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A guide to natural skincare products

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The fastest growing segment within the organic industry in North America is the beauty industry. A study released by Transparency Market Research, determined the global demand for organic personal products will reach $13 billion by 2018.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

As we learn more about the negative effects of bombarding our body with synthetic chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, etc. in the food we consume or by the products we use every day from cleaning supplies to our daily moisturizer, we are demanding alternative choices. 

We want to feel good about ourselves, look youthful and be healthy and we want products that will achieve these goals without negative, long term ramifications. 

We consider our skin to be an external defense mechanism, protecting our body from foreign particles that may cause us harm. However, with advancements in biotechnology, nanoparticles, advanced delivery systems, etc. our skin can house an accumulation of negative particles that can burden our body. This accumulative effect of toxic ingredients can create hormone imbalances, liver overload and other carcinogenic effects within our body.

When choosing beauty products, it is important to understand what ingredients to avoid and which ones we should minimize our exposure to. Similar to the food industry, reading labels is a great place to start to determine if the product you are choosing contains the ingredients you wish to expose your body to. Skin care ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance. Any active ingredients will always be listed first, followed by the remaining ingredients based on the percentage of highest to lowest. As with the food industry, any products sold in North America for the intention of being applied topically to your skin, require a complete list of active and non-active ingredients on its packaging for the consumer to review.

More is not necessarily better when determining the benefits of a beauty product. Some of the most beneficial ingredients for our skin are found in simple foods around our home or are easily accessible at your local food store.

Apple Cider Vinegar: One of the most versatile products found in your kitchen cupboard. To be used as a beauty product, apple cider vinegar is a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids which will act as a mild exfoliant, brightening and smoothing out your complexion. Containing anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, this ingredient is also beneficial for acne and can be used as an effective deodorant.

Coconut Oil: An excellent moisturizer due to its high emollient factor, this ingredient will balance the water/oil ratio of your skin leaving it silky smooth. With its anti-microbial effect on the skin, coconut oil is also beneficial for skin disruptions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, candida, etc. An excellent source of vitamin E, coconut oil has strong antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Use as a makeup remover or a hair conditioner as well.

Shea Butter: Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, from wound healing to minimizing wrinkles, vitamin A is necessary for fortifying and repairing the integrity of your skin. Shea butter is one of the best sources for topical vitamin A. Use as a moisturizer, shaving cream, stretch marks, dermatitis, would healing, etc.

Honey: Honey is beneficial for your skin, hair and nails. Nourishing, brightening and soothing, honey can be used on its own or mixed with other natural ingredients to make effective, homemade products. Use as a facial mask to hydrate and brighten or massage into your cuticles to moisturize and strengthen your cuticles and nails; honey can be used in a multitude of ways. Melaleuca honey is one of the most antibacterial sources of honey and is often used in treating skin infections.

Useful, natural skin care ingredients are as close as your kitchen cupboard. You can also look for these beneficial ingredients in the products that you are purchasing at the counter to ensure effective results without the added chemicals.

The Top 5 Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid:

  1. Parabens: A commonly used preservative which has estrogen-mimicking properties that can cause hormone disruption.
  1. Phthalates: An ingredient commonly found in nail polish to maintain its flexibility; is being studied for negative health effects, especially with kidney and liver issues. (Dibutyl phthalate) Currently banned from being used in soft-vinyl children’s toys and other children articles due to health concerns, but is not banned for use in cosmetics.
  1. SLS: Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a commonly used surfactant that can be found in 90% of beauty products. Is a known skin, lung, and eye irritant. When combined with other chemical compounds, it can create nitrosamines, a known carcinogen.
  1. BHA/BHT: Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene are known to induce allergic reactions and may be possible carcinogens.
  1. Triclosan: A common ingredient found hand soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. Is a suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

More Insights: Check out these cool ways for self-care.


  • Alex Hurst is a writer for HUM@Nmedia covering Optimyz and Silver magazines in print and digital editions and is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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