The natural skin care movement is booming, and for good reason. Whether you believe women are taking a more holistic approach to health, or attribute the revolution to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, the rise of natural skin care is undeniable.
So, what’s the deal with clean beauty, anyway? Do many popular skin care brands actually contain dangerous ingredients? Are natural products as effective? Here’s everything you need to know to get the clear, luminous skin you’ve always longed for.
Natural Skin Care: Fact or Fad?
Aside from the genetically blessed, most of us have struggled with some sort of skin issue in our lifetime. Cystic acne, redness, fine lines, scarring...the list goes on and it can often feel like we’re fighting a never-ending battle with our skin.
The always changing nature of the skin care industry doesn’t make things any easier. In fact, it might be contributing to the problem. From metallic face masks to K-Beauty (a Korean-inspired approach which involves layering upwards of 10 products onto the skin), the landscape is always expanding and getting more confusing. Skin care brands are consistently pushing new products, but quantity does not always mean quality.
Although many of these launches are the result of industry giants trying to capitalize on trends, natural skin care isn’t just an empty fad. Besides being incredibly effective, natural products are also better for your health and kinder to the environment.
The Skin Care Industry: A Surprising Truth
If you’re the kind of shopper who typically buys skin care products on the fly, you may want to reconsider. The sweeping misconception is that the products that populate the shelves of beauty boutiques and drug stores are safe, but this is not always the case. The luxury beauty counter at your favorite department store is no exception; an expensive skin care routine or fancy packaging doesn’t guarantee quality.
The fact of the matter is….well, unsettling. For starters, the personal care industry is largely unregulated in that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t need to approve products before they hit the shelves. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that every single product is full of harmful ingredients, it’s certainly a good indicator that consumers should be more proactive when it comes to deciding what brands to buy and use.
The Problem With Many Conventional Skin Care Brands
The promise of a glowing, radiant complexion is as enticing as ever—not to mention, an advertiser’s dream. Whether it’s a flawless, "barefaced" model promoting an established skin care line or a beautiful social media influencer raving about the latest launch, it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype.
The problem? With an endless array of brands looking to cash in on this very lucrative market, it can be confusing to distinguish the good from the bad. Plus, the absence of any stringent regulation means it’s essentially a free-for-all. Companies can slap buzzwords like “natural” and “pure” on their packaging to lure in shoppers even though these terms have no concrete meaning.
Simply put, just because a product claims to be “all natural” or “eco-friendly”, doesn’t mean this is actually the case.
When shopping for natural skincare products,
Why Beauty Really Is Skin Deep
Dry patches, zits, and sensitivity are clear indicators that your skin care regime might be doing more harm than good. But what about the stuff you don’t see that’s happening beneath the surface?
The skin is the body’s largest organ and while it serves as our protective barrier, it’s not impenetrable. A great deal of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and skin care products are no exception. Although applying a product to your face may not always lead to any immediate visible problems, it’s what can occur over time internally that’s most troubling.
Since skin care manufacturers are free to use whatever ingredients they please (excluding a few that are prohibited), it’s up to us to take matters into our own hands when it comes to our skin, and by extension, our overall health and well-being.
Ingredients 101: How To Determine Whether A Product Is Really Natural
Most products on the market contain fillers—empty ingredients that offer no benefit to our skin whatsoever—and toxic chemicals, which cause skin irritation, endocrine disruption, as well a host of serious health problems. The list of not-good-for-you ingredients is endless but common culprits include parabens, phthalates, as well as artificial colors and fragrances.
The lack of enforcement in the skin care industry means that “natural” has become an ambiguous term, so it’s vital to do your research before buying. By learning to decipher ingredient lists, you’ll be able to choose skin care brands and products effectively, and with peace of mind.
Although the FDA does not regulate manufacturer terms like “botanical” or “pure” on product packaging, there are third-party symbols that can help you discern the quality of your skin care. For example, the USDA Organic label—a certification issued by the United States Department of Agriculture—indicates that a product is 100% organic. Another key symbol to look out for is Non-GMO Verified, which signifies that a product is free of genetically modified ingredients. Many natural product lines are also Leaping Bunny certified (they don’t test on animals) and come packaged in recyclable containers, like Love Hair.
Here's a quick reference checklist for you to use when shopping for natural skincare products:
- Free of harmful chemicals or preservatives. Always read the product's ingredient list, and if you absolutely cannot avoid chemicals in the product, be sure that the chemical ingredients are as low on the list as possible.
- Formulated with organic ingredients. A quick glance for the USDA Certified Organic label will give you this information
- Leaping Bunny certified or cruelty free
You Are What You Eat
In addition to being vigilant about the products you are purchasing and applying on your skin, all this hard work will be spoiled if you simply ingest toxic ingredients instead. Have you ever noticed your skin dulling or breaking out after a heavy night of drinking or after bingeing on junk food? This is because alcohol has adverse effects on the immune system, leading to a higher bacteria count clogging your precious pores, among other negative health effects. Foods with a high Glycemic Index like fried foods, white bread, sugary drinks, candy or other processed foods not only negatively affect your body on the inside, but the effects show on the outside. These refined, processed foods raise blood sugar levels quickly, causing insulin levels to rise in order to process this extra sugar. Over time, high insulin levels can make skin drier and thicker, blocking your pores. In response, the skin's sebaceous glands produce more oil, leading to acne and problematic skin.
Healthy, glowing skin comes from the inside out, therefore, be sure that your diet is rich with the following:
- Antioxidants: these protect the skin from damaging free radicals in the body, which are unstable electrons floating around inside us.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: we cannot stress the importance of these enough! Omega-3 fatty acids work wonders for preventing wrinkles, protecting the skin from the sun, and keeping your skin hydrated, plump, and healthy.
- Biotin: this vitamin promotes healthy skin, hair, and nail growth
- Vitamins A, C, E, and K: these vitamins all support skin tissue growth, regeneration, and encourage smooth-looking skin.
In order to incorporate these essential nutrients into your diet, we recommend to load up on organic fruits and veggies like berries, leafy greens, nuts, and avocados, however, you can always supplement your diet with additional vitamins. Always be sure that your supplements are plant based and organic.
While your diet is extremely important to getting radiant skin on the outside, your lifestyle also plays a big part in achieve healthy, glowing skin. Some healthy habits to incorporate into your lifestyle include getting enough sleep every night, excercising regularly, and staying well hydrated. Be sure to use sunscreen everyday on your face as well (most moisturizers now have SPF in their formula), as sun damage can lead to the breakdown of elastin and collagen in your skin, causing premature ageing. Fun fact, Love Hair Coconut Oil has an SPF of 5. We do recommend to add a stronger SPF if needed, however, as this is not enough to protect your skin all day in the sun.
The Proof Is In The
Pudding Product: Why Natural Skin Care Is Best
In the same way that a diet filled with an assortment of organic, fresh ingredients is superior to one that consists of processed foods, pesticides, and preservatives, natural skin care is most beneficial.
The research speaks for itself: as of last year, over half of consumers aged 18 to 59 indicated their preference in buying organic or natural skin care products. As more women are becoming aware of the benefits of natural skin care, the clean beauty industry is growing exponentially. Natural brands that were previously only available on niche websites and in luxe apothecary-style stores are now earning a significant presence in the mainstream market.
Still, a common myth people have when it comes to natural skin care is that it is less effective. In reality, natural products are more powerful than their traditional counterparts, which typically contain cheap formulations and poorly sourced ingredients in order to cut costs and streamline the manufacturing process.
This often results in a disruption of the skin’s microbiome and pH balance, leading to irritation, redness, and flaking. Conversely, natural products work with the skin rather than against it, helping to foster regeneration at the cellular level.
Clean Beauty: A Minimalist Movement
When it comes to creating a skin care routine, it’s best to keep things simple so as to not over stimulate the skin. Unlike most traditional skin care brands, natural beauty companies typically have more curated product lines so you’ll be able to condense your regime.
Best of all, you probably already have some natural skin care products in your kitchen. Organic virgin Coconut Oil, for example, is incredibly versatile and effective. Its antibacterial properties and ability to remove even the most stubborn traces of makeup make it the perfect cleanser. You can also use it as an overnight moisturizer to help lock hydration into your skin. Another popular staple is raw honey, which is both naturally antibacterial and full of antioxidants, making it ideal as an acne-combating face mask.
Natural Face Masks For Glowing Skin
In order to take that more minimalist approach to skincare, we've compiled three of our favorite face masks for glowing skin, which you can make right at home.
Baking Soda And Coconut Oil Face Mask
This natural face mask is ideal to remove pesky blackheads. It acts as a skin cleanser to remove dirt and dead skin cells from your pores. The baking sods helps restore the skin's natural pH, and over time, reduces blackheads to a thing of the past.
What you'll need:
- 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Mix the Coconut Oil and baking soda to form a paste.
- Apply the paste to your skin where blackheads are most common, usually on your T-zone and chin.
- Rub gently with your fingers in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes.
- Wash the mask off with warm water, then give your face another rinse with cold water to close up your pores and pat your face dry with a clean towel.
Coconut Oil and Turmeric Face Mask
The Coconut Oil in this face mask hydrates and moisturizes the skin, helping to fight fine lines and wrinkles, while the turmeric helps with skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.
What you'll need:
- 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- 1 pinch turmeric
- Mix Coconut Oil and turmeric together in a bowl.
- Apply the mixture all over your clean face and leave on for 15 minutes.
- Rinse your face with cold water and pat dry with a clean towel.
Anti-Aging Mask With Coconut Oil and Avocado
Avocados are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which slow down the skin's ageing process, while Coconut Oil hydrates and nourishes the skin, leaving it soft and supple. Nutmeg helps with exfoliation, hydration, and uneven skin tones, leaving you with bright, supple skin.
What you'll need:
- A quarter ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- Half a teaspoon nutmeg
- Mash up the avocado with a fork and mix in the nutmeg and Coconut Oil to form a paste.
- Apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for 15 minutes.
- Rinse off with cold water and pat your face dry with a clean towel.
Ultimately, natural skin care is about employing a cleaner, more refined approach. By switching out your products for natural formulas, you’ll be in awe of how your skin transforms over time. It’s also reassuring to know that your products are free of toxins and hormone disrupting chemicals. Getting a glowing, beautiful complexion doesn’t have to be so complicated. When it comes to caring for your skin, less truly is more.
Are you a natural skin care fanatic? We'd love to hear your experience with natural products in the comments below.
Written by: Sophie Lalani