Saturday, April 20, 2013

Are organic skin care products really better?



Natural and Organic skin care lines are increasingly appearing at both high-end department stores and at local drugstores. There just seems to be something very appealing to consumers about using organic and natural beauty products. It's almost a form of “natural” magic--if you apply products to your skin that are natural and pure, the skin itself will become naturally pure too. At least, that is what the big brand cosmetics companies want you to believe. Unfortunately for the consumer, there are wide-spread misconceptions about natural and organic products.
While there are a few excellent natural and organic skin care products available, not every product is beneficial for your skin, and there's for sure no guarantee that “natural” and “organic” products are better for you than conventional skin care products which are not riding on the organic marketing hype train.

Myth: If it says "Natural," It Must Be Natural

Surprisingly in the U.S., the term “natural” is neither regulated by the Food and Drug Administration nor any other U.S. Department when used in combination with cosmetics. Virtually any product can call itself "natural" no matter if it contains large amounts of synthetic ingredients. "Natural" is just a trendy marketing-word that appeals to consumers' desire for natural and organic products without carrying any meaningful promises.
While the FDA of any country usually regulates the cosmetic market, they do not have standards specifically designed for organic ingredients in cosmetics. Organic standards like Ecocert and Natrue are not based on any governmental department and are independent from legal regulation. Cosmetic companies that comply with Ecocert or Natrue do so completely voluntarily but are not required to do so by law. Some countries have better control measures in place than others: The FDA in America for example uses the USDA's guidelines for organically produced food and applies it to cosmetic ingredients to establish some sort of standard for organic cosmetics. Skin care products that are labeled "100 percent organic" contain exclusively organic ingredients that are certified by the USDA, while those that are "made with organic ingredients" are at least 70 percent organic. The other 30% could be all synthetic although this might not be easily visible on the product labeling.
When buying American “organic” skin care products, look for the USDA certification. However, in most Asian countries including Thailand, there is no such standard and your skin care product labeled as “organic” could be as synthetic as a polyester t-shirt and still call itself natural or organic.
Myth: If It's Organic, it can’t cause allergies

How healthy is it to use only organic products on your skin? Since your skin is organic, shouldn't organic skin care products reduce the chances allergic reactions? Contrary to this assumption, the opposite is true; organic cosmetics often contain allergens like milk proteins, nuts, or lanolin. “Inorganic” ingredients like mica, talc,  and silicone products are far less likely to trigger reactions than their organic counterparts.
Skin care companies that produce organic skin care products often claim their products to be "hypoallergenic" and therefore completely safe for skin, but just like the word "natural," there isn’t any legal definition of the term. In the U.S. for example, there is no federal standard for the term “hypoallergenic”. This term can basically mean whatever a skin care producer wants it to mean.
What are the implications for your skin? If you've had an allergic reaction to food for example: lactose, nuts or strawberries in the past, it is very possible that the organic strawberry lip balm that you bought in the natural shop will cause you a allergic reaction regardless whether "hypoallergenic" is written on the label.


Myth: Organic Skin Care Products Won't cause Irritated Skin

Even if you are not prone to allergies, there’s a chance you may have sensitive skin which is susceptible to irritation. Going all natural with organic products may look like a gentler- and more natural way to take care of for your skin, but many ingredients found in organic products are actually chemical irritants.
Let me give you a very simple example: A lemon straight from the tree is as natural as possible, but it can still leave your skin itchy and irritated. Why would it be less likely to do so in a cream or toner? In fact, some of the worst irritants and most toxic substances can be found in nature. Another example is Mint and eucalyptus. If you have ever tasted a peppermint candy that had an unbearably strong flavor, it's because the nerve endings in the mouth can be over-stimulated by the menthol in the candy. The nerves in your skin can get irritated from an overdose of minty freshness in the very same way.


Myth: Organic Skin Care Products Are More Effective than “chemical” ones

The effectiveness of organic skin care products is completely relative to what you want those products to do. An organic moisturizer or toner, for example, may perform just as well as their synthetic counterparts, but not every synthetic skin care component has an organic alternative.
For example, sunscreen is an essential component of any skin care regimen, but as mentioned earlier, every organic product that is certified must contain a minimum of 70 percent organically produced ingredients. This means that any sunscreen which is labeled organic doesn't contain enough of the necessary active ingredients to protect you from the sun. Make no mistake, organic cosmetics manufacturers know this fact and honest brands do say that their sunscreen products cannot be certified organic or they would be ineffective, but many companies combine ineffective organic oils and imply that those products are useful for protection against the sun but don’t tell consumers what SPF level those products have.

If you are an avid user of organic products, my advice is to not take chances with organic sunscreen products. If you want a broad-spectrum sun protection which is safe for the skin, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, an inorganic compound which is certified by the U.S. FDA as being completely safe.


Myth: Organic Skin Care Products are Healthier

It's irresistibly easy to think of applying natural foods such as avocados or herbal extracts to your face as "nourishing" (a fashionable term that you’ll find on most descriptions of natural and organic skin care products), but human skin doesn't absorb nutrients as much as we would like to think. Although “Food for your skin” is a trendy concept in organic skin care marketing, we can’t really absorb all that much nutrients of nutritional value through our skin.

Although we can't feed our skin, we could unconsciously feed populations of bacteria if we use organic products without paying close attention to expiration dates and avoiding contamination of these products. Organic cosmetic products by definition contain no artificial preservatives (most organic producers actually include some artificial preservative otherwise the products would only last a few days). Just like fruit can spoil very quickly if it is not refrigerated, organic products can also spoil in a bottle if not stored correctly. What might look like moisturizer to you, to any bacteria on your fingers will look like a nutrient-rich paradise. Always wash your hands before touching your organic products and treat them as you would treat food.

While I may unintentionally sound very anti-organic (in fact I use organic products myself but very selectively), I’m only trying to educate consumers on the reality of organic products. The organic market is a rapidly growing consumer segment and big companies see the vast profits that can be made. Like all cosmetics producers, organic cosmetics producers are ultimately looking for a profit. If they can get that profit by using words and descriptions that make consumers feel safe and natural, they will be happy to just do that.
The best protection from unsafe and/or ineffective products, allergic reactions, and skin irritation is to read the labels carefully. The important information isn't on the front of the product packaging; it's on the label in the back. Consumers should make a habit of reading ingredient labels so they’ll know what they’re really buying instead of buying into the organic skin care hype that was created by companies who care about profits more than your skin.

2 comments:

Hi, Great post. After reading this blog, I am planning to start using organic products. Is there any way to find the difference between organic and conventional products. Thanks for sharing useful information. Keep blogging.

Sathish from Cosmetics Online Shopping

Making ourself beauty is normal. If that is best brand then it will be too effective. We should careful in choosing the product.
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