Whether you’re the type who lives for the latest Hollywood beauty craze, or one who resists jumping on any kind of bandwagon, it’s safe to say that the green lifestyle trend is something everyone wouldn’t mind staying for good. More brands are highlighting the use of organic and natural ingredients, and when it comes to skin care, the labels “natural” and “organic” are fast-becoming a top requirement for those who want to go the safer, conscious route. But what exactly are the benefits of leaving your current beauty regimen in favor of a more natural skin care and beauty routine?
“Natural and organic products are a great way of avoiding the content of toxic pesticides and preservatives and a variety of chemicals that we may or may not understand,” says Alan M. Dattner, M.D., founder of HolisticDermatology.com and author of Radiant Skin from the Inside Out. “Plus, organic products are generally higher quality and produced by smaller houses with a little bit more personal care.”
Going the natural beauty route means saving your skin from being exposed to harsh chemicals that are harmful to your body and leave a significant impact on the environment. By switching to natural beauty products, you are choosing cleaner and gentler products with superior quality ingredients containing vitamins and minerals that the body recognize and absorb as nutrients. Much like eating a diet of non-GMO food, natural skin care and beauty products feed and nourish your skin in a way that leaves it healthier over time. The use of organic and natural ingredients means these products are less likely to cause unwanted side effects or skin damage with long-term use while still being just as potent and effective as their synthetic counterparts. And because they don’t contain artificial colors, fragrances and synthetic preservatives, your skin is also less susceptible to irritations and allergic reactions.
“People are beginning to understand the negative short- and long-term effects harsh, synthetic chemicals have on their bodies. Those who have already made the switch to natural skin care and beauty products are loving the results,” adds DermStore’s beauty buyer for Natural and Spa categories, Ashley Vandyke.
Making the big jump to a natural skin care routine can prove to be overwhelming with all the different choices, so here’s our top recommendations on what you should switch out first!
You can’t achieve clear, young-looking skin without a good cleaning regimen. But most foaming facial cleansers contain harsh surfactants that strip the skin’s natural lipids and protective barrier. This makes skin more susceptible to breakouts and allergic reaction. A natural facial cleanser, aside from keeping your skin clean and clear, replaces these harsh chemicals with gentler ingredients that nourish and protect your skin without the threat of dryness and irritation.
2. Although often overlooked, facial toners play an important role in balancing the skin’s pH level. They also replenish and rejuvenate its protective barrier after cleansing and peeling. Unfortunately, most toners use DEA compounds—a nitrosating agent that is known to have carcinogenic effects—to alter pH levels. Natural facial toners help maintain your skin’s acidity and keep it hydrated without using emulsifiers and surfactants that cause skin irritation and dryness. Natural ingredients also contain vitamins and antioxidants that nourish your skin and protect your skin cells.
Athough it’s one of the top skin care must-haves, moisturizers often contain preservatives, DEA compounds and fragrances that are known to be harmful to fish and other wildlife and are suspected carcinogens. Natural face moisturizers provide a safer, gentler way to hydrate and lock-in moisture, especially if you have sensitive skin. Shea butter is a top ingredient in moisturizers because it contains Vitamins A and E, which help treat a number of skin problems, improve signs of aging and counter the effects of free radicals.
Many women start their everyday makeup routine by layering their face and neck with foundation, which also means daily exposure to the harmful chemicals that most non-organic foundations contain. Whether you use the loose or liquid kind, these products often contain parabens which have been shown to interfere with the body’s hormone function. Choosing a more natural alternative will leave you with the hydrating and anti-aging benefits of nature-derived substances that won’t damage your skin even with frequent and long-term use.
In the world of harsh chemicals, lead is right up there as one of the baddest of the bad. It’s a neurotoxin that has been linked to fertility problems and delayed onset of puberty and is already a banned component in household paint. And yet it manages to find its way into beauty products like lipsticks and eyeshadows through contamination from artificial colors. On the other hand, natural beauty products are often made in smaller batches, greatly lowering the risk of contamination. They also use fruit and other natural pigments instead of synthetic coloring and contain vitamins and minerals that gently hydrate and soften lips.
Dry shampoo is a favorite quick and no-fuss way of keeping oily hair under control, but chemical ingredients and constant use are said to cause dullness in hair color, product buildup, and scalp dryness and irritation. Fortunately, switching to its natural counterparts, especially ones with hyaluronic acid, a natural substance with anti-aging and hydrating properties, will allow you to get rid of excess oil and keep your hair and scalp moisturized and healthy.
Whether you’re the bare-faced kinda gal or one who wouldn’t dare step out of the house unless your brows are perfectly arched, we can all agree on one thing: always wear sunscreen! Unfortunately, synthetic sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb and scatter UV rays on contact, which means you also absorb all of its harmful ingredients—including oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that the American Contact Dermatitis Society named “Allergen of the Year 2014.” If that’s not bad enough, studies have shown that swimming with synthetic sunscreen on causes damage in coral reefs. Natural sunblocks, however, are not absorbed by the skin and work as soon as they’re applied. Their formula is more stable, cleaner, and doesn’t damage the environment.
As the skin is the largest organ in the body, it only makes sure to give it nothing but the best and safest nourishment. However, body lotions often use phthalates, which are considered endocrine disruptors and have been linked to cancer, to produce synthetic fragrances. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that are made with skin-favorite shea butter, essential oils and natural scents that pamper the skin by deeply moisturizing it and offering an effective remedy for dry skin problems.
While deodorants may keep you smelling like flowers all day, it may be one of the most harmful products to ever touch the human body. Antiperspirants work by clogging your pores to prevent sweating, which happens to be the body’s natural way of cleansing and detoxifying. Deodorants, on the other hand, kill the bacteria that causes odor while allowing your body to sweat. While it seems that deodorants are the better choice, both of them often contain aluminum compounds that are known to be neurotoxins and carcinogens. Yikes! As an alternative, natural deodorants are often made with perfectly safe ingredients like beeswax, essential oils and plant extracts to create a formula that’s gentle on your skin (and nose).
Most people wouldn’t think of an innocent bar soap as something that harbors some nasty chemicals. After all, it’s supposed to keep us clean, not sick! However, a close inspection of its common ingredients will reveal that most everyday bar soaps contain known toxins and carcinogens. Luckily, there are natural alternatives infused with Vitamin K, shea butter, plant extracts and essential oils that leave the skin clean and moisturized without stripping natural lipids or unwanted side effects.
Fresh, light and gentle are just some of the things we want in our favorite fragrances, but behind the sweet scent are dozens of harmful synthetic chemicals. According to the Environmental Working Group, perfumes and fragrances often contain undisclosed scent chemicals that have been known to cause allergies and respiratory problems. Natural perfumes, on the other hand, ditch these harmful mixtures and use essential oils, fruit and plant extracts and natural essences.
Who would’ve thought that wanting clean and beautiful nails could also mean exposing yourself to a toxic concoction of chemicals that include DBP, formaldehyde, and toluene? While nail polish products have recently switched to being 3-free or free from the trio of toxins above, natural alternatives take it a step further by excluding more synthetic chemicals (like resin, camphor and xylene among others) and going 5-, 7- and 9-free.