When you read the ingredient labels of commercially prepared products for skin care you are often confronted with a long list of chemicals with names you can’t pronounce, artificial colors, synthetic scents, stabilizers and preservatives. Frequently the labels attempt to seduce you with promises of eternal youth and beauty. Does anyone really believe that? Instead I choose to believe that I am aging with grace and beauty!
It seems that the beauty industry believes that humans can control and improve upon Nature, an idea that comes through an alienation from the Earth. Ironically, many of the ingredients that go into the products created by this industry are synthetic versions of naturally occurring substances. Are these man-made ingredients really an “improvement”? I think not.
If we accept ourselves as a part of Nature, rather than set ourselves apart from her, then we can begin to accept the simple gifts she has to offer. When we use these simple gifts for our own healthcare, whether the skin or our other systems, we are empowered with the knowledge of exactly what we are putting on and in our bodies. We can feel reassured by their natural purity.
When choosing ingredients for your body care, keep in mind the principles of simplicity and purity. Avoid ingredients that have unnecessary additives such as artificial scent or color. For example, aloe vera gel is close to colorless in its natural state but is often tinted green when sold commercially. Since many cosmetic dyes are potentially carcinogenic, it is worth buying a brand that is free of unnecessary coloring.
Before You Rub That On Your Skin…
- Know your companies and stick with brands that you trust to provide full disclosure of ingredients.
- Utilize a resource guide, such as A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter, which outlines safe and unsafe body care ingredients. Take the guide along when you are cosmetic shopping.
- Check your labels. Grab your resource guide and determine the true nature of the ingredients in your products.
- Recheck your labels on repeat purchases. Product formulas can change.
- Keep up with the lingo. Find something new? Pop it into a search engine and study its origins.
- Don’t rely on the front label only – verify the ingredients, too. Remember, terms like “all natural” are not supported by any legal definition by the FDA.
- Look for local alternatives. Look for stores and companies that are close to home and get to know the products and/or people who work there.
If you are buying your skin care products or making them yourself, look for these natural ingredients that are good for your skin:
Alcohol – Drying to the skin. Used as a preservative.
Aloe Vera Gel – The leaves of the plant contain a clear jellylike sap that promotes healing and cools and soothes the skin. It is naturally astringent, so it is good for oily skin.
Baking Soda – Gentle, alkaline, white powder that neutralized acids. It can be used as a skin soother in the bath, a tooth powder and a deodorizer when mixed with body powders. It also makes a cleansing hair rinse for removing residues left from styling products. Try using a baking soda rinse before coloring or perming hair to get better results.
Beeswax – High levels of potassium prevent it from becoming rancid. It also has germ-killing properties. In beauty products it forms a protective barrier on the skin to guard against environmental irritants and lock in moisture. It is used to thicken products.
Borax – Called sodium borate or tetraborate in cosmetics. It softens the water, is a cleansing agent and has the unique ability to suspend soap particles in water so they don’t adhere to the skin or clog the pores. It gently cleanses without drying the skin. In cream and lotion recipes it acts as an emulsifier, keeping the oils and water mixed together.
Clay – White clay is the one most often used in cosmetics, also called kaolin. It is used for absorbing and also drawing impurities from the skin.
Cornstarch – A fine white starchy powder made from corn. It soothes the skin and because of its absorbing properties can be used in place of talcum powder to promote dryness. It is also a good thickening agent for creams and lotions.
Epsom Salts – Also known as magnesium sulfate, is a fine white crystal powder. It is soothing to sore muscles because it is mildly astringent. It increases circulation and helps warm tired muscles.
Essential Oils – Highly concentrated, aromatic extracts of different plants. They are more expensive than other scents, but they are pure and will last for a long time.
Glycerine – A clear, odorless, sticky liquid produced during soap making. It attracts moisture and keeps products from drying out. It is softening to the skin.
Salt – Bath salts soothe tired muscles and soften the skin. They are highly soluble and do not leave any residue behind. Salt also softens hard water and can prevent these deposits from forming in the tub. Adding salt to your bath also helps keep the water temperature warmer longer.
Seaweed – Sea plants are good for dry skin because they contain a large amount of iodine and protein. It can be added to bathwater, creams and lotions.
Water – This is the major component of all living things and the most common ingredient in cosmetics today. The best beauty treatment of all is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. One of the most overlooked causes of fatigue may be the easiest to cure. Dehydration can lead to headaches, irritability and a general rundown feeling.
Witch Hazel – A staple of medicine chests for at least three hundred years. Used in cosmetics for its light astringent and firming properties. It also has mild antibacterial properties making it excellent for acne and skin problems.
Here is my favorite recipe for a facial:
Do you have a favorite natural skin care product? Share it in the comments below.