Know the Difference. Do you know how mainstream skin care products differ from organic or natural skin care products? Let me tell you. In addition to your precious skin acting as a barrier to the environment outside, it can also function as a sponge because of its absorptive capacity. The general rule is, whatever you put on it, can get absorbed into your body.
Mainstream skin care products are pumped up with harmful chemicals. After the absorption of these harmful chemicals, your body has tremendous difficulty trying to eliminate them. These chemicals then accumulate inside your body (and become toxic to you) over time.
Take for example, aluminium. Aluminium in mainstream skin care products is mostly disguised as aluminium chlorohydrate. It’s primarily found in topical antiperspirant deodorants as an astringent. If you dig deeper, aluminium is a potent neurotoxin that can mess with your brain. It has been linked to the development of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are other examples:
- Formaldehyde. This chemical can be found in eye shadows and mascara. It can cause exacerbation of your asthma symptoms, burning sensation to your throat, nose and eyes and nausea. It’s even classified as a probable human carcinogen.
- Parabens. This notorious chemical is really full of surprises as it mimics the hormone oestrogen inside your body. As a result, it has been linked to the development of cancer (breast) according to recent studies. It’s used as a preservative to prevent the growth of microorganisms in your skin care products and is found in moisturisers, creams, sprays or lotions.
- Hydroquinone. A sinister role played by this skin lightening cosmetic had recently been identified. It’s toxic to your central nervous system (brain) and promotes the development of cancer when in sufficient amounts.
Promote green living. Using organic and natural skin care products. Do your part in helping Mother Earth recover from her injuries. The processing of natural and organic skin care products are free of nasty chemicals and often also use recyclable packaging materials.
How do you know if they’re natural or organic?
That’s a good question. With all the marketing crap they’re pushing out there, it’s very difficult to differentiate fact from bollocks. It can be labelled natural and organic, but still contain harmful chemicals. It’s time to look for certifications. Here are some of them:
If you’re in New Zealand…
- BioGro. BioGro is an independent certifying body under the New Zealand Biological and Producers Society. They’ve been around since 1983 to certify not just skin products, but food as well. They thoroughly verify that the product you’re applying to your face is truly genuine and free from harmful chemicals. Plus, they carry nine international accreditations.
- AsureQuality. This certifying body is owned by the New Zealand Government. They primarily certify food, but have included skin care products as well.
If you’re in Australia…
- Organic Food Chain. One of Australia’s best certifying bodies, Organic Food Chain is committed to making their brand synonymous with Quality Assured Product. They certify both food and skin care products as truly organic.
- Australian Certified Organic. They’re considered as Australia’s largest certifier of organic products.
- NASAA Certified Organic (NCO). NCO is the certifying arm of NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia). From “paddock to plate” they ensure organic integrity of their certified products.
Other internationally used certifications:
- Safe Cosmetics Australia. SCA helps consumers to choose cosmetic products that don’t contain harmful ingredients by providing a list of companies with toxic-free products. They raise awareness of the toxins in cosmetics and promote products made from natural plant and mineral ingredients.
- BDIH. BDIH is a leading German natural certification for cosmetics. They’re a non-profit Association of Industries and Trading Companies for health care products, pharmaceutical products, food supplements and personal hygiene products. In 1996 BDIH created comprehensive guidelines for certified natural cosmetics.
- Natrue. This Belgian company provides both natural and organic certification for cosmetics. Their aim is to strengthen consumer trust in natural cosmetics with their 3 levels of certification: Natural (doesn’t have to be organic), Natural with at least 70% organic ingredients, Organic (with at least 95% organic ingredients).
Keep these certifications in mind next time you visit the grocery store and buy your natural and organic skin care products. Make sure the brand that you buy has one of these certifications so that you can trust that it really is a natural as it claims.
Don’t forget to read the product label please, especially if the product you like does not have any of these certifications listed above. They are there for a reason, not just something to peel off during your down time and stick on or under the table. Familiarise yourself with common chemicals that can harm your skin and body (watch this space for our glossary of harmful ingredients in cosmetics). As much as possible, avoid anything synthetic or anything that has the word synthetic in it as an ingredient. You are not only what you eat, but also what you apply to your skin on a daily (or hourly?) basis.