Although most people don’t realize it, their favorite skin care products can be significant contributors of harmful ingredients, toxins and chemicals. I call it “the real price of beauty.” Fact is, the majority of store-bought, commercially-produced beauty products come packed with artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives and stabilizers that can easily be absorbed through the skin’s pores, potentially causing a range of negative long-term health effects.
Chemicals found in beauty products can be damaging throughout their entire life cycle, from the way they are produced and used by consumers, to the methods of their disposal and their negative impact on the environment.
So what does this mean for your beauty routine? The good news is that there’s still plenty of natural ways to make your skin − and your even hair, teeth or nails − look their best without needing to buy expensive and harmful commercial products. Women all over the world have been using natural skin care products for centuries and have some of the most admirable skin to show for it!
The Hidden Toxicity of Most Beauty Products
Unfortunately, today it’s a reality that most mass-produced products we use everyday — whether for personal beauty care, household cleansing or storing things like foods in plastics — are loaded with endless synthetic ingredients that can wind up causing more harm than good.
Buying skin care products can be tricky these days, with so many different options available and endless, hard-to-pronounce ingredient lists on every face wash, lotion and scrub package. Knowing the potential for commercially sold products to absorb right into your skin and cause serious issues, you really want to keep an eye on what is being added to your products and how your skin reacts.
When looking for skin care products, follow the same rules that you follow for a healthy diet: hunt for unprocessed ingredients, without any harsh chemicals or anything artificial! Basically, the closer to the nature the natural skin product is, the more your skin will know what to do with its beneficial ingredients in order to improve your skin’s health.
Store-bought skin care products typically contain toxic ingredients and chemical fragrances that are linked to all sorts of issues − from hormonal problems, irregular periods and infertility to allergies and even cancer.
One of the most significant consequences of built-up toxin exposure from artificial skin care products is hormone imbalances, since many products contain hormone disruptors. These external, or exogenous, hormones found in commercial products are substances produced outside the body that may act like or affect hormones inside the body. They include synthetic, patentable hormones that negatively affect the endocrine system and can impact a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility and even hormone levels in men.
Often called endocrine disruptors, some of these chemicals’ molecular structures resemble natural estrogen so closely that they fit into the same receptors in the body. They either bind to these receptors — so your own hormones don’t work like they’re supposed to — and turn genes on and off, amplify the negative aspects of estrogen, or travel to the cells’ nucleus, where they exert a negative effect on chromosomes or DNA.
How is all this allowed? To put things into perspective for you, here’s a few noteworthy facts on store-bought beauty products:
• The regulation of cosmetic and personal-care products are slim; only an easy approval process exists in order for a product to be approved for commercial use.
• Most store-bought skin care ingredient labels can be downright scary! There are thousands of chemicals in your products − and make no mistake about it, they are usually being directly absorbed into your body. There is little government review or approval because the skin care industry is highly unregulated even in the U.S.
• The majority of skin care and beauty products, including cleaners, lotions and scrubs, use inorganic compounds and petroleum-based gels as their foundation. Mineral oils are not naturally harvested from plants. When an ingredient is made with chemicals, it actually clogs your pores. Your skin loses its natural ability to expel toxins, which leads to increased acne and signs of aging.
• A few harmful chemicals that are used in store-bought washes, scrubs and lotions include dangerous parabens (used for preservation), synthetic colors (derived from petroleum or coal tar sources), fragrance (which is associated with allergies and respiratory distress), toluene (which is also used to dissolve paint), and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS (which can cause kidney and respiratory damage). And these are just a few of the harsh ingredients! It’s why a seemingly simple shampoo can really harm you. If the goal if using these products is to look and feel beautiful, then obviously this is a big problem.
• Putting chemicals on your body will limit your skin’s natural healing processes. Your body’s immune system, the health of your eyes, and your respiratory system can be damaged by unhealthy chemicals and additives. Also, many of these chemicals are skin irritants, leading to red, dry, flaky skin.
• It is also better for the environment to make your own homemade scrubs and lotions. Petroleum-based oils are made from unsustainable fossil fuel. Also, the plastic packaging is a huge waste; think of all those plastic jars and bottles that later need to be disposed of, many of which are not recycled by customers.
The 13 Best Ingredients for Natural Skin Care
There are more natural skin care products available now than ever, and their long list of benefits beyond even great looking skin might come come as a surprise to you. When you use natural products like this regularly, not only are you beautifying your skin, but you’re also absorbing antioxidants, enhancing your skin’s UV resistance, and stimulating your immune system, too.
Applying unprocessed, whole-food ingredients onto your skin — many that you likely even have already and cook with in your own kitchen — will make you love your skin, even if you are someone who has sensitive skin or has struggled in the past with clearing up difficult skin-related problems.
Start making over your beauty routine by trying these 13 natural skin care products:
1. Coconut Oil
One of the most versatile skin (and food) ingredients there is, coconut oil’s skin benefits include: strengthening underlying epidermal tissue, removing dead skin cells, protecting us from sunburns, and containing antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties. Research even shows that coconut oil is strong enough to fight chronic skin diseases characterized by defects in the epidermal barrier function and cutaneous inflammation, including atopic dermatitis (AD).
Use coconut oil on both your skin and hair to help cleanse, moisturize, remove makeup, heal wounds or scars quicker, and prevent razor burn. Coconut oil used internally is also beneficial for your looks. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, plus loads of healthy fats that help nourish your gut and increase immune function.
Healthy skin is just like any other organ in your body: It continuously needs oxygen and nutrients to be brought to the cells, and toxins need to be washed away. Therefore, coconut oil helping with hormonal and digestive function is crucial for optimal skin health.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been used for hundreds of years in Australia to fight breakouts, redness and inflammation on the skin. While many people react harshly to typical acne treatment ingredients like acid, tea tree oil is usually well-tolerated and comes with few, if any, of the nasty side effects when combined with a carrier oil and applied directly to skin. Tea tree oil uses include working as a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal — its phytochemicals make it one of the most versatile and popular natural skin care essential oils there is.
Tea tree’s volatile essential oils come from approximately 230 different plant species, almost all of which are native to Australia. The primary active ingredients responsible for its ability to reduce harmful bacteria include terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Researches have observed more than 100 different chemical components and volatile hydrocarbons that are considered aromatic and capable of traveling through air, pores of the skin and mucus membranes to provide healing benefits. It’s why tea tree oil is key part of the best home remedies for acne.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
An extremely versatile and inexpensive natural skin care product, apple cider vinegar benefits include helping to kill pathogens (like bacteria), clearing skin problems caused by gut issues, cleansing the skin and helping to stop acne, plus providing antifungal properties. The use of ACV for skin problems dates all the way back to Hippocrates (460-377 BC), considered “the father of modern medicine” and a believer in the use of anti-fungal ACV and raw honey for cleaning ulcerations and treating skin sores.
It also contains highly beneficial acetic acid and certain vitamins like potassium and magnesium that make it a detoxifying agent when consumed internally, since it boosts liver function and helps balance bacteria in the gut.
4. Raw Honey
Raw honey is one of the best natural sources of nutrients, enzymes, vitamins and skin-boosting acids. Benefits of raw honey include reducing breakouts, providing moisturizing properties, containing antiseptic qualities, encouraging wound healing, fighting allergies or rashes, and helping to reduce scars. Raw honey is unheated, unprocessed and unpasteurized unlike most honeys available in grocery stores. Therefore, it is able to keep all of its nutrients intact as they’re not destroyed by processing.
As an antimicrobial honey is particularly suitable as a dressing for wounds and burns. It’s also been included in treatments used to heal bacterial infections, dandruff, diaper dermatitis, psoriasis and more.
Honey also makes a great homemade natural skin care product as an acne cure because it can be used in facial cleansers even on sensitive or mixed skin types. Take half a teaspoon, warm between hands and spread on face gently, leave on for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water and pat dry. To use it as an exfoliator for dry winter skin, try adding two cups of honey to a bath, soak for 15 minutes, then add one cup of baking soda for the final 15 minutes.
5. Sea Salt
Sea salt comes loaded with tons of minerals and nutrients like magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium that it absorbs from the sea water where its produced. Many of these minerals are the same ones found in our skin cells and within our bodies, which is exactly why real sea salt can help balance, protect and restore the skin.
Use real Himalayan or Celtic sea salts in homemade facial masks, toners and scrubs with other skin-boosting ingredients like coconut oil, lavender essential oil and raw honey. The salt contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe skin and calm breakouts, remove dead skin cells and irritation, balance oil production, and help the skin retain moisture levels.
Make your own homemade scrub by mixing two teaspoons sea salt with four teaspoons raw honey, then apply the mix evenly to clean skin, rub it gently, let it stand for 15 minutes and rinse. Similarly, sugar scrubs are similar, and both types are gentle enough to use several times per week to prevent clogged pores and help with cell turn-over and renewal.
An ultra-moisturizing fatty fruit, the benefits of avocados include containing vitamins A, D and E that are able to penetrate the skin. It helps soothe sunburned skin, can boost collagen production and treat age spots. It also works to reduce inflammation of the skin when applies topically and can do the same internally when eaten. Whip up a Homemade Avocado Face Mask with fresh avocado combined with essential oils, honey or a carrier oil to replenish hydration and leave skin feeling dewy.
7. Lemon Essential Oil
With its strong antibacterial constituents capable of reducing even fatally dangerous bacteria strains, lemon essential oil can be used to diminish acne breakouts caused by high levels of bacteria stuck in pores. It’s also useful for fading scars and age spots, can exfoliate skin, brighten and lighten skin, tone oily skin and fight wrinkles.
Lemon oil is one of the most versatile essential oils to have on hand because it can be used as a teeth whitener, laundry freshener, cellulite cream, face wash and household cleaner! Mix it with a carrier oil like jojoba oil and massage into troubled areas of the skin. You can also use it on your hair to boost shine and remove residue.
8. Argan Oil
Native to Morocco and used there for generations, argan oil is so healing because it’s rich in vitamin A and vitamin E, various antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid. Argan is not only great for gently moisturizing skin, but it also boosts the shine and health of your hair.
Apply a small amount of argan oil directly to normal or troubled skin twice daily to help heal irritations such as acne, bug bites, eczema and psoriasis, leaving skin feeling and looking youthful.
9. Aloe Vera
Most people associate aloe vera benefits with healing sunburns, but did you know that aloe also contains bacteria-fighting, soothing ingredients that fight inflammation, redness and itching? For hundreds of years aloe has been used to treat skin diseases, infections and as a natural treatment for fungal diseases in traditional Chinese medicine.
Recent research results suggest that aloe vera is effective for burns and wound healing, but surprisingly it also detoxifies you from the inside out. So much so that when taken orally, aloe can even decrease the number and size of tumors and parasites in the liver, spleen and bone marrow.
Aloe vera plants produce two substances used for medicine: the gel found in the cells in the center of the leaf, and the latex that’s obtained from the cells just beneath the leaves’ skin. These can be used as a natural skin care remedy for burns, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores.
Aloe vera is considered to be the most biologically active form of the Aloe barbadensis miller species and holds more than 75 potentially active ingredients including anti-inflammatories, vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, lignin and salicylic acids. There are what gives aloe its signature anti-microbial and antifungal properties that make it a “photodynamic therapy” for healing skin.
10. Jojoba Oil
One of the most widely used carrier oils, jojoba oil is extremely moisturizing and can help heal burns, sores, scars, dermatitis, acne psoriasis and wrinkles. Native to the southern U.S and Mexico, this oil has been used to treat acne, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin for generations. It’s also used to reduce balding because it encourages hair regrowth, soothes the skin and unclogs hair follicles.
When it comes to the chemical structure of jojoba oil, it’s unique in that it’s a polyunsaturated wax. As a wax, jojoba oil is especially useful for protecting the skin, providing moisture control, and soothing the skin and hair.
11. Almond Oil
You probably already know about the many nutrition benefits of almonds, but maybe you’re new to using almond oil on your skin. Almond oil not only smells great, but it has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. It makes a great carrier oil for essential oils to naturally treat skin rashes, acne or dryness. It also blends easily with many different smells, so try in it homemade washes, masks or lotions.
12. Shea Butter
Shea butter has been used as a natural skin care product in Africa for hundreds of years, where it is still largely cultivated and shipped around the world today. It makes an excellent moisturizing options for dry skin types and is inexpensive yet effective at reducing flaking, redness or peeling.
13. Castor Oil
Used to cleanse skin, castor oil is actually a “drying oil,” even though that might seem counterintuitive. For facial cleansing, you only need to use a very small amount, about a teaspoon of castor oil, mixed into in 1/4 cup of another oil like coconut or almond. Rub into your face and massage, then rinse with warm water to carry away impurities.
Other Natural Skin Care Tips
While using these natural ingredients can be very effective for healing skin or issues, what you put into your body, of course, also plays an enormous role in your outer appearance. You’ve probably noticed firsthand how a healthy diet, good sleep, regular exercise and drinking plenty of water can improve someone’s looks. Aside from building those primary lifestyle factors into your beauty routine, certain supplements can also help improve the effectiveness of your beauty regime.
I advise that you continue to focus on using the natural skin care products mentioned above regularly and ditching the harsh, man-made versions, but you can also try some of these other useful products and strategies for helping to heal skin, hair or other beauty issues:
Probiotic benefits have definitely moved into the mainstream spotlight over the past several years, and for good reason. Probiotics, the “good bacteria” that help balance our gut environment, are tied to improved immunity, hormonal control, appetite regulation and energy levels. They can help your immune and nervous system deal with toxins like bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, fungi and parasites that can all show up on your skin.
Take a Quality Omega-3 Supplement Cod Liver Oil
Omega-3s are loaded with healthy fatty acids that help keep skin moisturized and elastic. They also help regulate hormone function, nervous system health and immune function. Cod liver oil is also a great source of skin-loving vitamins A, D and K, omega-3s and antioxidants.
Consider Using Collagen Protein
Collagen protein is growing in popularity as one of the best natural skin care supplements available today. Collagen helps build healthy skin cells and is partially responsible for skin’s youthful elasticity, softness and firmness.
While many topical products add collagen to their formula to boost its appeal, it’s actually much more effective when taken internally. Collagen is actually too large to absorb through the skin and must be produced internally for the best results.
Drink Plenty of Water
There are many reasons you should drink enough water, including it being one of the best things you can do to take care of your skin. Most experts recommend getting at least eight glasses of plain water every single day, and probably even more if you suffer from dry, troublesome skin. Water makes up about 70 percent of your body, and a very large portion of your skin, too!
Water helps to flush toxins from our bloodstream and cells, allowing your body to experience a “detox” and for it to remove things like bacteria and waste from affecting your skin. Of course, water plays a big role in keeping skin hydrated and looking young — without enough of it, we appear aged and dull and can suffer from rough, cracked skin.
Get Good Sleep and Lower Stress
Consider if a lack of sleep and high levels of stress might be causing a hormonal imbalance that is leading to breakouts. Can’t sleep? You should know that “beauty sleep” is more than just a silly saying — a good night sleep is truly where the magic happens when it comes to healthy skin.
Getting enough restful sleep is key to good skin because when you’re sleeping, your “happy hormones” are at their highest and your stress hormones are at their lowest. This means your body has the energy to use to devote to things like proper digestion, muscle growth and repairing your skin — so you wake up looking refreshed.
Not getting good sleep has a similar effect on the body that stress does. Both stress and lack of sleep make your body conserve energy, therefore skin health becomes compromised. Thus, consider implement natural sleep strategies as well as ways to bust stress.
Lastly, if you still suffer from acne and frequent skin problems: Eat lots of leafy greens and consider giving up gluten, sugar and dairy.