All natural. Organic. Chemical free. Labels clad in green, promising to deliver major results with ingredients hand-picked from mother earth are all the rage. Paraben free, no artificial ingredients, FDA organic – does it make a difference in the long run? Now let me preface this blog by letting you know I am a self-proclaimed green guru. I grow many of my own vegetables, potatoes and herbs, buy hormone free meat and recycle everything possible – I even petitioned the city so Millefiori could have a recycling dumpster in our alleyway in downtown Melbourne. I am as green as green can get living in Orlando – but I have fallen off the organic skincare bandwagon- for now.
NATURAL VS ORGANIC
Natural and organic skincare are two separate, non-interchangeable labels. Natural means the ingredients are naturally derived. For example, glycolic acid is derived from sugar. Malic acid is derived from milk. Even traditional ingredients, like preservatives and foaming agents, can be naturally derived, like cocoa sulfates in skincare. Organic refers to the processing and growing of the ingredients. From the soil being organic to the elimination of pesticides to the harvesting process, organic products take “natural” to the next level. FDA organic goes through many hoops to be certified, but in regards to skin care, is it worth it?
WHO SHOULD BE ON THE BANDWAGON
As we’ve discussed many times throughout our blogs, your skin is your largest organ and what you apply on your skin will eventually absorb into your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Pregnant, breastfeeding or going through the process of trying to become pregnant is the major group that should be concerned with products not in this natural category. Certain ingredients for hyperpigmentation and acne are recommended to not use in the first 2 trimesters, but many of my patients elect to use organic throughout their entire pregnancy as an extra precaution. Women going through chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal replacement also often look towards natural and organic skin care to ensure a detoxifying of the body from unnecessary additives. Sensitive skin can benefit from products not containing certain preservatives and foaming agents – known aggravating ingredients.These products have a market and are good for specific groups with basic concerns, but if you’re looking for a dramatic “wow” put down the coconut oil and listen up. There is a time and place for everything – natural is good, but only get you so far towards your skin care goals. For some, that distance is enough to make them satisfied – for others though, medical grade is necessary, which sometimes means putting down that organic product.
READ YOUR LABELS
“Chemicals” has become the bad word in today’s organic craze and to nobody’s fault but their own have fallen victim to labels that promise a healthier lifestyle. I’ve met avid fan followers that swear by mixing sugar, lemon and honey as an exfoliant for their face but go out to the local watering hole and down a pitcher of non-organic beer and a piece of pizza. That patient may swear she will never do a chemical peel, but decides on using a prescription hydroquinone – a prescription that is banned in many countries including the UK, Australia and Mexico, due to the ill side effects on the kidneys, liver and other filtering organs.
Like any other lifestyle choice, the pros and cons need to be weighed by each individual for their lifestyle, budget and goals. Many times organics are the same if not pricier than medical skincare. Why? The promise of a “healthier” lifestyle and a higher production cost. You may feel better about your lotion, but think further into that product and its manufacturing. Was the packaging BPA free? Is that pump manufactured in China next to a chemical factory? If it’s organic, does it need to be refrigerated or will it spoil in a month?
Natural doesn’t always equal no result; many of our medical products by Skinceuticals and Skinscripts are natural and deliver results, but also combine medical grade ingredients to compliment and balance the product. People with cystic acne may need aggressive salicylic drying. Patients with severe hyperpigmentation may be recommended vitamin c – an amazing natural ingredients but unstable when alone and needs to be paired with a preservative to stay active and to work properly.
The number 1 recommendation I always make to my patients here at Millefiori in downtown Melbourne is to read the label – and that goes for everything from food to skin care, makeup and everything in between. Natural doesn’t mean you can read or even understand the label sometimes. Research those ingredients unfamiliar to you, ask your esthetician about a product, see what you can expect (or not expect) out of your ingredients. Labels can make claims, and unfortunately, nobody is a watchdog for skin care products promises.
The hippie in me wants to believe coconut oil is the best moisturizer head to toe, that water is the only liquid necessary for cleansing and sugar with lemon juice will suffice as my exfoliant – but the esthetician in me knows better. I know for my expectations, for my skin and for my lifestyle right now, I need the heavy duty big guns! I NEED my retinol. I NEED my botox (really, I do!)
Not sure if your organic or natural products are holding their weight? Come in for a complimentary skincare consultation at Millefiori in downtown Melbourne for an honest opinion. (321) 821-4778.
Till next time Melbourne! Love the skin you’re in. -A