When choosing natural skincare, it’s very easy to base your decisions on pretty packaging or great smelling products. But are marketing gimmicks and fads distracting you from choosing the right products for your skin? Just having a little bit of know-how can make all the difference in making the smart choice for your skin needs – ultimately improving the look and health of your complexion.
You’ll notice a new natural skincare line popping up in your Instagram feed almost daily, adorned in clear packaging and boasting formulas in shades of purples, blues and millennial pinks. “Ooh la la, PINK! I have to have it!”
But is vanity the very reason why natural beauty has gained a bad wrap of not being highly effective? Are we, the formulators, putting Instagram worthy packaging and colorful formulas ahead of safe and effective formulations that deliver results?
Natural ingredients are fragile by nature, no pun intended. And for that reason, proper formulation and packaging is CRITICAL. It can determine how safe, and most importantly, how EFFECTIVE the product is once it has made its way to you, the end user.
But have no worries. We are here to help. With over 10 years of experience in the natural beauty sphere, here are a few of our top do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the ever-growing jungle of natural beauty… and hopefully help you enjoy the process of greening up your routine.
1. Don’t buy natural skincare in clear glass or plastic.
Light will not only degrade the “active“ ingredients (i.e. vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), but also decrease a product’s shelf life. And plastic, not only is it bad for the environment, but it does a poor job of protecting natural skincare ingredients.
Buy products that are thoughtfully housed in dark glass bottles as to protect the natural ingredients and their nutrients. Especially when it comes to oil-based products, stay far away from plastic, as oil will degrade the plastic over time.
2. Avoid droppers at all costs!
They introduce oxygen every time you use your product – rapidly increasing the rate at which your product will expire, or even worse, go rancid. Rubber droppers also degrade over time, especially if it’s an oil-based product.
When purchasing oil or liquid based products, opt for pumps instead of droppers as that will introduce less air, as well as decrease potential bacteria contamination that often occurs when a dropper comes in contact with fingers and countertops.
The Q-Tip Test: You can test to see if your packaging is degrading by simply swabbing a q-tip around the inside of the top part of the dropper, where the dropper attaches to the squeeze bulb. If you find brown or black residue, that often means the oil is degrading the rubber and potentially leaching into your product, yuck!
3. Don’t buy into “preservative free” marketing!
There are lots of healthy and natural preservatives out there, and they are REQUIRED for products that contain water. Not using a preservative in a water-based formula is often times more harmful to your skin health than many synthetic preservative out there, as water is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Only anhydrous formulas, meaning free from water, such as oil or powder-based formulas can be preservative free.
Opt for water-free products whenever possible – such as dry clay masks, powder exfoliants and oil-based serums and balms. For products that are liquid-based such as toners, make sure they list a preservative. Any product that contains the word “hydrosol, aloe juice, floral water” is a water-based product. If you are not sure, you can always email the brand directly to inquire about preservatives in their water-based formulas.
4. Don’t make purchasing decisions based on colors or fragrance!
If you do, there’s a strong chance you’re paying a premium for inactive ingredients such as colorants and highly irritating fragrance. Artificially fragrance is always a big NO NO – it actually does more harm than good. But essential oils CAN be good for you, but in very small amounts. You can immediately tell if a formula has gone overboard with the essential oils if it smells strong enough to be a perfume. A high percentage of essential oils can be damaging to your skin, so a lightly scented product that contains essential oils is usually a good indicator that they were used for therapeutic skin benefits and not scent. Also, avoid formulas that contain photosensitizing essential oils such as Lemon, Grapefruit or Bergamot – these can make your skin sensitive to the sun, which in effect can accelerate the aging process.
Make purchasing decisions based on the needs of your skin. Know your skin type and look for products that are formulated for your type. Don’t buy into the one-size fits all philosophy, it doesn’t work for your clothing and sure doesn’t work for your skin. Also, look for products that contain nutrient-rich ingredients (i.e. vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) that serve your skin needs and goals.
5. Don’t fall for Green Washing!
If the top half of the ingredient list doesn’t contain any natural ingredients, it’s very likely that the product isn’t really that natural after all – as ingredients are required to be listed in order of concentration. You should also look for products that contain certified organic ingredients vs. conventional natural ingredients, as this helps ensure that the natural ingredients you are applying to your skin do not contain harmful pesticides, growth hormones, chemical fertilizers, etc. That’s not to say that the entire product itself has to be certified organic, as many small brands don’t have the financial means to go through organic certification. However, if the ingredients themselves are certified organic, that means the supplier has gone through the certification process.
Your research! Knowledge is power. Always read the ingredient list. Read up on the brands you’re investing in. What are their values, their mission? Does it align with yours? Getting to know the brands you’re trusting your skin’s health with is important. The more transparency a brand has, the better. But it is your job to do a little bit of work and read up, ask questions, and educate yourself. Just as we’ve become more conscious of the ingredients in our food, we should also have some basic knowledge of the ingredients we apply to our skin.
Your skin protects you, and at the end of the day, you too should protect your skin.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are based on personal opinion and experience accumulated over the numerous years of being the in the natural skin care industry. The intent of this site is to present information and advice based on personal opinion and experience, and may differ with the experience of those reading this blog. The views and products expressed are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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