Natural Skin Care Products: How to Tell If They Live Up To Their Claims

natural skin care producstsMany of us are becoming more conscious of using skin and body care products that are safe and non-toxic. Over the past year or so, there has been an explosion of "green" products flooding the market. Gone are the days when we could only find a naturally based skin cream or body wash in our local health food store.

Walk down any skin and body care aisle in any drug store in America today, and you will see a plethora of products ranging from skin care to shampoos and conditioners touting the benefits of its natural plant botanicals. Have you noticed that just about every major company has come out with their version of a so called "natural" product?

Take a look at all of the new packaging designs that have hit the market recently. I couldn't help but notice that just about every major manufacturer of shampoos and conditioners has come out with their version of what they would like you to believe is a natural product.

"Green" packaging has now become the latest marketing rage. And when I say, "green," I am not necessarily referring to responsible companies who have chosen to use packaging materials which are kinder to our environment. What I am referring to is the use of design motifs which may give the impression that the product is all natural. Typically you will see a "nature" inspired design with some variation of leaves or other vegetation to conjure up images of purity and good health.

Why are these companies using this type of marketing strategy? The main reason is to increase their bottom line. If market research tells them that consumers want natural products, then that is what they will endeavor to give you.  Whether or not the product is really natural is another story.

Often, companies will state on their packaging something like, "made with natural botanicals." So, even if a product only contains 2 natural botanicals out of an ingredient panel that contains 50 or more synthetic ingredients, the statement would not be inaccurate in a literal sense. But, it does raise the question of whether or not this presentation is deceptive. Would the average consumer be led to believe that they are purchasing a natural product because of the look and feel of the packaging? One could argue that these are deceptive tactics.

Because the FDA does not monitor what goes into cosmetics and skin and body care products, each manufacturer must decide how they will market their products. That is why it is so important for consumers to familiarize themselves with a least a basic knowledge of cosmetic ingredients.

There is no need to feel overwhelmed by this process, as it does not require that you have a chemistry background. One thing to watch out for is very long ingredient listings (over 30 or so) which contain ingredient names that are barely pronounceable.  While not always necessarily the case, in many instances this is an indication that synthetic chemicals make up the majority of the product. However, that is not to say that all synthetic ingredients are toxic, or that all natural ingredients are safe.

There are some wonderful organizations which can help to educate you about the safety of skin care ingredients. The Compact for Safe Cosmetics and Skin Deep are two such organizations. You can look for them on-line.

Also when looking at skin care products look for those that contain natural oils rather than petroleum, lanolin or mineral oil. Natural oils often contain essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and often have antioxidant properties.

Look for preservatives that are non-toxic. Try to avoid those which release formaldehyde such as imidazolidinyl urea, and diazolidinyl urea. Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate may also be questionable. Also, because there is still a question regarding the safely of parabens, it is best to avoid that group of preservatives as well.

Also, remember that according to some organizations, such as the Natural Ingredient Resource Center, a manufacturer can ethically state that a product is "all natural," if at least 95% of the ingredients come from natural sources which meet their criteria. The other 5% may come from natural or synthetic sources as long as no synthetic fragrance, artificial color, or petrochemicals are used. The overall toxicity of each ingredient must also be minimal.

Empowering yourself with as much information as possible will ensure that the products you use are truly all natural and safe.


Dr. Teri Dourmashkin received her Doctorate in Health Education from Columbia University. She is a passionate advocate of safe and non-toxic skin care. She is the Founder and President of La Vie Celeste Skin Care, Inc. The La Vie Celeste collection features R-Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant. La Vie Celeste truly embodies the perfect union of science and nature. To learn more visit La Vie Celeste Skin Care.

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