As more and more of us are searching for cleaner, greener products, we’re also looking for clean personal care items. Because, what goes on, goes in our bodies. It’s true. We can actually absorb the chemicals or whatever ingredients are in the daily skin care and cosmetics we use every day.
Natural and organic skincare products are sourced from natural plant and sometimes animal sources. Often they are also food sources with known nutritional properties.
Now we are starting to see a lot more ‘clean’ products. But what should you look out for? I’ll go over that and also some findings about the not-so-clean products out there.
Obviously, most natural ingredients are great. Vitamins A, C, and E (tocopherols) are especially good for the skin. They do reduce free radicals and add some moisturizing and anti-aging properties. Vitamins C and E together also add some UV protection. And Vitamin C helps regulate collagen in the skin.
Here are some more to watch for:
Green tea in topical skincare products helps scavenge free radicals and helps with oil products, helpful for acne. It also helps retain moisture and reduces skin roughness.
Grapes and Grapeseed Extract
These contain resveratrol, a potent antioxidant. According to some research I read, it can help control skin cancer, aging from the sun, and other antioxidant properties.
Pomegranate contains ellagic acid, punicalagin, and punicic acid. They provide antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease or eliminate wrinkles from sun damage and aging.
Soy contains genistein, an isoflavone that helps prevent collagen breakdown and other beneficial effects. Some anti-aging moisturizers and sunscreens contain genistein from soy.
Hesperidin, a flavanone, and Vitamin C are antioxidants and are sometimes found in anti-aging products, with Vitamin C as a collagen booster.
Sweet Prickly Pear
Sweet prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica), the most abundant and useful of all cacti, has some amazing properties. High levels of linoleic acid have anti-aging and restorative properties for hair, skin, and nails. It easily penetrates the skin supporting moisture and collagen levels. If you see Opuntia ficus indica on a label, it’s a good one.
Soothing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps retain moisture.
The common fig (Ficus carica) extract helps reduce skin damage from stress or oxidative stress. In topical skin creams, it can help wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, freckles, and acne.
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And, it helps tighten reinforce the tight junction between cells, improving cellular cohesion. It is helpful for the lymphatic system and improves skin elasticity.
Papaya (Carica papaya) is used in anti-aging skin care products and cosmetics. It contains flavonoids and phenolic acids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. It can even help heal wounds, has antibacterial properties, and helps preserve collagen.
Cocoa beans have polyphenols which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It is antiradical, helping neutralize free radicals. On the skin, it helps regulate Collagen I, III, and IV and is found in some skin formulations. Look for Theobroma cacao on the ingredient label.
Almonds (Prunus dulcis) are loaded with antioxidants. Triterpenoids, catechin, flavonol glycosides, phenolic acids, phytosterols, fatty acids, and lipid-soluble vitamins. It’s a mouth full but really great for lowering cholesterol internally and helps treat eczema and pimples externally.
Coconut oil is appearing in everything from MCT oil for coffee to beauty products. It’s a great moisturizer for the skin and did you know it can block 20% of UV rays as well? It can be used as a natural deodorant, body scrub, lip scrub, shaving cream, and personal cleansing agents. It’s also great for the hair by using coconut oil before or after shampooing to preserve protein in the hair.
There are more but these are the main natural ingredients you might find in natural or organic personal care products and cosmetics.
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As you probably know, there are harmful ingredients to our health in some personal care products and cosmetics. A study done with white and black women in the early 2000s followed them and tracked their incidence of breast cancer. There weren’t many natural or organic products back then.
But scientists did find a correlation between personal products and cosmetic use and the instance of breast cancer. Here I’ll list the type of ingredients they tracked. These chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors and increase the risk of breast cancer.
Phthalates are ‘plasticizers’. Phthalates are in vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and have been used in personal care products. And some are in plastic containers. You may have noticed packaging being labeled as ‘phthalate or BPA-free’. Definitely choose those.
As per the study referenced above, phthalates may increase the risk of breast and other cancers. BPA is also linked to fertility, immunity, and sexual development issues.
Keep in mind, products used in salons or labeled ‘For professional use’ do not have to list phthalates on their labels.
According to the US FDA, parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics. Most commonly used are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. The FDA doesn’t have special rules regarding preservatives in cosmetic products. They are monitoring studies and findings on parabens.
However, they are chemicals and are artificial. They are also absorbed through the skin.
They do keep bacteria from multiplying in products and companies claim they keep products safer.
Many producers of natural and organic products are opting for natural preservatives such as Vitamin E (tocopherol) for oil-based products, potassium sorbate, glyceryl caprylate, benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, sorbic acid, glycerin, among a few others.
No matter what, there need to be preservatives and anti-fungal ingredients to keep you healthy, but we can choose more natural options in our products.
a mildly acidic toxic white crystalline solid obtained from coal tar and used in chemical manufacture, and in dilute form (under the name carbolic) as a disinfectant.
- any compound with a hydroxyl group linked directly to a benzene ring.
You used to find phenols in antibacterial products as it is an antiseptic and disinfectant. The FDA ruled in 2016 that antiseptic products including antibacterial soaps, hand washes, and body washes used with water can no longer be marketed.
Phenols are banned for use in cosmetics in Canada and the EU ruled it must not be part of any cosmetics.
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I hope this article helped reinforce your understanding of how the ingredients we put on our bodies can be absorbed through our skin. Knowing that, why not be as picky about what we put on our bodies as what we eat? I hope you learned some things about personal care and cosmetic ingredients and can move forward with an eye on your ingredient labels.
Thank you for reading today! If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the Comments section below. Thank you!