How many people do you know who swear by an ‘all-natural’ beauty routine? There has been a huge shift in our society to the all-natural lifestyle, and for good reason. Cancer rates are on the rise and research has proven that there are toxic chemicals everywhere. The less exposure to toxic chemicals, the better.
One common belief is that stripping down to an all-natural lifestyle will help you achieve perfect skin. The thought behind this is that by reducing exposure to toxic substances, there will be no inflammatory response. In my job I see firsthand that an all-natural routine isn’t necessarily going to benefit every patient. While I do believe that reducing exposure to inflammatory substances will help to clear your skin, there are some skin conditions that simply require treatment.
For example, acne. There are people out there that swear by a natural acne cure – meaning cleaning up your diet and avoiding store brought products. They use naturally occurring elements to cleanse and moisturize (things like honey and coconut oil) and attribute their clear skin to this. Most likely, if you suffer from acne, this natural routine alone isn’t going to clear your skin. You will need to actually treat the acne.
Things to avoid
When researching chemicals in skincare products, you will find that there are hundreds of chemicals that may be introduced in products (especially in the United States, the UK has stronger regulations in place). Some people will always try to make the case that the chemicals you are exposed to in these products is minimal so it shouldn’t matter. Personally, I’m not taking that chance.
It’s tricky to narrow down the complete list of things you should avoid. Your best bet is to review the list of ingredients on a selected product and do your research. I find Safecosmetics.org a great resource for this.
The list below is a starting point of things that I would always recommend you avoid.
Lead – occur in products as a contaminant, may be found in toothpaste, some lipsticks and mens hair dye
Mercury – a preservative used in eye makeup
Parabens – a preservative found in skin and body care products
Fragrance – a catch-all name used to indicate a number of chemicals in personal care products
Triclosan – anti-bacterials that may be found in hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste and bodywash
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – antioxidant that may be found in cosmetic and personal care products
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (DMDM, urea, methenamine, sodium hydromethlyglycinate) – used as a disinfectant and may be found in nail polish, soap, deodorant, shaving cream, eyelash adhesive and shampoo.
Trusting the Brand
The labels ‘Organic’ or ‘Natural’ don’t actually carry any legal requirements so you need to drill down into the ingredient lists in order to verify that the product is in fact clean of harsh chemicals. If you are looking to clean up your personal care products, start by researching brands that share the same philosophy that you do. If you choose natural products, just be sure to be careful of contact allergens. Regular exposure to pure essential oils can sometimes result in contact dermatitis, which can be a severe itchy rash.
Personally, I choose brands that create products using clean technology. Utilizing peptides and antioxidants over chemicals to achieve the results I desire. If you are looking for a clean skin care brand that offers everything from body lotions, shampoo, and shaving cream try Vanicream. It’s a one of my go to lines for patients with sensitive skin or for patients who are looking for products that are “free and clear.”
I challenge you to go into your bathroom now. Pickup your shampoo (or facewash, handwash, anything!) and look at the ingredient list. Anything not sound right? I’d love to hear about it either in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.