When choosing natural skincare, it’s 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 – and ultimately improve the look and health of your complexion.
You may have noticed the surge of new natural skincare brands popping up in your social media feed, 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 reputation of not being highly effective? Are brands putting Instagram worthy packaging and colorful products ahead of safe and effective formulas that deliver lasting results?
Natural ingredients are fragile by nature, no pun intended. And for that reason, proper formulation and packaging are 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.
With over 10 years of experience in the natural beauty industry, we’re here to share our top 5 do’s and don’ts when buying natural skincare – and help you navigate the ever-growing jungle of natural beauty.
1. Don’t Buy Natural Skincare In Clear Glass Or Plastic.
Light not only degrades the active ingredients (those vitamins, minerals and antioxidants our skin loves), but also decreases a product’s shelf life. Plastic packaging is not only bad for the environment, it does a poor job of protecting natural skincare ingredients. Especially when it comes to oil-based products, stay far away from plastic, as oil will degrade the plastic over time.
Do This Instead:
Buy products that are thoughtfully housed in dark glass bottles to protect the natural ingredients and their nutrients. And remember, up-cycle or recycle your glass bottles whenever possible.
2. Avoid Droppers At All Costs!
Droppers may look cool, but they introduce oxygen every time you use your product – rapidly increasing the rate at which your product will expire, or even worse, become potentially harmful to your skin. Not cool! Rubber droppers also degrade over time, especially when paired with an oil-based formula.
Do This Instead:
When purchasing oil or liquid-based products, opt for pumps instead of droppers. This will minimize oxidation and the potential for 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 Fall For “Preservative-Free” Marketing!
There are numerous safe and effective preservatives available today. And they are actually required for products that contain water. Not using a preservative in a water-based formula is often times more harmful to your skin than many synthetic preservatives out there. That’s because water is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. No thank you! Only anhydrous formulas, meaning free from water, such as oils or powders can be preservative free.
Do This Instead:
Choose water-free natural skincare products whenever possible – such as powder-based masks and oil-based serums. For products that are liquid such as toners, make sure they include a preservative. Any product that contains the words hydrosol, aloe juice, or 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. Fragrance and perfume in skincare is always a big NO NO – it actually does more harm than good. Essential oils can be good for your skin, but only in very small amounts (1% or less). You can immediately tell if a formula has gone overboard with essential oils when it smells strong enough to be a perfume.
A high percentage of essential oils can cause irritation and some serious skin issues down the line. So, opting for either fragrance-free or lightly scented products that contain minimal amounts of essential oils is usually your best bet. 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.
Do This Instead:
Make purchasing decisions based on the needs of your skin. Understanding your skin type and concerns will help you to identify products that will benefit you. Look for products that focus on one or two specific skin concerns – using natural and scientifically-proven ingredients, such as Vitamin C. If a brand claims that a product does everything under the sun, that’s your cue to exit stage left. There are no miracle products in skincare. Now that you know that, it will help you avoid being duped next time a brand makes outrageous claims.
5. Don’t Fall For Greenwashing!
If the top half of the ingredient list doesn’t contain natural ingredients, it’s likely the product isn’t really that natural after all. Ingredients are required to be listed in order of concentration. You should look for products that contain certified organic ingredients, instead of conventional ingredients which can be GMO or have pesticide residue.
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 the organic certification process. However, if the ingredients themselves are certified organic, that usually means the supplier has gone through the certification process.
Do This Instead:
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 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.
So there you have it, you now know what to look for – and what to avoid – when it comes to natural skincare. Test out your new found knowledge and explore our collection, like the skincare expert you’re on your way to becoming.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Root Science nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any skincare, nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program. The views and products expressed are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Image Sources: Macro Leaves via Esteban Severino