Natural Skin Care – Why Bother?

What is Natural Skin Care?

Natural skin care is generally understood to refer to those items characterised by the absence of synthetic components, such as preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, nutrient oils, fragrances and harsh liquids.
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Typically, natural skin care products are made using natural ingredients such as plant oils, essential oils, herbal and flower extracts (both aqueous and waxy), that have been prepared in the “old fashion way”, without chemical processing or even modification. Sometimes, ethically produced pet derivatives, such as beeswax, may also be present in natural skin care (1).

Natural skin care made with approved organically produced raw materials and practices can be organic qualified by the relevant organic organizations.

Unfortunately, there are numerous products in the market that claims to be either natural or which are cleverly marketed for their singular organic extract or vitamin, amongst a dense cocktail of synthetic elements. These are the “pseudo-natural” products (1). To help clarify if a skin care product is really natural, it is recommended to read the constituents section in the label.

Why is natural skin care better than synthetic?

Products that are made from ingredients that have been extracted naturally from sustainably maintained plants and crops manifest the essence, the power, the qualities and the benefits of the source raw material, in ways that synthetics ingredients do not.

Simply put, the location, the soil and the water the particular plants are grown in, as well as the sun exposure, the seasons and enjoying times contribute to the mature vegetation and crop yields in special ways.

These factors cannot be mimicked in the laboratory or controlled nurseries, as the natural exposure to the environmental conditions facilitates development of subtle differences in the plants. These are then reflected within the quality of the extracted oils, as well as on their specific composition, properties and benefits.

Besides, synthetic ingredients are usually produced in laboratories using scientific, however often hazardous processes involving the usage of carbon dioxide, propylene glycol or hexane based methods. Although these chemical substance agents may only be present is trace amounts in the final synthesised ingredients, it is unclear what effect they might have as they accumulate for the human body, over a prolonged period of exposure (2).

Of course , some of the natural extracts and oils may also be affected or destabilised by the natural extraction methods utilized in their preparation. For these reasons manufacturers of natural skin care products give great consideration to the sourcing of their raw materials and how natural ingredients are prepared from the latter.

What is Special About Plant Oils?

Plant oils are made up of complex mixtures of different fatty acids (lipids). It does not take specific mix and ratio of such fatty acids that determines the unique character of any oil. In addition to the main lipid fraction, there are also other essential bioactive substances such as the phospholipids, phosphatides, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones and nutritional vitamins. These bioactives are known as the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. They normally are present is small amounts and are unique signatures of the oils (3).

To demonstrate how the oil composition determines the difference in functional properties, the typical fatty acid profile of apricot kernel and borage oils as described in Kusmirek (3) are compared below.

one – Apricot kernel oil is a mixture of 58 – 74% associated with oleic acid, 25 – 30% of linoleic, with the remainder 4 – 7% composed of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and alpha-linolenic acids. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 0. 5 -0. 75%.

2 – Borage oil is a mixture of 30 – 40% linoleic acid, 7 – 25% gamma linolenic acidity, 15 – 20% oleic acid solution, 9 – 12% palmitic acid solution, 3 – 4% stearic acid solution, 2 – 6 % eicosenoic acid. The unsaponifiable content is definitely approximately 1%.

Apricot kernel essential oil is a great nourishing and emollient essential oil that is easily absorbed. These qualities are attribute to the high percentages of oleic and linoleic acids. Furthermore, apricot kernel oil can also be an excellent source of vitamin A, present in the particular unsaponifiable matter.

Borage oil is known for its nourishing and penetrating qualities attributed to the presence of linoleic and oleic acids, but in addition the high content associated with gamma-linolenic acid confers its regenerating and firming qualities.

The differences in the properties of apricot kernel plus borage oils, as well as those of other oils not discussed here, show the importance to blend various herb oils for optimal skin care, so that the skin is adequately fed, continuously hydrated, smooth feeling and equipped to regenerate efficiently. These are necessary to promote a healthy skin glow, irrespective of age.

But , even if the synthetics oils were to reproduce the exact mixes and ratios of plant derived essential fatty acids and unsaponifiables, it would be nearly impossible in order to mimic into the synthetic oils the contribution from the energy that is kept in the plant, from which the equivalent natural oils were extracted. Thus, natural ingredients are different from their synthetic equivalents.

What about important oils and other botanicals?

Essential natural oils are concentrated extracts of perfumed and other volatile plant substances, occasionally containing growth factors known for their own regenerative properties. They are the source of the particular scents of nature and may be used to add scent to natural items. Because of their concentrated nature and higher cost to produce, only small amounts associated with essential oils are used in organic skin care. Besides, as essential oils may be irritating to the skin, they need to never be used undiluted.

In contrast to oils, floral/herbal waters are the aqueous components from flowers/plants. Naturally produced natural oils and aqueous extracts are made by means of distillation, steaming, or infusion techniques. These are slow and often inefficient processes that add to cost. But , the products generated using non-synthetic approaches are much safer and healthier than those taken out with the use of artificial methods.

Is there a problem with the variation in natural ingredient batches?

The quick answer is not any!

Certainly, naturally produced ingredients show “batch variation”, but this is a part of nature, demonstrating the cycles of change. These are natural bio- rhythms, and as with everything in character sometimes there is abundant sunshine, also there are only clouds. Naturally, these weather changes affect the growth patterns of the plants.

This means that periodically a few of the natural ingredients may contain a slightly higher or lower percentage of one and even several of the components, but over a period of period, these variations balance out. The key point is that the overall effect of using 100 % natural ingredients is still beneficial in the long run.

Supporters from the mainstream cosmetic industry object for this variation associated with natural ingredients. Instead they advocate that synthetic ingredients really are a far better option to manufacture any products, including skin care. They argue that synthetic ingredients are scientifically controlled, rigorous, standardised and can be made in a totally reproducible manner. But , at the end of the day… they are not natural!

What about preservatives, stabilisers plus emulsifiers?

Sure, preservatives and stabilisers extend the shelf-life of any product, natural and synthetic (1, 2, 4). Because of this recognition Western european and USA organic and regulatory organisations have approved the use of particular preservatives for which there has been long standing up accumulation of safety and degree of toxicity data, e. g. blends associated with dehydro-acetic acid. These preservatives had been designed to replace the paraben family of preservatives in the personal care products. Though natural products ought to have the minimal necessary amounts of preservatives.

Without a doubt, preservatives such as the parabens, the phenol derivatives and the denatured alcohols are extremely effective, as they increase the product shelf-life almost indefinitely! But , they are also known to interfere with hormone balance and can be allergenic (1, 2). Clearly, they are not health promoting substances. As they are readily absorbed by the skin and are longer lasting, their long-term effects on distal organs are unknown, and thus unwanted.

Interestingly, vitamin E is a powerful natural anti-oxidant, as well as a fantastic natural preservative for oil blends and emulsified oils (2). Extracts of rosemary and oregano are also considered organic preservatives because of their anti-bacterial properties (2). However , these are not frequently used as they impart a strong scent and may give rise to some skin irritation. This is an example of where caution has to be exercised along with natural substances. Though these situations are more the exception than the guideline.

Alginic acid obtained from brown algae is sometimes used as a stabiliser (4). But , allantoin, an extract from comfrey root is a more suitable natural stabiliser for skin care preparations (2).

Emulsifiers are substances that assistance to prevent the parting of the of oil and water fractions in a cream or lotion. In natural skin care these include lethicin and the wax cetearyl alcohol (1, 2, 4). Lecithin is extracted from soya beans and is known to soften the skin plus help penetration of the skin care product. Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of the high melting point cetyl and stearyl fatty acids derived from either animal or even plant fats. In natural skincare it is preferable to have plant sourced cetearyl alcohol. Apart from its excellent emulsifying properties, this fatty acid combine facilitates maintenance of skin hydration.

So , what’s he take home message?

No matter some of the limitations of natural skin care, the natural ingredients in these products continue to be far more beneficial than those that are totally synthetic. Synthetics are unable to reproduce the initial heterogeneous and nourishing character from the natural extracts and oils, as discussed above.

Technology aside, it is also clear that there are major financial increases for manufacturers to use mostly, otherwise strictly synthetic ingredients. The cost of creating natural skin care products is of necessity higher than that of synthesising vast amounts of easy to make and make use of synthetic ingredients. Compared to their comparative natural counterparts they afford versatility on the production line, on the shelf-life, as well as on profitability.

These attributes of scientifically designed skin care in the 20th century satisfied the increasing market desire for youth elixirs. However , since the 1960’s growing conscious awareness of what was in our food, demand for natural and organic products increased. This requirement extended to the personal care sector furthermore. Indeed, the natural and organic cosmetics marketplace has been the fastest growing sector of the personal care products since the past due 1980’s.

Fortunately nowadays, the driver is just not purely for skin care that makes you look good, but for products that can accomplish this goal with respect for humans and the environment.