible to stop them from showing up on your face — but you can certainly slow the process down by avoiding hormone-altering ingredients like EDCs.
Not sure where to start? Here are 12 toxic ingredients you should remove from your self-care products immediately.
2. It needs to contain key nutrients in their active, pure form.
With this knowledge, many conventional skin care companies are using natural ingredients. This is great, but if you read the label closely (if you can even find it!), you're likely to see many synthetic ingredients in there as well. So the benefits of the natural ingredients are basically nullified by the exposure to the same toxins I mentioned earlier.
Additionally, it’s important to know where these natural ingredients come from, and how much is actually in the product. Most skin care products only contain a small amount of each natural ingredient, meaning you're not going to get the benefits promised. Manufacturers will use a very weak version of isolated nutrients, preventing a product from doing what research shows natural ingredients can do.
No wonder I hear "natural skin care doesn't work" when it comes to conventional products labeled "natural!"
Think about it this way: We knot kale and other leafy greens are good for our health, but if we only eat one forkful of kale every day, it's not going to have any effect on us. The same goes for skin care. If you're not getting the right amounts and strengths of the potent natural actives, you're missing out!
3. It needs to respect the pH of your skin.
Your skin’s exterior has a natural pH level of about 4 to 5, which helps it stay hydrated, healthy and an optimal environment for the good bacteria your skin needs. When you use cleansers and other products that have a higher pH (generally over 5.5), they can dry out your skin and make it more prone to infections, outbreaks and premature aging.
Contrary to popular belief, cleansers that foam and soap aren't going to help your skin. Rather, it's likely they're too alkaline and will mess with your skin's pH balance.
Even water — which has a pH of 7 — is too alkaline for skin. This means that whenever water touches your skin, whether it be washing your face at night or in the shower, you need to rebalance the pH to a mildly acidic level. An easy way to do this? Use high-quality natural skin care that respects your skin's pH.
Keeping your skin in its ideal pH zone by using mildly acidic skincare products helps protect your it's natural microbiome, the delicate balance of trillions of microorganism that live on the skin.
Sound scary? It shouldn’t. When balanced, these microorganisms help protect your skin from inflammation, acne, and premature aging. So I encourage you to check your skincare pH to ensure it’s below 5.5 so your skin microbiome can flourish and help you achieve clear, glowing skin at any age.
Not all natural skincare products are made this way, so it's important to look closely and ask questions. When our skin is clear and glowing, confidence follows and that’s when the real natural beauty shines through.